TESTIMONIES OF FORMER
STUDENTS AT HEPHZIBAH HOUSE
From “killing fields”
to Pastor’s Wife….
The year was 1960. Tucked away in the tiny country of Cambodia, far from the eyes of most of the world, a Communist dictator named Pol Pot was slowly rising to power in the Khmer Rouge Party. He admired the simple life—one that didn’t rely on money, education, or capitalism—and believed that a new utopia could be created if all of Cambodia would revert to a primitive, farming lifestyle.
By 1975, the party had gained control of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, and attempted to force this new way of life on the entire population. The Khmer Rouge leadership boasted that only one or two million people were needed to build the new utopia. As for the others, as their proverb put it, "To keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss." Hundreds of thousands of teachers, government workers, non-Communist soldiers, and others were taken out in shackles to dig their own mass graves. Then the Khmer Rouge soldiers beat them to death with iron bars and hoes or buried them alive. These mass graves are referred to as “the Killing Fields.”
It is often easy to forget the teeming masses of nameless people who suffered torture and death at the hands of Pol Pot. Those who are old enough to have experienced the events of that period may wonder why God allowed those wicked things to happen to innocent people. What we must remember is that even through the carnage and suffering, God existed, and He had a purpose. His purpose for one young girl started long before she was born, as the political unrest in Cambodia formed and peaked.
She was born in Phnom Penh. Doctors and medicine were in short supply, and her older brother died at the age of two after a severe eye infection spread throughout his body. As the Khmer Rouge gained momentum, her family was forced to evacuate the city and flee to the countryside, where her grandfather was killed because of his high government position.
The long months wore on, and her parents fought and argued so much that her dad felt it best to leave the family. As a toddler, she was given to her grandmother and twelve-year-old uncle for safe-keeping. Unfortunately, her young uncle was soon captured by Communist soldiers. When they commanded him to dig a grave, he instinctively knew that they planned to kill him. After receiving permission to be excused for a restroom break, he quickly ran home and told his grandmother the story. Because the soldiers were pursuing him, the three were forced to flee. The safest place was the neighboring country of Thailand, so her family set out on foot for the closest border. Though none of them knew of God at that time, He knew of them, and provided for their safe journey. After traveling for an extended period of time through swamps and dangerous minefields, they arrived in Thailand.
God’s purpose for sparing their lives soon became evident. During the year spent at a Thailand refugee camp, they made the acquaintance of a Red Cross missionary. Her grandmother heard a clear presentation of the Gospel and accepted Christ as her Saviour! God continued to work in this remnant of a family, and each of them received a sponsorship to America in the early 1980s. This little girl was just four or five years old.
Living in the United States during her childhood and early teenage years, she quickly found reasons to harbor bitterness in her heart. After all, her parents had abandoned her, and God had seemingly not cared about the hardships she had endured. At the young age of twelve, she became involved with the wrong crowd, getting her first tattoos and even joining a gang. She decided to run away, but the police found her and returned her to her family.
By that time, her grandmother had found and started faithfully attending a Baptist church. In an effort to keep her from ruining her life, her grandmother enrolled her in a Christian school. Because she was unsaved, any changes for good in her life were simply outward appearances. Inside, the bitterness and rebellion still claimed her spirit. After just a couple of years, she decided she would run away again. When she was found and returned yet again, her grandmother and uncle counseled with their Pastor, who suggested that they take her to the Hephzibah House in Winona Lake, Indiana. After much prayer, they agreed that it was the right thing to do.
Just a short time later, she and her family went on a miniature golfing activity. When they loaded into the car for the short drive home, the girl noticed that they weren’t driving in the right direction. In fact, they kept driving—right out of their state. When she asked where they were going, she was told that they were driving to visit a friend in Indiana. Arriving at the Hephzibah House days later, she knew that they planned to leave her there.
During the girl’s first day at the girls’ home, one of the staff members asked her if she was saved. She said that she was, but knew inside that she was lying. Pride kept her from admitting her need for Christ. For two years she lived there, making all the outward behavioral changes that were expected. Years later, she would admit that the two years at Hephzibah House did much to prepare her for life. The staff members were loving and kind to even the toughest of girls. They prayed daily for each of the girls in their care, asking God to change their lives and use them in His work someday. Each day, she learned something about organization, cleaning, homemaking, sewing, or manners. For the first time, she began to develop a strong work ethic, something that would benefit her greatly in the coming years.
At the age of sixteen, the girl returned to her home church. She was able to live with her pastor and his family. Everyone she knew praised the changes in her life, and she became more and more miserable inside, knowing that everyone believed she was saved. Pride again kept her from accepting Christ. One night, she dreamed that persecution had come to her city. She knew that the Bible said that death without Christ means an eternity in Hell. In her dream, she accepted Christ. As she awoke early in the morning on August 20, 1994, she knew what she needed to do. She finally surrendered to God’s grace and asked Him to save her soul. Immediately—at four o’clock in the morning—she called her youth pastor and Pastor. When neither one answered her call, she phoned her aunt, who didn’t believe her story and hung up the phone! At the very next church service, she made her decision public, sparking a mini-revival in which several other people trusted Christ as well.
In time, the girl graduated from her Christian school. She earnestly looked forward to attending college that fall, but she soon became aware of a need that she could fill. In recent years, several girls’ and boys’ homes across America had closed for various reasons, leaving many troubled children without a place to learn to live a Christ-filled life. Her church followed the Lord’s leading in opening a new girls’ home in their city, and she agreed to supervise the home for the first few years. In just three years, she was able to influence almost twenty girls, many of them with a background similar to her own. God’s purpose for her life became more apparent, as she was able to minister to the young girls just as she had been ministered to years before.
She later had the privilege of attending a Baptist college for one semester, after which she returned home and served as an administrative assistant for her pastor. The girl--now a young woman--quickly resumed her ministries at the church, and set out to serve faithfully for as long as God wanted her there. Unbeknownst to her, God was preparing a man out of state to soon cross her path. He served as the Executive Director at a Baptist church. God in His providence saw fit to create a strong friendship between this man and the young woman’s long-time friend who had also escaped the same fate from Cambodia.
When this young man traveled with the girl’s close friend to a leadership conference, he invited him to visit his family. As they attended the services of the woman’s church, the men were met at the door by her, who cheerfully greeted the visitor. The young man was immediately curious to find out more about this woman. As it was, he returned home without much initial conversation with her. Just one week later, the woman’s close friend approached the young man to assure him that the woman was indeed a fine Christian lady. After much prayer and consideration by both her and the young man, and after the approval of their pastors, they started a long-distance courtship.
Believing that God had ordained them for one another, they were married in December 2003, and set up residence. This young lady worked along side her husband in the ministry of their local church, serving as a receptionist and logging financial contributions. Their daughter was born in 2005, and a son followed after in 2007. Though she works from home now, she still handles the contributions for the church and its ministries; and she also organizes the men’s division of the Pastor’s prayer team each month.
Because of the influence of Godly people in her life, this former student grew to accept Christ and to live as a child of God should live. The staff members of the Hephzibah House were instrumental in teaching her God’s plan and purpose for her life, and helping her to realize that He will work “all things together for good” to those who trust Him with their lives. It has been said that God always chooses his best for those who leave the choice with Him.
I am writing on behalf of Hephzibah House. I went to Hephzibah House and was there for about three and a half years. I was sent to the girls home because my family situation was not very good. My parents were good people, but they knew they did not have what it took for me to be raised in the Godly home that they wanted for my life. So they talked to my pastor about Hephzibah House. They had heard only good things about the place and knew that I could be given what they so desired for me to have– a loving and stable home.
Upon arriving at Hephzibah House, I was nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time. When my dad and I pulled up, several people came out and helped us unload all the luggage. Then my dad was given a tour of the place and talked to the Director for a little while, and then we said our good-byes and he left. I was then introduced to all the girls, and the staff ladies, and later was helped on starting my school work.
I loved everything about the place. It had a big open yard where we could play volley ball and kick ball, or just sit out there on Sundays on these huge bean bags and write letters to our parents. The staff was so kind! They were always there to help you through any problem you had. You learned to trust the Godly counsel that they offered you.
What I liked most about Hephzibah House was that they became family to me. I can remember going to sleep at night thanking God for how good he was to me. He had given me a second “family” and another place to call home! The good thing about the girl’s home was that no one was singled out and treated above anyone else! Those whose parents had money were not given extra privileges than those who did not have money. I would know because I was one of the girls without money. Everyone was treated with such kindness and love. This is not to say that there were no rules or guidelines in the home, but with them came the understanding of why we needed to obey rules. It would make us better people. It would help us later in life when we would work jobs. And if anything, it would just give us character!
I was fifteen years old when I went there. Of course I did not comprehend some of the rules that were given. No one at that age even thinks they need rules! I needed to obey them anyway. We were never beaten into submission. I was never hit or abused in any way, or saw anyone else being abused. They never forced anything upon us, not even their religion. They were Christians through and through and we all knew that, but it was never forced upon us. But after seeing the daily peace and joy that they had, I knew I wanted the same thing in my life. Their main goal was to teach us to be respectable human beings and to have character to get through the hard times in life. I felt like they were always preparing me for something that I would need later on in life. They taught us not to be lazy, to get up early, to work hard and have fun in it, and to just enjoy living! So many teenagers these days talk about how they want to commit suicide. We never had thoughts like that. We were excited for a new day because we never knew what it held. It could be a day out for pizza, or working in the garden, or a fun filled day washing cars and spraying water on each other. They pushed us to be more than we ever thought we could be. We pretty much had everything available at our fingertips. I taught myself to play the piano because they had three of them there. I fell in love with the guitar because one of the staff let me play on hers, and now I have my own guitar and can play it well. They sacrificed so much to try and meet our needs. We were truly loved; truly cared for.
In closing I would like to say that I would not trade my experience at Hephzibah House for the world! I can remember crying when it was time for me to go home. I was going to miss the girls home so much! It was a safe haven. I learned so many great things during my stay and also received an added plus... I accepted the God who made them the loving and caring people that they were! I now have the same joy and peace that they displayed every day to each one of us girls. I can honestly say that Hephzibah House was the best thing that ever happened to me!!
I am writing on behalf of the Hephzibah House ministry. I was brought to the school at 16 years of age.
When I entered their doors, I was experiencing deep problems and severe emotional pain. I was incredibly unstable and unable to control my emotions.
Over the two and a half year time span, I truly believe I received a wealth of help. I was given practical tools in helping me to gain control of my emotions. I was taught a strong work ethic and time management skills. During the time I was there, I earned a college preparatory diploma and took many college classes as well. When I left Hephzibah House, I was no longer a scared, unstable, frightened little girl. Instead I was a strong, confident hard working young woman.
As I write this letter, I am nearing my 40th birthday. I have a bachelors degree in education and a business degree as well. For 17 years, I have been married and my husband and I have three children. Although I grew up around alcoholism, alcohol has no part in my life today whatsoever. I truly attribute this great success to the tools so diligently instilled in me as a teenager at Hephzibah House.
Never in the two and a half year time span did I ever witness or experience any sort of abuse whatsoever. I was well-cared for and well-provided for. From everything I could see or hear, my fellow students were given the same fine care.
I am writing this today both to commend this ministry and also to shed some light on the positive impact they have made on my life and those lives I now touch. I will never be the same for having known them and for having been under their care.
I was a student at Hephzibah House several years ago. Although I wasn't too excited about being there in the beginning, fortunately, I allowed God to work in my heart and going to school at Hephzibah became one of the BEST things that ever happened to me.
At first, I didn't like everything about the school. I thought the uniforms were completely outdated, and my mom was a much better cook. If I would have allowed myself, I could have spent my time there complaining about how they didn't do things like my parents, home church, or youth group. But I had to ask myself, "Are the uniforms modest? Yes. Are they practical. Yes! Are they long lasting? YES! Is the food nourishing? Yes!" If we didn't finish our food from dinner, might we have it for breakfast? Yes, but that was not cruel, it was simply teaching us not to be wasteful.
As a student there, I remember LOTS of fun times. There was the monthly birthday party that WE got to plan, an occasional video night, volleyball games, playing in the snow and making igloos, jump rope, going out to eat at an Amish restaurant, singing around the campfire while roasting marshmallows and drinking hot cocoa, and my personal favorite -- listening to Dr. Williams give devotions. He is the best storyteller I've ever heard. I loved to watch his facial expressions and try to make sense of his huge vocabulary. I always wished that he didn't have to travel so much so that he could do devotions more often.
Also, I knew that ALL the staff there truly cared about me and just wanted to see me respect my parents and grow to love and serve God. There was even one staff lady that went around to our beds at night and asked us if we had a special prayer request. Sometimes I would prop myself up a little and watch her pray beside her bed for us girls. At times she would pray for up to forty-five minutes. How do I know that she prayed for us girls? I could read her lips from the light that came in through the hallway.
It was staff like her that helped me realize my need for salvation, and know that there was a God who cared about me and loved me even though I had done nothing to deserve His love.
I was a student at Hephzibah House for 15 months. During my stay at Hephzibah House, there was never any mistreatment or abuse. We were always well fed, on a balanced diet, and all of our needs were met. The staff always treated us with respect and kindness. There were many times that we would have birthday parties and field days. There was always a structure, but there was always fun as well.
I am now the wife of a Pastor and we have recommended your ministry to others. If there was anything questionable about Hephzibah, we would have never made that recommendation.
Hephzibah House was there when my family had nowhere else to turn. It is scary for me to think what my life would be like today had Hephzibah not been there when I needed it. I am appreciative of and thankful for the staff and ministry of Hephzibah House.
Many years have passed since, as a 16 year old “troubled teen”, my father brought me to Hephzibah House, after I had run away from home.
My mother got very sick with cancer and relatives helped watch us. My mother did not get any better, but passed away; I was nine at the time. At this time some of my siblings and I went to live with my father and my step-mom. Because of all these circumstances I didn’t even take care of myself, bathe right or wear clean and neat clothes. I was also very withdrawn and behind in school. I had developed bad character, lied to and stole from my friends and acquaintances. I did go to church at this time, but only knew about God and did not know Him in a personal way. So my behavior was still the same and I even stole from the Pastor and the church. I was very selfish and didn’t care who I hurt. I did have a set of good church friends that helped me, but I also had bad friends. I was very bitter and hateful toward my parents at this time. They were trying to raise me to do right and be a responsible person, but I didn’t listen. I went out with these bad friends and ended up running away from home for about a week. When I got back home, my neighbors recommended Hephzibah House to my parents, so we packed up my things and my father drove me there.
While at Hephzibah House, I received loving and patient care and training in the Bible. I realized then how much God loves me and cares for me. I realized I needed a personal relationship with Him, and I repented of my sins and asked Him to be my personal Saviour. The staff taught me to love and obey my parents, they did not try to steal our hearts away to follow Hephzibah House standards, but to point us in the right direction. They helped us to be responsible, good and respectful citizens. I was also able to graduate from high school by the next year.
As I applied the principles they taught me from the Bible, my life began to change. Instead of bitterness and hate and stealing, God helped me, (as it says in Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor”) to love and forgive. Instead of having emotional tantrums because I was not stable and could not handle anything without getting all upset, stability came as I realized God put everything in my life for a purpose and would help me through it. All the training I received at Hephzibah House only helped me and changed my life for the better.
I praise God for His protection on my life and for bringing me to Hephzibah House. I know if I would have kept on running with those bad friends, I would have ended up pregnant, on drugs, and breaking the law. My life was headed for destruction.
I THANK GOD THAT HEPHZIBAH HOUSE WAS THERE FOR ME.
Psalm 40: 2-3 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
My pit was full of this world and all of its wickedness. All throughout my life I had been raised in a Christian home and regularly attending church. I even made a profession of faith many times but yet there had been no change in my life.
In my teen years I began rebelling and did things that I never thought I would do. My parents often tell me that while I was rebelling they looked into my eyes and it looked like I was dying inside and there was a small flicker left. They knew that there had to be a change in my life. They knew that God had to change my life around and not this world or man.
Then I arrived at H.H. As most girls, I struggled greatly and purposed in my heart that I would not change but just conform until my time was up. Well praise the Lord that He had different plans for my life than I did. After a few days God began to soften my heart and I began to conform to their ways. Conformance wouldn’t save me though and one night I saw my need for a Savior. We were watching a sermon tape, and I remember the preacher preaching on hell on how many rejected Him and regretted it. Inside I was uneasy and began to realize that I really wasn’t saved. I decided that I needed to do something about it and on that night Christ came into my heart.
After salvation everything changed. I began to have a thirst for the Word of God and His ways. My thinking process changed and I realized that I couldn’t do the things I used to because I was a “new creature in Christ.” I even began hating the things I used to enjoy, something I thought would never happen.
I am very thankful for H.H for many things but one is because they helped lead me in the right path. There was always counseling and there was always something to learn from God’s Word. Scripture always backed up whatever they did or taught us. I think that is why I am so appreciative of them because I could always go to God’s Word and see for myself why they do what they did and if I didn’t understand something they would always be willing to show me.
I am also very thankful for them because they taught me how to be a charactered young lady. Once again they showed me from Scripture how it was that God expected a young lady to act and portray herself. There was always continual teaching and guidance on this issue of which I am very grateful for.
I not only learned about the Christian life and character but I also learned how to rebuild relationships. As most rebellious teens my relationship with my parents wasn’t the greatest. But by work, forgiveness and love we were able to rebuild and have a happy family. It was a true joy being able to rebuild and have a closer relationship with my parents.
Lastly I am truly thankful that H.H was there for me and for many other girls. If I hadn’t of went to H.H my life would of went down a worse road then it had and I am thankful that He was able to soften my heart and show me my need. I am thankful that He gave me a sheltered environment in which I could grow. Of coarse after one leaves and deals with this wicked world one could only wish they would of done more to develop a deeper relationship with Him.
I was at H.H for over two years. Truly God has brought me up out of my horrible pit of sin and wickedness. He gave me His Spirit for my foundation and gave me His Word to guide me along the way. His Spirit also gave me my song and praise for His wonderful works. Now I pray that my testimony will be a light and that, “many shall see it and fear and shall trust in the Lord.”
Thank You Hephzibah House for all that you did
I am a former student of Hephzibah House. I was sent there at the age of 16. My parents brought me to Hephzibah House because of my rebellion towards them and the trouble I was getting into with my friends and at school. They felt like they had lost control of me, but cared enough for me to seek help. When I was brought to Hephzibah House, I was very resentful towards my parents and my authority. I was unhappy to be taken away from my surroundings. However, it did not take long for me to realize the Williams family and staff loved and cared for me and desired to help me to do right and to rebuild my relationship with my family and God. Through preaching, Bible reading and Godly counsel I realized how awful I had been to my family and those who really cared for me. At Hephzibah House, the busy schedule of church, work and school was exactly what I needed to get my mind off of my friends and on to thinking of others. Through all of this busy schedule I was always treated with fairness and respect. I was never subject to any kind of physical or mental abuse. The overall atmosphere of Hephzibah House was very uplifting and pleasant.
I can look back and know the Williams family and Hephzibah House staff always had the utmost love in their hearts for me and all the girls, although they had to be strict and firm with the rules that were in place.
In conclusion, I will always be thankful to the whole Hephzibah House ministry for giving me a second chance and helping me see my need of a Saviour and a new direction in my life. They cared enough for me and the other girls to give their whole life to such Godly, self-sacrificing ministry. The memories I have of Hephzibah House consist of how the Lord got a hold of my heart through a family and ministry that has been greatly used to help girls across the country like me. When I came back home, it was a wonderful reunion with my family and church. A year later, the Lord gave me a wonderful husband and now I have four children. I can truly say I would not have had such a wonderful life serving the Lord with my husband if it were not for Hephzibah House. The people there will always have such a special place in my heart.
I am writing this message on behalf of Hephzibah House located in Winona Lake, IN. I was a former student at the facility. I am currently married and have one child.
The function of Hephzibah House was a healing one. By no means can an individual be repaired--both physically and mentally--in a time period as short as fifteen months. What Hephzibah House did do was teach us how to be better individuals--being able to make appropriate decisions in the midst of life's challenges and stressors. In my clinical opinion, some of the reported circumstances have been glamorized. The rules and regulations were set in place to protect us and other fellow students. Hephzibah House did no more than an inpatient juvenile psychiatric facility would do for their clients. Unlike a psychiatric facility, the environment at Hephzibah was a Christian one and those caring for the girls did so with little pay or reward. I highly commend the Williams (and staff) for selflessly giving of their time, energy, and resources to help girls change and lead productive lives.
I am very grateful to have had a place that was willing to help both my parents and I at a very crucial time in my adolescence. I have since told Dr. Williams that I believe that my stay there was a turning point in my life. I give much credit to that ministry for contributing to who I am today. The truth of the matter is that the Williams loved each of the girls like their own and clearly remember each one--which is amazing. I look at the Williams as my second family and have kept in contact with them over the years. If the Williams (and staff) were so abusive and the accommodations so terrible, I don't think that I would have had much to do with them today.
For whoever may be reading this message, please understand that the Williams (and staff) are missionaries who have given so much for a worthy cause. They have received little compensation for their time and efforts.
I came to Hephzibah House when I was 16, and stayed until I graduated from high school, three months after my 18th birthday. During my stay, I was treated with care and kindness. I was never mistreated in any way, nor did I observe the mistreatment of any other student. All students were well fed, received adequate sleep, and lived in comfortable rooms. We continued our education through the ministry school and received Biblical training through regular Bible study and church services.
After attending Hephzibah House, I went to one year of college, met my husband and got married. I now have 4 wonderful children and am working to finish my degree in elementary education. My family and I attend church regularly, and we are very involved in our church’s ministries.
Hephzibah House has meant a lot to me. The staff gave of their time to help me get through a very rough time in my life. I know that if I had not attended Hephzibah House, I would not be living the happy life that I now live. I am very glad for the ministry and staff, and I feel privileged to have been there. I learned many life lessons that have helped me make good decisions as an adult, and I look back at my stay with fond memories.
I attended and resided at Hephzibah House in Winona Lake, Indiana, and during my three and a half year stay I was never abused physically, mentally, or in any other way. I neither saw, knew of, was a part to, or believe that any other students were subjected to any abuse or mistreatment.
I was taught many things at Hephzibah House, mainly about the Bible and how to live a Christian life. We also learned things such as cooking and food preparation, gardening, sewing, crocheting, cleaning, and many other valuable skills that have changed and enhanced my life, and now my job as a wife and mother.
For me, Hephzibah House was a loving family with boundaries that taught me how to repair my relationship with my own family (while I was there and even now- more than a decade later).
I found security and safety in placing myself under the Williams’ care. I stayed at Hephzibah House for three and a half years even past the age of 18 by my own choice.
Pastor Williams and family were always kind to the students. I never heard Pastor Ron Williams raise his voice. I always respected his knowledge and wisdom as a man of God. After taking long trips to churches and being on the road for days on end, he would always take time to counsel with the students in between tips. He would teach us from God’s Word.
I always admired the Williams family, the close-knit large family they have is a heart-warming testimony. We live in a day when the marriage covenant is easily broken and a description of what constitutes a “family” cannot even be agreed upon.
People are ruled by their emotions. When someone who has an authority problem feels that they have been wronged, they will stop at nothing to get their way. Psychologists and pop-culture have taught us not to take responsibility for our actions. For a fee, anyone can go to a doctor or psychologist and get a diagnosis on which to blame a lack of character. In my experience being lied to is commonplace. Many grossly exaggerate circumstances in order to prove a point or get what they want. No one has to be taught how to lie. Disgruntled people, who have never learned to bring themselves under authority, will try to get others on their side by lying and complaining to them. People love to complain about their jobs, spouses, house, car, etc..
We live in a day and age when people look out for #1, themselves. People don’t do things for one another unless there is something in it for them, fame, recognition, attention, money, etc.. A consequence for breaking a rule at Hephzibah House was a demerit. I was never physically harmed or felt threatened that I would be.
The Williams family is one of the most giving families I’ve known. It’s been several years now since I moved on. Looking back, I remember all the good times I had there. I remember campfires, games, lots of music, volleyball, snow forts, birthday parties, Friday night fun times, encouragement from the Williams’, the academic and Spiritual focus from school and church. I thrived in that environment; the Williams family spent a lot of time with us. They would spend there holidays with us; we would be made special meals. One of the Williams’ daughters spent hours decorating and making the home lovely and cozy for us. I enjoyed being a part of a ministry that would send Scriptures to many foreign countries.
The Williams family helped me Spiritually and emotionally. I learned how to work hard, which has helped me be successful in anything I’ve determined to do. I have a testimony wherever I go of being a hard worker. I attribute that to my time at Hephzibah House.
After graduating from college, I learned that the Williams’ had secretly been sending in an amount of money to my college every month. They had already done so much for me, and still they continued to help me by applying money to my school bill. Pastor and Mrs. Don Williams came from out of state to my college graduation. That was one of the kindest acts a non-family member has done for me. This act meant so such to me; they were willing to stand by my side showing how proud they were of me. I’m very happy to know the Williams family and thank God for people who still remain faithful to God despite those who oppose them and the God they serve.
As an example of their gracious care, I remember a time when a new student was throwing a temper tantrum like a two-year-old. I witnessed her screaming and losing control of herself; Pastor Williams spoke calmly and gently to her. There was never once any physical contact. Again, I was overwhelmed by how loving they were. I’m not the only girl that the Williams’ have helped in this way, but I can only speak for myself.
The following are my experiences and views of Hephzibah House during my enrollment there. My intent in writing this is that it might be a testimony of my stay at Hephzibah House.
Upon my arrival, I was treated with utmost care and gentle words by all the staff and staff families. When I first walked through the doors I was totally unaware that boarding schools still existed and was in total shock when I found out that my parents intended to enroll me there for 15 months. The staff ladies knew of the complete shock I was going through and their compassion and encouraging smiles were a big help to me at that time.
I was used to spending a lot of time by myself at home and suddenly being surrounded by a bunch of girls was quite an adjustment for me. Here again the staff showed understanding by not requiring me at first to be involved in all the activities.
As any organization of this sort must have rules, Hephzibah House also has a set. Yet I was given a grace period in learning those, and was not held accountable for my beginning, unintentional errors.
The staff took into consideration the varying appetites of different girls. I never had a large appetite, and was allowed to stay on smaller portions. On the other hand the girls who required or desired more were allowed extra, above the regular portions dished out.
The food served had variety and was a well balanced diet. We were served healthy foods as well as being offered sweets that American teenagers love so well.
Schedule is a definite help and security for struggling children and teens. The Hephzibah House staff must have realized this as we were kept on a consistent schedule. It was designed in a way to fit our needs, yet not cause over exhaustion.
Part of the schedule also included many fun activities such as volleyball, kick ball. Ping-Pong, table games, movies, skits, singing around the fire and so forth. Holidays and birthdays were also special occasions. They were celebrated in such a way as to divert the girls’ attention from homesick feelings that threatened to surface at such times. Evenings of free time were also granted to us in which we could choose our own activities within certain guidelines.
I appreciated their confidentiality of medical issues among the students. I’m sure it was difficult in close proximity like that to maintain the privacy that they did.
We were also provided with private dressing rooms and showers- a luxury many public school students don’t even have.
During my 15 month stay there, I was never once treated or touched inappropriately or roughly. I also never saw any of my fellow students physically abused in any way.
A big effort was made by the staff to show equality among the students. I know this must have been very difficult as some of the students had incredibly rotten attitudes at times. Yes, when a student proved to be trustworthy, they were given more privileges. However, this was kept in balance, and prejudice was not an issue.
There is an incident I clearly remember in which I made a careless mistake and something was wasted because of it. I am so thankful that the staff must have detected my more sensitive nature, and one of the head staff ladies came to me quietly to tell me how it would be all straightened out. Love springs from my heart for that lady when I think of how she very graciously dealt with me and the situation.
Over all, I believe the staff did a remarkable job in dealing with rebel teenage girls. I am amazed at the clever incentives they came up with to encourage the girls to do right and to abide by the rules. A big one for me was not wanting to wear my school uniform to church services. Other incentives included no desserts, no extra activities, and no talking to fellow students, until the assigned sentences were completed. I remember the first time I exceeded the number of demerits, and was assigned my sentences to write. I was told in a quiet manner, as they knew it was a difficult, yet necessary thing to keep order among the students.
After my experience at Hephzibah House as a student, I would highly recommend it to parents for their struggling teenage girls. The effect it had on my life was very dramatic and completely positive. Not only do they give Spiritual aid, but they also help teach and encourage these girls to be responsible, productive citizens. I would say that if a girl goes through their program, comes out, and goes down hill Spiritually or in society, it is not a result of what she experienced at Hephzibah House. I fervently hope that, should I ever have daughters who need such a place as this, Hephzibah’s doors would still be open.
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my time at Hephzibah House. I stayed at the Girls Home for about 2 years and I would definitely say those years were the best times of my teenage years. I can state truthfully that I was never hit, spanked or abused during those years.
It is a home where girls go who need structure and individualized attention in their lives. We had daily routines for school, outside activities, chores, entertainment and sleep. There was always someone there if we were sad or troubled about anything. They never took away food from us. They never forced girls to over eat, in fact we had the choice to go on half or full portion depending on how much we wanted to eat. We were not mentally abused in any way.
Some of my memories from Hephzibah House include weekly evenings sitting around the fireplace while Naomi Williams (one of the Pastor’s daughters) read books to the group, Friday night game and movie nights, Individual birthday parties, crochet lessons, bi-weekly one on one meetings with Dr. Williams to talk about any concerns we might have.
Obviously, when you have that many teenage girls living under one roof, there has to be discipline and the only type of discipline that any of us ever received was demerits. After receiving more than 15 demerits in one week, which only happened if someone was refusing to follow rules all throughout the week, we would be assigned sentences that we had to write which took time out of our play time. Most average American homes would have harsher punishments than that and it is ludicrous for one to say that was abusive.
I went to Hephzibah House with a life full of turmoil. I was constantly running away from home and practicing a very worldly and ungodly lifestyle. My parents were at a loss to know how to help me. I had been through counseling at church and went to youth camp and I was not responding. So they decided to send me to Hephzibah House.
I was never denied food. On the contrary I remember eating a lot of food. They made sure that we had three meals a day. We had ice cream on Fridays and desserts after most meals. If you had sentences you did not get the desserts but you had your full meal.
Christmas and Thanksgiving were so much fun. We had a great meal with the Williams family and would play games with the staff families. Sure, you missed your own family but they made the day special. Birthday parties were also a lot of fun. We were able to plan it with the other girls who had their birthdays in the same month. We could decorate and plan the activities. We ordered fast food, cake and ice cream and/or pop. We were able to have almost anything we wanted for that day. No one was excluded.
The staff ladies tried to treat each of us girls fairly and equally. I knew that they loved us and cared for us. But remember that 16 year old girls do not think that the world is fair and when they are in trouble the world is out to get them.
We had chores to do every day. We had to work hard and keep our “home” clean and orderly. Because of the work ethic taught at Hephzibah House I now know how to work hard and keep my own home.
Hephzibah House changed my life for the better. I accepted the Lord as Saviour and am actively involved in my church. I do not regret my stay at Hephzibah House.
I am so grateful for all that you did for me at the Hephzibah House. It was a blessing to be there. Your staff was a wonderful help to me. Your encouragement was wonderful. The time they took to teach me how to clean was very helpful. I know I was very difficult at times, but I remember the patient reproofs you gave me. I remember the love you showed to me in the hardest times, for the times you sat down and talked things through with me, for all the godly principles you stood for, never compromising in your standards. This has taught me so much. For the godly music you played, and for the godly conversation you allowed. For all the very nice holidays, parties, and the times we got to play volleyball, soccer, and play in the water. It was great. Also for teaching us the principle of eating food we did not like. That was one I needed to learn badly.
The time the staff took to teach school - that must have been the hardest. I really appreciate that a lot too. I’m very grateful for their patience and absolute servant attitude they had towards all of us girls.
I am going to start out by saying, cancer and bitterness are very similar, as is their treatment, as is their outcome if not successful in treatment. Bitterness is a cancer of the soul.
Today I am serving the Lord. This was not always so. At the age of 17, I started to rebel against everything that my parents had taught me since I was a small child. I was bitter, proud, bent on self-destruction, and I would not admit it. I became hardhearted and stubborn. This led to poor judgement and loss of moral conduct. I was headed 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction, while my heartbroken parents were wondering what on earth they could do to spare me the many, many scars that life can bring. I would not heed their pleadings. They were losing their daughter and they knew it!
Their only hope came in the form of a ministry for young ladies called Hephzibah House.
Shortly after I turned 17, my parents took me to meet Pastor Ron Williams and his wonderful staff. I quickly realized this was to be my new home for a while.
Many of the ways I was accustomed to were changed. This, I learned was for my well being. The concentrated method of healing in this case was crucial. Having the distractions of the world and the pressures in it removed, I could then and only then, focus on what was needed to start my healing.
Hephzibah’s staff is well-equipped with Godly, loving men and women who have the utmost respect for all the young ladies who come into this ministry, some of whom have gone through the program themselves. None of whom, have ever abused a young lady, in or out of Hephzibah’s care. And more importantly, neither I or anyone else while I was there was abused!!
A very structured program and lots of soul cleansing, along with Bible Scripture memorization and character building opportunities help change the will of the bitter soul bent on destruction. Those who fail to accept the help given often become even more bitter and carry this bitterness with them when they leave.
I came home after completing the program, received my General Diploma, and was very grateful to all the staff who had a part in my healing. My very life depended on this ministry. God saw fit to give me another chance for a successful Christian life and maybe even life itself. God only knows what would have become of me if I had not gone. I would not have seen my desperate condition if Hephzibah House had not taken the things that of the world out from in front of it. I needed that, and so do the many young women who are just like I was... full of bitterness.
As a young girl, I had let my mind be filled with the word’s ways. When I was eleven years old, I started rebelling against my parents more than ever. I had wrong friends, listened to wrong music, and I got involved with a guy. I did things behind my Dad’s back. I lied to my Dad all the time - I would say “I’m going to call my girlfriends,” but instead I would call the guy that I wanted to be with. We would sneak out after it was dark and come home before anyone woke up. We did this for a few years.
Soon after all this started happening, I was sent to Hephzibah House. I hated it so bad. My mind was made up that this place was not going to change me at all. I was waiting and waiting for the day till I got out. I hated the rules, and most of all I hated that they would always talk to you about salvation. I got so tired of them talking to me about it, so I decided to make a profession so they would stop talking about it. I made a few professions, but they knew it wasn’t real.
For all the time I was at Hephzibah, I just did the rules so I wouldn’t get in trouble. Although I wasn’t very rebellious on the outside, I was very rebellious on the inside.
The week that I was to go home, Pastor Halyaman talked to me twice, and Dr. Williams talked to me once. They wanted to see me happy and live for the Lord. In my mind, I was thinking they were wasting their time talking to me, but their time was not wasted. I kept thinking of what the pastors told me that week. I knew I didn’t want to go to Hell, and I didn’t want to go home the same way as I went to Hephzibah House. I asked the Lord to save me from my sins, and He did. It hasn’t always been easy for me, but I know that God is always by my side, and in trouble I can go to Him. Life begins at Calvary.
I grew up in a Christian home. Sadly, in spite of this advantage, I wanted to go my own way. I did want to do what was right, but I wanted to have some fun first. My sister left home, and I was planning on leaving once I turned 17, which was in a few months. I hated the thought of leaving my parents but, when Satan has control of your life, you'll do anything to please the flesh. I was starting to see a guy, I lived for Country music, I was starting to wear sensual clothing, and just plain rebellious to any authority in my life.
In my early teens, I did make a couple of professions of faith. I always got around friends who were a bad influence on me and it seemed like I could never get anywhere in my relationship with God. One day I stopped trying to even act like a Christian.
A few months before turning 17, my parents took me to H.H. I could never thank my parents enough for doing me such a favor. Yes, it was very hard on them, but they wanted to try to save me from getting entangled with the world.
Upon arriving at H.H. I figured I'd wait it out, but when I learned I'd be there for a minimum of 15 months, I thought, "My, I can't live like this for that long." I was convicted about my relationship with God as soon as I went there. About 6 wks after being at H.H. I asked to talk to either Dr. or Pastor Williams. Pastor Don & Wenda came and counseled with me. Praise God I gave my heart to Him and ask for His forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1Jn 1:9
I very much enjoyed my stay at H.H. Yes, there were some rules to which I was not accustomed, but they all were very good for me--they helped to build character in my life. The staff and Williams family were kind and loving. They treated us girls like they would want to be treated. I have many fond memories of H.H. I'm so thankful for the Bible memory we did and all the sermon tapes to which we listened. It's a perfect place for a young girl to be--"away from the world" and "a time to seek the Lord and draw closer to Him."
Several years after I left H.H. I made some bad choices which resulted in sin. I knew I was heading in a direction I did not want to go. After being challenged by a friend, I sought the Lord's forgiveness. Satan is out there trying to get our attention in any and every way he can. As a young person, I went through many struggles. God has brought me victoriously through valleys. Though they may not be easy at the time, it's what helps us to know God in a deeper way and become more mature.
I am married now to the most wonderful man and have 3 beautiful children. God is still working and pruning my life. He is teaching me how to be a faithful helpmeet to my husband and a loving, patient mamma to my children. I can say it's a real joy to serve the Lord, and know that I am His child. It's been a long time since that day years ago, when my parents took me to H.H. I know I have been spared a lot of tears, heartache and regret. I want to give God all the honor and glory and thank Him for saving my soul. And then I thank my dear parents for making that hard decision of taking me to HH. And lastly I thank the Williams family and staff at Hephzibah for the time they sacrificed in helping me and the example they were to me. I pray God will continue to bless their ministry and also for every girl that passes through their doors, that they would yield their hearts to God and be blessed.