Students Become the Teachers

The Fires & Refinement of the Class of 2021
How would you survive if you were bounced between 30 different foster care home or had dozens of siblings? Imagine being forced to go to a new country where no one speaks the only language you know. What would you do if you had the responsibility of caring for five children, all under the age of five years, without the most basic of resources? What if, in the blink of an eye, an accident causes you to suffer a near fatal brain injury that leaves the majority of its victims unable to ever speak or walk again? To any adult, these tasks would be daunting. To a child, they would seem impossible to overcome. For the Show-Me Christian School Class of 2021, these are challenges they have faced and came out victorious. Battles that have not broken them. Trials that have strengthened, refined, and inspired them to set out on a mission that God has uniquely designed each to complete.

From a Junker to God’s Classic

For most of his life, Michael thought of himself as a junker car that was ugly, dented, and unwanted. Born to drug-addicted parents, Michael bounced between 30 different foster homes before he was adopted at the age of 5. He acted out trying to be “cute” as he desperately worked to earn his new parents’ affection. His “cuteness” may have gotten him noticed as little child in the foster homes, but his antics created more negative effects as he got older. At school, kids would pick on the childish, short, skinny kid who was always trying to get the teacher’s attention. The bullying made him afraid to talk to other kids or make friends. It led to a vicious cycle of problems and isolation. Michael struggled in school, each year falling further behind. For eight years, Michael constantly worried that his adopted family might not want him either. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Michael would lie, telling the adults what he thought they wanted to hear. As he got older, his sadness boiled over into anger, then depression. Feeling lost and without purpose, he tried to take his life in 5th grade. His parents felt helpless. If the years of counseling and trying everything they knew didn’t help, what else could they do? Someone told them about Show-Me in 2014. They realized that the structured daily routine, positive Christian atmosphere, and one-on-one teaching style was an environment in which
Michael could thrive. “I thought it was going to be a vacation from home – boy was I wrong” Michael laughed. “It isn’t easy, but Show-Me is a fresh start for us kids coming here.”

When 13-year-old Michael sat down for lunch on his first day, he realized there was something different about this place. Miguell, an older 8th grader, sat next to him and started to talk with him. Michael didn’t have to do or say anything to earn his friendship, this guy wanted to be his friend. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t feel lost or alone. Over the next few years, Michael learned to accept the love of family. Focusing on his studies and with extra help, he caught up in school. He discovered his mechanical gifts and learned the value of hard work by assisting his houseparents with hands-on projects – gifts he hopes one day to use in his own automotive shop. The biggest change came the day he heard Pastor Alan talk about what Christ’s sacrifice meant. It not only showed God’s love for us, but it was proof that each of our lives have purpose.

Trusting in that love and believing for the first time that his life truly did have purpose, Michael asked to be baptized. Michael no longer worries about earning God’s love or being wanted. He knows that he is a child of the King of Kings. In his senior devotion message this March, Michael used the illustrations of cars to explain to his classmates how God rescues and restores each of our lives. Michael knows that he
is not the worthless junk car he once believed he was. He is a classic Mustang that God is in the process of restoring.

Hope in Hidden Answers

Ever think having a brother or sister can be a lot to deal with, try having 42! Sadie has been a part of Show-Me all 18 years of her life. Never the oldest and rarely the youngest, she learned to be very observant, keep calm, and find organization in chaos. The details of each siblings story’s may be different, but all share a common factor – they are children caught in the crossfire of struggling families. They are broken lives who don’t understand how or why they ended up in this situation. Many are angry because so much is out of their control and fearful their life is destined to turn out like their parents. Sadie saw that the thing her brothers and sisters were really searching for was hope: hope for their future found in answers from their past. It is that hope that compels Sadie to seek a career in criminal justice. “The love, loss, and hope I’ve learned and gone through has taught me to want to fight for hope for others,” stated Sadie. “Working for a federal crime fighting agency, my wish is to give hope to the families and loved ones of the victim by finding answers, solving cases, and preventing the suspect from
destroying more lives.”

Failure Leads to Success

When Jonas arrived in Missouri to meet his adoptive parents, he could only speak and read in his native Ethiopian language of Amharic. Communication was a great challenge since no one else around him could speak it. Without words, how could he let people know how he was feeling or what he needed? Even though over the next few years he would learn English, his difficulty in communicating snowballed into more problems. Jonas began his education three grades behind. The language barrier made
learning extremely slow and frustrating. Despite putting in many extra hours of work, Jonas fell more and more behind in school. His inability to communicate left him feeling angry and alone. He began to believe the lies in his head that he was a disappointment to everyone, he would never be good enough, and he could only count on himself for help. His anger grew more out of control each year, even to the point where he needed to be physically restrained to calm down. Finally, realizing Jonas needed more help than they could give him at home, his parents reached out to Show-Me. The new environment was good for Jonas. The individualized school program allowed him to go at his own pace. The smaller
class sizes and additional help from his teachers gave him the means to understand. He finally had the tools he needed to catch up in school and graduate. Yet, if you ask Jonas what led to his success the most, he will tell you it’s “failure.” In his endless failed attempts to be “good enough,” he realized that no matter how much he accomplished or how many people liked him, he was never going to be worthy in everyone’s eyes. It is an impossible task to achieve. “Nothing matters except how God sees you,” realized Jonas. “God loves us for who we are, not what we accomplish or what we have. If God considered me – flaws and all – worthy, maybe I could, too.” Jonas began listening and trusting the people that God
was sending to help him. In failing on his own, He learned success could be found in trusting God and the community of support He sends for guidance.

A Rough Start for a Greater Cause

Ana never really had a childhood. The oldest of five siblings, Ana became the caretaker early on while her mother was out. There was no time to think about what Ana wanted or how Ana felt, she had a job to do. Her siblings needed her. That all changed in 2010. Two ladies from a Vacation Bible School told her mom about Show-Me. The next thing seven year-old Ana knew, she and her five younger siblings were
living at Show-Me. Her old job was taken away. Her new job was to be a kid. “I was overwhelmed because I didn’t know what to do since they didn’t want me taking care of my siblings,” Ana recounts.
Over the next few years, Ana saw how God had always been watching out for her. She remembered how an unexpected- person seemed to pop into their lives at just the right time when they needed food, a place to stay, or some other kind of help. She realized how God had protected them from the bad people
finding them.

Seeing that the God of the Bible, who was always there for His people, was the same one in her life, Ana accepted Christ. “Jesus used my bad life for a greater cause: my growing and maturing in Him (my Savior),” Ana stated. “Jesus led, not by forcing others to follow, but by being the model that made others choose to follow.” Desiring to be that positive role model, Ana heads this fall to college to become a social worker. She hopes to shows young people, who look like her, that they can beat the odds, too. “I want kids, who feel broken like I did, to see that they can overcome their past,” Ana said. “They can find another way to succeed, and not become the statistics society says they will be.”

Focus on God Can, Not “I Can’t”

Brendan’s life changed in a instant that day in 2016. Playing tag, he ran into a volleyball net, which caught him by the face and slammed his head against the hard floor causing his skull to fracture. He was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy Hospital. The doctor’s warned his traumatic brain injury (TBI) might
cause him to never be able to see, walk, or talk again. His only chance was to have an emergency surgery to remove the blood clot on his brain and put in two titanium plates. Over the following months, the physical pain slowly decreased but the emotional struggles increased. To give his brain a chance to heal, the doctors told him he had to eliminate most physical activity for the next two years. Thinking about all
the things he could no longer do made Brendan become more and more depressed. How could God let this happen? Maybe he should just give up and accept that he could no longer ever have a “normal” life as an independent adult.

Then, Brendan made a decision. He would not give up! He would focus on what he could control and trust God to take care of the rest. Philippians 4:13 became his life verse. Brendan might not be able to do certain things, but through Christ’s strength, he could do what God wanted him to do. He focused on his school work and strengthening his muscles a little every day. Over the next four years, Brendan’s dedication and faith revealed a bigger picture that he had once missed. In rehab, he saw other young men, who had suffered TBI injuries. These men could not talk, walk, or do basic life functions. Seeing Brendan and the progress he was making gave these men hope. Those men helped Brendan realize that God didn’t abandon him in his injury. He shielded him, sent people to encourage him, and be with him
through every step. Instead of being upset about what he couldn’t do, Brendan is now grateful for all
the things that he can do.

Choosing the Refiner’s Fire

A few years ago, the members of the Class of 2021 might have written their life’s stories a little
different if they had the choice. Now, they are grateful for each moment of their testimony. In the
refiner’s fire their eyes were opened. In the flames they saw how they are not alone. God was and will
always be there with them through every step. He uses experiences the world wants us to believe
can only destroy a life to strengthen and refine His children into the change agents He will use to
transform for good their families, communities, and world. As the Class of 2021 has shown, we
only need to be brave enough to trust Him and the work He is doing.

 

By |2021-06-16T17:16:41-05:00May 31st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Events, Teen, Testimony|

Character Above Championships

Developing the Foundation for Lifelong Victories

Winning will never be the goal of the Show-Me Christian School Athletic program. Angel teams have reached the heights of state championships and the lows of finishing a season without a single win. Yet, every year, players achieve priceless victories.

Sports provide many benefits to any child; for a child growing up at Show-Me, it can be the catalyst to victory over issues they struggle with in school, at home, or in their adult life.

An Ideal Training Ground for Life

Athletic participation breeds success where traditional methods fall short: motivating a child, understanding abstract concepts, and seeing the results of perseverance. As one housedad explained, “My teenage daughter gets frustrated because she can’t always see the gradual growth she is making in her life. Sports gives her a measurable way to see the progress. When she first arrived, she couldn’t dribble a basketball. Now, she is a starting player on the varsity team.”

The structure of team practice and coaching mimics Show-Me’s family model of restoration. At home, the child may still unconsciously revert to emotional barriers to protect themselves. On the court, the player is more open to listen to the coach’s instruction because there is no negative past to overcome.

Sports directly addresses many of the root problems caused by their previous environment. Exercise is a natural way to reduce anxiety and depression. Working out daily, kids eat and sleep better. This leads to better memory and improved concentration. Physical activity provides a child a safe outlet to let out their anger or energy.

Being part of a team gives young people an edge over their peers in areas beyond physical health. Through the discipline of practice, they develop lifelong skills of self-control, responsibility, goal-setting, and time-management. Working with teammates forces them to communicate, trust others, and learn to control their emotions. Each player brings a different value to the team. But, for the team to reach its full potential, each individual must know and do his or her part. Following the guidance of coaches, all players must move in the same direction, toward the same goal.

Games provide a snapshot of the unfair, competitive adult world they will face. Referees will miss a call, people will foul, and they will sometimes miss a shot or fail. Sports is another opportunity for Show-Me to coach and walk our young people through the numerous kinds of challenges all adults must navigate. By experiencing them now, they can safely fail and learn how to overcome them, rather than have them derail their life as they face them alone as an adult.

The Spark To Ignite a Life of Success

Academics, athletics, and the arts are the places most kids first discover they have talents. Once they realize success in one area of their life, it flows into all areas. That first discovery is critical in developing self-confidence and the courage to try new things.

“Before coming to Show-Me, the only place that most of our kids can find these opportunities is at home or in school,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “Unfortunately, there is little chance finding it at home because of the dysfunction. If a child does not find it in academics, they can feel they have no value.”

Part of the restoration process is ensuring each child knows they have value and God-given gifts. The school offers programs in music, arts, drama, and sports to  provide avenues of discovery.

For many, Show-Me is the only chance they have to be part of a sports team. Most kids arrive at Show-Me never having played on a team and without basic skills. Although not mandatory, every child is encouraged to participate in sports and join a team starting in 5th grade.

The sports program has evolved over the decades from pick-up games on the front lawn to informally arranged matches with other small schools. Uniforms consisted of whatever resources could be found. Names and numbers were ironed on to donated jerseys. Games were held at other local schools’ fields or at the Show-Me multi on a hard linoleum floor marked with tape.

In 2015, Show-Me joined the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association (MCSAA). The Angels now compete in a 16-game schedule against six other Christian schools in the MOKAN conference. A state tournament is held at the end of each season in Joplin, MO, to determine the state champion and give out awards.

Transforming Losers Into Champions

Championships once only seemed a dream in 2016. Across every sport, each team has finished their inaugural season with a losing record. The girls volleyball team did not win a single game their first season. Yet, as one player encouraged her coach at the end of season, “winning does not matter compared to the things we have been through in life.”

In fact, losing may be the best thing that could have happened. “You learn a lot more from losing than winning,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “You find out who you are and what you value.”

The experience united and motivated the girls. Many of the older players took on leadership roles and began mentoring their younger teammates. The players used any extra moment they could to practice including during their school breaks. Their determination was rewarded as each season they won more and more games. In 2019, the girls team saw their dream become a reality when they won the state championship in volleyball.

The secret to their success didn’t lie in their individual skills, but in the bond of their team. The more the team played as one, the better the results on the scoreboard. The attitude of one player could build or break that bond.

“Our coaches taught us that we have to be intentional in our encouragement,” stated Sadie, a senior on the team. “This experience has the potential to shape and mold us in either a positive or negative way. We determine if we are going to waste it or use it to turn us into something beautiful. We are going to work hard either way.”

Having an attitude of encouragement has been a hallmark of Show-Me sports. Numerous times since joining the MCSAA, Show-Me has won the MOKAN Conference Sportsmanship award, given to the team whose players have most reflected Christ-like attitude and character both on and off the court.

Angel Pride

The growth of the sports programs not only has impacted the players, but it has become a focal point of pride and motivation for the bigger Show-Me community. “Kids do not always take pride in academics, but they do in sports and for their team,” stated R.J. Bachtold, a teacher at the school and Show-Me Athletic Director. “You can see that sense of pride in the students as they walk past the Angels logo going from their locker to their classroom.”

The benefits of their athletic experience will remain long after they have taken off their Angels jersey for the last time. The challenges they face as adults will not be so daunting as they remember that with hard work, practice, coaching, and a team of support surrounding them, that victory is possible!

 

By |2021-01-31T13:00:04-06:00January 31st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Sports, Teen|

High School Students Serve in Chicago

Over spring break, this past week, our high school students had the opportunity to serve others. They loaded up the vans with four of our house parents, and traveled to Chicago. Throughout the week they served at Pacific Garden Mission, a ministry that serves the homeless in the downtown Chicago area. They helped by making hundreds of beds, serving hundreds of lunches, and resetting the dining room for dinner each day. The mission does not only function as overnight housing for guest, they also have long-term programs that help people get back on their feet. These programs include intense Bible studying and teaching basic life skills to those in the program. The kids worked each day with men who are in the New Life program. These men oversee almost all the functions of the mission and supervised our group during our time there.

Each day we began with a devotion, led by the students. As the week went on, all of the students expressed how impressed they were with the men we were working with. Most of them shared how fortunate they felt to have a place like Show-Me that has stepped in to help take care of their needs. They realized that with out Show-Me their life could have taken a very different path, probably not much different from many of the men we encountered. Through serving these men, women and children the kids had the chance to experience something they will remember for quite sometime. We hope to give our kids many more opportunities like this in the future.

By |2017-04-17T15:37:44-05:00April 17th, 2017|Categories: Children, Teen, Uncategorized|

Jerrica’s Story: Rebuilding Bridges

For many of the 2,000 children who have called Show-Me “home,” the path that brought them here was treacherous—one filled with neglect, fear, and uncertainty. Some have been homeless, some have parents in prison, and some of the kids got in trouble with the law themselves where Show-Me was their only alternative to juvenile detention. For others, their guardians’ just felt like Show-Me could provide them with a better life than they could on their own.

Jerrica’s journey is a fairly typical case. She joined our Show-Me family when she was 14 years old. By the time she reached our doors, she had been placed in home after home staying with countless faces. Nothing seemed to work out. “My whole life was a mess. Nobody wanted me. Nobody trusted me. I had burnt all my bridges,” remembers Jerrica.

The thought of graduation and a positive future seemed an unachievable goal. “I never believed I would make much of my life,” said Jerrica. “The idea of graduating in 2012 seemed a million years away. I kept telling myself that I was never going to make it. I should just give up and drop out now.”

Life at Show-Me wasn’t easy at first. Her rebellious attitude and distrust of everybody and everything made “fitting in” difficult. In her eyes, no one seemed to want her. Searching for acceptance, she acted out to try to be “strong” and “hard.” But, her Show-Me houseparents, Jeff and Jessica Weber, would not give up on her. They accepted her for who she was, not how she acted. She became a part of their family providing her with a structure and stability she never had before. That love and guidance changed Jerrica. She began to trust others and with that trust, slowly, came change.

Jerrica has now blossomed. She is active in her youth group, loves to help with the other kids on campus, and always has a smile on her face. She finished her studies early and will not only graduate, but receive her diploma with honors after managing a 3.5 GPA.

Our new Path-to-Purpose program has helped unite her passion for kids with a solid plan and set of resources. She has earned a number of scholarships and is working this summer at a nearby Christian camp to help with school expenses. She will start college in August at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri working toward her degree in Elementary Education. She hopes to teach Second Grade and make a difference in children’s lives.

“I don’t like thinking of where I would be if it weren’t for God. Before, I dreaded each day. I didn’t know what I would do, who I would meet or where my mom would take me. Now I feel safe and secure,” exclaimed Jerrica. “For the first time, I am excited about the next part of my life and ready to get there. I know it is going to be a bright future and I know I have a huge family who always has my back!”

 

Shambrishia’s Story: A Family of Her Own

Shambrishia Jones appreciates her family more than words can say. She knows what a blessing they are, because she knows what it is like to be separated from your family and not have a place to call home.

Born to parents who were too young to care for her, she spent the first few years of her life with her grandparents. After five years, they decided it was time for her parents to be responsible for her and her three siblings. Her mom and dad struggled to provide any stability. She remembers, “we moved around a lot, living at homes of my aunts and uncles and with people we did not know. We lived in cars at times and were always going to lots of parties.”

In 1990, nine-year-old Shambrisha, her sister and brothers were placed in foster care. While she admits foster care may have taken her out of a dangerous situation, it also struggled to provide stability. None of the homes could accommodate her whole family, so she kept being separated from her sister and brothers.

“All the foster homes that we stayed in were short term — some were for a year, for others it was only months until we had to move to a different (foster) home and begin again,” said Shambrishia.

Six years and six different foster homes later, her case worker came to her with the news she had been waiting so long to hear. She had finally found her a place where she and her sister, Yoshi, could be together until they were grown. That place was Show-Me Christian Youth Home.

“When I first came to Show-Me I was scared, but also happy. I didn’t know where I was going to be or who I was going to live with, but I knew at least I was going to live with my sister.”

Shambrishia joined the Chaney family in Camdenton. “I finally had a safe, secure and stable, long-term home,” she recounts. After a year that stable home grew into a life-long family when Shambrishia and Yoshi were adopted by the Chaney family.

“Not only did Show-Me allow me to be a part of the Show -Me family, they also gave me a loving, caring, patient, understanding family to call my own.”

After graduating from high school, Shambrishia attended Ozark Christian College, and then returned to Show-Me to provide daycare for the little ones and serve as a relief houseparent. Miss Brishia is still remembered for her big smile, contagious laughter, joyful spirit, and a hug for all the children that spent time in her home. “I wanted to show each of these kids the love of God just as I experienced it growing up here,” she said.

In 2008, God spread that love across the United States when she married Derrick Jones and moved to Maryland to start a family of her own. Their family grew and now includes a daughter, Alayna. Miss Brishia continues to help children at a local public school as an Additional Adult Assistant for children with autism.

“I learned from Show-Me how to be patient with people and make sure I show them that I care about them,” said Shambrishia. “What impacted me the most was the love that Show-Me has for each child no matter where you came from, what brought you to Show-Me, your race or disability. Show-Me accepted me and showed me love — God’s love. As a child that made me feel safe, secure and stable. It showed me that everything was going to be okay. That is what I needed.”

 

By |2016-10-24T22:32:43-05:00September 17th, 2012|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Teen, Testimony|