Friday, 10 May 2013 13:04

Adullam House: Loving Children of Incarcerated Parents

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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Situated on 22 acres of beautiful wooded land outside of Wetumpka, Adullam House has been called one of the best-kept secrets in the River Region. It’s here where children of incarcerated parents find a safe haven and are provided with an opportunity many children in situations like theirs have not been given. 

 

“Without proper intervention a huge percentage of children of incarcerated parents will end up in prison themselves,” says Angie Spackman. Angie and her husband, Pete, began the journey that would turn into Adullam House in 1987 after coming to the United States from Great Britain. Pete was an evangelist with speaking engagements all over the world and Angie and their four daughters were excited about a stint in the U.S. Little did they know they were on the verge of a huge work of God that he was placing in their hearts.

 

While in the U.S., Pete was invited to begin speaking in the prisons. It wasn’t long until Pete closed all of his speaking engagements and immersed himself completely in prison ministry. As Pete preached, their four daughters: Rachel, Naomi, Hannah and Ruthie, would sing. The girls reminded many of the prisoners of their own children. Eventually, the Spackmans began asking the Lord what they should do with the children of the inmates they were ministering to. It was then the dream of “Adullam House” began to take shape in their hearts and would eventually become the reality it is today.

 

 

Why the Name Adullam House?

Through prayer, God showed Pete and Angie something from the story of David’s life. In 1 Samuel 22 David is once again afraid and running for his life from King Saul. With nowhere to go, David found refuge in a cave called Adullam.

 

It was there that men began to gather themselves with David. Men who were in debt, distressed, discontented – the outcasts. These men made David their captain and soon became the most valiant and greatest fighting army that was ever known in that time.

 

Pete and Angie believed that this could be true for the children of inmates. They believed God would wield an army out of them as they found refuge in a place where the love of Jesus would be taught and where Christ would be their captain. “Like the men who found refuge in the cave and became the ‘mightiest fighting army’ this world has ever seen, we believe that God will take many of the little lives entrusted to our care and make of them great trophies of grace,” says Angie.

 

 

The Facilities

When Adullam House began, it was started as a boarding school for the children they serve. All 22 acres of land, including the materials and labor, were donated. Not one cent has come from government funding, and it still continues that way today. Adullam House is only the second of its kind in the U.S. and Adullam House No. 2 is now in the process of being built in Louisiana.

 

Over the years, they have built two houses specifically for the children on the property--one for children age 4 and up and another for newborns to three years old. Currently, there are 10 babies in the baby house and 16 children in the older children’s home. There is also housing on site for the full-time caregivers.

 

Perhaps their most treasured space is a state of the art school for all of the children to attend. Adullam House Christian Academy provides all the children at Adullam House and children in the community a place to learn and grow.

 

Also on the property is a chapel, which was completed almost seven years ago. Here, the children have Wednesday night services as well as morning chapel before school. “Every single building and space has been a gift,” says Angie.  “The houses took us seven years to build, but we did it by praying and trusting God to provide all we needed, and he has done that!”

 

While the facilities at Adullam House are beautiful, they simply serve a greater purpose, which is to help love, care for and teach the children they serve.

 

 

Love & Care for the Children

Some of the children who come to Adullam House come for short-term rescue, while others have made it their permanent home. Many of the children come to them from horrendous situations, and some are as young as 48 hours old. Neglect, poverty, abuse, and other horrors no child should have to face are a part of their story. But as Angie says, “That’s their past…these kids are given an opportunity for their future where they can be kids.” Naomi Hellums, Angie and Pete’s daughter who works on staff, describes it best when she says these kids are learning a brand new way to do life.  Life at Adullam House is full of all the things kids dream of: soccer games, music lessons, school, church activities and being with people who love them. 

 

The end goal for every child who comes to Adullam house is to reunite them with their parents.  “It is always the intention to reunite the child with the mother,” says Angie.  “Once a mom looks like she has every intention to get back with her baby we do our utmost to make that happen.”  Many of the mothers fear placing their children in the system of foster care, so Adullam House presents a perfect opportunity for them to keep a relationship with their child, while knowing they are being cared for and loved on by the Spackman family and their incredible staff.

 

This parent to child relationship is kept open with monthly prison visits. “We take the children on visits to spend time their mothers so we can help keep that relationship open,” explains Naomi. “It gives us an opportunity to be a light to the mothers and tell them about where the child is being taken care of and share the love of Christ with them.” 

 

It’s important to note Adullam House is not an adoption agency.  “We’ve had lots of requests for adoptions over the past year, but we are in no way capable of handling those,” says Angie. While children have been adopted by staff members in the past, they were all handled through private parties. In fact, Angie and Pete have adopted 9. “And they’re probably not going to stop!” says her son-in-law, Phillip Powell.

 

Other staff members have brought some of the children into their homes as well. “They’ve been with us so long they are a part of our family,” explains Phillip.  “We don’t kick them out when they turn 18 and if they don’t have a place to go, they stay with us.”  “And since our goal is to reunite the child with the parents, we don’t want mothers to fear bringing their child here and wondering if they will be adopted,” adds Naomi.  “That is not the message we want to send our mothers, especially the ones who plan to be back with their children after they are released.”

 

But how do the staff help reunite these children with their parents successfully? This is where Mary’s Place comes in, a home where mothers, after their release, can be reunited with their children. A 6,000 square foot home on the lake was given, at no cost, to Adullam House to be used for the sole purpose of helping the mothers get back on their feet in a supervised environment with their children. Today, they have their first mother and her five children in the home and they are working with her to secure her a job.

 

 

Teaching the Children

In May of 2011, Angie and the staff realized they would no longer be able to rent the facility they had been using to house Adullam House Christian Academy. After much prayer, a friend generously gave them 12.5 acres of land just 5 miles north of the Adullam House property. In the fall of 2012, the doors opened for AHCA on their new property complete with a lake, state of the art classrooms and even sports fields. “They now have their own school and it is such a big deal to the kids,” says Angie. “These kids go from living in the worst conceivable conditions to being treated so exclusively. It does wonders for them.”

 

Children who started with a disadvantage make rapid progress using individualized, Christ-centered curriculum. They also provide three levels of teaching: pre-school, young elementary, and older elementary through high school. “We seek to equip the children with the tools to understand and worship God,” says Angie. “In teaching them to know who they are in Christ, the children will be better prepared to live an abundant life.”

 

 

The Volunteers & How You Can be Involved

In addition to the core staff, there are an abundance of young people who have devoted a year or more of their lives to live and serve at Adullam House. These volunteers are mostly young women age 18 and older. Whether they are from Alabama or overseas, they catch the vision of what God can accomplish in the lives of these children and have been a part of the miracle that is Adullam House.

 

One of these volunteers is Keila Medina, who came from New York to serve. “The experience of being an intern in Adullam House impacted me more than I imagined,” says Keila. “God has had a funny way of turning things around and showing me that I needed just as much ministering to, if not more, through this experience.”  She learned that allowing herself to unconditionally love a child who lacks a mother’s love, while knowing someday the child will be gone, caused Keila to pour all the love she had into them with the hope that it would stay forever. “It’s a feeling I can’t even describe,” she said.

 

Adullam House is always looking for volunteers for the summer and for year (or more) long internships. Interns can serve in many ways such as:

 

• Caregiver to infants and toddlers in our nursery unit (female only)

 

• Coaching the children’s basketball/soccer/football teams

 

• Skilled and unskilled construction projects

 

• Working in our main office

 

• Teachers-Aid/Pre-school Aid in Adullam House Christian Academy

 

• Basic Maintenance for facilities/children’s dorms/and landscape maintenance

 

 

While not everyone can come and be an intern at Adullam House, there are many ways the community can be involved.  One way is to sponsor a child through school.  These are $2,000 a year and include school uniforms, field trips, curriculum and lunches. Churches can also invited Pete and Angie to speak at their church, business or organization, or invite the children’s choir to sing.

 

The staff is also excited to announce they will be opening a thrift store off Highway 231 called The Adullam House Thrift Store.  They are inviting anyone to donate to the store which will employ some of the mothers of the children at Adullam House once they are released. This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of the goal of the ministry, which is to reunite each child with his/her mother.

 

Finally, Adullam House operates entirely on donations.  If you are interested in investing your time or resources into this life-changing ministry, visit their website at www.adullamhouse.org.

 

Rachel Fisher loves learning what God is doing in the world around her and writing about it. She and her husband Chase are members at Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Montgomery.

 

 

**Photos by Lori Mercer Photography.

 

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 10 May 2013 13:23
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