Missouri Baptist Children’s Home has been serving children, youth and families since April 1, 1886. In those early days, only very young children were served.
The history shows that during the first year of operation, 76 children were received into the home of whom 25 were adopted and 26 died. These deaths occurred because many of the children were from abject poverty and were malnourished, weak and very ill. For those who were adopted, life was so much better than if they would have stayed in their previous surroundings.
In order to meet the changing needs of children requiring care, in the early 1900s the Home began to admit boys under seven years of age and girls under twelve years of age.
And so it continued – and continues to this day. Society has changed greatly over the past 130 plus years, but the cries of hurting children continue. Children continue to suffer from abuse, neglect and severe family dysfunction. Physical, emotional and spiritual scars are the rule and not the exception.
In order to meet the changing needs, MBCH has adapted its service delivery to care for those who come our way. We now serve children, youth, adults and families in a variety of ministries.
Missouri Baptist Children’s Home has moved well beyond being an orphanage with group homes on campuses. Our on-campus ministries have grown to include Pregnancy Services, care for Developmentally Disabled Adults, Transitional Living Programs for teens about to age out of the “system” and Human Trafficking Rescue.
But we have also expanded into community-based ministries, with many of the children being served in homes just like yours. More than 93% of our ministries take place through these community-based services. These include family foster care, treatment family care, in-home pregnancy services, family resource development and scattered-sites transitional living.
We are limited to how many we can serve on a campus by our bed capacity. But by expanding our ministries into communities, we now minister to more than 650 children and youth and 700 families at any given time. We touch the lives of more than 4,000 children and families annually.
Over the past three years, we have helped more than 1,000 children find permanent homes. This may take place through successful reunifications with the parents, through adoptions, or through guardianships.
We want to expand our ministry footprint even more by partnering with our churches across Missouri to help them support families in need and reduce the number of children who enter state custody. We are calling this initiative “Church Engagement” and I encourage you to contact us for information on how you and your church might be involved.
Yes, society has changed greatly since the Baptist Orphans’ Home was opened more than 130 years ago. What has not changed, however, is that children, youth and families are struggling and each of them still needs the healing, hope, and restoration that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
I mentioned that many of the early placements were malnourished, weak and ill. Regrettably, that still occurs today. We recently had a young man enter our care who had to spend several days in the hospital to build up his strength. In fact, he was so underfed and malnourished, he gained 51 pounds the first month he was with us! He is now doing well, and we are so pleased with the progress he has made.
Just as throughout our history, children’s lives are being changed for eternity. This takes place only because of your faithfulness and commitment to the New Testament ministry of taking care of the orphan and serving “the least of these.”
If you haven’t already done so, won’t you join us in our journey to make a lasting difference in the life of a child or a family? ν