MBCH Children and Family Ministries
All Things Work Together for Your Good
By Jessica Hanff, Public Relations Specialist
Former resident and Motivational Speaker, Aileen Cunningham, shared her personal journey with the staff and residents of Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in November.
Like many of the residents at MBCH today, Aileen had a hard life growing up. She and her two sisters, Alisha and Amy, were raised in a single parent home with their mother until she became ill and could no longer take care of them. The girls were left with their father for some time before the state stepped in.
In 1997 she was removed from the home due to a variety of abuse issues. She was separated from her sisters and was placed in the care of MBCH. When she arrived, she felt as if she had been abandoned. She was upset, confused, alone, heartbroken and felt rejected. And, worst of all, she felt hopeless.
“I was so broken, but looking back on it now that I’m an adult I realize that each and every leader who is in the presence of a youth has to be conscious that your position is not just about a paycheck. Your position is about bringing healing and restoration to the youth that are in your care,” Cunningham said. “Even though I was angry, my anger really wasn’t with the staff; my anger was with my parents because I was disappointed. So as youth, you play a role but also as adults we have to be mindful of why God ordered our steps to be the leaders that we are over the youth. This is beyond a child, this is a ministry.”
Aileen was placed in Johnson Cottage on Missouri Baptist Children’s Home’s Lowe-Frillman Campus while Alisha was placed in Marian Hall in University City and Amy was placed with their aunt.
School counselors told her that because of her family bloodline and dysfunctional environment she would more than likely be addicted to drugs, drink alcohol, and wouldn’t be able to succeed in school.
She was told that she was not qualified or capable of going away to college, but by the Grace of God she was able to continue her education and wrote a book that details her experiences called “Who Said I Wouldn’t Make It?”
“I want to tell you that whoever said you would never make it that you could not accomplish the plan God has for you, it’s not true. Where you are sitting does not have to be the end of the road for you. It doesn’t matter how you got here. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in life. What matters is that God has a purpose and plan for each of us.”
Even as she goes through her daily life Aileen still has struggles she has to face, but she’s not alone. Thanks to the Grace of God, she has been saved and through the love, care and encouragement from MBCH staff she was able to pursue her dreams and continue to live out the purpose that God has for her life.
“There is purpose for your pain. And coming to Missouri Baptist Children’s Home saved my life. It saved my life! I didn’t see it then, but now I see it clearly. I remember when I would have to go to devotionals…I didn’t understand the Word of God then but there was a volunteer that would come on Thursdays – her name was Miss Elise – and one day she came to do a Thursday night devotional and at the end asked if anybody wanted to get saved. I was like ‘I do, but what do I have to do?’ I thought it was like some magic trick or something I had to do in order to give my heart and soul over to Christ. And it wasn’t. She walked me through the prayer of salvation. And I gave my life to Christ. I had a choice to surrender my heart to God, it wasn’t mandatory. Nobody forced me. But I chose too. And that was the best decision I ever made...”