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The Why’s… Betsy

Some days are for reminding and confirming. It is like God shines a magnifying glass on the “why” Justin’s Place exists and places it right in front of my face. The why, he has called me and all of the other people that have joined the JP team to share the love of Jesus and affect the life of a child by empowering Mother’s to grow spiritually, mentally and physically; to live a life free of crisis, self-sufficient and walk out of generational poverty.

Yesterday was one of those days.

It was the end of a packed day and I stopped at a random gas station on the East side of Fort Worth, heading home to my family that had just arrived in town from graduate school and college. Everyone ready for Mom to get home to begin the fun family time of preparing for the holidays. My heart and mind were focused on quickly getting gas and getting on my way, I was already 45 minutes late.

But God… he said wait a bit I have something for you.

As I was filling up my car with gas, I heard a voice say, “ Maam” and I met Betsy.

She stood in front of me carrying the burdens of her life on her shoulders, exhausted and hopeless and she asked me for help.
I took a deep breath and stopped focusing on the interruption and what I had planned and asked God to show me what he had for me with Betsy.

Betsy’s life had been hard. As a child she was removed from her Mother and siblings because of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect and was placed in foster care… Which led to foster family after foster family.

At 17, she was on her own to navigate life. She had experienced abuse, neglect, and exploitation. She became a slave to her addictions and made choices to take what was not hers through theft which led to prison. She had children that she neglected and lost into the foster system due to her unfortunate choices. Betsy’s mom was also abandoned by her mother. Three generations—of what could have been a beautiful family, now strangers to one another somewhere in a system, and a mom at a gas station desperate for help.

This in itself is “Why” Justin’s Place exist. We may not be able to do a ton for Betsy and her family at this point but there are 100’s in Fort Worth, Texas with similar destiny’s… IF we do not extend the hand of the body of Christ that we are called to.

This is “Why” Justin’s Place exists. For all of the Mom’s and family’s like Betsy. To extend the hope and love of Jesus. To model for them a life of freedom in Christ, free of crisis and full of hope. Betsy was once a child. Sweet innocent and deserving of a chance in this world. Circumstances attacked her life early on.

My hope is that for all the Betsy’s we get to meet, young and old—we can rebuild one family at a time and step by step, hand by hand, make progress in helping serve the people, humans, friends, like Betsy out of the depths of cyclical poverty and into life with a chance full of hope. But most importantly the full life that Jesus promises us in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the abundantly” , the only true hope we will ever find in the broken world we’re living in.

So why are we doing this? What is the purpose of this crazy dream and adventure? People like Betsy. That is the heart of Justin’s place, and God is sweet to use a chaotic Monday evening to remind me of this. So pray for Betsy and pray for many more opportunities like this one in both your personal life and with Justin’s Place. Don’t be afraid to be a hand or even just a little finger of the body of Christ. Slow down, look around, and pray for opportunity to serve and love like Jesus.

Justin’s Place… The Story

The Story of Justin

I am amazed by how God works. When He calls you to something, He often speaks loudly and clearly. And sometimes, He uses the life of just one to call many.

I will never forget the first time I met Justin – he was small, but had a smile that lit up the room. Immediately I knew he was different and he had my attention, but I had no idea why.

It was August 2012, football season had just begun and our house was full, loud and happy. Our youngest, William, was a sophomore and carried on the football tradition of having the entire team come and hang out at our house during their week of two-a-day practices. We loved getting to know the boys and cheering them on through the tough week.

In the coming days, we started to see that life was difficult and challenging for Justin and his mom. We began a season of helping them out – helping Justin’s mom with her struggles and helping care for Justin while she focused on rebuilding her life and getting healthy.

Each month we would pray and revaluate, and each month it seemed that Justin was continuing to grow and become stronger. We told him the world was his and he could accomplish anything he wanted to, and he believed us.

It was March and we were approaching Justin’s sixteenth birthday. The time had come to think about a permanent future for Justin. Jim and I knew God had a plan, but we didn’t fully understand it. Why would God call us to help this one child? There were literally hundreds of kids just like him all around us. All that we knew was that we were called to keep walking obediently. We knew that at that moment, we were called to meet the needs of this child and care for him – not in a temporary sense, but with a permanent, consistent home filled with family that would love him unconditionally and forever. We stopped thinking about how long Justin would be with us and began living and offering Justin a consistent and forever home.

And all of a sudden, we went from a family of five to a family of six, from having three people to raise up to four, from three to love with all our might to four. It was just like that. Nothing legal or formal, just called by God to love and care for this one, Justin. That is how God works – in the realm of the unimaginable and impossible. That is where He shows up.

Now, without the love of Jesus, there’s nothing about loving others that comes naturally – no matter how many songs are written about it. But God – He faithfully walked us through what often felt like crazy paths. He showed up every time and showed us how He had indeed equipped us, prepared us and would continue to sustain us. God was faithful.

Justin grew tall and strong, confident and sturdy. He graduated from high school – the first from his family – and was accepted at Hardin Simmons University as a football athlete. Justin has earned academic scholarships, is currently making As and Bs and has dreams of being a businessman. Justin loves his family both new and old, is surrounded by friends and overall is doing well.

Exactly three years after that August day when we met Justin, God answered the prayer we had been praying for so many years: Why God would you have us help one child, when there are so many in need?

On that day, God clearly spoke and said to us,

“Go into the place he took you, take what you know, build a cornerstone in My name and spread My fame.”

It was not about one – Justin was one step toward a big work God had for us. Through Justin God was equipping us, preparing us and showing us how He would be faithful to sustain us as we walked obediently, following Him and stepping towards what He has called us to do.

This is the story of how Justin’s Place came to be and now exists to spread the love of Jesus.

Justin’s Place

Everything we do at Justin’s Place is to enhance the life of a child. We believe the life of a child cannot be fully restored until the life of the family is restored. Justin’s Place exists to come alongside families in need and establish balance by restoring hope and building a foundation that will provide the strength needed to move out of generational poverty and toward a life of self- sufficiency and free of crisis.

It is the goal of Justin’s Place to rebuild the broken, beginning with the heart issues and then working from the inside out with programs rooted in biblical principles and grounded in the love of God. It is our desire to walk alongside the families we serve, stepping with them towards the healthy and abundant future God has purposed for them.

At Justin’s Place we believe that God created each of us for His purposes, and that every child has value and deserves a future full of opportunity and hope. We have deemed it our responsibility to speak words of life into the children we serve and encourage them to seek the future God has designed for each of them.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

To God be the glory.