Faith, family, home…the things we first list in gratitude during our prayers at the dinner table. The things we feel most acutely when without, and are indeed most grateful for. These things, however, seem to lack the luster of something truly special….rendered common by the simple fact of being ours, always being ours, and always having been ours. But what of those who cannot share such sentiment? What of those who have never witnessed faith, who have never known the warm embrace of family, or the safety of home? What of those whose embrace by family has been abusive, whose home is frightening or simply dark? And what of those whose family, home, and maybe even faith, has been torn from them through death, disease, or any number of this broken world’s destructive qualities? Is not such darkness in the most need of Christ’s light?
Painting number 29 of 52 is being given to someone who would like you to know about Big Oak Ranch near Gadsden, Alabama. A place whose purpose is to take in God’s children and to give to them what life has so cruelly taken away. In the words of Bid Oak Ranch, “(it) exists to meet the needs of abused, neglected, and abandoned children by giving them a solid Christian home and a chance to realize and fulfill God’s plan for their lives.” Bid Oak Ranch was founded in 1974 by John Croyle. A talented defensive end for the University of Alabama, he chose to give up a lucrative career in the NFL to open a home for children nearly lost because others could not see their precious value. Since it’s opening, over 2000 children have been given a home where their physical and emotional needs may be met. They have been shown the unconditional love of Christ that does not extinguish at a certain age or time. A love so deep and true it has the power to heal. To heal the pains of abuse, neglect, and abandonment that are not temporary pains, but are rooted deep and can lead to such things as hate, emptiness, and self-loathing. Yes, the wonderful men and women of Big Oak Ranch give children faith, family, and a home…but they give them also something else equally beautiful. They give them hope and a future. If you would like to donate or learn more about Big Oak Ranch, visit their website at bigoak.org and witness or contribute to the miraculous work of God.