“I never believed this day would happen,” Amanda stated. “Most of my life, graduation felt like an impossible dream.” Her diploma symbolized more than just completing high school, it was the reassurance that her fear would NOT come true. Unlike what she was told growing up, she would not end up like her mom, who as a young teen became pregnant with her and dropped out of school.
With the support of her Show-Me family, she is on a path to get her CNA certificate in order to serve the elderly and help children like she once was – in need of a little extra attention to reach their God-given potential. “I never would have gotten here if it wasn’t for Show-Me,” she explained. “The school allowed me to catch up to where I needed to be and the teachers were always there to push me to strive and accomplish my goals!”
School Sets The Stage for Life
Growing up, Amanda called many places home. She attended numerous schools as she bounced from family to family. Moving so often made it hard to trust others, build healthy relationships, or keep up with her peers in school. Math was especially difficult for her.
She was placed in special education classes to try to help. Although only behind in math, being labeled a “Special Ed” kid made her believe she was an overall failure with little hope for a future. These feelings ate at her self-esteem leading her to increasingly become isolated, which made her more vulnerable to negative influences in her life. Things came to a boiling point in 2015. Soon after, she soon came to Show-Me.
Uncommon Solutions to Common Problems
Life didn’t magically get better when she arrived and joined the Watkins family. “At that point, I didn’t have much hope for myself,” Amanda said. “I didn’t care for anything.”
Despite having been in the 7th grade, she was at a 3rd grade level in Math and English. She was behind multiple grades in the rest of her subjects. Her situation was a familiar one to Show-Me, where it is not uncommon for the kids that find their way here to be four grade-levels behind where they should be. The battles that they face at home make keeping up with the rest of their class a struggle. Public schools do not always have the necessary resources or time to give the extra attention needed to help them catch up. Feelings of failure, depression, frustration, and anger can arise if the cycle continues and the gap widens.
In 2000, after being forced to dismiss too many children because they were suspended from the public school, Show-Me created a private, Christian school option to try and overcome some of the unmet challenges. Using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Program, each student is evaluated subject-by-subject to create their own academic path to complete their studies. Students learn at their own pace while working to reach daily goals. This approach empowers students to own their education and success. Many kids who were falling behind in their former schools are able to catch up and graduate high school on time.
The ACE program identified the subject concepts that Amanda missed. She began to show progress and pass her subjects as she followed a targeted approach using PACEs, the ACE program’s bite-sized workbooks designed for self-instructional thinking skills and the mastery of a subject. Whether at home or in class, there was always someone available to help her understand when she got stuck or confused since many of the houseparents also worked in the school.
The Show-Me Christian School (SMCS) went beyond helping her in core subjects like math, English, literature, science, and social studies. Interwoven into each lesson was a Christian world view with Scripture and one of 72 Biblical character traits – all designed to help develop moral character, a sense of accountability, and wisdom in her life. It was changing the way she thought of herself. “Here we are all the same, nobody looks at you different. For the first time, I never felt rushed or uncared for,” stated Amanda. “Having the freedom to go at my own speed made me want to try harder. I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had.”
Finding Her Stride
She discovered a number of talents and interests by participating in extra-curricular activities. She sang as part of the praise team for the weekly chapel services. Being around the animals in Leadership U (LU) provided safe emotional connections. “Horses and dogs don’t judge you, they are really good listeners,” she joked. She found that the concepts taught in LU applied to her life, too. “To accomplish my goals, I needed to calm down, have confidence, try harder, and above all never give up,” stated Amanda.
That same determination would carry over to success in sports. Amanda gained confidence as she played volleyball, basketball, and was part of the team that took first place in track at state. “There, I forget about everything else,” she said. “To play well, you can’t let doubt and fear follow you on the court.” She was named to the MOKAN all-conference second team in basketball and took top state honors in volleyball. But, her teammates were her biggest motivational factor. “If I wanted to play, I knew I had to find a way to do well in class,” she recounted. “I couldn’t let my team down.”
In the Path to Purpose Program, she learned key life skills like how to make a budget from the Dave Ramsey’s financial courses and how to drive. Job shadowing at local hospitals confirmed that she wanted to be a nurse and work with the elderly or kids with special needs.
Taking on a New Identity in Christ
Slowly, but surely, becoming an adult didn’t seem so scary when she realized that she was a part of God’s bigger family. At the age of 19, she decided to make the change official when she changed her name and asked to be adopted by the Watkins family. “My parents helped me succeed by believing in me, not giving up (even though at times I thought they would), and showing me how to love and be part of a family,” Amanda said. “I’ve learned that when there seems to be no one else, there is always God to rely on.”
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.” – Luke 2:10 Immanuel, which means “God with us,” changed everything. Hope arrived in Jesus. God had personally come to live among us, teach us, rescue and restore us, die for us, come back for us, and live in us through His Holy Spirit. Amazing! Inspiring! News we have to share!
In 2015, Show-Me shared that good news with a hurt, 16-year-old atheist who felt afraid, alone, and with little hope for a future:
Journey couldn’t fathom a God who loves and yet lets one of His children go through the awful things she endured as a child. If He was real, He was far away. That belief all changed at Show-Me. “God came to me through the people here,” stated Journey. “They didn’t just tell me about Him, they showed me Him by how they lived.” Seeing it through actions and not merely words, she began to believe. A few months later, she asked God to live in her heart and was baptized. This spring she will graduate and plans to go to college in the fall to study graphic design. God came alive to her at Show-Me!
YOUR continued support is a witness to Journey and the world that God is real – and He is WITH us – as Immanuel!
Here is one last opportunity in 2018 to share with children a “God with us” message. A group of donors just set a new Matching Gift Challenge to MATCH every gift given NOW until December 31st, 2018 – up to a total of at least $30,000 that is returned in the enclosed envelope or given online at https://www.showmehelpingkids.com/give/! I say “at least” because this challenge continues to grow as additional supporters step up to increase the matched amount.
Thank you for extending a hearty “God with us” message to the awesome kids at Show-Me! YOUR prayers and contributions ring the truth of Immanuel to young lives anxiously waiting to be rescued and restored.
Grateful for you,
Chad Puckett, Director
PS: Remember, your gift is DOUBLED and will have TWICE the impact
in response to this challenge! Make sure to postmark your gift by December 31st for 2018 tax benefits!
Double the Blessings for YOU and our children
Twenty-one years ago, as a single youth minister in Pittsburg, Kansas, God shook up my little world. I admired the work of Show-Me Christian Youth Home since my college days, as a volunteer with the Christian Campus House at Mizzou, and as an intern one summer. I intended to return “one day” to serve – “one day”, when married and with parenting experience. But, that day had not yet arrived. Nevertheless, my Father showed me the “multitudes” of children who needed a home and a family. They
longed for someone to invest in their lives, love them now and prepare them for a stable future. They were like shepherd-less sheep. Many prayers poured out for those kids, prayers for their provision and their security, prayers for them to have the home and families they deserve. I remember pleading with God. “Father, I see so many kids struggling without a home and family.” “Yes, I do, too.” “God, please provide them a home with a family who loves them.” “You do it. You take care of them. You provide their home. You become their family.”
“Me? I don’t have what it takes. God, those kids need a home with a father and a mother.” “A home with a father is better than no home at all.” At the end of a long list of excuses, He spoke tenderly to my heart: “Give me all you have and I promise I will make it more than enough.”
A Bachelor to the Rapture
A few months later, four boys started calling me “Dad.” God allowed me to be a father to some of the neatest kids I ever dreamed of meeting. I also served as Children’s Services Coordinator (aka “caseworker”) for all the kids at Show-Me. Gale and Karen Culler took me under their wings. I quickly caught their passion for this dynamic ministry.
I continued to long for the day I could provide these kids with a mother in the home. I prayed for her often, to have a passion for God and His work at Show-Me that rivaled my own. However, I started to accept the fact that I may be a “bachelor to the rapture.” With six boys in the home, I didn’t appear to be the most eligible bachelor in the world. And I was okay with that; God used single people to accomplish His purposes.
A Delivered Bride and 42 Children
Two years into ministry, a beautiful young lady interviewed for an internship. Admittedly, I’m not a “romantic type,” but there were some sparks! Jennifer started her internship in January 2000; in May I asked her to be my bride; we married in August. My Father gave me a wife beyond what I ever asked or imagined! In 2007, after Gale retired, Karen chose me to be an Associate Director. I questioned God again,
whether I had the “right stuff.” Again, He said, “Give me all you have, and I will make it more than enough.” Unfortunately, I would have to end our houseparenting role in order to make it work. In 2008, God opened up a window for us to depart from parenting at Show-Me. In ten years, He had blessed me to be “Dad” to 42 children!
In 2011, the Board readied to choose a new Director, as Karen retired after 34 years. Many people assumed I would be the natural choice, but the ambition to be the Director never enticed me, personally. After all, my business cards lacked those fancy extra letters after my name. Plain ol’ Chad Puckett doesn’t have what it takes to oversee
this incredible ministry.
Knee Patches & Big Shoes
After a time of prayer and fasting, essentially begging God to find someone else, I submitted my resume. God trumped my long list of self-identified disqualifications with that simple phrase, “You do it. Give me all you have and I will make it more than enough.” After two rounds of interviews with some impressive candidates, the Board chose me to succeed the Cullers in directing Show-Me. Terrified, I stepped into some really big shoes, relying on God like never before. The past seven years as Director seems like a few months. Tough days, long nights, successes, failures, and many
worn patches on my knees, I continue to remind God that this is His work, and I’m only here so He can get it done. Many times, I felt completely inadequate to do what
He asked me to do. Each time, my Father reminded me of the only miracle recorded in all four gospel accounts: Jesus feeding the 5,000. Jesus’ disciples saw the need: a hungry crowd. They suggested a solution: send them away to fend for themselves.
Jesus directed them: “You give them something to eat.” They focused on their limitations: “We don’t have what it takes.” Jesus assured them that if they
give what they have, He will make it more than enough. He showed them the problem and invited them to become part of the solution.
How Can We Send them away?
I’m standing here again. I see more children who need homes and families and all the opportunities to face a great future and excellent eternity that Show-Me is set up to provide. Every program and procedure has been evaluated to assure successful
results. Tough decisions have been made, programs have been developed and refined.
I look back through my life, and the last 50 years of Show-Me Christian Youth Home, and clearly see His fingerprints all over the place. I look at the lives of kids who benefited from Show-Me and the ways they are contributing to our society today. I look at the kids who currently call Show-Me “home” and see their potential and determination, rooted in the security and support they receive today.
Amazing. Satisfying. Inspiring. And, all the credit goes to God working through His people.
Each day, I still see the multitudes of little faces of children who have yet to find “home.” Instead of asking my Father to send them away to fend for themselves or to fill their needs elsewhere, I am trusting Him to take what we have and multiply our resources so we can meet their needs. And, with eager expectation, I look to my Father– this time without excuses — but with full confidence knowing He can take whatever we have to offer and make it more than enough.
Watch our newest video, showing you a glimpse of the children and families that call Show-Me Christian Youth Home- “Home”
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 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.”