Linda Morgan crystallizes the plight of thousands of children by telling the stories of a few whose pain represents the many she’s ministered to in 36 years at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH).
“We served a little boy who had been locked in the closet all of his life,” says Morgan quietly, memory giving her pause even as she shares. “He came to us at age 12 and wore size 3 clothes. We served a young lady who saw her mom pass away and a girl who saw her mother kill her father with an ax…”
Morgan, who started in 1973 as a secretary at the Broyhill Home campus in Clyde while it was still under construction, grew in responsibility until four years ago she was named director of BCH’s western area services.
Her constant smile and relentless love for children made her the face of that area many years ago.
She is not impressed with herself or her title. A frequent speaker in churches she introduces herself simply as Linda Morgan, child of God, who works for Baptist Children’s Homes.
“God allowed me to come at that time to allow me to see His hand being used in that area to help people support BCH and turn that little blackberry patch into a haven of hope for kids and their families,” Morgan said of her involvement since the third of the original five cottages was under construction.
She saw people sacrifice for the hope they had and the help they heard was on the way. Haywood Baptist Association churches held penny drives to fund the cottage that bears their name.
A Haywood County girl herself, Morgan attended groundbreaking in1969, little knowing a few years later she would start working there and eventually rededicate her life to Christ and Christian service in the parking lot, after watching Christian child care workers demonstrate what it means to live surrendered to Christ.
“From that point on I felt that was where God wanted me. He had a special place for me there and had special plans,” she said. “I’ve never changed my thoughts about that.”
Now their supervisor, Morgan says the child care workers and staff at BCH are “God called.”
“You can see the way He uses them when you’re dealing with troubled children,” she said. “In a day and age when resident care is not considered the placement of choice, God has places such as Broyhill Home and BCH, and He uses the people He sends there just like home missionaries.”
Children who come into the care of Baptist Children’s Homes come from dysfunctional families disrupted by abuse, neglect, divorce, poverty and bad decisions. “They come from families who need us as much as the children need us,” Morgan said. Parents need parenting skills, to learn how to establish discipline and set boundaries and nurture values.
“Kids need someone and want someone to tell them what to do, to tell them the difference between right and wrong,” Morgan said. “If no one is there, they make their own choices.”
Children who enter care angry and defiant learn they are safe and can begin to trust and feel good about themselves. At that point they can implement change and begin to see a future for themselves other than the negative, destructive prospects patterned by their families and friends.
Morgan, 56, is concerned about changes in government funding that straps North Carolina counties for funds to support the 10,000 children in their custody. While residential placement like BCH often is in the best interest of the child, decisions will be made not on quality of care, but on quantity of cash.
Even at when a department of social services places a child in care and pays the state-mandated “board rate,” the payment doesn’t come close to covering the cost of care. In BCH’s 124-year history North Carolina Baptist churches have made the difference with their support.
Morgan has witnessed countless special moments in her nearly four decades of service to children. As a whole the ones she remembers most vividly are “those moments when you see memories being made in a child’s life,” she said. She lists a child’s first sight of the ocean or walk on the beach; a first roller coaster ride or when they realize they have their own room and yes, that they can eat a second meal that day…and even a third.
Morgan, whose only children are those she pours her life into at BCH, sees those moments in children and regrets their parents’ missed opportunities. She loves to see sparkle return to the eyes of children who entered care angry, defiant and lost.
“That’s what it’s all about,” she said, “mending a broken heart and seeing a life change.”
That work is a partnership, she said, between BCH and North Carolina Baptists who support it day by day with dollars and prayers.
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