One Church One Child Of East Texas - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

09/03/03 - Tyler

One Church One Child Of East Texas

A nationally recognized adoption program is gaining success here in East Texas. It's called "One Church One Child." It's designed to find permanent homes for African-American foster children. It began in Chicago in 1980 but, four years ago, Reverend Jerome Milton brought it to East Texas. He began with his own church, Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and is now spreading the word to others.

The program offers a simple challenge. It asks each church to recruit, from its members, at least one family to adopt or foster an African-American child. The rest of the church supports that family. Reverend Milton says doing so, gives a neglected or abused child a second chance. "These are the children who will end up in jail, not Yale. These are the kids who will end up in the state penitentiary, not Pen State. Now is the time. This is the hour. We're the people. We're the group. We must make it happen." Reverend Milton goes on to say, "We must continue to help hopeless, voiceless, helpless and homeless children."

Reverend Milton and his wife have adopted 6 children. They have already inspired 15 other East Texas families to adopt a child through "One Church One Child." One of them is the Jackson family from Ben Wheeler.

The Jackson home is a busy one. With four children, there is always something going on. It got even busier about two years ago for Reverend Kioka Jackson and his wife. Patricia. "When we saw the picture of KJ we just had to have him. We wanted him to be an addition to our family. He has been a great joy. He's just a loving child," says Patricia. Reverend Jackson adds, "Our home was kind of a quiet place and now his little feet have added a lot of laughter and a lot of fun."

This East Texas couple decided to adopt KJ through the "One Church One Child of East Texas." Reverend Jackson explains, "My wife and myself, we had a loving mother and loving father that was there to assist us and all we're doing is passing that love we received on to all of our children as well as the baby." Patricia goes on to say, "KJ has been a God sent child."

KJ was only one year old when they brought him into their home two years ago. There was an instant bond and he became part of their family. KJ was born 7 weeks premature with health problems. Patricia says, "He was born addicted to drugs. His mom used drugs and perhaps his father." With the help of the Jackson's, KJ has now been able to work through those problems. His twin sister, wasn't as fortunate. She died at just six months old. The Jackson's want to make sure her brother, KJ, gets a second chance. "There's mom and dad who gave up on him. There were uncles and aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers. There's a whole group of individuals who gave up on him and for us to give him an opportunity he may not have ever had makes us feel real good."

Reverend Jackson says, "Everyone may not have a calling to adopt in their life, but we all have a calling to help and assist other individuals." That's where "One Church One Child" comes in making the whole church surrogate parents. This family is proof, the Gift of Love is magical for a child. The Reverend says, "When you put love into a child then that child is able to put love back, not only into the family but, into the community."

"One Church One Child of East Texas" will hold its first benefit banquet September 8th. It will help raise funds to cover such things as home studies and classes for prospective adoptive parents. It will be held at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall in Tyler at 6:00 P.M. Tickets are $25. For more information about One Church One Child call 903-593-1072. You can also learn more about "One Church One Child" on Channel 7's "Inside East Texas" program this Sunday, September 7th, at 8:30 A.M.

Gillian Sheridan, reporting.

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