Power Of Prayer: Children's Park - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas


Power Of Prayer: Children's Park

It is a difficult tragedy that only a few understand: losing a child before they are ever born. For a Tyler woman, the loss of her son, Braden, has now lead to a place where the lives of all children can be celebrated.

Her journey or recovery and restoration was paved with the power of prayer. In August of 1999, just a few days before Jennifer Carson was scheduled to give birth to a new son, that she noticed something was wrong. "Noticed no heart beat, went to the hospital... Braden was not alive," said Jennifer.

Finding comfort in the days to come was not easy. "People either don't know what to say or they say the wrong thing and you feel like your child has been forgotten. You feel like they've been left behind. Which was my greatest fear, that everybody was going to move on and forget about Braden. And I just couldn't let that happen. I wanted him to come with me and I wanted his life to make a difference in other peoples lives."

Jennifer found peace at Elena's Park in Dallas near her parents home. The park is a peaceful place, Jennifer remembers, built in memory of a young child lost. It was here she says God called her to service. "And what I feel like he was saying to me was, 'I want you to go and find all these families that have lost a child and bring them to this place of healing.'"

It would not be that easy. Jennifer was able to find a small group back in Tyler that caught her vision. For four years that would meet every week planning and preparing. "It started out about being a memorial park because obviously that is where my heart is. But we had just as many people who were involved that had not lost children. And it became very quickly evident that God wanted this to be a park about all children."

A lot right on Broadway that for decades had been covered in vines and weeds was purchased. Jennifer formed the Children Are a Gift Foundation and raised more than $800,000 to make the dream of a park a reality.

In September of 2004, just over five years after Braden's death the park opened. It's not a typical kind of park. There is not a playground here but kids love to come and play. The rocks and streams are made to for youngsters to climb and enjoy.

Martha Dunlap's stepson helped work on the park as part of graduate work. He has now died... as has here young grandson. Both are remembered at Children's Park. "Whether we have a child for just a few moments, like we had Landon, or 32 years... it just means that we can appreciate, meditate, think about those hours, those days, those years, and so many different ways. It's just been a great place for reflection, a great place to say thanks to God for those lives," said Martha.

For Jennifer, the park has been an answer to prayer, a place she now prayers where others can come and celebrate the lives of all children.

Clint Yeatts reporting, cyeatts@kltv.com

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