“When we first came, the Holy Spirit just kept saying over and over again, ‘This is your home’. It still feels like home to this day. This is where God wants us to be,” said Lieschen Saale as
she rocks back and forth in her living room.
It will be 14 years in November that Lieschen and her husband, David, left their ministry and home in New Mexico to begin a new season with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC) in south Oklahoma City.
Seasons seem to be a reoccurring theme with the Saales. In fact, long before their calling to be house parents at OBHC, their first season as a young couple with children formed their entire ministry.
As parents of Cathleen and Clinton, Lieschen and David were involved in church ministries ranging from Acteens to Royal Ambassadors. They served in youth ministry, children’s ministry and even volunteered as the Wednesday night cooks at their church for a time. As young adults, they felt the call to vocational ministry but didn’t know where specifically the Lord wanted them to serve.
One year their daughter fell ill. To be sure she received the best treatment, Lieschen took her to the best doctors. This, however, meant Lieschen would have to be separated from her husband for a considerable amount of time.
It was during this season of separation and isolation that the Lord began to do a work in David’s heart. Soon he was speaking openly to Lieschen about finding a ministry they could serve full time in together.
Once their daughter’s health began to improve, the Saales began praying and searching. Before they knew it, they were hired and moving to New Mexico to work at the Eagles Wings Youth Ranch where they served for three years.
The ranch’s primary ministry was caring for at-risk children. The children would stay for one week and receive counseling, individual growth exercises and spiritual guidance. Many of these exercises came in the form of regular ranch work such as caring for campus livestock and working in the on-site garden.
Lieschen said while recalling her time at Eagles Wings, “We would see kids step on campus looking so totally defeated. Within just one week, the change in those kids was unbelievable. I
still get goose bumps when I think about it. Only God could use just one week to change an entire lifetime.”
As the Saales began to see God’s work in a one-week experience at a time, they began asking Him what the next season for their family would hold.
Houseparenting, to most, is a scary thought. But the Saales knew that was the next step for them. After much research, they found a position opening through an online resource. They discussed it, and in a matter of weeks they were on their way to Oklahoma City for an interview at Baptist Children’s Home, OKC.
From the moment they stepped on campus to the moment the interview concluded, the Spirit of God repeated the same message to Lieschen again and again, “This is your home.”
After accepting the position and moving in, the Saales got to work. From connecting one week with kids, they now had anywhere from months to years to invest in them. The work was daunting, but the Lord was with them just as He was before.
When asked what the hardest part about her ministry is, Lieschen smiled through tears, “Letting go,” she said. While healthy reunification with the children’s family is the goal of OBHC, it is also the hardest part for house parents.
As the boys and girls grow and learn in their homes on campus, they develop family ties with those around them. Through these relationships they experience true family and true love, more specifically—Christ’s love.
Along with having to let go, house parents often have to face the hard truth of not getting to see OBHC residents to spiritual fruition.
“Our work involves planting a lot of spiritual seeds. Sometimes our work just barely scratches the top of the soil,” explained Lieschen, “Sometimes we actually get to plant the seed. But in this ministry, seldom do we see the flowers. This is our calling, whether we see the Spirit bloom in a child or not. Our calling is to do what we can with each child who comes to us.”
A joyful smile returned to Lieschen’s face when describing her favorite part about being a house parent, “To be honest, some of the children come from abuse and abandonment, so they don’t have hardly any good childhood memories. So it is our desire to create some for them to recall later in life!”
Whether they’re hiking the Wichita Mountains, having a picnic, going to the circus, or jumping into the springs in Sulphur, the Saales’ desire is to create happy healthy memories for the children that stay with them.
With a rabbit ministry focused on serving, Tea Parties focused on purity in young women, or working on an annual summer mission trip, the Baptist Children’s Home keeps children learning and serving year round.
Whatever the task, whatever the challenge, and whatever the season, one could be sure that Lieschen Saale is faithfully serving, no matter the cost.
OBHC accepts applications for qualified Christian couples to serve as houseparents. For more information visit obhc.org/employment/current-opportunities.