Big Oak Ranch

Issue: 02 2022


01. A Note from Brodie

Instant gratification. It’s something our culture has grown to expect, even demand. The world is at our fingertips and immediate results, when not achieved, often leave us frustrated and defeated.

In the lives of Abraham, King David, Joseph and countless others, we see this counter-cultural concept of seed, time, then harvest. In their stories, we find an aging father of one child, a lowly shepherd and a beloved brother sold into slavery. We often read these from the perspective of cause and effect, as if when Abraham obeyed God, his descendants immediately became as numerous as the sand on the shore and stars in the sky. As if when Joseph was sold into slavery, he was suddenly given the position of influence alongside King Pharaoh. However, we often forget about the time in between the seed and the harvest. The times when Abraham, and others all throughout the Bible, teetered back and forth in trust and distrust of what God had said. Will God provide, will He work it for good, will He do what He said He would? Nevertheless, they persevered against the desire for immediate, tangible evidence of seeds sown, thus creating a posture of patient faith. A patient faith that shepherds eternal value over an instantaneous, fleeting gratification.

Raising children is anything but instant. In fact, it requires just the opposite. In parenting, the reward is often found in, and at the end of, long, recurring days, months and years. It requires consistent dedication to living to a standard our children can strive toward. It requires showing them how to repent, dust off and follow the Savior. The training we provide to our children is a daily investment, as God often does not rush the harvest nor work in the ways we might think best.

We recently hosted the Big Oak Family Reunion and about 600 people gathered at the Girls’ Ranch to celebrate what God has done through our family. We reminisced and laughed until it hurt. We remembered the long, hard days of carrying one another’s burdens. We talked openly about the countless moments of discipline and hard conversations that weren’t pleasant for anyone. But mostly, we saw the fruit of it all. We saw family return home to one another. We saw former residents not only embracing the teaching they received at Big Oak but leading their own children in that way. We saw the children and grandchildren of our former residents enjoying a childhood rich with love, discipline and persevering parents. We saw hundreds of people transformed by Jesus.

When the enemy does his most cunning work in our lives as parents, when he tires us with meaningless battles that distract us from the war for our children, may we remember that the daily investment is worth it. Let’s find joy in helping our children lift the weight they carry. Let’s remain obedient to consistently discipline and guide them toward truth. Let’s allow the Word of God to define how we live and the example we provide for our children.

The fruit might not be instant and the harvest might not be in our preference of timing. But when we do see it, as the things unseen become seen, our patient faith and persevering work will have been worth it.

Brodie Croyle

Brodie Croyle
President & CEO

Brodie, Kelli, Sawyer & Luke Croyle

Brodie, Kelli, Sawyer & Luke Croyle

02. Birthdays

We are intentional to celebrate the lives and joy of the moment. Join us in celebrating our children’s birthdays!


03. Growing Oak



Carl, 19

  • Lived at Big Oak Ranch for over 3 years
  • Lived in the Perkins Home with Houseparents Zach and BJ McLean
  • Is the 2021 2A Discus State Champion, 3-time 2A Shot Put State Champion, and set a state record in shot put this year
  • Is an excellent athlete and played on the varsity football and basketball teams at WCS
  • Attends a local church with his Ranch family
  • Is attending Gadsden State Community College to help prepare him for UAB next spring, where he will be playing football
  • Has great leadership skills that he has embraced and excelled in at home, at school and in his work
Elijah and his lucky catch

Elijah and his lucky catch

On River Time with some of our Boys’ Ranch family

On River Time with some of our Boys’ Ranch family

Colton on Paint Day!

Colton on Paint Day!

We are so proud of you, Slater!

We are so proud of you, Slater!

You never know what Alijah is going to find in the creek

You never know what Alijah is going to find in the creek

Xander enjoying a day at the lake

Xander enjoying a day at the lake

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above.”

JAMES 1:17

Items Needed for the Boys' Ranch

Men’s Degree Deodorant


Large Crockpot

3-Burner Gas Grill


Dishwasher Tabs

Heavy Duty Laundry Baskets

Twin XL Sheet Sets



Reusable Water Bottles

Laundry Detergent

Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Boys’ Ranch

250 Jake Mintz Road

Gadsden, AL 35905

04. Growing Oak



Skyler, 17

  • Has lived at Big Oak Girls’ Ranch for almost 3 years
  • Lives in the Dye-Merrell Home with Houseparents Trevor and Melissa Ellison
  • Is a Senior at Westbrook Christian School
  • Is an A-B honor roll student
  • Her hobbies are riding horses, singing karaoke and playing guitar
  • Attends Church of the Highlands with her family, where she serves with Highlands Kids and is involved in Student Ministries
  • Serves as a Westbrook Warrior Representative 
  • Has a passion for gardening and making things grow
Happy birthday to Chelsea

Happy birthday to Chelsea

Lexeigh, Kaylee and Cheyanne all dressed up

Lexeigh, Kaylee and Cheyanne all dressed up

Fun day at the beach with Chamma

Fun day at the beach with Chamma

Kennedy and Emma helping the Ranch cool off

Kennedy and Emma helping the Ranch cool off

Keyara and Scarlet fishing with On River Time

Keyara and Scarlet fishing with On River Time

Tiana learning to lead her horse

Tiana learning to lead her horse

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”


Items Needed for the Girls' Ranch

Persil Detergent

Bug Spray 

Outdoor Patio Furniture


Bath Towel Sets

Overnight Toiletry Bags

Towel Wraps

Fun Ice Trays

Command Strips


Shaving Cream

Body Wash

AA Batteries

Spray Bottles

Ziplock Bags (Gallon)

Aluminum Free Deodorant

Kitchen Knives

Shampoo/Conditioner Pump Dispensers

Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Girls’ Ranch

6000 Shelley Drive

Springville, AL 35146

05. Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight

06. Big Oak Ranch Family Reunion

Reuion Family

07. A Life Changed

London's Story

Life Changed

As a child, I was hurt and ashamed. Forced to carry the struggles of the adults around me, I frequently moved from place to place. The only consistency I experienced was the physical abuse, neglect and yelling. Because of its consistency, I didn’t realize at the time that it was abnormal. I thought it was common in every child’s life – the way it had to be for kids. But somewhere deep inside I questioned it. Why do I feel so helpless? Why do the people around me not see me as a child who longs for love? Is there hope beyond my circumstances? I had so many questions, no voice to express them and no one to help me find the answers.

Until I came to Big Oak Ranch.

Excited, but nervous, I arrived at Big Oak and even the permanence of the Girls’ Ranch sign reassured me that this would be different. This would be forever. I walked through the doors of the office and the smiles on every face told me I was wanted. They would hear me. They would see me. I just knew it.

2010 School Picture

2010 School Picture

Haven’s 3rd Birthday

Haven’s 3rd Birthday

Diana, London, Colton & Haven

Diana, London, Colton & Haven

As I settled into my new home, I was encouraged to ask the hard questions and to talk about my feelings. For the first time, people listened. I found the freedom to grow and heal as my Big Oak family helped me navigate the difficult answers to my questions. As I walked this journey, I was surrounded with people who were patient with my mistakes, firm in discipline and unconditional in their love for me.

Big Oak showed me not only what childhood should look like, but what parenting truly is. I saw marriages that operated from a desire to elevate and love one another, with the intentionality to build a family that is strong and equipped for the future. We did chores on the Ranch together and I learned how to budget – how to tithe, pay bills, and save and spend wisely. In fact, some of my greatest memories involve the process of saving extra spending money for family trips, and the anticipation of those experiences. We would always do extra chores and save for special items or activities we had in mind for the annual Big Oak Family Beach Trip, as it was the highlight of each year.

This influence wasn’t only present within my home. Rather, it continued in every aspect of life at Big Oak, even stemming from the education I received. Through Westbrook Christian School, I found teachers who genuinely wanted to help me. They noticed my capability and invested in it.

From a girl with so many questions and no voice, to a wife and mother who has found healing, I might not understand every answer, but I do now understand how God intended family to be. I do understand that there is hope.

London & her Darden Home sisters at the Reunion

London & her Darden Home sisters at the Reunion

“… but I do now understand how God intended family to be.”

My husband, Colton, is my best friend and we work together to ensure life is different for our beautiful daughter, Haven. We are intentional to listen to her and teach her to use her voice for good.

As the oldest sister within a sibling group of five, all having lived at Big Oak, I know I will use the voice I found to encourage others toward a different way of life.

And, when I visit Big Oak and see each new Family Beach Trip photo hanging on the wall, I am filled with gratitude for a home where other children can find a place to belong, a place to also find their voice.


London, Colton & Haven

London, Colton & Haven

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”


08. Wake the World

Thank you to all of the boat drivers and their families, as well as the volunteers who make this incredible day possible for all of our children and staff!

Wake the World

09. Spotlights


Spiritual, professional and personal life preparation for the young adults of Big Oak Ranch.


Continuing our promises.

Through ASCEND, we teach the essential life skills that every young adult needs and each Ascendant earns greater accountability and responsibility along the way. We provide the spiritual, professional, and personal life preparation that helps each young man and woman walk the path of their unique, God-given purpose.

ASCEND provides each young adult:

  • All educational expenses, including tuition, tools and books
  • A roommate, a furnished 2-3 bedroom apartment, and utilities
  • A responsible married couple residing in the same apartment complex for mentoring and accountability
  • ASCEND 4:11 curriculum that sits alongside their fully-paid college or skilled trade education

And while we make a continued commitment to our children, they also make commitments to this journey as they agree to each step in the process, meeting certain requirements along the way.

Big Oak Cattle

Big Oak Cattle is designed to provide a self-sustaining, naturally-raised, beef production system (no hormones, no added antibiotics) for feeding our Ranch families.
Even more, it is an opportunity to help rebuild our children’s confidence and their ability to trust. It teaches responsibility, accountability and the value of working for something greater than oneself.

Big Oak Cattle

Feeding our families. Rebuilding trust by working together.

We’ve welcomed many new calves in 2022 with great anticipation for weaning and moving them from the Boys’ Ranch to the Girls’ Ranch later this year, the first herd our girls will have the opportunity to care for.

Both the Boys’ Ranch and Girl’s Ranch just completed P21, which teaches horsemanship skills through the lens of the Gospel. We recently held our P21 Rodeo which is a time for our children to show their Big Oak family the equine skills they have learned as we celebrate their accomplishments together. The children who completed P21 will receive the opportunity for leadership roles within the teams who care for our horses and cattle. These teams will work alongside the cattle directors year-round, while continuing to learn and expand their skills. As our children build trust with the animals and learn how to best care for them, we witness a beautiful scene which leads to healing and development of meaningful relationships.

Big Oak Cattle continues to provide great opportunities for our children to be a part of feeding our Big Oak families. In fact, our boys recently spent a fun-filled day moving cattle and it only made sense to grill Big Oak Cattle hamburgers, sit in the stillness of the Ranch after a long day and reflect on the memories made.

Planting Oaks

As an extension of Big Oak Ranch, Planting Oaks resources and equips like-minded ministries as they establish Christian homes for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Planting Oaks

Multiplying impact.

Through Planting Oaks, we share our insight and experience with those who are committing their lives to helping children in need.

We typically partner with individuals or groups working with young people in four major organizational categories:

  • Long-term residential care
  • Long-term placement for children out of human trafficking
  • Long-term foster care communities
  • Transitional living
Planting Oaks

We work closely with each of our Planting Oaks to advance the mission of safe, loving, Christian homes with a godly mom and dad, while helping Planting Oaks establish their organizational framework in a way that’s affordable, scalable, and most effective in their area of service.

"Planting Oaks impacted our organization dramatically. When we visited, it made us think bigger, and now we are connected on an even greater level with community networks that allow us to serve kids better. Our experience with Planting Oaks helped us see a way to reach kids at a younger age instead of when they are 4-5 years into trials as young adults.”

Robin Woodall

Robin Woodall, Lydia’s Place
Transitional living for those aging out of foster care

10. Note From the Business Office

Recurring Gifts

Consistent monthly giving ensures we have the resources to sustain our ministry and provides life-changing daily care for our children. Setting up a monthly, quarterly or annually recurring gift is easy.

Call (205) 467-6226, ext. 1222 or visit BigOak.org/donate.


We are truly grateful to you for ensuring the future of our children through our recurring gift option!

11. Ways to Help

There are many ways you can have an impact on the lives changed at Big Oak. Please choose the option that works best for you, and know that we appreciate your support – no matter how or where you choose to give.

Daily Prayer

Daily prayer is a true source of power, with the ability to effect positive changes in our children’s lives. We humbly ask for you to pray daily for our staff and children.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

1 John 5:14

Critical Support for Daily Necessities

Critical Support for Daily Necessities

Every gift matters. Gifts of $25, $50, $100 on a monthly basis help sustain our mission and allow us to increase awareness so that more children can be served! You can write a check each month or set up an automatic payment through your bank.

Memorial & Honorarium Program

Memorial & Honorarium Program

The Memorial Program allows you to honor a deceased loved one. The Honorarium Program allows you to celebrate special friends or relatives on occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. In each case, we will send an appropriate letter acknowledging your gift.

If you have questions about our Memorial/Honorarium Program, please call the Business Office at (256) 892-0773, ext. 1313, or email Mary Hutto at mhutto@bigoak.org.

Big 12 Club Membership

Sponsor a child. Invest in their future.

Big 12 Club Membership

You can have a tremendous impact on the life of one of our children by participating in the Big 12 Club. Members of the Big 12 Club make an annual pledge of $12,000 to cover the cost of raising one of our children for one full year and ensure that our children have the essentials they need.

In-Kind Donations

In-Kind Donations

As a professional, you can provide tremendous help to our children through in-kind donations of your skills and expertise. Donations of in-kind services by doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals are tax-deductible, but more importantly, they make a huge difference in the quality of our children’s lives.

If you are a professional who would like to donate your services, contact:

Robin O’Leary at (205) 467-6226, ext 1226, or roleary@bigoak.org.

Volunteer Resource Families

Volunteer Resource Families

Each month, our Houseparents get one weekend away beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday evening, to regroup and recharge so they can best serve our children. During this time, we pair each child with a family. This is called the child’s Resource Family.

If you would like more information about becoming a Resource Family, please call Robin O’Leary at 205-467-6226, ext 1226, or roleary@bigoak.org.

Guidance into Adulthood

Guidance into Adulthood

One of the core promises we make to each child who lives at the Ranch is, “We’ll stick with you until you are grown.” ASCEND is one way we keep that promise, as we provide life skills training for our 18-22 year-olds. This training sits alongside a fully paid college education or skilled trade certification. Through ASCEND, our young adults learn to transform the dependent habits learned on the Ranch into independent habits necessary for adult life.

Heritage Giving

Heritage Giving

For gifts of personal or real property, trusts, life insurance, marketable securities or estates, phone the Business Office at (256) 892-0773, ext. 1317, or email robert.duke@bigoak.org.

Multiplying our impact across the country

There are more than 3.5 million children in this country in need of intervention on their behalf. We help those children by resourcing and equipping like-minded individuals and ministries as they establish Christian homes for children in need of a chance.

Collage Digital

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”

Psalm 29:11