Megan and her houseparents laugh as they walk together. The sun-drenched greens of the grass and trees across the Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Kennedy Home campus in Kinston reverberate their joy as they chatter.
Megan, left, being held by some of the girls in her house at Kennedy Home, found a fresh start at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. She is a freshman in college now.
“My houseparents are awesome. They are Jennifer and Blake Lewis,” the 18-year-old says. “They’ve been very supportive of me. They’ve fought a lot of battles for me since I’ve been here.”
Megan’s life today shines in bright contrast against the backdrop of a tumultuous childhood. She still wrestles with past trauma that has carved deep emotional scars. Growing up, she was exposed to a life that dragged her family into darkness. “The drugs got to be too much. The alcohol, the abuse got worse and worse,” according to Megan. “I was so young and didn’t understand a lot of what was going on. I just knew that I wasn’t going to have my dad anymore or my mom anymore.”
It all became too much. It took its toll on Megan as her family was torn apart.
“I kind of felt like I was trapped and had nowhere else to go. It was a rough time for me,” she divulges. “I kind of hit rock bottom.”
BCH became a place where Megan could rise out of the darkness and begin to heal and start the journey of overcoming her struggles and fears. She arrived at Kennedy Home Nov. 4, 2014.
She found a fresh start and a new home with the girls and houseparents at Blackwell Cottage. “The girls in the cottage are great. Living with a bunch of girls, of course, there’s going to be drama. It’s like one big family – it took a while for me to figure out they were there for me.”
Megan kept her hurts locked up tightly. She carried a great deal of anger because of her past. In her houseparents, she discovered adults who cared for her and were ready to listen. “They’re great,” she says.
“I feel like I can open up to them – and opening up is very hard for me to do.”
Kennedy Home has also played a crucial role in helping Megan grow in her relationship with God. She says that praying more has been important and things have become better.
“I got baptized on June 6 of last year,” she shares, “and that was kind of a really big deal for me.”
In high school, she flourished as a member of the school’s jazz band where her love for music grew, and she honed her ability to play the flute.
When visiting churches as part of a BCH presentation, she often shows her gratitude to North Carolina Baptists for their support by performing a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
“The support and prayers you put into BCH and all the kids mean a lot to us,” she shared recently with a congregation. “We are able to see that there is somebody out there reaching out and making an effort to help change our lives.”
In sharing her thankfulness with friends and supporters, she also challenges them to continue offering the same hope she received to the other children and families BCH serves.
“What if we could make every child feel loved and that the things that happened in their past don’t matter?” she says. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to know that you don’t have to go back to that.”
One of the most personal and powerful testimonies Megan shares with others is a poem she wrote before graduating high school.
“For my English class, I was asked to write a poem about where I am from,” Megan says. “Given my past, that was very hard for me. Bits of my past I don’t like to remember – but it’s made me who I am today.”
Megan has stepped confidently into a bright new day. She recently moved from Kennedy Home in eastern North Carolina to the western mountains. A freshman at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, the flutist is pursuing a degree in music education and hopes to become a band director. The teenager is thankful for the opportunity to realize that dream.
Megan knows the support and safety net she has in BCH is just as important today as it was when she first arrived at Kennedy Home two years earlier.
“I’m still growing,” she says. “There are things I struggle with every day … There are still things I go through – but I’m confident I will be successful. I think that Kennedy Home and Baptist Children’s Homes have been a big part of that.”
Megan’s story is an important part of BCH’s 2016 Annual Offering. Visit bchoffering.org to watch this year’s video “I Am” and to download resources to promote the offering. You can also watch Megan share her powerful poem by visiting bchnc.org/poembch.