By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BALTIMORE, Md.— At the age of six, Nelson Terry knows that God has a high calling in store for him.
Nelson was baptized on Nov. 6. His church family at Gospel Tabernacle Church rejoiced. They stood; they cried; they clapped. But no one cheered louder than his adopted mother, Gloria Terry, as little Nelson emerged from the water, symbolizing his new life with Christ. Gloria remembers a very short time ago, when Nelson didn’t have much of a chance at life at all.
Gloria’s heart for ministering to children began years ago when she would take her son Jonathan to church each week and return home with three or four other children.
“Our house was always full of kids,” Gloria said. So when Gloria was seeking God’s direction in her life, how she could serve Him better, she wasn’t surprised when she felt the Holy Spirit leading her to foster care. A family member suggested Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS).
After the initial orientation, Gloria knew it was where she was supposed to serve.
In 2001, she became certified, completed the requirements and got her first foster child a year later. But Gloria Terry had no idea what God had in store for her when she became a foster parent with Baptist Family & Children’s Services.
She has been a foster mother to multiple children in the past decade. How many?
“I lost count!” she said. “I think it’s about 40?”
Most of the children have been in emergency situations, needing shelter before foster families were available.
Two were infants. Nelson was the first. BFCS brought Nelson to Terry when Nelson was just ten days old. The tiny infant was sick. His mother had a severe drug addiction and Nelson was born addicted. He also suffered from the illnesses associated with the lifestyle that accompanies addiction. The prognosis was grave.
The Tabernacle church family stepped into action and decided they were not going to accept that verdict. They started an intense period of prayer for Nelson.
At home, Gloria and her mother, Inez Mitchell, took turns in a vigil over Nelson, staying up all night as the baby thrashed in pain in withdrawal.
“It was pretty devastating,” Gloria said.
Nelson also received prayer at a BCM/D General Mission Board meeting. When he was about four months old, Robert Gerstmyer, former BFCS executive director, brought little Nelson, Gloria and Inez to the meeting. Gerstmyer told of the heroic sacrificial loving ministry the Terry family was making and how others could participate in this kind of ministry. GMB members were overcome with compassion for the family. They gathered around in prayer asking God to heal Nelson and bless the family.
Within several months, Nelson’s condition began to improve. As Gloria entered the doctor’s office for the little boy’s weekly visits, several of the office staff would stop and smile and say, “There’s that miracle baby!”
Shortly after Nelson arrived, Gloria and Inez received Artez into their lives. Artez was also an addicted infant. Gloria and Inez nursed him through withdrawal, but fortunately, Artez did not have the illnesses that Nelson suffered with.
Gloria adopted both children. “Baptist Family has been wonderful to us, they were in attendance at both of the adoptions,” Gloria said.
Now the boys are flourishing. Artez attends a program at Emily Price Head Start. Nelson attends Liberty Elementary School.
“Artez is just the smartest little thing. He can read already and he’s only four. He’s also very polite,” Gloria said.
“Nelson loves the Lord, he’s excited about serving God. I was amazed at the impact his baptism had on the church. They stood up and clapped. People were crying. Just at that moment, I knew it was well worth all of those moments sitting up with him at night. He wants to be a preacher!”
Jonathan, Gloria’s older son, loves the boys.
“They’re his brothers and they love their big brother. He walks in and they’re right behind him. He takes them to Druid Hill Park where they play ball and swing.”
Ministering through foster care and adoption has transformed Gloria’s life.
“I don’t think any aspect of my life has not been changed. I have so much joy!”
Gerstmyer has a big smile on his face when he talks about Nelson, Artez and the whole family.
Gerstmyer said, “Every time we have a breaking the cycle event at our building the story of Nelson is told. He epitomizes what the agency is all about and so does Gloria and her family.
“Pure religion and undefiled is this, visiting orphans and widows in their distress, and keeping oneself unspotted by the world,” Gerstmyer said, paraphrasing James 1:27.
For information about how to become involved in treatment foster care, or adoption, see http://www.baptistfamily.org.