A Life Changed: Ranell Tillett

I can still remember the long, awkward ride from my “home” to 6000 Shelley Drive, Springville, AL. It was April of 1990 and I was 14 years old.

It’s my most vivid childhood memory – arriving at Big Oak Ranch. As I was welcomed into my new home, I watched my dad drive away and I stood there uncertain and angry. All I had ever known was a life of brokenness, instability and chaos and I didn’t see how Big Oak could change that for me. In fact, I was determined to let no one past the protective walls I had built around my heart. I placed my trust within those walls because I believed I could control them. I believed they could keep anything and anyone from ever hurting me again. The walls seemed like a refuge from the cycle of disappointment to which I was accustomed.

But little did I know, Big Oak Ranch was being written into my story because God wanted to reveal Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise to me. He had plans to give me hope and a future.

One year from that day, I realized His provision in my life. I experienced the love of Jesus through the lives of selfless, seed-sowing, faith-filled people – a love that would tear down my well-built walls. I experienced houseparents, selected just for me, and a home full of other girls, my Ranch sisters, who were also discovering that God had better plans for them. My biological sister also arrived at Big Oak during this time and I began to see a work unfolding in both of our futures. I was finally able to reflect with gratitude and praise, because God had not only provided me with a home that day in April 1990, but a place I still call home today. I grew to trust His plans for me and I stayed at Big Oak through college. The care I received then prepared me to be the wife and mother I am today.

I have been married for 23 years and I am the mother of four of the greatest gifts from God. As my husband and I raise our children, I am blessed to return to the examples of my childhood at Big Oak. The powerful love of God that intervened in my life continues in my children and they live free from the cycle of pain I once knew.

Even more, because of the generational impact of Big Oak Ranch, my biological parents experienced the love of Christ and, later in life, came to know Him as their Savior!

My biological sister, who came to Big Oak during my first year, is also the mother of four beautiful children whose lives are also changed by a mother who encountered the love of Christ at Big Oak.

From an untrusting 14-year-old girl who knew nothing of the plans God had for me, I now stand boldly upon them as a daughter of God who repeats, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

This hope and this future I cling to – for my own children and, one day, the lives of my grandchildren!