Antonio Higgins arrived at Three Trails Camp near Kansas City, Mo., ready to work off his community service hours. What he wasn’t ready for, or certainly not expecting, was the turn his life was about to take because of it.
Antonio says he relates to the story in 2 Samuel of Mephibosheth, who was dropped and crippled as a child. Like Mephibosheth Antonio started life at a disadvantage. He was a victim of abuse and neglect. As a result he struggled with depression and behavioral problems.
“Some mornings at camp I would get up and walk laps around the camp grounds. It was so peaceful, and I thought ‘this is life lived more abundantly.’”
Despite Antonio’s sometimes difficult behavior, Camp Directors Mike and Carrie Dixon took him under their wing, showing unwavering love, accountability and instilling a good work ethic.
“God used Three Trails at a critical time in my life. To teach me about myself, and that I don’t have to be product of my environment. I can be Christ-like,” said Antonio.
After camp the Dixons lost touch with Antonio, but it had been a foundational experience for him. During his junior year of high school, he became a Christian when a youth pastor (and former member of a notorious Kansas City gang!) prayed with him. Afterward, Antonio started going to church, studying God’s Word and developing relationships with other Christians.
He also started to more highly value his education. “I never thought I’d be able to go to college because of everything I’d gone through,” said Antonio. But when he started applying to colleges, he found he was eligible for a full ride scholarship. He was accepted into the University of Missouri—Kansas City where he chose to study psychology to help other young boys succeed.
One semester before graduation his scholarship ended, and he started to pray for a job. He found one at the Crittenton Children’s Center, a medical facility for treating the mental and behavioral healthcare needs of children. Not only did working for the center pay for his last semester of college, but it resulted in a fulltime job after graduation.