Bishop W.C. Martin says, "God just reached down into a small town in the woods called Possum Trot to let the nation know, this is what I want you to do."
And since our visit there in 2002 word is spreading, which is surprising since this small community isn't even on the map. But where the pavement ends in deep Southeast Texas, is where some say a miracle begins.
Ann Hobbs with the Texas Child Protective Services told us during our first visit, "It's been a phenomenon, no one has ever seen anything like this before and we are constantly amazed, constantly surprised at how it's grown and continues to grow."
And today, this community of just 300 people has now adopted about 100 children. "It's our intention to make sure that every child can be in a safe environment and have a home," says Bishop Martin.
It all started more than ten years ago at Bennett Chapel Church in Possum Trot. Bishop W.C. Martin challenged his congregation to take in unwanted children. Not just any children, these were from some of the worst neighborhoods in Texas, kids no one else wanted.
"I was just praying to God that I could make it through another day," says adoptive mother, Robbie Garrett.
Michael Cloudy adopted two children and adds, "It was almost like a nightmare to me really."
And Johnnie Brown who adopted four children says, "I cried myself to sleep at night. I cried, Lord help me with these children because we want to help them so bad, and he answered my prayer."
These families not only dealt with all kinds of problems, they overcame more than anyone ever thought possible. Bishop Martin says, "When a church is involved in an endeavor like this it's a God thing because God never intended for a child to be lost."
Bishop Martin has now written a book titled Small Town, Big Miracle. He says, "This book will change your whole life when you read about and see some of the success stories and see where our children were and were they are today and how God has blessed them to have a fruitful life. "
One of those children is Shreatha Lathan. She grew up in Possum Trot in a family with 11 children, 8 adopted. "I grew into loving them they were like my own. They taught me how to love others and respect and they also taught me to be who I am and be the best that I can be."
Now 18 years old, Shreatha is a student at Tyler Junior College. She's the first person in her family to go to college. "I want to become a registered nurse. I like helping others. I teach my sisters that going to school and getting an education is the best thing they can do," says Shreatha.
And Shreatha one day hopes to open her home to foster children. "I want to give to some people the same opportunity that I had when I was little. I am very grateful."
That gratitude is evident everyday in Possum Trot, from both those giving and receiving the Gift of Love.
Nine year old Latoya Cartwright says, "I feel happy to have a mom and dad who cares about me." Her adoptive mom Dorothy Cartwright says, "It makes me happy to see them happy."
Valencia Price who adopted twins says, "They are the joy of my life."
Mercedes Martin, who was adopted by Bishop Martin, says, "They love us and take care of us and that makes me feel special."
Theresa Lathan, who took in 8 children, says "I'm very proud and very happy knowing that I'm able to make them smile."
These children say coming to live with complete strangers, in a town no one even knew existed, was the best thing that's every happened to them. They tell Bishop Martin, "That their desire was to have a mother and a father and they never wanted anything else out of life except a mother and a father."
Marsha Cartwright who was adopted as a little girl simply says, "Thank you mom for adopting me!"
If you are interested in fostering or adopting, call our Gift of Love hotline, toll-free, 1-888-kids-275.
Bishop Martin's new book, Small Town Big Miracle , is available on amazon dot com.
Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:31 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:31:48 GMT
(WMC) - A teen who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of this 10-year-old sister will serve several years in a Tennessee Department of Corrections Youth Facility. The teen, whoMore >>
A teen who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of his 10-year-old sister will serve several years in a Tennessee Department of Corrections Youth Facility.More >>