On some Thanksgivings, Jerry Tucker and his late wife, Sandy, had as many as 125 of their children come home to South Fork Ridge for dinner.
The Tuckers are founders of Casey County’s Galilean Home Ministries, a nonprofit organization that cares for children from all over the world that have been abused, neglected, rejected, are in need of medical treatment, or a Christian education. They have adopted 30 children, and over the years taken in 800-1,000 other physically and emotionally impaired youngsters since their first adoptions of a boy then two Sioux Indian sisters three decades ago. They have two biological daughters.
The Tuckers moved to south-central Kentucky from Michigan in 1974—lured primarily by inexpensive farmland—and settled in Casey County, where a Mennonite community soon sprang up.
There they established a faith ministry that has grown with each child in need who has been brought to their door. Some are babies whose mothers are incarcerated. Many are from other countries and are victims of unspeakable cruelties.
A 10-year-old girl with disabilities from Guatemala had been sold by her mother at age 7 to an army camp, where she was held captive in a cave and abused by the soldiers.
A girl from Honduras had been severely wounded when gunmen murdered six members of her family, including her parents, when she was 4. Now 22, she attended Bible college, married, and is helping with babies at the Galilean Children’s Home.
At age 12, Abdul Sammad from Afghanistan picked up what he thought was a toy beside the road in his war-torn homeland. It was a Russian roadside bomb that blew off both his hands, put out his left eye, and left him with other wounds. Assumed to be an orphan, he was sent to a refugee camp and eventually wound up at the Galilean Children’s Home.
If you have visited the home’s Bread of Life Café beside U.S. 127 between Liberty and Dunnville, you may have seen him—the polite young man with no hands who buses tables.
What you may not know is that he became a proficient three-point shooter on the Galilean Christian Academy’s basketball team, was a top student in community college while earning an associate’s degree, and that he wants to re-enter college and study either pharmacy or business.
He has returned to Afghanistan twice for several months, located his mother, married a young woman there, and has a 3-year-old son. He prays to bring his wife and baby to Kentucky.
Sandy Tucker, the woman who Galilean Children’s Home’s kids called “Mom,” died in 2007 after a long battle with cancer.
“The last words she spoke to me on her deathbed were, ‘Dad, don’t quit. Don’t ever give up,'” 72-year old Jerry Tucker says. “Those echo in my head all the time, especially when the economy gets tough as it has been the last three years.”
Yet there is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving at the Galilean Children’s Home, where miracles happen each day, and where there always seems to be room for one more child.
To learn more, call (606) 787-5120 or go to their Web site at www.galileanhome.org, where you can donate, volunteer, or contribute items on their needs list.