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There’s something about landing in foster care twice that affects the life of a young boy. Chris Ward knows those effects all too well. Chris came to Crossnore the first time at the age of 11 and stayed for about 18 months. His grandmother had hoped to adopt Chris and his siblings but was unable to care for all of them. Chris’s behavior turned to running away to live with friends that he admits were bad influences.

His return to Crossnore came at the age of 14. Chris arrived with his sisters who were later adopted by a family. By this time though, Chris could see a glimmer of hope. He was doing well at Crossnore and improving his grades in school. By his junior year, Chris was part of the Student Council, played basketball, and worked at Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop and Café. “Crossnore felt like home to me. I was doing better than I had in the past, so it made sense for me to stay in the environment where I was thriving,” said Chris.

Finding his way.

Chris graduated from Crossnore Academy (now Marjorie Williams Academy) in the class of 2014. He had been team captain of the basketball team as a sophomore, junior, and senior. This experience combined with his on-campus job taught him some lessons in leadership and impacted his decisions for the future. During his senior year, Chris decided to attend Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), an interdenominational Bible college in Dallas, Texas. It was a long way from home, but Chris embraced this opportunity with the same fierceness he had embraced his time at Crossnore. 

At CFNI, Chris earned a BA in Practical Theology and Ministry. He then attended Dallas Baptist University, earning a BS in Business Management. Now Chris is employed at CFNI as Assistant Dean of Men, where his life experiences and commitment to Christ are the basis of the relationships he builds with the students there.

An unexpected blessing.

Another blessing Chris received from CFNI was meeting his wife, Kristen, during their freshman year. They met as part of a common friend group and Chris says, “I really started liking her in my sophomore year. God opened my eyes to see that she was an amazing girl and would provide just the balance I needed from the way I had grown up.” Kristen’s parents also met at CFNI and Chris was impressed with the closeness of their family. He goes on to say, “I thought it was very important for me to find someone who came from a stable background. That way we can raise a healthy family together.”

But Chris says Kristen shut him down at first, so he really had to fight for her. And Chris is certainly a fighter! Kristen relented and the couple were engaged as juniors and were married after graduation in 2017.

A launching pad for the rest of his life.

With Chris’s background, it’s easy to look back and imagine how life could have gone much differently. Coming to Crossnore isn’t easy for any child, especially if they come back again like Chris. He says he came to Crossnore as a hurt and angry child and it was hard to see what the future would hold. But he says he now sees it as the place where God worked in his life. “I know people see Crossnore as a place of rules and a hard place to be. I thought the same thing. Now when I look back, I thank God that He used Crossnore to shape me into the man I am today. It was the launching pad for the rest of my life. I met the Lord at Crossnore and that’s the biggest thing to ever happen to me. He could have done that anywhere, but He chose Crossnore as the place to bring me to Him. I am thankful for the counseling and the practical support I received, too. Every day I counsel students at CFNI, and that ability comes from the healing that I experienced at Crossnore.” 

“Now when I look back, I thank God that He used Crossnore to shape me into the man I am today. It was the launching pad for the rest of my life.”

When asked about the future, Chris said he and Kristen are happy with their jobs and love living in Dallas. They just celebrated their second anniversary and are starting to feel a tug on their hearts to start a family. “We’ve been praying and saving money and seeking the Lord’s will. We think at some point we want to return to the state of Washington to be near Kristen’s family as we grow our own family.” 

Excited about the future.

He goes on to say, “Because of Crossnore and God’s goodness, we do not have college debt. We are saving right now for a home and for our family’s future. That is an amazing opportunity and blessing. We’ve also talked about the possibility of moving to Crossnore, if God opens that door. Right now, we’re just giving the Lord opportunity and room to move and to show us what’s next.”

Whatever is next, Chris and Kristen will continue to thrive. And if the Lord points them to Crossnore, there will always be a place for them here!

“God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.” – Dr. Tony Evans