In May, Stephanie Wendling will walk across the stage at SIU Carbondale and accept the diploma she worked so very hard to earn.  Wendling, a former Baptist Children’s Home resident will begin a brand new chapter in her life, and she couldn’t be more excited.  Now, it is finally her opportunity to give back!

Stephanie came to live at BCHFS as a young teen.  She had been the victim of abuse, which left her deeply scarred and emotionally fragile.  She credits BCHFS with helping her trust again.

“I knew Baptist Children’s Home was a religious institution,” Stephanie shares.  “But I had been hurt by people who claimed to be Christians.  I had very low expectations of what God would do for me.  I just couldn’t understand why He would let those things happen to me.  At BCH, I learned to trust my houseparents, Earl and Mary. I was able to speak openly to them about the Bible.  They helped me get a relationship with God again.  They taught me that God never intended for those terrible things to happen to me…they happened because of sin in the world.  I learned that if I put my trust in God, He can turn even the worst situations into positive ones.”

Since then, Stephanie has been determined to let Him do just that.  While in care, she remained on the highest possible behavior level throughout her entire residency, often serving as a role model for other residents in her cottage.  She was thriving and doing so well that she was eventually discharged from the program and into the care of a Foster family.

After graduating high school, Stephanie got a degree in Cosmetology and began working at Sports Clips in Marion, IL.  But, it was her deep desire to help others that drove her to seek a degree in social work.

She is now in her final semester at SIU and has been working as an intern at our Angels’ Cove maternity center and at Lifeboat Alliance homeless shelter in Mt. Vernon, IL.  She has learned a great deal, but she admits the experience has been truly eye-opening and inspirational.

“Whether I am doing a group therapy session with the women from Angels’ Cove or working with the homeless at Lifeboat, the thing I love the most is learning people’s personal stories.  A lot of people go through such horrible things.  I have learned that it’s how you deal with those things that make you who you are.  These people are in their situation for any number of reasons. I just want to be there to listen to their concerns and help them, because I might be the only person they have to talk to.”

“I learned that if I put my trust in God, He can turn even the worst situations into positive ones.” – Stephanie Wendling

Stephanie’s ultimate goal is to work at an organization that helps people transition into adulthood or one that helps struggling populations get back on their feet.  She will be welcoming her first child this summer and plans to take time off to be with her baby.  After her maternity leave, she plans to return to school to obtain her Masters Degree.  We at BCHFS are so proud of the person Stephanie has become.  Her compassion and determination will serve her well as she seeks to impact lives of others.  I hope you will join us in praying for Stephanie as the Lord continues to make something beautiful out of her life!