This article was written by Stella Prather, Director of Community Engagement for the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes & Families Ministry.
*Names changed for privacy.
Leaning forward from his chair at the family dinner table, 3-year-old Ethan* picks up a piece of pizza, throws his head back and lets the cheesy goodness flow into his wide-open mouth. With a satisfied smile on his face, he convincingly says, “Yummy. Cheese is my favorite.”
“Mind your manners and don’t talk with your mouth full,” reminds his grandmother, Charlotte,* as she gently wipes pizza sauce dripping from the preschooler’s chin, saving it from his favorite dinosaur t-shirt.
Replying, Ethan smiles and says, “Yes, Mamaw.”
Viewing this nurturing interaction, you would never imagine that this young preschooler has also experienced a world of drugs, violence, and many hardships. In that world, the scenes were very different.
While living in the Family Care Home with his Mamaw, Ethan’s hope is being restored as Charlotte can offer the safety and structure he needs and deserves. Able to be a kid again, Ethan is thriving in preschool. He enjoys playing with toy cars and trucks, goofing off with his friends on the playground, and reading with his Mamaw every night before bedtime. He loves to show off his impressive toy dinosaur collection.
“It means everything in the world to me to know Ethan is safe,” shared Charlotte, who gained legal guardianship of Ethan when his mother was incarcerated. Charlotte is quick to admit that she has had her own challenges and blames herself for some of her daughter’s problems but is now committed to making sure Ethan’s future looks bright. “I can’t go back and change the past and the mistakes I made with my daughter, but I can change the way I parent Ethan and help him grow up in a healthy home.”
While Charlotte can’t take the place of Ethan’s mother, she believes she has been called by God to stand in the gap. As we approach Mother’s Day this year, there are many children around the state who still need a caring adult to provide the safety and stability that has helped Ethan to thrive.
Through the ministries of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, many caring adults have stepped in to change the scenes in a child’s life. Healthy childhoods are being restored in the family care homes on the campuses in Monticello and Harrison, and in foster homes around the state through the Cooperative Program giving of churches across Arkansas. The annual Mother’s Day Offering provides additional funds to care for children.
Churches can be a part of the ministry of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes by:
• Praying for the Mother’s Day Offering.
• Using the Mother’s Day Offering posters, bookmarks and offering envelopes that were recently provided to your church.
• Promoting the offering during the month of May.
The 2021 Mother’s Day video provides two length options. Churches are encouraged to share the longer, feature version on May 2 and the highlight version on Mother’s Day, May 9. These high-definition videos can be downloaded from our website, www.arkansasfamilies.org/church-offering.
If your church would like one of our leaders to share a ministry update or needs more information, please contact Stella Prather at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer a DVD or would rather set up a date/time by phone, contact Prather at 501-410-1567.