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Children’s home upbringing fuels his love for at-risk children

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Dana Watson is compassionately drawn to the restlessness and confusion he sees in the lives of inner-city children in Fort Worth, Texas. He struggled with those same feelings at age 10 when he was placed in the care of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes in Mobile.

Today at age 27, Watson gives much of the credit for his self-confidence and spiritual boldness to Marie and Jim Marchetti, his children’s homes houseparents whom he calls Mom and Dad.

The Marchettis traveled 10 hours by car to witness a milestone in Watson’s life — his graduation from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He was awarded two master of arts degrees May 10: one in ministry-based evangelism and the other in Christian education.

“Dana’s seminary graduation is special not only for Jim and I as his parents, but for every person who has contributed to the children’s homes in one way or another, the Cooperative Program, our churches that have supported Dana, the dentists who provided care for his teeth, and the doctors who cared for the rest of his health,” Marie Marchetti said.

Jim Marchetti recalled that when Watson came to the children’s homes, he was “a little skinny boy with very, very crooked teeth. He was just bouncing off the walls real hyper, and he came from a family that was very broken with a lot of psychological problems. Dana has overcome all of this with the help of thousands of people. We can all stand up and yell ‘Yea! We’ve made it!'”

Much of the financial help and various letters of encouragement to Watson at seminary came from Cottage Hill Baptist Church, his home congregation in Mobile. “Dana’s spiritual outlook broadened enormously in seminary along with his knowledge of the Word and his knowledge of how to react in different situations,” Marie Marchetti said. “His inner-city ministry has definitely grown him spiritually, and he has become such a very wise young man in his knowledge of how to work with others who are in desperate need.”

Watson’s in-depth Bible studies and practical ministry in the after-school program of Buckner Children and Family Services at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth have been major sources of his spiritual growth. Many of the at-risk children he continues to help are about the same age he was when he came to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes.

“Because of Dana’s background, he has been able to work with the kids without being judgmental,” said Alex Morrison, Watson’s supervisor. “He understands some of the hardships and strife these kids are going through, and he has used that to his benefit to be able to work with them. In a sense, he believes that if he can help these kids, maybe they can avoid some of the pitfalls he has gone through in his life.”

The Marchettis said they have seen Watson heed their instruction to study the Bible diligently. “Dana is a very loving, caring and sharing young man who truly loves people, and I expect Dana to go just as far as God wants to take him,” Marie Marchetti said.
Bob Murdaugh is director of communications for Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BUOYED BY HOUSEPARENTS.

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  • Bob Murdaugh