A Child's Heart began many years ago as a vision of Jackie Cotton, an unwed mother raising her then-seven-year-old son. In this vision, she saw a party taking place in her back yard. Children were running and playing on the grass while adults talked on the deck. In an instant everything disappeared. In the quiet, she heard crying.
Seeking the source of the crying, she looked under the deck and saw three small boys of different ethnic backgrounds. A burden overwhelmed her heart so powerfully that she was moved to tears. As Jackie looked to God's Word for the meaning behind the vision, Psalm 27:10 came to mind: "If my father and mother leave me, the Lord will take me in."
Her heart was stirred to "bring these children out from under the deck, clean them off and tell them God loves them. The church and society are walking above them on top of the deck, unaware of their broken-hearted feelings of abandonment and shame."
This is when the name "A Child's Heart" came into existence, along with the urgency to seek and carry out God's plan for healing these precious families.
The plan came from the book of Nehemiah. Out of the initial jumble of images and words (broken walls...broken families), God revealed the following: Take away the shame these children live with. Confirming this was Nehemiah 2:17: "Then I said to them, You see what a bad condition we are in; how Jerusalem is a waste, and its doorways burned with fire: come, let us get to work, building up the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer be put to shame."
Following this came Nehemiah's confession of sin and his admission as part of the problem. Bingo! As an unwed mother, Jackie confessed to her part in the problem and asked for forgiveness and restoration, not only for herself and her son, but for broken families throughout America. Nehemiah 1:6
The map of restoration lay in Nehemiah chapter 3. Each neighborhood rebuilt their own part of the wall. God-fearing laypeople devoted themselves to the task and helped each other. God brought the work to completion so quickly that everyone was amazed and praised Him!
A Child's Heart believes that God is calling each church body to take responsibility for rebuilding its section of the "wall"—the broken families in their neighborhood—with the mortar of Christian Bible study through weekly support groups.
A Child's Heart (ACH) was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1992.
Through ACH, various churches in Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as the Colorado Springs Salvation Army, offered "Street League," a sports-based outreach to children and youth from broken homes. Street League reached an estimated 250 children and young adults of all ethnic backgrounds during the years 1994-1999.
In 2000, Walt and Valerie Acuff, of the non-profit Skills for Living, granted A Child's Heart permission to adapt their international healing adult Bible study, "Building Healthy Relationships in an Unhealthy World," for children.
Since the summer of 2002, A Child's Heart has been writing, piloting, and revising the elementary-age children's material, called "A Child's Heart." Mini day camps ("Camp Nehemiah") have been held in local parks with foster children. Some of the children have been from Family Life Services in Colorado Springs, a residential program for single mothers and their children.
In 2009-2016, one session was adapted for pre-K and kindergarten-age children. ACH has also developed a self-directed Bible study series format for single parents and blended families, called: "Single Parents @ Home". "This is the introduction to the Single Parent Families @ Home Bible Study Series. The series is designed to become a family support group with God at the center of your home. Each week you will be reading and sharing verses or stories from the Bible that show who God is and how He feels toward you—His eagerness, willingness, and power to help you and your family. Each family member will cover the same core topics but at their age level, so they may apply it to their own life.
As part of learning how to use God's "prescriptions for healthy lives", we ask that you set aside uninterrupted time each week when everyone in your family can gather together (perhaps after a meal) to work on the child/teen lesson for that week. Parents need wisdom to keep the "heart truth" discussions positive (an angry member may need to just listen). Before the family time, you as the parent will need to set aside (find) a quiet time each week to go over your own lesson questions, ponder and pray.
We envision embedding this Bible study in the context of a Christian basketball league - - Street League - - for foster boys. We will approach several other ministries so that we can form a small basketball league for boys from different foster agencies and churches. The series would consist of eight or nine meetings. Each week everyone will study the same Bible lesson; the children and adults (foster parents) would then have recommended discussions together as a family during the week. We have found that a special way for families to end the session is to meet in a central location for a dinner and a review of the session, using Skype for those out of town. During that event, the children would participate in friendly competition while all the families cheer their children on.