Planting, watering, growing and blooming (Story 39 of 50)
Updated: Feb 4
CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). This year of storytelling has been filled with so many heartwarming memories and precious connections that God has pieced together over five decades of ministry. Today, Matt Hayden with Tri-Village Christian Church in Pataskala, OH shares about his own personal connection to CCHO’s family of ministries. In story #39 of our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, Matt shows how that initial seed has grown into something far greater than he could have imagined.
CCHO has been a part of my life for at least 20 years. During that time, God has filled this relationship with a combination of wonder, trial, excitement and purpose.
I first heard about CCHO while growing up in a Christian church in central Ohio. The seed was planted about the awesome ministry happening in Wooster.
I entered youth ministry right out of college and, as best as I can describe it, my wife Megan and I got too comfortable too quick. In a challenge to step out in our faith, we accepted a role at CCHO as teaching parents in 2010, serving in the teenage girls cottage. While we eventually had to admit that we were not equipped for this role long term, Megan and I have never felt more like the hands and feet of Jesus than in that season in our lives. We also experienced such love and grace watching the power of Jesus transform the lives of the kids we served. The seed was watered.
Since our time as teaching parents, we have served in vocational ministry. As the Discipleship and Outreach Minister at Tri-Village Christian Church in Pataskala, OH, part of my role is to oversee missions. It has been wonderful to now be able to support CCHO financially and in other ways on the church side. Two years ago, we took a trip to serve at CCHO during the Great Grill Off. The team certainly enjoyed the chance to serve that weekend and to see the ministry of CCHO firsthand, but God had more up his sleeve.
My wife and I had been praying about becoming foster parents, an idea that we first considered when we were teaching parents. Every attempt at connecting with a fostering agency was closed. I called Encourage Foster Care and had a great conversation with Heather Huebner. Heather so graciously answered questions and empowered us to keep pushing through with the process. Not only did we have a great mission trip as a church, but the seed began to grow.
The following year, we worked through the process of being foster parents and brought some from the church along for the journey. Then, this past June, Tri-Village got to once again serve at the Great Grill Off while also taking part in the wonderful 50th anniversary celebration throughout the weekend.
CCHO was instrumental in laying a foundation that has now led to five Tri-Village families being licensed as foster parents, including my family. While we were not able to foster through Encourage in this fostering journey, they pushed us forward in the process. Since mid-August, we have once again become Jesus’ hands and feet as we have been privileged to serve a sibling pair in foster care. We went from our own two kids to now an even fuller house that includes a seven-year-old, six-year-old and a pair of three-year-olds! God is great…and He can also be surprising! The seed is beginning to bloom!
The beautiful thing about God is that I don’t know the full amount of fruit that will come from this journey. But knowing His power, I am confident that He is creating far more fruit than we may ever know. For us personally, our brief time in Wooster connected us to several mighty servants of God, from Kevin Hewitt (CCHO’s President & CEO) taking a chance on two people who had never had experience with that kind of work, to coworkers such as Dorn and Kandy Frame who walked alongside us in a tough position.
More recently, Heather’s wonderful words of encouragement led to the fruit of even more workers entering the foster care field. But there has been so much more fruit that God has grown in 50 years of bringing healing and hope to children in the bondage of pain and sin. There is a song we have been singing frequently in our household that says, “My God is so big and so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” This sentiment rings true over and over for us. Our God can shine light into the darkest of shadows. There has been more fruit multiplied through 50 years of ministry at CCHO than anyone can comprehend or imagine through God’s power. Here’s to 50 more years, CCHO!