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.
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.