by Elissa Farley
The Baptist Children's Home has had the pleasure of housing many generations of children and also animals provided by our amazing community. This opportunity has allowed us to teach our kids many beautiful values and accumulate memories that build their core for a lifetime.
When the kids are able to interact with the animals on campus, it gives them belonging. The animal they care for from the beginning is theirs, and they can be proud of that. It also challenges them to think beyond themselves. Caring for and working for something strengthens their work ethic and teamwork. It is also a great comfort for all our kids with traumatic histories. For example, Chris, who was afraid of dogs and large animals after a long summer of barn work, was no longer afraid to pet a goat, clean pig pens, or chase chickens. He proudly tells us, "I got this."
Relationships are such a big part of our ministry; coming alongside our kids and encouraging them to love all life, from the small kittens, rabbits, and chickens to the big pigs, horses, and goats. This gives house parents and staff a huge opportunity to love our kids and even laugh with them as they try something new. We can build their confidence and self-esteem, praise them when they work hard, and even encourage them more on hard days. Sometimes interactions with animals takes a kid's hard phone call or tough morning and turns it into a new start.