Turning Leaves and Hearts: A Salvation Story

At Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes (ABCH), our foster parents and staff see our children go through a lot as a result of their past and the tough situations they’re brought out of. Sometimes it’s pain or sadness, frustration or shame, or a combination of all of those things. But other times, we get to see them “come alive.” We get to see the Kingdom of Heaven grow by two tiny feet.

Kaytie Graves and her husband, Matthew, became foster parents in November of 2011. Their journey started at church when they heard about two babies who needed a home. They couldn’t shake the sad reality of what was happening to those children. “That is where the sparks started,” Kaytie said, “We wanted to be able to make a difference for children in need.” Kaytie spoke with a friend whose family had fostered through ABCH, then called us and registered for classes. From that point, the Graves were all in. 

Thinking back on her time fostering, Kaytie said, “Since the very beginning, we have loved our partnership with ABCH. We love that everyone involved truly loves these children, and are fighting hard for them. Most importantly, we love that Christ comes first, and it shows!”

In July of 2015, Sasha*, a 5-year-old little girl, came to live with the Graves, to join her twin brothers who were already placed in their home. Kaytie said that, when she first came to them, Sasha lacked emotional attachment and struggled with having good self-esteem. Now, Kaytie says, “I can honestly say she has attached to me, Matthew, and her brothers. She is so confident in who she is . . . She is an amazing girl, with a beautiful soul. She is a deep thinker and works hard to do the right thing. She is so smart, kind, and full of joy and silliness!”

Just a little more than a year later, Sasha’s life again changed forever. Kaytie tells the story well: “Every night as we tuck Sasha in, we help her to say her prayers . . . she started going through a phase where things would scare her at night, so we started teaching her a Bible verse to say after her prayer time, 2 Timothy 1:17, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind . . ..” We started talking to her about what that scripture really meant—that any time we are afraid, God is there protecting us, and that whenever we feel scared, all we have to do is talk to Him. He will listen and protect us because He loves us. Eventually she started asking more questions about God. She would also remember stories from children's church and use them in her daily life.”

“One day in September, I had the kids outside playing, and she was finding leaves and bringing them to the table next to me. She had a pile of green and a pile of brown ones. One leaf was bigger and a smaller leaf still attached to it. She started talking to me about how Jesus was like the big leaf, and we were the smaller leaf attached to Him. I instantly wrote it down to remember just how she said it: ‘Hey Mama, this tall leaf is like Jesus and the other one is like us! We are connected to Jesus all the time; isn't that cool, Mama?’ She also went on to talk about how the brown leaves were people who didn't believe in Jesus, and started taking all the green leaves and placing them with the brown. She said, ‘This is us telling them about Jesus.’ I was in awe of her wisdom, and it was a powerful message from a sweet, innocent child.”

Later that fall, after prayer time one night, Sasha began to ask about asking Jesus into her heart. Kaytie and Matthew explained how important this decision is—the most important decision anyone could ever make—as well as making sure she understood sin and how, in His love, Jesus died for our sins and rose again and is seated with God in heaven today. They told her that if she believed these things, that she could pray and ask Him to come live in her heart.

“After the prayer, Sasha smiled so big, gave us big hugs, and said, ‘Now I get to live forever in heaven with you, right, like you said?’ We told her yes, that she was now a Christian, and had made the biggest decision of her life. Also that while we are still here on earth, we need to show other people His love and tell them about Jesus, so they too can live with us forever in heaven. She was so excited and told everyone she saw the next day at church and asked her P-Paw (my dad and pastor of our church) about getting baptized—she is over the moon about it!" 

In that precious moment of Sasha’s life, Kaytie said she felt so proud and honored that she was chosen for that huge and wonderful moment, as well as thankful that Sasha is now saved and loves Jesus. “I will cherish it forever,” Kaytie said, “This world is so broken, yet has so much beauty if you take the time and look. God is working. This moment in Sasha’s life makes it all worth it! And as a foster mom, I’m thankful to everyone who takes time to give, pray for, and serve these children, because they are so worth it. I wouldn't trade this life of foster care for anything!”

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

This story was originally published in ABCH's Annual Report 2016.