As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
For years, I’ve been telling you how I much prefer fiction books over non-fiction. But, of late, I see that my tastes are changing a bit; and I’m a sucker for a good “real life” story. When I heard about this book, and read this description, I couldn’t resist:
“Who You Are” is the personal story of John Croyle: Christian dad, child advocate, famed All-American defensive end and founder of Big Oak Ranch for Boys and Girls.
It’s about how he came to turn down a career in the NFL and start the Big Oak Ranch, and the request he makes of all the children there: “Tell them who you are!” It’s a declaration that who they are carries value – value that is not defined by the circumstances that led them to be at the Big Oak Ranch. Value that is also not defined by what you believe God can or can’t do through you.
Maybe I’m just a big softy when it comes to helpless kids; but something about this just really appealed to me and I’d like to tell you about it.
About the Book
“Tell them who you are!” This is the immediate request from child advocate John Croyle to any one of the Big Oak kids when they are introduced to someone. It’s a declaration that who they are carries value. Value that is not defined by the circumstances that led them to be in at the Big Oak Ranch. Value that is also not defined by what you believe God can or can’t do through you.
This is a lesson that John Croyle, his family, and the team of Big Oak Ranch have learned well. Faced with one of the most important decisions of his life — whether to play professional football or to start a children’s home — John followed the Lord’s leadership. In the decades since that decision, they’ve seen his dream of helping hurting kids grow into a ministry that has shaped the lives of more than 2,000 children.
Surely we, too, would be changed to experience a ministry with this kind of legacy. This isn’t a dream and a hope or the seed of a ministry. This is well scarred, deep rooted ministry that grows strong, oak tree kind of faith. It’s faith-building for the kids reached through the ministry and now for those of us who can hear the story of it.
Who You Are tells this story of the life shaping, Kingdom transforming ministry that God used one man to begin. Yet, the bigger story is in who you are and what God can do to use you in the lives of others. Come along for one incredible and improbable story of how God has worked and in doing so, truly discover how He can work through you.
About the Author
John Croyle rose to recognition as an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s legendary tenure. Faced with the decision to play professional football or to start a home for abused and neglected children, John established Big Oak Boys’ Ranch in 1974. Today the outreach has grown to three branches with the addition of a girls ranch and a Christian school. John, his wife Tee, and the Big Oak organization have raised more than 1,800 kids to date.
Heidi Says . . .
It’s a non-fiction book and I honestly had trouble putting it down. And, I have to confess, it’s one of only a handful of non-fiction books (in the self-help category) that I’ve actually read all the way through to the end. I think that may be due to the fact that while it’s definitely a book to make you think about your own life – what your strengths are, areas where you struggle and need to make changes, and what you can/should do with your life – there is a fair amount of “real-life, feel-good stories” sprinkled throughout. These stories of redemption and overcoming were just what I needed to keep me reading and made me want to read “just one more chapter”.
I absolutely LOVE the ministry that John has at Big Oak Ranch. Several years ago, we heard about a similar place for children and both my husband and I were convicted to consider serving in such a ministry sometime. Reading the stories of these kids – what they have come from, what they have become, and the journey to get there – was so interesting. Then, the way John tied the stories in with various character traits and how to apply them to our own lives was eye-opening.
I really encourage the reading of this book. Not only will you feel a little better about humanity in general, but you’ll do some soul-searching and desire to make some positive changes in your life (or, at least, that’s the goal!) After all, the tagline reads “Defying the Circumstances that Define Us” – if these kids can overcome such horrendous circumstances, surely we can too!
***This post made possible by Shelton Interactive.***