As we enter this week of giving thanks, we are joyfully grateful for the many children and adults who have received hope and healing this past year throughout our family of ministries. God is indeed good and gracious to those who are hurting. Though they have experienced much hardship, they are not forgotten. We are blessed to be part of God’s amazing work of lives being changed. We are thankful to you, our donors and supporters, for helping vulnerable kids and families through your time and resources. Your partnership provides each of these precious individuals with safety and treatment as well as the opportunity to experience their worth in Christ. Here is just one example of life change because of your generosity.
A Children’s Residential Center (CRC) is often a very misunderstood place. Some people think it’s a glorified detention facility. Some see it as a 24/7 daycare for aggressive children. Still others see it as an untrustworthy place where kids in pain must remain on guard and work tirelessly to protect themselves from even more pain. The latter was certainly the perception held by a 14-year-old young man when he was referred to our CRC here at CCHO.
At the time, Joe (name changed to protect his identity) had been living with his grandparents, but they felt they couldn’t handle their grandson anymore. They had come to the end of their rope and so had Joe. Upon his arrival on campus, Joe seemed like a respectable young man with some socially awkward tendencies, but overall didn’t appear aggressive or defiant. Unfortunately, that changed in the days that followed, with Joe exhibiting a vast range of what most would consider to be odd, attention-seeking and defiant behaviors.
Soon after, we discovered the root of the issues presented: Joe had witnessed his father shoot and kill himself when Joe was 4 years old. His mother then began physically abusing him because she didn’t know how to process his father’s suicide. He was left feeling powerless and without any control, a young boy full of guilt and self-blame who sadly became the scapegoat of the family. After Joe was removed from his mother’s care, his grandparents tried for years to help, to care and to love, but it only led to more anger and frustration, which caused him further hurt.
Joe wanted healing but, because of his misconceptions about residential facilities, he was unsure if he could find it at CCHO. He had been led to believe that CCHO was unsafe and, therefore, his behaviors continued for a few months until, one day, he decided to hand over to the staff a pocket knife that he had been hiding for his protection. He decided that he didn’t need it anymore, that he felt safe with the staff at CCHO. For maybe the first time in his life, Joe finally felt safe.
In the weeks and months that followed, he began connecting with the staff and many of his behaviors disappeared while the others decreased significantly. Through regular counseling, Joe began to process the trauma that he had been through and started to change his perspective on life, a process that led to freedom from his confining feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. He no longer blamed himself for his father’s death. He began engaging in social activities without fear. He began to show his true self by caring for other people and the animals on campus. Most importantly, he began attending church services, gave his life to Jesus and was baptized through our campus ministry and began to faithfully seek God.
Only one thing stood in the way for Joe, and that was his past. Because Joe had hurt his grandparents so deeply, they had difficulty trusting him. After multiple conversations about how he had changed for the better, they still didn’t feel safe enough to bring Joe home. Fortunately, God was on the move. Joe’s grandmother agreed to attend family therapy in hopes of addressing some of the hurts that she had both experienced and caused, and after his initial hesitancy, Joe’s grandfather participated as well. Joe responded by demonstrating resiliency and taking full responsibility for all he had done to his grandparents. He didn’t blame them for their reluctance to bring him home; instead, he apologized for the past. Despite his own pain, he acknowledged the pain he had caused others. His grandparents, finally allowing themselves to believe that healing had come, offered Joe forgiveness and even apologized for their own past mistakes.
What once seemed like an impossibility became reality when Joe reunified with his grandparents after nearly nine months of treatment at CCHO, a powerful illustration of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:26: “With God, all things are possible.”
You may be asking yourself the same question that Joe’s grandparents had: “Can healing from hurt that deep really come in nine months?” With Jesus, it can. For Joe, it did. And for many children with a similar story, it has, it does, and it will continue.
CCHO’s CRC was Joe’s safe place where he could find healing, discover hope and experience his worth in Christ. In his last week at CCHO, Joe tearfully expressed his gratitude for the help CCHO provided, and he attributed his life change to giving everything to Jesus and following Him.