Divine intervention in Chance Summers’s teenage years changed the trajectory of his own life and also the lives of at-risk youth in his hometown for years to come
Words // Jennifer S.H. Smith PHOTOS // Courtesy of Chance and Amy Summers
Looking around the smiling circle of young moms, most with babies on their laps, Amy Summers felt distinctly out of place, especially during introductions. “Hi, I’m Amy. I’m 25 years old, but I have a 17-year-old, a 16-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 7-year-old.”
Chance and Amy Summers aren’t your typical young married couple living in the small town of Bedford, Indiana, and their calling is as unique as their current family. They are mature beyond their years and have fought through adversity to open the Bedford Boys Home, serving at-risk youth in the community.
Amy and Chance work to rescue kids in troubled families and keep them out of the foster care system. “We reach out to kids who are in trouble,” says Amy. “We bridge a gap in families so something drastic – like kids being forcibly removed from their homes – won’t happen later. We work with parents who need help to provide a safe, stable environment for their kids.”
“The first thing to know is that it’s not through a program or step-plan that we see lives changed,” adds Chance. “It’s through the power of the gospel, reaching out in Christ’s love.”
In fact, their passionate faith in Jesus is definitely the first thing that surfaces in even a casual conversation with Chance or Amy. It permeates through their personal stories and is the sole reason they gave up everything to rescue kids who have no hope and no options.
Chance Summers grew up in a very similar situation to the kids he now serves. Bouncing from place to place, he moved 30+ times and was abused and neglected at various times. On Chance’s 12th birthday, his father told him he wished he’d never been born and walked completely out of his life. By age 16, Chance was depressed, severely angry and suicidal.
“I was constantly furious – vacillating between being violent and despondent,” says Chance. One night when he was 16, he meticulously planned his suicide for the following day, wrote a note to his mother and located a gun to complete the deed. On the morning he believed to be his last, he prayed a simple prayer to a God he knew nothing about: “God, if you’re real, show up.”
“They gave up everything to rescue kids who have no hope and no options.”
As he attended classes that day in high school, he asked each of his teachers if God was real. None of them were willing to respond. Coming home on the school bus, he decided God most certainly had not shown up and finalized his plans to end his life. As he contemplated his next move, a knock on the door stopped him in his tracks. A relative who barely knew Chance was standing there and awkwardly sat down to share with him the story of Jesus who died to save sinners.
“And at that moment, I knew God was real. Never in my life had a preacher showed up to my house, but that day was the divine moment I met Jesus Christ.” says Chance. The next morning, he awoke shocked to find that his white-hot anger, always boiling right under the surface, was completely gone. Could this Jesus stuff be for real?
Walking it Out
As young adults, God led Chance and Amy to employment at the Bedford Boys and Girls Club where they encountered the hopeless litany of drugs, brokenness and abuse present in the kids there, and a passion began to grow in their souls. Soon their home became a constant refuge for kids who had no other place to go. They decided to make the courageous choice to resign their positions with the Boys and Girls Club and offer a permanent home to some of the most vulnerable kids in their community. The Bedford Boys Home was born.
“Their home became a constant refuge for kids who had no other place to go.”
Living by Faith Alone
Through trial and error, Chance and Amy learned that the kids God brought their way needed lots of love. But they also needed structure, discipline, routines, attainable goals and opportunities to learn how to serve others. They patterned their ministry after George Mueller who cared for orphans in England in the 1800s. He refused a salary throughout his lifetime, but rather prayed about each and every need the orphanage encountered from the food for the children to maintenance issues to even the weather, believing that God would provide.
Famously, Mueller once had hundreds of children sitting at the table and thanked God for the food, despite having nothing to feed them. As soon as the blessing was said, the baker knocked at the door with enough bread for the meal. Similarly, Chance and Amy do not fundraise or take a salary from the Boys Home, but rather trust God with each and every need.
Not Just Teenagers
Although the first boys needing help were high schoolers, Chance and Amy soon realized that hopelessness and brokenness extended beyond teenagers. Soon they met two young boys whose mother’s addictions and lifestyle rendered her incapable of caring for them. Their single father’s work took him away from home, leaving the boys in need of stable and loving care. Lacking any sense of structure, discipline or love, both boys were explosive, uncontrolled and failing elementary school. When the father reached out to the Boys Home for help, Chance and Amy gladly welcomed them with open arms. One year later, both boys are excelling in school, happy, healthy and thriving in ways previously thought impossible.
“As Chance and Amy encountered the hopeless litany of drugs, brokenness and abuse present in the kids…a new passion began to grow in their souls.
“I love living with Chance and Amy,” both boys enthusiastically agree. “We give it two thumbs up! No, maybe THREE thumbs up!” Both boys describe the homework and chore routines and how much happier they are “even though we have to work hard.” The joy is apparent on each of their scrubbed, sweet faces declaring, “We learn about Jesus and that he loves us! Before, we were scared a lot, but now we get to do things with Chance and Amy, like see a parade! We don’t even have bad dreams anymore. We feel safe.”
Safety and security are two things most of the kids Chance and Amy encounter have never experienced. However, even more important, most have no idea that Almighty God sent His Son to earth to rescue sinners. Watching the first boys thrive under their care and seeing how the power of God’s forgiveness changed both young children and teenagers’ lives alike, motivated Chance and Amy to dream bigger. “We needed a bigger facility than our rundown house,” says Amy. “We were serving boys, but what about girls? We started praying for a permanent facility for both a boys’ home and a girls’ home.”
Bigger and Better
The answer to these prayers came in the form of several real estate developers who heard Chance and Amy’s story. “If these two kids could give up everything to help out, then we were going to stand behind them,” says Raymond Moore, who has been a key player in seeing the vision of the Boys Home take shape and currently sits on the Board of Directors.
Within weeks of each other, two properties in Bedford became available, a former church building and the former home of the Boys and Girls Club. Both were in need of renovations but would fit the needs of the homes. Raymond led the charge to bring several business leaders together to purchase the properties. “God loves to answer our prayers in bigger and better ways than we could have dreamed,” says Chance. “We’ve only been doing this for two years and already we have two facilities.”
Remembering How to Dream
The community of Bedford has come around Chance and Amy as they share with various groups the great needs of the youth in their community. Chance speaks at dozens of community organizations, including churches and clubs in town and shares their passion for helping kids in need without involving the bureaucracy and stiff regulations of foster care. Instead, they receive completely voluntary power of attorney rights from the parents. This frees Chance and Amy to teach children the Bible and operate under biblical principles. The state, however, doesn’t give them a dime. Instead, God provides in usual and unusual ways. “We’ve had bags of groceries dropped at our door when we didn’t have anything in the house for dinner,” says Chance.
Drugs, incarcerated parents, broken families, abuse, neglect, crime—these kids have seen it all. Yet through all this mess, Chance and Amy’s faith in Jesus provides a solid foundation that really impacts the boys living with them. “I want to go to college and study to be a preacher,” says a 16-year-old boy shyly. “I want to help kids who ended up like me.”
“It’s so much better here,” says another 17-year-old sitting on an old church pew, gesturing at the bare room in the soon-to-be-renovated church building where Chance, Amy and the four boys currently live. “No one wants to kill me here.” His words are jolting, especially since it’s apparent he’s completely serious. As young teenagers with no options, the Bedford Boys Home is a breath of fresh air in the dreary reality of a life formerly without purpose.
Hope and a Future
The future is bright as God continues to work miracles in troubled lives. Chance and Amy continue to take God-sized risks to care for a generation of kids who cannot protect or defend themselves. Their plates are full as they work to renovate two old buildings, parent both elementary as well as high school boys, pave the way for a girls home and motivate God’s people to care about kids in their community.
“It’s a blast,” said Chance. “We wouldn’t have it any other way. God takes desperate, broken people and makes them beautiful.”
For more information or to financially support the Bedford Boys Home, visit BedfordBoysHome.com.