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The Homes of Hope for Children Story

In many ways, it seems strange to be writing the story of Homes of Hope for Children since we just began serving children on July 12, 2010.  However, as I thought about the many challenges of building our ministry during the past six years, it occurred to me that our experiences could serve as a source of encouragement for those who are called to begin a ministry.  Instead of sharing a story with the proverbial “happy ending,” our story ends with a “happy beginning.”  I believe that God’s people need to be encouraged because He is calling all of us to accomplish great things for Him.  The challenge we encounter is that Satan works hard to derail the plans that God has for us.  However, sometimes it is in Satan’s act of sabotage that God’s Will is ultimately discovered.  That is exactly how the vision for Homes of Hope for Children came about.
The Homes of Hope for Children vision has been a journey that began in 1987 when my sisters and I came to live at the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home.  My first day on campus was a struggle as I tried to find the courage not to break down in tears.  At that time, I did not know what a wonderful opportunity that the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home would be for me and that God would one day use me to lead an effort to start a similar ministry for children in South Mississippi.  However, God did know, and as it often happens, He uses the very things that were meant to destroy us to do His Will and to help others.  As I grew up at the Baptist Children’s Home, unbeknownst to me God was teaching me important aspects of the ministry.  He was helping me to develop the Homes of Hope for Children vision even as the Baptist Children’s Home was meeting my needs.  Shortly after graduating from high school, God called me to serve in children’s home ministry.  I felt God was calling me to spend the rest of my life making sure that other children received the same opportunity that I was given.  I had no idea that the calling placed upon my heart would eventually lead me to South Mississippi to build Homes of Hope for Children.  However, that was God’s plan for my life, and I am thankful that He revealed His plan to me one small step at a time.
In June of 2006, I moved to South Mississippi with my wife, Julie, and my one-year-old son, Caleb, to build a children’s home for boys and girls that were in need of a place to call “home.”  It was almost four years later that we welcomed the first children to our ministry.  During that time, we faced many tough decisions and challengesAt times, it seemed that the only way for us to move forward was to simply fall forward.  It is amazing to see how close we came to failing, but God’s grace pulled us back from the brink every time.  Being new to the area and having no contacts to begin sharing my vision, I turned to the Yellow Pages in our local phone book.  I called local business owners who featured Christian fish symbols and scripture verses in their ads.  This led to many opportunities to share the Homes of Hope for Children vision with business leaders in our community.  God blessed each meeting, and more and more speaking opportunities presented themselves.  I began speaking to business groups and civic organizations which led to speaking engagements in Sunday School classes.  These opportunities eventually led to invitations to preach in our local churches, and it seemed that we were making new friends and supporters everywhere we went.
In February 2007, we found 42 acres in Purvis, Mississippi that we felt would be the perfect location for our children’s home.  Taking a step of faith, we signed a contract in April that would allow us four months to raise $230,000.  This challenge seemed nearly impossible since we had only raised a total of $110,000 for the entire year of 2006.  During the next four months, God grew our faith and blessed our ministry.  In August, with one final gift from a special family, Homes of Hope for Children was able to purchase the land.  Over the next eighteen months, we spoke to anyone who would listen to the Homes of Hope for Children vision and raised enough funds to complete the land development, roads, and infrastructure and to build our first building. 
On March 10, 2009, Homes of Hope for Children broke ground on our first building.  Before the construction began, I was approached by a local business owner, David Dearman, about utilizing volunteers to save money.  I was concerned about finding volunteers that held the specific construction skills that we needed.  However, God brought us a group of volunteers that possessed the exact skills that were needed to build our campus.  It began with Jeremy Williamson, owner of Solid Rock Construction, who donated the forming and framing of our first building.  Jeremy led us to many other contacts in the construction field that were able to either donate their services or give us a deep discount.  Our local building supply companies ensured that we received the materials that we needed at a great price.  We were blessed to have individuals like Mike Robinson with Probuild who made sure that we had the materials we needed to keep the construction moving forward.
Even with this support, Homes of Hope for Children found itself about $250,000 short from being able to complete our first cottage and commissary which needed to be finished before we could begin serving children.  It was at this time that I learned about the Pepsi Refresh Project, a national contest in which voters decided which organizations would win a grant from Pepsi.   We applied for a $250,000 grant and began competing on March 1st.  We needed to finish the month in the top two positions out of 288 competing organizations.  Our community came together to help our little children’s home ministry in Purvis, Mississippi win a national competition for $250,000.  With the grant, we were able to complete construction on our first cottage and commissary and begin serving children on July 12, 2010.
Since we began serving children, we have had many visitors on campus who are amazed at what has been accomplished in such a short time.  The first question is usually, “How did you do it?”  The answer to that question is easy for me to answer: “I didn’t do it.”  God did it, and He used His people to make it happen.  He did it with several thousand volunteer hours, many professional and non-professional volunteers, donated materials, donated food to feed the volunteers, church groups, civic organizations, college groups, youth groups, children’s ministries, mission teams, and, most importantly, the prayers of His people crying out for a ministry to help hurting children who simply need a place to call “home.”  Praise God!  He has answered our prayers and the prayers of the children who are now living on our campus.  To all who have been a part of making Homes of Hope for Children a reality, I want you to know how much we appreciate your prayers and support.  God has used you to accomplish something great.  He has used you to not only make a generational impact but an eternal impact.
My prayer is that the Homes of Hope for Children story serves as a source of encouragement for those who are struggling to accomplish something great that God has placed upon their hearts.  I was told along the way that the vision was unrealistic, and it often seemed the biggest challenge was just keeping the vision intact.  As tough times hit and the mountain seems too steep, the temptation is to decrease expectations and standards.  I encourage you to adhere to what the Lord has called you to do.  There are those in need that are counting on you, and God has called you to meet their needs.  He is not surprised by current events, a bad economy, or any other obstacle that is placed in front of you.  Keep moving forward, even if it requires at times to simply fall forward.

Dr. Michael Garrett
Executive Director: Homes of Hope for Children


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The mission of Homes of Hope for Children is to serve children in crisis throughout Mississippi by providing strong, Christian homes to every child that lives on campus while ensuring that each child is loved unconditionally and has their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs met.
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