Birth of a Dream

 
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Lois Prater was nearly eighty years old when God gave her a second chance to honor her promise to Him and to fulfill her dream by founding an orphanage. At the age of just six or seven, she had been inspired by the exciting stories told by Lillian Trasher, renowned missionary and founder of Egypt’s first orphanage. At age fifteen, Lois had promised God she’d go overseas as a missionary. In preparation, she went to Bible college and started preaching at age nineteen.

But everything changed when Lois fell in love with a handsome farmhand who drank too much. Convinced that marrying him was outside of God’s will for her, she married him anyway, determined to change him and still fulfill her mission. She did, but not until fifty-two years later.

Six months after Galon Prater died, Lois had an opportunity to take a short-term missions trip to the Philippines. Although she initially fought the stirring in her heart (“Lord, I’m too old to go now!”) and her family discouraged her (“There are things you can do here!”), Lois ultimately refused to say no to God a second time.

Her first trip to the Philippines was with an organized group for three weeks; for her second, she took eleven women and stayed for four weeks. She went alone for her third trip and stayed for a year, traveling to various churches and preaching.

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One day, a desperate man with seven children offered to sell her his baby for approximately forty dollars. She gave the man money to feed his children and helped him find a job so he could continue to support them. But she never forgot his face or the shock of his desperation. It was the push Lois needed to do what she had felt called to do for more than seventy years—she sold everything she owned, moved to the Philippines, and put every penny she had into building an orphanage, King’s Garden Children’s Home.

One of the first children Lois took into the new home was a baby she named Albert. His father was in prison, and Albert’s mother moved into the jail with him, since she had nowhere else to go. Three more babies followed in the coming years; Lola (Grandmother) Lois took in each child, ensuring that all were raised in the loving children’s home rather than in the jail.

She tirelessly continued her work of rescuing, feeding, clothing, loving, and educating the children until age eighty-nine, when her health forced her to hand over leadership of the then well-established children’s home to others who shared her heart for the children. But her heart remained with the home and the children, and she visited often until her death in 2013 at the age of one hundred.