SPRINGFIELD – For Greta Bradley, there is no difference between a Christian’s job and a Christian’s ministry. They are one and the same. So it’s no stretch that she would see her role as the “Qualified Developmental Disability Professional” for The Branches at Brookline, a Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) residence for developmentally disabled adults, as a way to show God’s love.
“Some ministers are called to the pulpit, and others are called to The Branches,” Bradley said.
The Branches at Brookline came under the MBCH umbrella late last year. The family-style residence provides up to eight adults with developmental disabilities a secure and stable place to call home. Sitting on 35 acres just outside Springfield, the Branches is staffed 24/7 with two sets of house parents and Bradley.
A member of Second Baptist Church here, Bradley has been working as a registered nurse for the MBCH for 10 years, mostly out of their office on Cherry Street. That facility is notable for its gruesome history and redemption: 13 years ago, it was an abortion clinic before it closed and was taken over by a pregnancy resource center and eventually the MBCH. When the Branches became an MBCH ministry, Bradley, who had experience working with developmentally disabled adults and managing their healthcare, jumped at the chance to work with the new clients here.
“The individuals are the most loving people you’ll ever meet,” she said. “They’re refreshing to be around; no pretense and no selfishness. I love being in this environment.”
The Branches is “not a quiet” house, to quote Bradley. The six current residents range from 18 to 76 years old and have day activities or jobs in the community from 8 to 3 during the week. Bowling is on Monday nights, social events on Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights are devotions with the staff, Thursday night is Craft Night with a local neighbor, Friday is Library Day, Saturday is full of laundry and cleaning, and Sunday they attend church at the Special Friends Sunday School class at Ridgecrest Baptist Church.
But those activities aren’t what sets The Branches apart from other developmentally disabled adult homes.
“We get to share our faith with them every day,” Bradley said. “We get to encourage them in their faith walk or explore what they think about the Lord.”
The first full week the MBCH’s new staff worked at The Branches, one of the residents accepted Christ. Bradley said that most of them have been saved, and are now thinking about baptism.
“It’s a process and we want to make sure they understand everything,” she said. “One of our residents always prays before we eat, and he’s not just saying ‘Grace’ over our food, he’s praying for this one and that one and for needs I never would have thought of.”