Marcus joined the CCHO residential program with a tormented past and an obsession with violence. He grew up watching his parents abuse alcohol and drugs, and had witnessed incidents of domestic violence throughout his childhood. A victim of emotional abuse and severe neglect, Marcus would routinely be left alone overnight in a home with no food. He was depressed at the age of 8, and soon he developed an obsession with weapons and bombs, threatening people around him and eventually attempting suicide. “I need help with my low self-esteem,” he confided when he arrived on campus. “It causes a lot of the other stuff.”
Shortly after Marcus began his treatment, he started leaving sheets of notebook paper around campus with different handwritten messages on them. One day, the message read, simply: “I don’t matter”. On another day, he dragged his foot through the dust on the baseball field to write: “Nobody loves me”. When a staff member noticed the message in the dirt, he wrote out his own response: “I love you”. Marcus later returned to the field and erased the response, unable to accept that he was, in fact, loved and valued.
The truth is, Marcus was tormented by a core belief that most of his fellow residents share when they first arrive, kids who have been sexually assaulted by family members, who have watched their parents overdose on drugs again and again, who have been lied to, beaten, betrayed and left to fend for themselves. As a result, many of them are overcome with PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and aggressive behaviors. They’ve been convinced that they are unloved and, worse yet, unworthy of love.
For the first time in his life, Marcus heard the truth when he arrived at CCHO: He is a unique creation, made lovingly by an all-powerful God who sacrificed His only Son to draw him back into a life-giving relationship with Him. Marcus and our other young residents learn that they are loved — wholly, completely and without condition — by the Creator of the universe. Nothing they’ve done, and nothing that’s been done to them, can change that.
This is why the purpose of CCHO and our family of ministries remains clear, simple and yet powerful: to help people experience their worth in Christ. He is the only one who can provide true healing from such unspeakable trauma for these children, allowing them to discover their true nature and embrace their true worth.
That’s exactly what happened with Marcus, who recently shared the three most important things he learned while with CCHO: 1. I am worth something; 2. The world’s not out to get me; 3. People do care about me. After being led to believe hurtful lies about himself for so long, Marcus finally has words of power and truth to hold on to.