FIRST-PERSON: 'Is it really you?'

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) -- He stared at the computer screen in amazement and read the words again: "Are you the Rokeem who was in foster care 20 years ago?"

In response, he typed: "Mrs. Deborah? Is it really you?"

Memories flooded his mind. His family had hit tough times and a relative took him and his brothers on a long car ride to an unfamiliar home. As they walked through the door, they were greeted by a warm and loving couple who also happened to be complete strangers. This would be their temporary home for the next four years.

The two strangers became family, and he grew to love his foster parents, Papa Morris and Mrs. Deborah. They had conversations around the dinner table, helped him with homework, took him to basketball practice and told him about Jesus.

When he was in the second grade, he and his brothers returned to their home. He waved goodbye to his foster parents and never saw them again. That year, he entered my wife's second-grade class. She grew to love him, and six years later I met him on the football field as a coach. When I shared Jesus with him, it wasn't the first time he had heard the story. The seeds Papa Morris and Mrs. Deborah had planted in him years before sprouted as he became a Jesus-follower and was baptized. He later became my "adopted" son.

Rokeem's story, which has been told to thousands of people, has been an inspiration to others who have faced hardships. He was a star athlete in college and the first in his family to graduate from college. Now he serves as a high school football coach and an in-school suspension coordinator.

For years, there were two unnamed heroes as Rokeem told his story. After connecting on social media, he now stood face-to-face with these unnamed heroes as he and his brothers took a road trip to reunite with their foster parents. They all laughed as they remembered stories from their childhood. He learned that they were the last foster children Papa Morris and Mrs. Deborah ever had because it was so hard for them when he and his brothers had to leave.

When they said goodbye this time, tears welled up in their eyes as Rokeem thanked them for being there for him during his time of need.

Maybe God wants you to enter the life story of a child who is hurting right now. It may wreck your ordinary life, but it will definitely melt your heart to be like Jesus.

Lee Clamp, evangelism group director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, is online at @leeclamp and www.facebook.com/leeclamp.
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