17-YEAR RESIDENT OF HOME FOR CHILDREN
“Christian City helped me develop into the man I am today. If I had been raised with my ‘real’ family, the path that I would have followed would not have led me to this same place in my life!”
As a pastor, I find it easy to talk to others of God’s purpose and plan – showing people how God has moved with intent to help direct their path. However, for a time, it was not so easy for me! I came to Christian City in August of 1973. I was six years old.
I did not know what divorce was back then, but I do remember being shuffled back and forth each weekend from one household to the other. I later found out that I ended up at Christian City because my mom was initially trying to hide me from my father.
After it was all said and done, I ended up a ward of the state and Christian City became my official guardian. All I knew at that time is that I no longer lived with my Mom or Dad, and that I was not sure I would ever see them again. My world was turned upside down. But, it was all part of God’s plan!
When people find out I was raised at a children’s home, I get many questions on my life there, but I get two questions the most: “Do I ever wish I was raised with my “real” family? And
“How do you think you would have turned out if you had not been raised at Christian City?”
Although there are things about being raised with my biological family that I missed, like spending time and watching my brother and sister grow up, spending holidays with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., I would not change a single moment of my life that I spent at Christian City!
Christian City helped me develop into the man I am today. If I had been raised with my “real” family, the path that I would have followed would not have led me to this same place in my life!
Since hindsight is 20/20, I can now see how God moved and worked things out for my good, and Christian City was that vessel used to work His plan for me! Christian City is so different now than when I first came in 1973. My first house parents were Fred and Anita Parks. They had two young daughters, Angela and April, that were close to my age. I even remember their dog, Toby!
Our cottage had both boys and girls, and I remember that we were all young and we were all strangers. And even though this was all new and overwhelming, some of the new things I got to experience for the first time were not so bad. The Parks were the first people that I remember ever showing me unconditional love – love with no strings attached. I was not used to that. I thought that if you loved someone, you had to prove it! This unconditional love “thing” was awesome!
As time went on, I had several different house parents, but God saved the best for last in Lois McGhee! I am the associate Pastor at the church in Nashville that Lois attends, and I introduce Lois to others as my Mom. I can honestly say that Lois’ example of Christ in her life put the finishing touches on my personal development. Christian City provided that! One of my life verses came as a result of Lois’ wonderful example. It comes from 1 Corinthians 11:1. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Each house parent left their impression on me. Each brought something new to the table that helped to train me or remind me that I was someone special. And not just house parents! People on the administrative side were intimately involved in the ministry of Christian City. People like Sandra Walker, Dr. Cocker, Mr. Pew, Bob Puckett, Ruth Groover and Normer Adams! They all were used by God through Christian City!
The 17 years I lived at Christian City provided so many wonderful things: family, friends for a lifetime, unconditional love, self-worth, how to be an overcomer, to be a servant, and most importantly, they introduced me to Christ.
I followed up by graduating from Point University. Then I traveled in a Christian rock band and met my amazing wife Amy to whom I have been married to for 24 years (at this writing in November 2019). I have three incredible kids. Our oldest son is 24 and pursuing a career in music. Our second son is 20 and plays football and rugby. And our 14-year-old daughter loves basketball and Bible Bowl.
I have been in the ministry for almost 34 years now. I am presently at Lakeshore Christian Church in Nashville where I have been for the last 23 years! My desire for ministry came out of being at Christian City. I was a witness to all the different kids that came through, their stories and their situations. They all needed something different, and in every circumstance, Christian City was able to provide.
Christian City started with a vision. That vision took root and the ministry continues to bear much fruit! I may not always understand God’s plan and purpose for my life. But, I know now that Christian City was that instrument being used by God for me; and I believe that Christian City, as part of God’s purpose and plan, is still being used today!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)