The Heart of an Eagle

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The first thing a person notices about Christopher Lee is his infectious smile and contagious energy, which is something that has changed over the years. Christopher came to STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) in the summer of 2012 when he was only four years old. He still remembers the day he came to the Boothe Campus, “I remember hiding behind my housemom’s back; I was very shy.” However, over the years he has come out from behind his housemom’s back and gained the heart of an eagle.

The first few years on the Boothe Campus were not the easiest for Christopher as he was encouraged to learn a new way of life. This included a life with his new houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, in Foster Cottage. His houseparents reminisced on how he would run away and Terry would follow him in the van through campus until he was ready to come home. This quickly changed, and Christopher began connecting with his houseparents and the other children in his cottage. Over his seven years at HFC, Christopher overcame these obstacles with help from the other children and the prayers from those around him. He was able to start experiencing God’s will for his life.

When Christopher was in Pre-K, he was picked to be a Peagle Pal. The Peagle Pals are selected to help the Pettus High School mascot during the Pep-Rally for the week. They get to wear a football jersey and run around the gym with the mascot and the cheerleaders. Christopher loved this opportunity and was chosen each year through fourth grade. He was very disappointed that he wasn’t chosen in the fifth grade and decided then that he wanted to be Peagle Jr. when he got to middle school.

In the spring of 2019, as Christopher prepared to finish elementary school and start middle school, he tried out to be the mascot. He was nervous at the cheerleading tryouts but knew that he had the support of his houseparents and the other children on campus. When his name was called after the tryouts he could not contain his joy; he had done it! When asked what his favorite moment since coming to HFC was, he exclaimed, “becoming the mascot!”

Over the summer, he attended cheer camp with his fellow cheerleaders and built relationships he will cherish forever.  He also enjoyed making new friends with people from other schools. He even earned the Spirit Award for the mascots. Because of the experience he had at cheer camp, he wants to work with the National Cheerleaders Association when he gets older. Excitedly, he took what he learned at camp and showed off his new talents at Pettus football games throughout the fall.

When Terry and Sheila look at Christopher today, they no longer see the shy little boy that came into their lives in 2012. They see a young man who has gained the confidence to be who he wants to be. They see the influences from the other children he lived with over the years – the ones who helped him get past his fears and insecurities about living at HFC. Now, he helps other children as they come onto the Boothe Campus by showing them love and encouraging them through the difficult transition. Christopher learned how to spread his wings and fly.