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Children’s Homes ‘provides hope’comment (0)

November 26, 2009

By Brittany N. Howerton

The small blond girl steadily stepped up to the microphone for her big moment. And at just the right time, she began to speak slowly and carefully. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27.”

This is a verse all too familiar to her and the two older girls accompanying her, all of whom were reared under the care of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (ABCH). “You are providing hope,” they said in unison to messengers during the ABCH report Nov. 18. “You are restoring families and preventing hurt.”

And because of one of the more than 30 counseling sites statewide, this was just the case for Shaquina Phalo, now a freshman at Alabama A&M University in Normal, who entered an ABCH group home at the age of 17. “When I first entered into the group home, I was full of hate (and) bitterness and I was ready to give up on life,” she said. “However, after spending time around loving and caring houseparents who only wanted to bring the best out of me, my perspective of life changed.”

Phalo explained that in addition to receiving the love of an earthly family, she grew to understand the love of the heavenly Father and accepted Christ at the end of her junior year of high school.

“Alabama Children’s Homes has helped me gain knowledge, courage and love,” Phalo said. “They helped me overcome hate and bitterness and taught me the value of forgiveness. … I would like to thank everyone who has invested time, money and energy in Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes, because you are giving me a college education, you have given me self-confidence and you gave me hope.”

But she is just one story.

According to the Book of Reports, in the first six months of 2009, ABCH

• provided homes for 139 children and youth in Decatur, Oxford, Gardendale, Mobile and Dothan.

• provided homes for 104 children and youth through foster care.

• provided temporary homes and other services for 52 mothers and children through family care in Alabaster, Decatur and Mobile.

• served 7,011 children, families and individuals through 5,772.25 hours of counseling by Pathways Professional Counseling.

With a challenge to messengers to not only care about children and families but also take up the task to be doers of the Word, ABCH Executive Director Paul Miller noted that “needs are greater than what our staff can meet. But needs are not greater than the power and gospel of Jesus Christ, and we do this in His name.”

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