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Book chronicles lives redeemed through children’s home ministry

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Most didn’t understand why they were there. Many didn’t want to be there. A few tried to run away. But in the end the majority began to treasure the love and care they received.
Since 1903, more than 9,000 children have gone through the doors of Baptist Children’s Homes in Oklahoma. The stories of 75 of those children are told in a new book released by Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and compiled by James V. Browning, who served 32 years as superintendent of the Oklahoma City children’s home.
The 382-page paperback book, titled “Great Things He Has Done,” is filled with both the tears and laughter of those who are now adults looking back, in their own words, on their days in the care of the children’s homes.
Browning said he was approached by former children’s home resident Stephen Foster, who now lives in Chesterfield, Mo., about writing a history of the children’s home.
“For a long time I had considered writing some kind of book about the children’s home,” Browning said, “but while reading ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ I came up with the idea of short testimonies from those who lived in the home.”
Browning wrote 100 alumni asking them to write their life stories — why they had to leave their families, what they found at the home, how they felt about living in the home, what they have done in life — from an adult perspective.
“We have stories from those with earned doctorates, law degrees, missionaries, nurses, schoolteachers and successful business people,” Browning recounted.
The book contains stories from adoptees, those in foster homes, children in each of the institutions in Oklahoma City, Owasso and Madill, as well as Boys Ranch Town in Edmond. There are also stories from the Crisis Pregnancy Center, longtime employees and an OBHC board member. The oldest writer is 84-year-old Beatrice Roberts.
“Among the writers are those of Caucasian, Native American, African American, Hispanic, Filipino, Korean, Chinese and Japanese,” Browning noted. “Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children has never discriminated based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious affiliation or inability to pay. We believe every child is a gift from God.”
Browning said he was surprised by how many wrote their stories and mentioned shedding buckets full of tears.
“One girl, now a paralegal in Houston, said. ‘… when I got through with my story, I had my three children read it. They said they were so glad I wrote it because they learned things about me they never knew,'” Browning related.
Browning delighted in hearing about what some of the 3,000-plus children he has come into contact with in his years with child care have done with their lives, he said.
“I receive great joy in seeing mistreated, unhappy children become happy adults who can live fruitful lives, who would have not at all changed had they not come to us,” he said. “This book is a collection of stories from individuals who suffered tragedies, griefs and difficulties in childhood that many adults never experience in a lifetime.”
In the introduction to the book, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Executive Director Anthony Jordan writes, “You will not be able to read this book without feeling a tug at your heart. When the last page is read you will breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to God for His bountiful blessings. As Oklahoma Baptists, you will rejoice in playing a part, through your giving, in such an incredible ministry.”
At the end of the book is a tribute to H. Truman Maxey, who served as superintendent of the Oklahoma City home and as director of child care of Oklahoma Baptists from 1935-70. Maxey died Aug. 19.
The book is available through the office of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger newsjournal, 3800 N. May, Oklahoma City, OK 73112, phone (405) 942-3800, ext. 340. Cost is $15 which covers postage, and may be charged to Visa or Mastercard.

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  • Dana Williamson