Junior, 11, has been named an honorary graduate of the Lighthouse, and is the first child to speak at one of the missions’ graduations. “I wanted to see how it felt to be on stage and talking in front of people and I wanted all of them to hear how it feels from a kid’s perspective, about how I feel about being here,” Junior said. “I was kind of nervous because I’ve never talked in front of that many people.”
Junior stayed at the Lighthouse with his mother, Candise, and said he’s made good friends. “I liked it (when I came here with my mom),” he said. Junior’s mom had been at the Lighthouse four months before he was able to join her. The women at the house threw him a “Welcome Home” party, making the transition even easier. Junior said “it’s cool” to have so many “other moms” who care about him. “I think my mom has been doing a good job on her parenting because it’s only been her taking care of me and (my sister) Shiloh.” When asked if he was proud of his mom, he broke out a huge smile and said, “Yeah!”
Here is what Junior said at his mom’s graduation in November:
“I was raised by mom because my dad was in prison. … he got out for three months before he went right back to prison for 16 years.
“I knew of God only because my mom would say prayers with me at night and I learned the ‘Our Father’ prayer. As I got a little older and wouldn’t listen to my mom, she would punish me by making me watch children’s bible story movies. I started to learn and like Jesus ever since then. Before coming to programs with my mom, I was too young to know what she was doing. All I knew is she would take care of me. It wasn’t until one day when the police came and took me from her that I found out a little about drugs and what they can do to someone.
“I went into foster care for a month which was very scary because I didn’t know those people, but I had a picture of my mom that I would sleep with and pray (with). Than one day my dad’s brother was able to take me in to live with him until my mom was able to get me back. That was a little better because I knew him. When I was able to live back with my mom again, we lived at the Lighthouse and we would go to church. That’s where I learned more about God and would read my action bible. I got baptized at 7 and have always prayed to God. Even though bad things happen, I know God is always taking care of me.
“A few years later I had to stay with my Tia (aunt) when my mom went to another program and had my little sister, but I would go visit on weekends and overnights. I would be sad when I had to go and I would pray that my mom would get better so I could live back with her because I missed her and wanted to know my little sister. And God answered my prayers and I now live back at the Lighthouse with my mom and my sister Shiloh. I love being at the Lighthouse because I know we are safe and everybody is nice and we have everything we need. I was even able to go to Christian camp for my very first time where I learned Psalms 145:8: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” I also know that even though my dad is gone in prison for a long time, I have a heavenly father who will never leave me nor forsake me. When I grow up I want to be a policeman or firefighter. And I know Philippians 4:6: “‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’”