Gift of Love: Family Follows Their Faith - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

3/2/05-East Texas

Gift of Love: Family Follows Their Faith

Many of you have called asking how your church can get involved in a new faith-based initiative in Texas. Over the past few weeks, we've been telling you about a new program called CHILD -Congregations Helping In Love and Dedication. In this report we want you to meet an East Texas couple who has stepped up, willing to open their home to help a foster child and they hope you will follow.

With encouragement from their church, Mark and Regina recently became foster parents.

"You don't have to search far and wide to find the children that are needed. They're right there under your nose," says Regina.

This East Texas couple opened their home to Kelsey and Asa, sisters.

"It was heart breaking at first to see because they were in such bad shape when they came here but, with just a little love and affection, their personalities came out," says Mark.

Both girls had been neglected. It took several baths just to get them clean. At the time, Asa was 7 months old, weighing only 12 pounds. She had spent her young life sitting in a car seat. Her sister Kelsey was 19 months old weighing just 20 pounds.

"For Asa, she couldn't even sit up when we got her at 7 months old. Now, 7 months later, she's walking all over the place and Kelsey didn't hardly say 2 words at first and now she's jabbering like crazy," explains Mark.

Their little faces, which used to show no expression, now light up with smiles and laughter.

Mark says, "The joy they have brought into our lives is incredible." Regina adds, "We have people say 'Those girls are so lucky.' No, we're the ones that were blessed in the deal."

Mark and Regina have come to love these little girls and couldn't imagine their lives without them. They are now planning to adopt. They believe it is an answer to prayer.

Mark says, "Absolutely a God send."

Regina goes on to say, "We can definitely see all the steps that we went through that God was leading us and brought those babies to us. Different things we've gone through and disappointments and things weren't happening right but actually they were. He was leading us to them all along and we know that without a doubt."

Kelsey and Asa will have a new mom and dad and a second chance at life. They will finally be able to enjoy all the things that other children experience, thanks to the Gift of Love.

"That little smile right there. Seeing them smile. When they wake up in the morning and we hold them and that little head rests on your shoulder, that's heaven to me and that's awesome," says Mark.

"But when you tuck them in and you see them in their PJs and they're sound asleep and they're feed and happy and they're healthy you can't beat that. That's the reward," says Regina.

A reward they hope others can experience. A reward that comes from love they have not only given, but received from these two little girls.

Mark says, "It will change your life forever, and to know that we get to keep them forever is such a blessing to us."

If all goes as planned, Mark and Regina should officially become Asa and Kelsey's new mom and dad in just a few months.

If you'd like to know more about this faith- based initiative called CHILD or you would like to schedule a presentation at your church, call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-kids-275.

Gillian Sheridan reporting.

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