Starting a new job can often be stressful. In many ways, you are beginning a new life with new people in a new environment. But when Crystal Naney walked on the Residential Care campus to begin her career as a Relief Houseparent, her surroundings were not at all unfamiliar. In fact, you might say she felt right at home. That’s because there was a time when BCH was her home.
Crystal was just 15 years old when her home life began to deteriorate. She was living with her mother and step-father at the time and was having considerable trouble getting along with her step-dad. Searching for hope in the situation, Crystal took it upon herself to seek help. She was the one who found information about the Baptist Children’s Home and requested to be sent there. It was December of 1990 when Crystal became a resident of Ballard Cottage and met her new houseparents, Royce and Carolyn Hawkins. She also met the nine roommates who would become her life-long friends.
“We laughingly refer to ourselves as the ‘Ballard Beauties,”’ claims Crystal. “We arelike sisters. To this day, most of us keep in contact regularly. We are all very close with Royce and Carolyn, too. We love them like our own parents.”
Crystal was only a resident for six months, but her time at BCH left an indelible mark on her life. Though things weren’t always perfect between her and her houseparents, Crystal grew to trust Royce and Carolyn Hawkins. She later even chose Royce to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. Though her mother taught her about Jesus and took her to church as a child, her time at BCH provided an opportunity to learn more about Christ daily.
Following her successful discharge from the BCH program, Crystal found it easy to fall back into old habits. She began a relentless search for love and significance in all the wrong places, but the still small voice of God never left her. Finally, in 2001 Crystal surrendered to the Spirit’s call and gave her life to Christ. Since that day, she has allowed the Lord to guide her life. Soon, she began to feel like He was leading her to turn her broken past into a new ministry to help others.
“I have always had a lot of self-esteem issues growing up,” Crystal admits. “I wanted to help other young girls understand that they are valuable and beautiful.”
It wasn’t long before God gave her the opportunity to serve teenage girls in a very familiar place. It was her former houseparent, Carolyn Hawkins, who contacted Crystal to make her aware of a Relief Houseparent opening at BCHFS. She was so excited when Scott Kiser, BCHFS Residential Care Director, called one morning to offer her the position.
Only God can take all the pain and brokenness of a person’s past and mold them into something so remarkably beautiful. In retrospect, it is easy to see how the Lord has guided Crystal’s life to a point where she is uniquely equipped to be a blessing to others. She can relate to the residents of Baptist Children’s Home in a way no other houseparent can. She has walked in their shoes and experienced their same burdens. But as a recipient of God’s grace, she can now testify that there is hope beyond the pain.
We at BCHFS are proud that Crystal is part of our BCHFS family and we look forward to all that God will do through her as she ministers to those we serve.