Rick Bursey’s phone lit up with an alert. He immediately recognized a familiar face, though it was older now, as he opened the message. It was of a young man in a nursing uniform with a small message below: I wanted to thank you – you’re the only one who believed in my future.
In 2017, Rick and Lisa Bursey, Co-Directors of Back2Back Linares, welcomed three children into a Back2Back partnering home. They arrived as a voluntary case, and the oldest, Josue* came angry, troubled, and disruptive.
“It was a complicated situation, but we prioritized showing up for the kids, loving them well through the hard moments, and attempting to show them what true care looked and felt like,” shared Lisa. Over the course of the siblings’ time at the home, their biological mom didn’t hide her desire to have her kids back and when they visited their grandma one weekend, they were taken to their mom’s and never returned to Rick and Lisa.
“Since they came on a voluntary basis, there was nothing that could be done when they didn’t return,” shared Rick. “We really went through a time of mourning; we felt the loss of them very deeply, but we prayed, we checked in when we could, and then everything went very quiet for about five years.”
When Rick received the message from Josue in his nursing uniform, he had to know the full story. Josue had left his mom’s house, put himself through nursing school, and is now employed full-time at a hospital nearby. He reiterated his gratitude to Rick and Lisa, knowing the belief they had in him all those years ago left a mark. It challenged him to make bold choices for his story.
“After not hearing from him or his sisters for so long, it was a relief to know he was safe, and we felt pure joy knowing he’d found his path of success,” shared Rick and Lisa. “It can be difficult when a child moves out or goes back with family, because we don’t always know the outcomes, we don’t always know if we did enough or made a difference,” said Lisa. “But if we trust the seeds we plant will continue to grow, whether they’re under our care or not, then we know they will find success. God is doing the big work, no matter where they lay their head at night.”
This is the power of safe adults, staff teams who remain in the fight, and children with open hearts and minds – stories can change, cycles are broken, and healing will be found.