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History

In 1996 Kathy had been working for ENCOMPASS, which was a joint-venture of American Airlines and CSX Transportation in Cary, NC doing graphic design for six years, until the company dissolved. Looking back she can see how God used that time to give her experience in so many areas, but most of all the computer experience. Not knowing what she would do from the point, she began to seek the Lord for His direction. Soon after she was in Charlotte with her mother, Linda Morris and her aunt, Penny Barnill, visiting her her cousin, Leigh Barnhill Edwards. As they were out and about shopping and having some Mother-Daughter time, they stumbled across a paint-your-own pottery place, which Kathy had never seen before. It was a up and coming new venture across the country, which really had not hit Raleigh yet. They decided to go in and paint. By the time they left, Kathy new this was the direction that God was calling her to, but she and her mother continued to pray about it. With some time on her hands and having six months severance from her old job, Kathy and her mother then went to the beach and were earnestly praying for God’s will in this decision.

One morning Kathy went for a walk on the beach and prayed for God to give her a sign that this was what He wanted her to do. And right after that prayer she looked down and found a WHOLE conque shell. When she got back from her walk, she could not wait to go in and tell her mother. After she finished sharing this, her mother said; “You won’t believe this, but when I went out and walked this morning, I prayed the very same prayer and I found a WHOLE conque shell too.” They couldn’t believe it! It was definitely confirmation from the Lord.

With this confirmation and Kathy’s daddy, Kenneth Morris, in agreement, Kathy began the venture of opening a “paint-your-own” pottery studio in downtown Raleigh, NC on Glenwood Avenue. It was called ‘Different Strokes’. It was a HIT for a couple of years, but LOTS of lessons learned. After a couple of years, it became very hard trying to make ends meet and Kathy was working night and day, but realizing that she was not going to be able to continue paying rent. She was praying so hard and painting everything in sight and trying to sell it to help pay the rent. At one point, she was flat on her face behind the desk asking God, “Why Lord? You confirmed this was the right decision, I just don’t understand why You would let it fail?” So many questions??? She continued to pray and then came up with the idea of putting just any saying on a tile and then the idea of putting scripture on tiles. She then took her designs and asked a local Christian bookstore, Sign of the Fish, what they thought about the designs. Jo Anne’s husband came in and he immediately said they need to be mass produced.

So from there, Kathy ended up closing Different Strokes, sold her house, and took that money and started “Stroke of Faith”, the scripture tile business in 1999. She sold tiles with scripture, wholesale and retail, all over the country, but mainly in the southeast. In 2001, Kathy moved Stroke of Faith from Raleigh to New Bern, her home town.

Around the beginning of 2005, her overhead began to catch up with her. Not having a business background and having the tiles mass-produced in Mexico, the expense got to be too much. The most popular designs would sell out fast and then she would be left with the other inventory and eventually it just caught up with her. It was very heartbreaking, after putting her heart and soul into this. From the pottery studio, to what she could see was a stepping stone, to Stroke of Faith, she could not understand what the Lord was doing. The tiles had ministered to so many people, and there was testimony after testimony of what these tiles had meant in peoples lives, it was just a very difficult time in her life. But God was working. . . . We can’t always see what He is up to behind the scenes.

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, Kathy, along with Thea Kincaid and Don Day, started collecting items from people in New Bern to take to New Orleans. That December, Kathy and her mother went to New Orleans to work with Desire Street Ministries and stayed at the Baptist homeless shelter (which was quite an AWESOME experience). They worked with a lot of different people and God truly blessed them during this trip. The group of people they worked with were totally filled with the love of Jesus.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . .New Bern, Kathy’s church was adopting a family for Christmas, which she never met, because this particular Sunday she and her mother were not there. Then the next summer, June 2006, after church one Sunday, Kathy saw everyone standing around Joyce Hall (Grandma Joyce) and this little boy, so she had to go see what all the commotion was about. She heard this precious little boy had been abused and Joyce was helping to babysit, because she did not want him going into foster care. Kathy was nauseated after hearing about this little boy. His name was Tyler. He was one of six children and had a twin sister, but for some particular reason, his birth mother did not bond with him. Kathy truly thinks that when the twins were born pre-maturely, and Tyler had to stay in the hospital, that Tyler’s mother bonded with his twin and just never bonded with him. She was a 20 year old single mother with twins and he probably, being a premie, came home and cried all the time and she could not handle it. So to help Joyce out, Kathy thought she would help babysit Tyler, since she was back to seeking God’s will for her life, since she once again, saw God closing the doors of her business.

Over the summer, Tyler’s birth mother made a decision that she wanted to put Tyler up for adoption, but she still wanted control of what went on in his life. So Kathy set out to help find a family to adopt him. She actually talked to several families that were really considering this, but it was not God’s plan. At the end of the summer, Tyler’s birth mother got mad at Joyce and took Tyler back. We were all very sad and didn’t know what to think. Everyone just had to let go and let God do His thing and pray for Tyler.

That fall Kathy went to visit Tyler once and knew when she left that she would have to wash her hands clean of the situation, because she could tell how controlled and manipulating the situation was. It was not a healthy environment. But Kathy even shared with Tyler’s birth mother while she was there, that she didn’t know if this was God’s way of telling her to become a foster parent or what God was doing. Kathy did call the Methodist Home for Children to see if this might be something God was calling her too. She signed up to take a foster class in Greenville that December, but never went because she was still trying to make things work with Stroke of Faith. But during that time, Tyler’s birth mother called Kathy with an excuse about a dog she had picked up and said Tyler told her that would know what to do with it. During the conversation, she also asked if I had taken that class, in which she said “NO”.

The following January 9, 2007, Tyler’s birth mother called Kathy and said that she was in a desperate situation with the Department of Social Services and wanted to know if she would take Tyler. She said that she had asked Social Services if she could ask this one lady if she would take him, because she did not want him to go to foster care. Kathy asked her if she could pray about it over night. The next morning Kathy woke up and opened her Bible to Isaiah 58:7-8, “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —-when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then you light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will to before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”

Kathy went and picked Tyler up that next morning, January 10, 2007, and he has been with her ever since. From where that child came, this was without doubt, the hardest thing Kathy had ever done in her life. Had she known, just like so many going through a difficult time, how hard it was going to be, she may have never done it. And that is why God tells us “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 ~ And why God doesn’t let us know most things in advance, because we wouldn’t be able to handle it if we did.

So for the next couple of years, Kathy was adjusting to single parenthood, taking Tyler to every kind of doctor and counselor known to man. His birth mother and an un-named doctor had declared the precious child Bi-Polar, which he WAS NOT. They had this child, that was the size of a two year old, from malnutrition, on Lithium, Abilify and another psychotic drug, which I am sure was stunting his growth also. Kathy’s first project was to get him off those meds and make sure he never went back to that psychiatrist again, who literally sought after the uneducated and underpriviledged. She then found a wonderful doctor from the ECU School of Medicine that weaned him off the medication within three months.

Tyler was also a yellow folder child in school, which meant he needed extra help. He was almost six and did not even know his ABC’s or barely how to count to 10. All of this was overwhelming to say the least. The first year she had to get him tutored 2-3 days a week to get him caught up with his age group.

Kathy then had to take the foster to adopt classes, because after the first couple of weeks that she had Tyler, his birth mother relinquished her rights to him. Once the classes were done, then his birth father, who had never even acknowledged his children, wanted to now become a parent, after DNA results came back and proved him the father. He had known about the children from birth but had chosen for almost six years to not be involved in their lives. Kathy had to go to court to fight for Tyler. Well things were SO HARD at this point, May 2008, that Kathy literally told the Lord and prayed that if it was not HIS WILL for her to have Tyler, then she wanted him to go and be with his father.

But evidentally it was HIS WILL, because the adoption was then FINAL and his new name was TYLER JAMES ASHER MORRIS. Tyler James was his birth name, but Asher came to Kathy after a Beth Moore conference, where she taught on Asher, which means “Happy & Blessed”, and that is Tyler. With all that child had been through in his short little life, he was always a happy child. He actually grew 14” – 16” inches the first year and a half Kathy had him. To this day he is a healthy, happy boy and excels in school and athletics. And there is no doubt how God had a plan for when and how the adoption would take place. Because had it happened during the summer that Kathy was trying to find Tyler a home, then his birth-mother was still not willing to give up her rights and by the time Kathy got him, she was.

Once the relationship between Kathy & Tyler, began to bond, God really start healing Kathy in different areas of her life. As she was being set free from many hurts from her childhood, God gave her a vision to see others set free and the opportunity came when she went to interview for a job at a Christian radio station, BIG FISH 92.7FM. After two hours of what was suppose to be an interview for a sales position, turned out to be a 30 minute slot for a radio show on Sunday mornings.

The show would be called Stroke of Faith “Bringing the darkness into the Light”. It is a show of peoples’ testimonies of how God has worked in their lives and how they have been set free from hurts, habits and hang ups. This show began in August of 2009.

In the meantime, Kathy began praying with Elkie Brabble, who had been an acquantaince, but Kathy felt strong that the Lord was showing her that Elkie should be a part of this ministry with the love she had for the Lord. They met and prayed and Elkie agreed that she felt the Lord calling her to be a part of Stroke of Faith.

By October 2009, God put on Kathy’s heart to begin the local TV show, Stroke of Faith where she would be the host and Elkie was the co-host. For a time, Juliet Rogers and David Adams were a part of the TV show and continue to come on for a visit from time to time.

Stroke of Faith also had (3) three conferences at one point, which were very fulfilling and we definitely saw God move, but we really started praying about it and it did not seem the direction that God would have us go at that time.

 

With praying on a weekly basis and continuously seeking God, it was then on Kathy’s heart to go to a detention center to try and reach children as teens before they have to spend the rest of their lives in prison. David knew there was a detention center in Greenville, so Kathy checked it out and was trying to figure out a way to get in there and give testimony like they had been doing at the conferences. Kathy made a few phone calls and finally got in touch with the Director of Pitt Juvenile Detention Center, Stanley Melvin in Greenville, NC. At first he was not even going to let them come in. He said they had 16 churches that had been coming for years and if any of them ever dropped out, he would call, but he basically didn’t see that happening. Then Kathy proceeded to tell him that they were not a church and told him her testimony and by the end of their conversation, they had set a date for them to go to the detention center.

From the first time, Kathy and Elkie stepped into the detention center, their hearts have been sold out to the children. Each time they have gone God has moved miraculously in that place. The children come in with walls up and very rebellious in the morning and by afternoon, they are all holding hands, praying, laughing, crying and hugging. None of the children want that life, but from where they come from, they have NO direction. Most of the children are dealing with LOTS of anger for various reasons, which most come from broken homes. They need hands on discipleship for an extended period of time. They could not believe how God moved in such a short period of time in those children’s lives, but they knew that the children would be going back to the same environment. Some are in gangs. At times when they visit the center, the children have to be divided up into two groups because of gangs. But for some, the gangs are the ONLY family they know.

In July 2011, after having the same child a couple of times, Kathy left the center grieving for these children who have NO HOPE. This one particular boy that tugged at Kathy’s heart, has a Daddy who is in prison for life for double murder, a brother who was killed at 18 from a gang related incident, another brother who was in detention with him and then a younger brother who had been shot and in critical condition. Now he felt more safe in detention and would rather be there than on the streets, because he never knew if he would wake up in the morning.

So then God gave Kathy the vision for Stroke of Faith Farms, a place for these children to go for however long they needed, so they have hands-on discipleship, are shown the love of Jesus, taught a work ethic, receive an education and how to live in society with good manners and what family is all about.

That is our mission to see people SET FREE from ANY problems they may have and to know that Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of us. We want these children to know the love of Jesus and to one day want to give back and show other children how they can be set free.

We want these children to see us live by faith, to be known by love and to be a voice of hope.

1 Thessalonians 1:3