Austin has not seen his father since he was a small boy. And by the time he was 16, he had no interest in finding him. At this rebellious stage of his life, his father would be just another authority figure, and Austin had zero respect for anyone in authority.
In his world, school was optional. He was frequently truant and his teachers had no hope he would graduate. The friends he chose to hang out with were trouble. And his mom’s rules? He chose to rebel from them completely.
“I despised any kind of authority. I believed in God, but I didn’t want to follow His rules either,” Austin admits. “I was hanging out with people who were making bad decisions.”
Too Much for a Mother To Handle
Finally, Austin’s mom reached a breaking point. She made a difficult decision to send him to Bethel Bible Village. It took some time, but now Austin sees clearly that his mom’s decision was a wise one.
“At Bethel, I learned to step up and take responsibility and to hold others responsible,” Austin says. “I know right from wrong. I know God has a plan for everyone and He has rules for believers to follow.”
Austin credits his Bethel house parents, Stacy and Scott Ruggles, for providing structure and authority in a loving way.
“We would have long conversations about God and everything in life. Pops would joke around with me and I really never had that at home,” Austin says. “He told me there will be people you have to associate with that you won’t like but you have to get along with them anyway. The biggest change since coming to Bethel is my perspective on authority figures,”
A Cause for Celebration
Austin graduated from Bethel’s accredited campus school in December with a high school diploma. The small classes, personalized attention and constant encouragement all contributed to his success.
His success story was profiled in a news story on WDEF-TV. It’s hard to believe that the well-spoken, respectful young man on camera was once the boy who scowled at authority.
Plans for the Future
That’s cause for celebration, but it’s just the beginning.
“I plan to further my education. I would like to become a nurse,” Austin says. He also has the maturity to have a “Plan B” in his back pocket. “If it turns out nursing isn’t a good fit for me, I’d like to work for the fire department. Ever since I was a little kid, my mom saw I had a big heart. When I saw someone hurting, I wanted to jump up and help.”
When Austin was preparing to leave Bethel, he said he wanted his future to include another authority figure.
“I’m going to visit my father for the first time in ten years,” Austin told us last year. “Before coming to Bethel I didn’t have any interest in finding him. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited to see him.”
Update: We learned recently that Austin connected with his father and reports that they now have a positive relationship. He says the relationship skills and counseling he received at Bethel helped make this possible.
Watch Austin’s story of healing and hope on WDEF-TV.