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“Tell them who you are!” This is the immediate request from child advocate John Croyle to any one of the Big Oak kids when they are introduced to someone. It’s a declaration that who they are carries value. Value that is not defined by the circumstances that led them to be in at the Big Oak Ranch. Value that is also not defined by what you believe God can or can’t do through you.
This is a lesson that John Croyle, his family, and the team of Big Oak Ranch have learned well. Faced with one of the most important decisions of his life — whether to play professional football or to start a children’s home — John followed the Lord’s leadership. In the decades since that decision, they’ve seen his dream of helping hurting kids grow into a ministry that has shaped the lives of more than 2,000 children.
Surely we, too, would be changed to experience a ministry with this kind of legacy. This isn't a dream and a hope or the seed of a ministry. This is well scarred, deep rooted ministry that grows strong, oak tree kind of faith. It's faith-building for the kids reached through the ministry and now for those of us who can hear the story of it.
Who You Are tells this story of the life shaping, Kingdom transforming ministry that God used one man to begin. Yet, the bigger story is in who you are and what God can do to use you in the lives of others. Come along for one incredible and improbable story of how God has worked and in doing so, truly discover how He can work through you.
John Croyle rose to recognition as an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's legendary tenure. Faced with the decision to play professional football or to start a home for abused and neglected children, John established Big Oak Boys' Ranch in 1974. Today the outreach has grown to three branches with the addition of a girls ranch and a Christian school. John, his wife Tee, and the Big Oak organization have raised more than 2,000 kids to date.