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Here at the Children’s Shelter we often face the reality of the fact that the children do not want to be here. What child in his right mind would want to grow up in a group home away from all of his family and friends? Many of the children often see the shelter as some kind of punishment for something they did not even do. I often bring up the story on Jonah. Many people see being in the belly of the great fish to be a punishment. Again, who in his right mind would want to spend time in the belly of a great fish? I have a feeling it is not pretty in there and I am almost positive there is no central air or WIFI. But I like to show the children that if God did not prepare this great fish for Jonah he probably would have either drowned in the ocean or been chewed up by a great shark. The great fish was not a punishment; in fact, it was Jonah’s salvation from a far worse situation he could’ve faced. I explain that the same thing goes for the Children’s Shelter. It might not be exactly where you want to be but it is there to save.
Now this may seem easy to say to a child, but it is very hard for a child to understand. A while back we had a teenager named Stephanie. And just like any other teenager, she was pretty set in her ways. She, for many reasons, did not want to be living in a Children’s shelter. However, while here she did comply by the rules, was an active member in the youth group, received her GED and even got a job. But throughout all of this she still did not feel like she wanted to be living in a children’s shelter. In the past, Stephanie ran away from many of her placements. She was always trying to find her way in this storm we like to call life. She stayed with us here for a long time until one day we found her bed empty, as Stephanie had once again run away. I know I personally was heartbroken. I had seen such potential in this girl. I had visions of her using her testimony to help other girls in similar situations. I had visions of her rising above the statistics of foster children.
And just as God had the great fish spit Jonah out to complete His mission, He did the same for Stephanie. After a few weeks, Stephanie reached out to me and told me that God had laid it on her heart to turn herself in. Shortly after that her aunt decided that enough was enough and that Stephanie deserved a better life. Stephanie finally had a place to call home and an actual family.
But the story does not end there. Stephanie messaged me one day and told me that even though she hated being in foster care and even though she ran from the Children’s Shelter, once she was outside of the belly of the fish she was able to realize that God had a reason for all of it. She realized that God works all things for the good for those who love Him. She said that had she not come to the Children’s Shelter, she would have never been introduced to Jesus Christ. She would have never had the opportunity to go to church and hear the Gospel. She would have never received salvation through the blood of her risen Savior. Stephanie came to the realization that God does not waste pain and that she has the calling to help others in foster care. Stephanie has just finished her application to start volunteering at the Children’s Shelter. She feels she can use her testimony and her struggles to help others. She knows what it is like to live here and wants to be a blessing to others as she feels she was blessed here.
So tonight, make sure you pray for Stephanie. Pray that she will be able to rise above her circumstances and be an encouragement to those still waiting in the belly of the great fish we know as the Children’s Shelter.