Baptist Children’s Homes Find Opportunity Amid Crisis

Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home house dad Randy Lee has been holding group guitar lessons to take advantage of the extra time boys have at the home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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NASHVILLE (BP) — Children who come from hard places need to have the chance to feel safe and loved, said Randy Lee, residential parent with Louisiana Baptist Children’s Homes.

Lee and his wife have served as “house parents” at an all-boy residential home since 2014.

Feeling a call to children’s home ministry while serving as a worship leader and children’s pastor, Lee said the journey to his current role took five years as he waited on God’s timing and prayed for opportunities.

The children he now cares for come from homes where there was sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

“They come out of very tough circumstances and have no idea what a healthy family is supposed to look or feel like,” Lee said.

Showing the children that a better home life is possible and telling them as much as he can about a God who loves them are his biggest desires, Lee noted.

However, many of the children want to go back to their original homes, even if those homes are dysfunctional.

“Our role is to guide them through this transition time and love them through it,” Lee said. “Some return home, some are adopted and some may go to other foster homes.”

Lee and his wife oversee every aspect of the boys’ lives, seeking to make it as normal as possible, while acknowledging that there is nothing normal about being in the foster care system.

“Normal” life includes taking part in sports and going to doctor appointments, youth group activities, movies, school events and other outings.

“The goal is to do all the things that kids normally do and have a godly influence wherever we can,” Lee said.

But with the recent developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, those normal life events that Lee worked so hard to provide have been mostly eliminated.

“An event like COVID-19 can really be tough on the kids,” Lee said. “I do not know if they fully understand how global this is and what a historic time we are in. They just know that they can’t see friends or go anywhere. This event has put a lot of pressure on us to keep these kids busy and engaged and not let them just drift through the days. At times this can be very challenging.”

Lee said they have tried to develop an alternative schedule for the boys to follow to get them into a positive routine.

But without the ability to go to school, the boys in the cottage have had trouble feeling independent and occupied, Lee said.

“Most of our boys are well behind in school and have not been good students,” Lee explained. “By no fault of their own, they have lots of catch-up to do in their education.”

Perry Hancock, president and CEO of Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, said the resident home parents, like Lee, have taken on more responsibility with the closing of schools and recreational activities.

“Cottage parents are now cooking all meals,” Hancock said. “Before, the schools and our part-time cooks provided meals. In addition, cottage parents are providing supervision for online school assignments. They are also serving as a recreation staff for the children. We normally have a recreation staff after school for the children. So every day is a full day of work for our cottage parents.”

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Source: Baptist Press