by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer
“He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:2b
When things got a little rocky at home, eighteen-year-old Ally* was sent to live at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Although the placement was not her preference, she is now grateful beyond measure for the love, encouragement, and support of the peer residents and caring adults who have become family to her in the truest sense.
“I have lived [at OBHC] for almost four years,” Ally says. “I remember my dad sat me and my stepmom down and told us he was tired of the fighting and my bad attitude. He told me he had found a place for me to live online. I didn’t argue.”
“When I got here, I was scared, but once I got to know everyone, I felt right at home. People just kind of welcomed me with open arms and made it easy for me to be happy. My dad came to see me a couple of months later and was like, ‘Wow, this is really helping you a lot!’ I agreed. It has just been a real blessing to be here from the very first.”
Ally feels particularly blessed to know and live with her house parents, the McClures. “They’re easy-going and fun to be around,” Ally says with a smile and a shrug, “and I just love them with all my heart. I’ve lived with other house parents, and when you think someone might leave, it’s hard to build a relationship. But the McClures have committed not to leave us, so that’s been comforting and made it easier to relax and build trust.”
Ally became a Christian in the sixth grade before she came to live at OBHC, but her house parents have helped her take long strides toward spiritual maturity and independence in her walk with Jesus. “I got saved at Falls Creek,” Ally says. “I felt God calling me, and I went down that night and accepted Christ. Now I don’t lie as much as I used to, and God has helped me get closer to my stepmom than we were before. We used to fight and argue, but now we are just so close.”
After graduation, Ally plans to attend cosmetology school, but no matter what God has in mind, she feels prepared for adult life. “I’ve paid attention to all the life lessons they’ve taught us,” Ally says. “They’ve taught us how to cook and budget and keep up with that budget, so that’s obviously very useful, but they’ve also taught us about healthy relationships. I plan to carry everything I’ve learned here into the world and become the same kind of blessing to other people that they have been to me. I’ve learned so much. I feel like I need to pass it on.”
To those whose financial gifts have provided Ally with the opportunity to learn and grow surrounded by people who believe in her, she says, “Thank you so much for everything you have done for me. I’m not the same person I was, and I’m doing so much better than I would have been if my dad hadn’t sent me here. It’s so encouraging to know there are people like you in the world. You are truly a blessing in my life!”
*Ally’s photos have been changed to protect her privacy.