TESTIMONIES OF PARENTS
We would like to thank Dr. Williams and all the wonderful people at Hephzibah House who have dedicated their time and attention to the hurting teenage girls and their families. We sincerely pray our story will touch those in a similar situation; that this may give them hope.
Our daughter was 15 years old, a freshman in a public high school. She had been in a Private Baptist School up until 8th grade. Financial circumstances and family crisis forced us to put our children in public school. New friends led our daughter down a pathway that began to destroy her life. Her grades dropped from B’s down to E’s and F’s in one semester and she threatened to drop out of school. She experienced frequent detentions and suspensions. We would receive letters and phone calls from the administration. Her behavior became more and more rebellious and when she repeatedly cursed her mother, and threatened jail for her dad, we knew we had to get her help fast! (Unknown to us at the time, she was sneaking out at night involved in very destructive behaviors). We tried to get her reenrolled back into private school, but they would not take her. They said it would not help; she had to be removed from her “friends”. The administrator advised a girl’s boarding school—Hephzibah House in particular. He said he knew girls who went there and now were doing well, graduated college and were married with a family. Our first thoughts were “how could we ever do this, how could we ever send our daughter almost half way across the country to a girls boarding school?!!! Unthinkable, unimaginable! How would we ever afford it? But we were desperate and the administrator of the school said point blank, “If you don’t do this, you will lose your daughter. This was our wake up call.
As her parents, we talked this over several times with each other, trying to come to terms with this difficult, yet needed intervention. We called Dr. Williams at Hephzibah House and he understood our plight, because he had talked with many parents in the same situation. We were desperate and truly at the end of our rope to help our child. Our daughter was there within 2 weeks of the phone call.
The majority of parents like us that contact Hephzibah House are looking for a way to help their child, not just “close their eyes” to the severity of the problems just hoping they will make it, when clearly the odds are against them. Sending our daughter to a boarding school was the hardest decision we ever had to make.
The staff at Hephzibah House was excellent. They not only provided a great education, their love and understanding reached the heart of our daughter. They stressed and encouraged a good parent-daughter relationship; in writing told us that because she is our daughter, their role is not to replace the parent, but aid the parent and draw the family back together once again. Our daughter did not always agree with the rules, nor did she like staying there at times. But the purpose was to get her back on track for life—regardless whether or not she liked the rules. We prayed very hard during this time, and the staff prayed too.
The atmosphere in the school is family oriented, the dorm warmly decorated in a country décor. They have a very large backyard, with gardens and walkways, picnic area and fire pit, volleyball court; there are also sweet and friendly pets the girls can hold, even during study times. They were highlights of our daughter’s day. The food is served in the dining area, (generous portions are given) in family style at a very large table, and the girls decorate the school according to the seasons.
In addition to academics, the girls learn to sew, knit, cook, garden, organize, plan, leadership skills, and how to establish healthy relationships with their family. Counseling is always available when needed. Birthdays were always planned by the birthday girl and celebrated in style—Fridays evenings were the party times.
Before our daughter graduated and left school, a staff member helped her fill out paperwork for summer employment, as well as an application for the college she chose. He coached her for her phone interviews for the job. This resulted in a wonderful summer job at a Christian Baptist Camp. In addition, our daughter was accepted to a wonderful Christian College majoring in elementary education. She now has a hope and a vision for her future. And yes, we are in a very loving relationship with our daughter. She calls us every day from college, sometimes several times a day just to let us know she loves us and is doing well or just wants to say Hi. She loves to skype with us and introduce her family to her friends. She never would have done this in the past. She loves school, loves life, loves her family—and she keeps a good relationship with those at Hephzibah House. Best of all she is establishing her faith in God and has a personal relationship with Him. She has a better understanding of who God is and that He loves her. We thank God for Hephzibah house, they truly were an inspiration to our daughter and an answer to our prayers in the midst of a dark and desperate time in our lives.
We hope our testimony helps bring you to a decision to take the steps necessary to intervene on your daughter’s behalf.
Dear Pastor Ronald Williams/Hephzibah Ministries,
I have intended to write this letter to you for quite some time and I am now getting around to finishing it.
As you know my daughter was a resident of Hephzibah House for four years. Before sending her to Hephzibah I enrolled her in a similar boarding school ministry in the South that only lasted a few months. This was not due to any short coming of the home, but more to the fact that their ministry was not geared to handle the unique and extreme challenges that a strong-willed and determined personality such our daughter presented to them. She was able to usurp their program fairly easily, so I eventually had to remove her from there and bring her back home (I suspect she considered this a victory on her part & a defeat on the part of that ministry & myself, but she had miscalculated the extent of the Lords will & mine that her life be saved). Without getting into the gruesome and painful events that followed for the good part of a year after she left that ministry, I was faced with three choices, one was making her a ward of the legal system, the second was putting her in another boarding school that practiced a quasi-biblical & psychological forms of counseling combined with drug therapy, so my last choice, Hephzibah House, was my only choice. Hephzibah proved to be the best and the most difficult at the same time, there was the great distance between Indiana and my home, the very strict rules that had to be adhered to by the student and family, and of course the actual length of time involved in being separated from her. In the end it also proved to be the best solution to a most difficult situation, rather than attempting a quick fix and hoping it would last. Upon graduation she came home and started taking College classes at a private Christian College. This period of time was not without incidents also, but I have come to learn that perfection cannot be achieved in an imperfect world! She went on to join the military where she completed specialty training on radar and telemetry systems and was part of an Awax crew where she served overseas in the Gulf War; upon completion of her duty she left the Military and went back to school to finish her degree. She has since married and has two children. Her husband is currently finishing up his post-doctoral studies.
I have purposely written this letter in a fashion that barley skims the surface/details of the problems that brought my daughter to Hepzibah, (it would take many more pages to cover those aspects). My intent is not only to show the out come but to also show the sacrifice that is required -- not only upon students but parents also. Whom should I blame for these troubles ever happening? I blame myself, I blame outside/societal influences, and of course our daughter must be blamed too. I tried to correct my failures, I removed her from worldly influences and placed her where she could be helped; I will always be grateful to Hephzibah Ministries, the Williams family and staff members for taking care of my child for nearly five years and treating her as one of their own children and in so doing showing Gods love for her. I consider the contract I had with the school fulfilled to the maximum on their part. I also knew that the day she left Hephzibah she had lost a form of protection that is inherent to that Ministry, ( unfortunately I was not able to secure a written guaranty that life would be perfect for her). There were many trials after she left Hephzibah House but I do believe that the foundation that was built there has seen her through them.
In closing, on behalf of myself, my family and my extended family and friends, I wish to say, “Thank You,” for all you have done for our daughter. It is my hope that your Ministry will stand the test of its own trials and the test of time and will be a beacon of light in this sea of darkness to help many more girls and their families until the return of “The Lord Jesus Christ” to this earth!
If I can be of some help or be a reference for your Ministry please don’t hesitate to let me know,
A Grateful Father
to protect her
I wanted to write and tell you how God used your ministry in our family. We first turned to you when our oldest daughter was in rebellion. We had raised her in church and we were there for every service. We were active in the church and she attended the Christian school there, too. But she started getting in trouble. School personnel and church staff had been reluctant to tell us about her bad attitude and behavior. She was a pretty good actress. As more evidence of her rebellion came to our attention, I started snooping in her things. I was undone when I read a letter to her "boyfriend" that made it clear that they were sexually active. That was when we made the very difficult decision to send her to Hephzibah House. My husband and assistant pastor delivered her to you. I couldn't go, I don't think I could have driven away from her. Our assistant pastor said my husband wept all the way home and he is not the type to show emotion.
That was when God started to work. But it probably wasn't in the way that people would expect. Our daughter was already seventeen when she got there. She knew all she had to do was bide her time and she would be free and old enough to do as her wild heart pleased. The work that God did was in us -- as parents. We started reading the materials that Hephzibah House printed. We started requesting tapes of the preaching. We were so desperate to see a change in our daughter that we soaked up ever word that was preached. I am pretty certain that we ordered every sermon Pastor Williams had preached up to that date and every sermon he preached while our daughter was there. The sermons filled our hearts with Biblical truths about children and family and living for the Lord. We unhooked the TV from its antenna, I threw away my jeans, immodest clothing and gawdy jewelry. We made so many changes during that time. The outward changes were a reflection of the inward changes.
I realized that my daughter
was a good actress because
I had been a good actress
God's Word became the final authority for our lives. I realized that my daughter was a good actress because I had been a good actress. My daughter was rebellious because I was rebellious. Instead of using Biblical principles, I had been harsh and critical. The law of kindness was not ever in my tongue. We realized our sin was an open door for Satan to walk through and damage our children. However, our daughter left Hephzibah House virtually unchanged. She left home and did her own thing. No matter how bad it got though, or what bad news I heard, I knew God was working in her life. I prayed from Hosea 2 that God would put a hedge of thorns around her and the things decribed therein. I asked God to do whatever it took to turn her heart back home. He did.
Out in the world, she had gotten engaged to a Catholic boy that drank a lot who also had parents that drank a lot ( and had "knock-down - drag-out" fights if I remember correctly). The wedding was being planned without one word from his parents to us. Our daughter was planning to marry this young man who had told her he didn't think he could father children because of some past medical problem. Well he was wrong. When our daughter realized she was pregnant by this man, she knew she could not marry him. He and his parents could never be a part of her child's life. Remember I prayed, "whatever it takes". At this time we had moved away from the area, so our daughter contacted my mother and quickly and secretly went to stay with her. My mother contacted us and I hopped the first plane and literally swooped in and stole her away. It may seem wrong that she just disappeared but when he and his parents realized she had left, they said the baby probably wasn't his. I think they were glad that the son would not have to support the child if the relationship fell apart. (He nor they have ever made any attempt at contact.)
All of these events had occurred, but our daughter's heart still was not changed. She had just been hedged up by a wall of thorns. Hurray! Not much had gone right for her since she had left two years before. Our daughter, after some time, saw the real change in us. She repented and asked us and our church for forgiveness. She was wonderfully saved and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Then God led the right man into her life, who by the way, had our enthusiastic approval. (Thank you for all the teaching on that.) He adores her and our grand daughter ( and the three sons they have had in addition). He paid a symbolic bride price for her when he asked my husband for her hand. He said that in Bible times a normal bride price was fifty pieces of silver but since there were two of them, he gave my husband 100 pieces of silver in a leather bag he had hand-made.
Their courtship was so sweet and Godly. He sent her the most clever and romantic gifts that were linked to scriptural principles. The ladies in our church were swooning over how romantic it was. Our daughter was so sweet and submissive, that she was finally willing to trust God and her parents. Her fiance was twenty-seven, but many years before he had made a covenant with God to wait for God's woman and had remained pure. He went down on one knee in front of all of us to propose. It was one of the greatest gifts God has ever given us. I wanted to jump to my feet and scream praises to God at their wedding. Their lives, their children's lives and their marriage is still a miracle of God.
My daughter's husband is not some goofy-looking slacker either. God gives good gifts. He is godly, handsome, a great provider, a humble servant to the Lord and he even loves his mother-in-law! And our daughter is now a beautiful picture of grace. Her rebellion is washed away by the Blood. She homeschools her children, assists her husband as they are over the junior department in Sunday school and sews coulottes for church ladies. One of her favorite hobbies is trying new recipes, but she can also lay ceramic tile at her husband's side in the home they built. Oh, and something so beautiful that God promised in Hosea, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and she shall sing there..." She sings now. She sings praises to her Savior. She sings with us as a family, with her sisters, and in the choir.
I want to thank you for preaching the Word. I want to thank you for having a place for our daughter to stay while God removed some things from our lives. She says that God used Hephzibah House to protect her for that time. The young man, to whom she had written the letter I found, went to jail. She says she could be dead and in Hell if she had not been in Hephzibah House. God Bless you. Please pray for us because writing this has been so convicting, I know some things have slipped. I want my heart revived.
A Grateful Family
I came to think
of Hephzibah House
as a Noah's Ark...
Our first clue that our daughter was in outward rebellion was the day she ran away. She had always been a joyful child and outwardly compliant. She has since told us that inwardly she struggled with rebellion from age 11.
Several years prior to her leaving, the Lord had begun working in our heart and family. He was calling us on to a closer walk and a more holy lifestyle. We were convicted of our conforming to worldly standards, and while we wouldn’t admit it openly, we were trying to have the best of both worlds. How close can one stand to the fire without getting burned? Little by little, we started making changes as the Father brought our compromises to light. While we were convicted of needed changes in our family, our older children were not. They envied the ungodly and wanted the friendship of the world. In spite of complying with our standards outwardly, they were inwardly resentful. At this time, Satan brought into our daughter’s life another rebel. And as rebels seek out other rebels, this relationship led to our daughter’s short but devastating flight into open rebellion.
The girls began seeking more and more time alone; often taking long walks. One evening, unbelief and shock gradually gave way to the reality that our daughter’s walk was too long. Her Dad went scouting for her, fearing that she was hurt. While he was gone, an empty closet revealed what her sister had feared and we were oblivious to, she had run away.
What have we learned through all this? To not follow the convictions of the Spirit or your children will leave? No! But we did realize that home schooling is no guarantee for trouble-free young adulthood as we had once thought. That our obeying the Spirit by making changes in our family only revealed what was already in the girls’ hearts, and that our loving Heavenly Father is faithful and will provide a way to escape, “that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When the news that our daughter had run away was placed on prayer chains, some thought it a bad joke. Most people were kind but inwardly judgmental. We had left the local body of believers two years before because of their following worldly standards of dress and music. So to most, it seemed we were reaping the benefits of our actions. The hardest people to deal with and most painful were the beloved family members who had no clue. If we were surprised, you can imagine their shock!
During our daughter’s ten days into the hard world, she remained in contact by phone with her older sister. The slope down into sin is extremely slippery and steep. By the first phone call four days after her “escape,” she was already using bad language, and her spirit seemed hard. She pretended to be having a great time, but we could tell she was miserable. The most miserable person on earth is the Christian who is in rebellion to God and the authorities He has placed over them. By the grace of God, her sister was able to set up a rendezvous to give her sister some needed clothing. After picking her up, they drove to a secluded spot for their “picnic,” where her Daddy and his faithful friend were waiting in the bushes to escort her to a safe place.
Some dear friends had been praying with us for wisdom and direction. They had been supporters of Hephzibah House for years and suggested it to us. We knew of no other place, and saw it as our only hope. It was a long non-stop drive, but it was worth it to find a safe place for our daughter. It was extremely hard sending our daughter so far from home to a place I had never seen. Later the staff at Hephzibah kindly sent me a video tour of the ministry, which was a tremendous help.
Quite frankly, when we read over some of the rules of Hehpzibah, we were puzzled and momentarily questioned the need, but God gave us peace when we remembered that these people had been rescuing young women for many years. So whenever we would question some rule God replaced that concern with trust, trust in Him and in the staff. After all, they had tons more experience working with troubled girls than we had.
As my heart struggled to accept what had happened in our family and our daughter’s absence, I came to think of Hephzibah as a type of Noah’s Ark. Just as the Father had an ark prepared to save Noah and his family from destruction by shutting them in from the evil world, so He had prepared this ministry where our daughter was shut in for her own protection. God reminded me that He had told Noah to COME into the Ark where His presence remained with them, thus comforting me with the trust that He was with our daughter as well.
Over the many months of her stay, her letters and phone calls were cherished times in our lives. We read the letters out loud time and time again. Her letters sounded so good, but because of her having hid her rebellion for so long, we wondered if these changes were real. Was she just trying to sound “spiritual” so she could come home? Was her sweet repentance really true? These were the thoughts and concerns of hurting parents. I believe her stay at Hephzibah was a lot harder on us as a family than on her. We appreciated greatly being able to check with the staff on her progress, and we trusted their counsel. They knew better than to accept these seeming changes in a girl’s life until there was some real fruit to back them.
As the months went by, the Word of God clearly preached and all the Scripture committed to memory embedded truth into our daughter’s heart. So when the time came for our first visit, we were greatly blessed to see wonderful changes, from the angry young woman of the months before to a tearful, thankful daughter. We knew that these changes would only be temporary unless time and more truth were cemented into her life. With each successive visit, we were more and more encouraged that the real girl was truly shining through. Her last day at Hephzibah was celebrated with a high school graduation party and roses from her Daddy. I could see her love for the staff and their families grow over the months, so I was not surprised to find tears in her eyes as she was saying good-bye.
We praise the Father for the young woman that now blesses our home and is such an encouragement to us with all her Scripture songs and truths gleaned from her time at Hephzibah House. We truly have our daughter home, heart and body. The long months she was gone seem to have disappeared as God has restored the years the locust had eaten away. So with all my heart I want to thank the dedicated, Godly staff at Hephzibah. Thank you! Your ministry is truly an ark of safety. God bless you all!
Update on our daughter: In the years that have followed, both her Dad and I have spent endless hours talking with her about her stay at Hephzibah House. She has always spoken highly of the staff, and of her great love for them all. Among other things mentioned, were the times when rebellious girls chose not to follow house rules, yet during these times she never witnessed any abuse from the staff toward any student. My husband and I greatly appreciated the staff’s concern, and all the effort they made to minister to the child and to the parents. They always welcomed our phone calls and any questions about our daughter’s welfare. We believe they treated her very well, and we would not hesitate to recommend Hephzibah to others.
She is now beginning a very exciting time in her life as she prepares to marry a fine Christian man. With her heavenly Father’s help, she has taken the mistakes and bad choices in her life and turned them around to be a blessing to us all. We praise the Father for leading us to Hephzibah House at a very difficult time in our lives, and we praise Him also for the special friends that they have become during these past years.
about the home...
My daughter attended the Hephzibah House. The Williams took good care of her. She learned to love them and became best friends with his daughter.
I visited the home on six occasions and had nothing but positive feelings about the home. She came to know the Lord there and grew in the Christian faith. She attended high school at Hephzibah House and today is very successful in the law field and a wife and mother. I do not even want to think where she may have ended up if it were not for the Hephzibah House.
Most of the girls that go here have major character flaws and need help. The Williams were willing to work through this to help her see where she was and how she needed to change.
She learned how to cook and clean and be a mother. These things she had no desire to learn. She had a lot of fun and talks often of the fond memories.
I am so very thankful that I had a haven to send her to.
I first heard about this caring program for teen girls from a social worker at a Mental Health Clinic. She related that she had known several families who had been helped there. I then spoke with others who were all positive about the program.
We visited the facility, interviewed the staff, and felt comfortable with the approach. We saw an encouraging balance of love, compassion and the necessary high standards and limits needed to bring hope to our beloved daughter.
She was actively endangering her life and future and all those around her: engaging in grand auto theft, driving without a license or skill, using drugs, having sex, and plotting to kill anyone who might block her determination to be “free” and “save” her boyfriend.
Although she struggled, we saw a marked change for the better in her attitude, moods, rage, etc. She advanced rapidly in her schooling. She was able to speak openly about her Spiritual struggles, described frequent joyful activities, such as snow forts, bonfires, parties, fun videos, playing the piano, and writing stories and poetry. She was involved in ministering to others. My daughter is an excellent writer and very intelligent. If there was any untoward discipline, she would have found a way to let us know when we visited or in her letters home or the phone calls we had with her.
We, as a family, have always been comfortable with making the Bible the center of our lives and finding grace to live accordingly. We recognize these same standards at Hephzibah House and believe their help has been self sacrificial, loving, and life saving for our daughter.
A Safe Haven
...not a prison...
This letter is to be shared to show our appreciation for the Williams and Hephzibah House. We've been in the ministry for over 20 years and we have had the privilege of helping many people put their lives back together. We've helped those who have ruined their lives financially, morally, those who have ruined their marriages and lost their children to drugs, alcohol and other vices.
But what happens when a pastor's daughter goes astray? What happens when your child is influenced by those you are trying to help? This is what has happened to us. The very people that we were trying to help have influenced our child in a way that is destructive to her future.
Children are exactly that, children. Their hearts are tender and easily influenced. They are easily pulled in all directions. They are influenced by all. What determines their future? What is best for them and who determines what is best for them? Is there not a safe haven for them? Is there not a place whereby they can be influenced in ways that will help them to be successful in life? Do we not want them to be successful? What if they are in a self-destruct mode, who is responsible for helping them?
We live in a world where the home is not what it use to be. The parents have a responsibility to raise their children in a manner that is safe and will help their children to reach his or her highest potential. The problem is, for the most part, that children are being raised by parents that have either never grown up themselves; the parents have not reached their potential and do not care about the children reaching theirs. We have children raising children, and we have a society in which it is becoming more difficult for good parents to raise their children in a manner that they think is right. People do not know what the definition of a "good parent" is anymore. We have become a society that rebels against all levels of authority and puts self first. That is a destructive society.
My wife and I strive to raise our children in a manner whereby they can reach their highest potential. We have tried to provide a home that is safe for our children on all levels. We want our children to have a balanced education and to be balanced socially as well. We have tried to instill into our children to serve others-- help those who are in need of help without being influenced by the vices of those you are helping. But sometimes those you are helping get through and influence the children in the wrong way and then the child is the one needing help. Not only has the child become self-destructive, but she is also destructive to those around her.
Hephzibah House is there to help. They understand the heart issues that take place and what needs to take place in the heart to help the child to change her destructive behaviors. Each parent that signs their child into Hephzibah House is given a full understanding of the rules, the manner in which their daughter will be living, the safeguards that are in place for their child's protection and so on. It is the parents' choice to enlist their child into the program.
For the child, Hephzibah House may seem like a prison. But for the parent who has placed their child there, Hephzibah House is a safe haven. It is a place where they can rest and be assured that their daughter will not sneak out of the house at night. They will not have to worry about their daughter getting pregnant or doing drugs. They will not have to worry about their daughter getting drunk and being killed in a car accident. Many of the parents who have placed their daughter into Hephzibah House have had friends or heard of other families where their child has ended up on the wrong side of the grave.
Hephzibah House ministers to the daughters as a help to the parents. They are there to help the child's heart to be restored to the parents and kept away from the harmful elements that so easily has influenced her. Would it not be sad if Hephzibah House has done their job and taken the rebel out of the child only to send her home to parents that are rebels? Maybe that is why the child was a rebel to begin with.
Hephzibah House has been a blessing to my family. We constantly received calls from counselors to give us updates on our daughter. They tried to help us restore our daughter's heart and to keep her from destroying her bright future. We greatly appreciate them and their facilities. We were given a tour and we are grateful for the security that is there for our daughter's protection. This protection is there from outsiders and it is there to protect our daughter from herself.
Not everyone may agree with the standards, methods, or security of Hephzibah House. The answer to that is, then don't send your daughter there. Would you rather your daughter to continue in the direction she was going in before you brought her to Hephzibah House? Would you rather a judge put her in juvenile detention until she's 18 or even 21? Would not that be worse?
With all the people we have helped in the past 20 years, we understand, agree, and appreciate Hephzibah House. We are proud to recommend them for all who have daughters that are in a self-destruct mode.
for the ministry...
I am writing this letter with a heart that is filled with gratitude for the ministry of Dr. Ron Williams and the staff of Hephzibah House.
Several years ago, we found ourselves with a terrible dilemma facing our family. For a couple of years our 14-15 year old daughter had been growing in her rebellion and this behavior had brought her to the place where she ran away from home. She was living in a home where drugs and alcohol were available and encouraged and sexual promiscuity was acceptable. We couldn’t leave her there but we didn’t know any place to take her where she would be safe and secure.
We learned about and looked into the work of Hephzibah House. We decided that we would take her there and upon acceptance from Dr. Williams we made arrangements to get her to Indiana.
During the next year and a half our daughter was a resident of Hephzibah and a part of the school and church ministry. We talked to her every month, received letters every week, and visited the home on five different occasions. During that time we never saw anything that caused us to question the treatment she was receiving and she never complained or alerted us to any form of mistreatment. Of course, she didn’t like everything, especially at first but she was always treated with kind, reasonable, and consistent discipline.
In all the years since she has left Hephzibah House she has spoken of her experiences there on many occasions both publically and privately. She has never expressed any knowledge of mistreatment to herself or any other girls involved in the ministry. She has even recommended the ministry to others as a place where a rebellious girl could get a new start.
Our daughter finished High School, attended and graduated from college, and met and married her husband with whom she is serving the Lord today. She has said many times that our decision to take her to Hephzibah House saved her life. If we had not gotten her there when we did she was already determined to try drugs, to drink alcohol, and to become sexually active.
We are eternally thankful for the ministry of Hephzibah House and for the people that were used to help us help our daughter.
the Grace of God
she was not shot...
There are those of us who are well acquainted with Hephzibah House in Winona Lake and think very positively of the work there. I am a parent of a former Hephzibah House student.
It is still easy for my eyes to fill with tears when I remember the events my family and I experienced a few years ago. For more than two years we had had problems with our oldest daughter. We dealt with the problems, felt they were solved, and discovered they had simply “gone underground.” On a Saturday night my daughter and I exchanged words. She left my office to go to her friend’s car to get her coat... and NEVER CAME BACK IN. Twenty-four hours later she was in an automobile accident. It was purely the grace of God the she was not killed. Another day and a half passed and we discovered our daughter’s location. I went after her... was almost shot... the police intervened... we found ourselves in a Police Station. Fortunately our daughter was released to us.
Two weeks later, feeling we had done all we could do, we made the drive to Winona Lake where our daughter would spend the next 15 months. We were grateful she went peaceably. Not all girls do. We were also grateful there was some type of security there so we did not have to worry about her running away again.
This is still America. We who are conservative Bible believers respect the rights of liberals to believe as they believe and to train their children in that way. We would appreciate a little tolerance for our beliefs as well.
Incidentally, my daughter was happily married to a fine young man a few months after she came home. She and her husband are doing great and are both grateful that her Dad and Mom loved her enough to lay their own feelings aside and take her to Hephzibah House for 15 months. She has also read and approved my sending this letter.
In regards to the Williams’, staff at Hephzibah House, and also their procedures and rules; I have found them to be the finest, most loving and decent people I have ever met. Yes, they teach the Bible, and are so caring that they devoted their lives to caring for these wayward, rebellious girls from “so called” Christian homes. Some are, but some unfortunately are as I was, a little too liberal in my thinking.
My daughter was there, and unfortunately I had to bring her home because I could not afford medical needs for her unless she was in my home. This was the requirement of our insurance company. It certainly was not because I felt she was being abused. The Williams’ and staff gave her more love and patience and Biblical training than she got at home.
I was a young Christian and had an anger issue. They never corrected her in anger. She still has the utmost respect and love for them. She’s not a success story only because she lived in a sinful home for all of her early years and saw and heard way to much before she was sent there.
She thought she wanted to change and live for God but got back out into the world and her true colors surfaced. However, I’ll never regret the time of learning she spent there.
was bent on
Sending my daughter to Hephzibah House was one of the hardest things I ever did, and it was one of the best things I ever did .
As a parent I take pride in being able to raise my own children. It was very hard to face the reality that my daughter was bent on self destruction and that I couldn't help her. I felt that I had failed as her mother. It was then that we chose to send her to Hephzibah House. Like I said earlier it was a very hard decision.
This ministry was different than any that I knew of and the way it had to be run was for a good reason. I am so thankful for Hephzibah House giving me back my daughter in better health, better spirit, better work ethics and much more.
My daughter does not hold grudges against Hephzibah House for having to do exercises or pulling weeds. There's nothing wrong with staying healthy. So what if you had to do some work, do your really think you should be able to just eat and sleep and play all day?
We noticed a
real change in her...
We are writing this letter concerning our daughter, and the influence Hepzibah House has had on her life.
Our daughter was in public school from third grade up until 10th grade. We had her in a private school and a church school before the third grade. She had always been a very compliant child until about junior high when we noticed a decline in grades and hanging around with the wrong crowd. By the wrong crowd, we mean those that were smoking, drinking and doing drugs. We brought up our children in a Christian home and were faithful in attending a Bible believing church so the kids she was hanging out with were not the ones we wanted to influence our child. We felt like we still had somewhat of a handle on things for the next few years as none of her friends were driving and were still “checking in” with their parents as to their whereabouts. But then at about age 15 she started working at a fast food restaurant, and her friends would pick her up for work. It was so easy to fulfill their work obligation and then have money to use for having fun after work. She had always come home every night so we were still not too concerned. But we knew in our hearts that the time we were spending wondering where she was and whom she was with and what she was doing was taking a toll on the rest of the family. We didn’t have the time or the strength to devote time to her other siblings. We had heard about Hephzibah House from some friends of ours from church and knew that if we needed a correctional school at some point that was definitely where we would send her.
Every time we as a family went on vacation our daughter was so relaxed and carefree and was like a different person. She was away from the influence of her friends. When she started her junior year in high school things seemed to go okay for awhile. She had stayed out late occasionally without us knowing where she was and we would lay in bed and pray for her safety. Then one night she did not come home after work and stayed out all night. That was when we decided to go to the high school and have her brought to the counselors’ office so we could see that she was okay. That weekend the decision was made that we needed to do something for her or she would be a high school dropout or be harmed in some way and we did not want either of those things for our daughter. We had consulted with our pastor about our situation for a couple of years also and his advice was to get her away from the bad influences of her friends. So we, along with our pastor and our daughter, drove to Indiana straight through the night and enrolled her in Hephzibah House.
What a joyful and long awaited reunion it was when we picked her up from Hephzibah! When we arrived home there was a young man in our church whom we had become well acquainted with us while our daughter was at school, and he showed an interest in her of which we approved. They were married shortly thereafter. They are raising their children in church and are home schooling them. Their children are a joy to be around as they seek to raise them to be responsible adults. They are very much in love with each other and if it were not for Hephzibah House and the Lord intervening we are sure our daughter would not have the wonderful and caring husband that she has. Our relationship with our daughter and son-in-law is very close now. Our daughter keeps in touch with the Williams family on a regular basis and loves each one of them dearly. Her life would have taken a different turn if we had not taken her to Hephzibah House when we did and away from the influence of her friends. Hephzibah House was exactly what we all needed to get our daughter on the right track and we thank the Lord for the school and the influence it has had on troubled teenage girls over the years.
Now a devoted
wife and mother...
Looking back on our memories of the period of time that our daughter spent at Hephzibah House, I can honestly say that we have only positive recollections. At no time did we ever have any reason to believe that our daughter was abused either physically or mentally, nor has she ever alluded to such treatment.
We are so grateful for the time that she spent at Hephzibah House. When we took her to the ministry we were beside ourselves as to what to do with her. She had a rebellious attitude, and behavior.
When she returned to us after her stay there, her overall attitude and demeanor had changed drastically in a positive way. She is now a devoted wife and mother, as well as a practicing nurse practitioner. We shudder to think what would have become of her had she not spent the time at Hephzibah House.
In closing, we would just like to express our heartfelt thanks to Pastor Williams, and his staff for their Godly influence in our daughter’s life. We will be eternally grateful for all they did for our daughter, and our family.
The best thing
we could have
done for her...
When our daughter was a teenager, she began to rebel against our authority. She started associating with other rebellious teens and got into trouble with the law. Not wishing her to be placed in juvenile detention, we counseled with our Pastor who recommended we enroll her at Hephzibah House in Winona Lake, Indiana where she would be in a well structured environment and receive Spiritual counseling. We were made aware of all the rules and regulations of the school by Pastor Ron Williams, including corporal punishment if necessary. He demonstrated how this was done and we did not feel that it was abusive in any way.
Since leaving Hephzibah House, she has never complained to us about the treatment she received while she was there. She has told us numerous times over the years that sending her there was the best thing we could have done for her as it demonstrated our love and concern for her. In addition, she has often defended our decision of sending her to Hephzibah House to others who have been critical of our decision. Just recently, she made a comment that the staff at Hephzibah House loved her.
While the rules at Hephzibah House are strict and perhaps a bit unorthodox, we do not believe them to be abusive in any way. This is a statement of our experience and our opinion, for what it is worth.
to give up
The purpose of this letter is to speak on behalf of Ron and Patti Williams and the Hephzibah House Boarding School. Bro. Ron is a stately, well educated, godly, sacrificial man, who opened his home, along with his wife Patti, (a mom in every sense of the word) to help troubled teen girls. They did not have to reach out and be available to help others, they had at that time 9 children of their own. The Williams could have lived quietly and happily without taking on others burdens. They are doing what they believe is God's will for their lives by the establishing of Hephzibah House to help parents with their troubled teen daughters. I believe they have been in operation approximately 37 years. Keep in mind that this is not "Miss Ellie's School of Etiquette", but a live-in school for troubled girls. Girls who have varying degrees of problems, problems that make it necessary to seek help. Some girls just couldn't seem to get along at home, they kept everyone in turmoil all the time. Other girls were in much worse condition, sneaking out at night to meet with boys for sex, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, running away from home, in general self destructive behavior and everything in between. These are girls between the ages of 13yr. - 17 yr. of age. My daughter’s behavior was somewhere in between, and her father and I sought help for her, we were just not willing to give up on her.
Our Pastor knew the William's well and had been to the school on numerous occasions. Bro. Ron had been to our church to preach. The Hephzibah House ministry does not seek students for their school. Enrollment standards are very high and applications can only be obtained thru a local Pastor and by request of the parents. We, as parents, sought them out for help with our girl. This ministry not only helps the students focus on their education, but character building and biblical principal. Yes, as Christians we adhere to God's Word, (I think we still have freedom of religion in America).
As we pulled into the drive I was quite impressed at the well kept home, immaculate lawn and beautiful flower gardens. We were given a tour of the facilities. I found everything to be orderly and clean. The downstairs quarters where the students lived and slept are like a walk out basement, fully furnished, light and airy, with lots of windows and tastefully decorated. We met staff ladies who would be working with our daughter, they were very helpful and congenial. The house rules and requirements are lovingly set forth for the health and well being of all students, keeping in mind that these are not your well adjusted, truthful, cooperative students. We enrolled our daughter. We drove away, broken hearted at our separation, but thankful and hopeful for some help. I pretty much sobbed all the way home. Tough love is not easy.
As time passed we received weekly letters from our girl and she from us. We received regular phone calls and went to see her on regularly scheduled visits. I could call and talk to Bro. Ron, Mrs. Williams or a staff lady at any time to check in on her and did so. Her letters included a weekly food chart, so I knew what and how much she was eating. At regular intervals the girls were taken to a local steak house for a treat and had monthly birthday parties so that everyone was included. She told me sometimes there was more than a student could eat so half portions could be requested. If she had need of any supplies or clothing a list was sent home by her and we would meet those needs. We were notified of any medical needs she had and those needs were met as well. We also paid a monthly tuition to help with the cost of her stay.
Our daughter seemed to prosper at Hephzibah House. She was trusted by the staff and family and Bro. Williams talked highly of her. She was even given extra privileges. We were proud of her for doing so well. We always received good reports and she was catching up in her school work. She's always been a good worker and was a great help in the ministry there.
The time for High School Graduation came and we made preparation for the occasion. This was not only an academic accomplishment, but the conclusion of her program in general. We love our daughter very much and were anticipating that she would go on as a happy, mature young woman with a fresh start. She gave every indication to that end. We came home and had her graduation open house.
We have since discussed her stay at Hephzibah House Boarding School many times. She has commented on how she doesn't know what would have happened to her life without the help of Hephzibah House. She acknowledged that her choices were the reason we had to make our choices and she accepted responsibility. We've talked about how hard a decision it was for her dad and I and how hard the separation was, but she knew it was for her good.
Our daughter attended Hephzibah House. During her time there, she went from testing barely above a fifth grade level to almost completing 9th grade in English! She also gained a vast amount of Biblical knowledge as well as keeping up with current events, both national and international.
Throughout her stay, she was provided three full meals a day plus a night time dessert. She has informed us that there was not a single meal that she missed; although she was given a light breakfast one morning due to the fact that they went out for pizza 1 hour and 45 minutes after breakfast time.
She spent some of her free time at Hephzibah learning how to crochet. She stated it was something she wanted to learn to do, and the staff was extremely helpful in helping her learn. Since her return back home, there are several crafts and projects she has shown great pride in and has kept up with until now.
We have heard terrible stories about Hephzibah House. She has also heard these stories and has related that she did not ever witness the actions portrayed by these claims. She has told us as clear as possible that nobody ever had laid a hand of her or any of the other students during her stay, nor did she ever hear any of the staff raise their voice at the students or at each other.
The results we have seen from our daughter’s stay at Hephzibah House are a higher moral standard, respect for authority, self-confidence, self-motivation to complete her education, very high standards of cleanliness, appreciation for her family, and an undeniable cheerful attitude.
I would, without hesitation, recommend Hephzibah House for other teens who are struggling with the pressures of “fitting in.” Our daughter has learned how to have self-confidence without compromising the moral values we uphold in our household. When asked how she viewed her time at Hephzibah House, she stated without question that it was worth it. She went on to state that she too would recommend the school for any rebellious girl who has the slightest desire to change, no matter what their past.
We are parents of a young lady that was enrolled at the Hephzibah House. First of all, let me state that the decision was not one that was taken lightly. We agonized over sending our daughter to a boarding school. We did not want to do this. We did not plan on doing this. But we soon realized that we had to either let her do what she wanted to do or take drastic measures to stop her downward spiral. We definitely felt that we were responsible for her and for her actions since she was still a minor.
She had been lying to us for about two years. She was able with the help of her friends to cover all of her lies up, but after two years of lying it gets harder and harder to cover things up. Things finally came to a head and we contacted Hephzibah House. Our lawyer had advised us that we needed to find a facility that was a lock down facility. Because of our daughter's history, even an unsaved lawyer knew she would try to run again. The lawyer also advised us that we needed to find a facility that would monitor calls and letters so that these friends would not be able to contact her or know where she was. Hephzibah House met all of these requirements. Our hearts were broken. We never wanted this for our daughter, but here we were. Dr. Williams said that there was an opening so we loaded up and took her. We stayed in a hotel and in the morning we told her why she was there. It was absolutely the hardest thing that we have ever done in our lives. We wept all the way home. Our hearts were broken.
Our daughter stayed at the Hephzibah House until about a month after her 18th birthday. She graduated from high school - a very big accomplishment for her. She had wanted to drop out, but by the grace of God she was able to get her diploma from Believer's Baptist Academy. She also got saved during her last month there. She attended Bible college for a semester and Jr. College. There are still ups and downs with our daughter, but without the Hephzibah House, I have no idea where she would be.
Because we did all that we could for our daughter when she was a minor, we will never have to look back with regrets. We appreciate very much the sacrifices of those that work at the home. Without your efforts, our daughter would have been lost at a very young age.
be either dead
or in jail....
We practically lived at church, as there were not only regular church services two times on Sunday and one time on Wednesday, but also Friday night was Awana and college classes were one other night each week. So four out of seven days we were at church. We had only church friends, and our children only went to church school. We knew all their teachers, their lifestyles, etc. We thought all this would guarantee God-loving, spiritual giants from our children. But, as is so often true, our home life was less than spiritual and while our actions were godly, our hearts were still worldly.
When we finally submitted to the Lord’s leading and sent our daughter to Hephzibah House, we had much opposition from church members and especially unsaved family.
I know in my heart that if we had not sent our daughter to Hephzibah House, she would either be dead or in jail. At best, she would have been an unwed mother at age fourteen. She was on a path of self-destruction and we loved her and wanted to keep her from ruining her life.
We had checked other homes for rebellious children, but either they were co-ed or they did not place any restrictions on the children and if they were “bad enough” they would be sent home. We knew our daughter needed structure and security. We knew that if it were up to her, she would not have gone to Hephzibah, but that was not what was best for her. We also went to the library and read up on detention centers and what kind of lifestyle these kids lived, as I knew that was where she was headed. To my utter shock, the documentation on those places was that of rape as well as physical and mental abuse, with authorities manipulating the abuse through other children. The authorities themselves were not necessarily administering the abuse, but they had “special children” in the homes that did it for them “to keep the children in line.” I am so thankful that someone told us about Hephzibah House! Our daughter would be secure, not abused but made to obey, and taught according to Bible principles, yet in a place with love and caring. Tough Godly love was what she needed.
When we checked into Hephzibah House, we knew that there would be restrictions like no contact for several months at first, then monitored phone calls and letters being read, but this was standard procedure in the government detention centers and other homes we had checked into, so we never thought that it was unusual. We understood that these restrictions were necessary to best help our daughter, and her welfare was far more important than our wants.
I will never forget the day we dropped her off... my husband and I sobbed so hard on the way home, we had to pull the car over and just weep. But God showed us that we were to blame for much of our daughter’s rebellion, because we were trying to live with one foot in the world, and one foot living for God. Children will almost always rebel under those circumstances. We used the time that our daughter was at Hephzibah House to do some real Bible searching into how God meant for a Christian home to be. We desperately wanted to be prepared for when she came home. We felt we owed that to her. She was doing without much and we could at least do the same and make some lasting changes that God wanted and that would not be a hindrance to the lifestyle she was learning. So we did. Our marriage became stronger, our love for the Lord grew, and we began the slow process of change in our family. Our other children who were still at home were not very thrilled with it, but they didn’t rebel nearly as much as our daughter had. We were ready for when she came home. After her fifteen months were up, ( the standard length of stay), she came home more disciplined, more knowledgeable in taking care of a home, keeping her room clean and organized, and knowing how to do just about any craft that was available. She had learned how to crochet, do counted cross-stitch, and some hand sewing. She had so many ideas for the church youth group for parties and activities. She had learned good, wholesome fun things to do and wanted to share. She had learned to cook and clean up after herself. It was amazing how much good had come from her stay. She actually taught me many good habits and ways of doing things around the house that I still do to this day.
Unfortunately, she did not give her life to the Lord at Hephzibah House and soon her rebellious habits crept back in . One evening, we could not find her after she went out for a “walk.” It was dark out. We had combed the neighborhood. Someone had seen her going into a certain house- a house that we knew some military guys lived in. We beat on the doors and windows, but no one ever answered. We went home and watched from the window sitting in the dark of our living room, watching that house to see if she came out. Eventually she came home. We had not seen her come from that house as she had sneaked out without us seeing her, but we later found out that there was a gun that went off in a fight and our daughter had just missed it because she left after we had stopped beating on the house and left. She narrowly missed the shooting incident. We started talking, praying, begging God to find another way to change our daughter. I remember driving to and from work begging God in tears to do something to save my daughter. I didn’t want her to end up in a lifestyle that I knew she was headed for.
We knew that legally we were responsible for our child. She was not eighteen years old, yet she was still wanting to associate with worldly people and activities that would eventually lead to trouble again.
She ran away. We found out later that she had walked a lonely highway over eight miles in the middle of the pitch black night, to get to town and a “friend’s” house. The “friend” finally had the guilt to call and let us know that she was all right. We called the sheriff and he tricked her into calling them to let us know that she was okay. They traced the call and we went to pick her up. They took her to the detention center where she spent one day. That one day was enough to make Hephzibah House look like Disneyland. It was just like I had read in the books at the library. She was locked in a cell but when out, cruelly hassled by the other kids. Thankfully we got her out the next morning. We had already made the call to Pastor Williams at Hephzibah House, packed our van, and when we picked her up we headed straight for Hephzibah House. Much to our surprise, she was more upset that we would let her leave, than she was at going back to Hephzibah. She didn’t mind the regimented lifestyle, and she admitted that she knew they loved her. She wasn’t so sure we loved her, but she knew the folks at Hephzibah did!
Our daughter finished her second time at Hephzibah but never got saved. She was a master at talking the talk and walking the walk, with no heart change. Despite that, we were still thankful we sent her to Hephzibah House. She was so young, truly with the path she was on, God used Hephzibah to spare her life.
Twelve years later, and after much heartache, our daughter was saved. She is now diligently living for God and for the first time seeking Him in her daily walk. She has scars, lots of them. She has consequences she will live with the rest of her life, but she now has a peace that passes all understanding. And she honestly has never been bitter at Hephzibah or the people that showed her unconditional, yet tough, love of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Hephzibah House, for doing what is right, for keeping Godly standards, and for caring about other people’s children. We pray God’s blessings on Hephzibah House!
was sown in
our daughter’s heart...
Our daughter’s behavior became more and more difficult for us to monitor, and finally after three years became a security issue for the rest of the children. We gradually began to consider the once-unthinkable: a private Christian boarding school of some type. But where to start? I spent about six months researching and talking to various schools. We talked this over with our daughter fully before we would enroll her anywhere, and even took her to “check-out” one in a neighboring state. We were all going through a process of acceptance of the fact that we needed help…both us and her. I confess that it was my own pride and self-denial of my need for help that delayed this process for over a year. After one referral led to another, we found out about Hephzibah House, in Winona Lake, Indiana. This was some 11 hours from where we live. I drove there one weekend so that I could “check it out” and attend their Sunday worship service. They were somewhat surprised, I think, that I would go to such lengths, and so two couples invited me to lunch between services. I felt immediately at ease with these people, and saw at once their devotion and commitment to the full-time nurture, supervision, and loving care of the 15-odd girls who were in residence there. Their church, Believer’s Baptist, and Hephzibah House are located on the same large property. Most of the members of their church give of their time and service in some capacity to the ministry of HH and the printing of Bible portions and tracts that my wife and I have, among countless others, found so helpful. On my visit I was able to talk to many of the members of their church as they were tending the grounds, making repairs, or just stopping by to say hello.
I was given a tour of the facilities, and my first impression was how “homey” it felt….very warm rooms filled with seasonal decorations, hand-made crafts, and personal touches added by the girls residing there. I expected something more “institutional”, but this felt much more like what it is: a temporary home for troubled girls with the right amount of supervision they needed, but coupled with a loving staff of mature, committed Christians. The girls plant, tend and reap the harvest from a generous garden on the grounds, and are required to do some light exercise each day. The fire-pit and volleyball court outside were popular spots for relaxation, and the girls all took turns helping to prepare the daily meals, which by reports later from our daughter were both ample and delicious. The girls also were taught to maintain good basic hygiene, rotated laundry duty, and helped keep the home clean. The school studies employed were much like we used in our home, and the girls generally spent about half each day M-F in their studies; assisted by the staff when needed. The overall daily routine seemed balanced and well thought-out. Of course, the most important element of the girl’s residency there was to be hearing the Word of God preached and discussed. The girls regularly attended the nearby church of Believer’s Baptist, and took part in singing, prayer, and discussion groups throughout the week.
What each girl actually did with this was of course varied, but the staff at Hephzibah House has been for the past three decades, and still is, faithful in teaching and modeling the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ daily as a witness to these girls.
Precious seed was sown in our daughter’s heart, and we pray that eventually it will bear fruit and flourish in God’s own timing. Many grown women who came to know Christ later in life have contacted HH years later to thank them for all the love, care and patience shown them in their lost years; indeed, it was mentioned to me while I was there that a member of the current staff had herself been a student years before. Second of course to our daughter’s coming to a saving faith in our Lord, my wife and I would be thrilled to have our daughter someday use her many gifts to herself serve for a season at that blessed ministry.
Meanwhile, we continue to pray daily for her. We also uphold our brothers and sisters in Christ at Hephzibah House in prayer, and pray that our Lord will give them many, many more years of fruitful service. I thank God also for the nationwide network of faithful churches that lend financial support and thus enabled us, as well as hundreds of other needful families, to receive help. I heartily endorse their ministry, thank God for providing them as spiritual allies in these last days, and am honored to consider them my friends.
really bad now....
My husband and I adopted two small children who had been with us as foster children for about a year and a half. We were reluctant about adopting due to our age and the girl’s behavior.
From the first day she came to us she has been rebellious and defiant, calling me a b---- and blaming me for everything. She would lie about me and steal from me, and she was very mean to every other child that came to the house, including her younger brother.
So when we were asked to adopt them, we went to our church family and anyone else that would pray about it, seeking the Lord’s will. Believing it was God’s will and hoping (as the experts said) it would make a big difference to give the children security and stability. As we already loved them, we took the opportunity to adopt them.
The younger brother was already attached to us and he easily adjusted. Our adopted daughter, on the other hand, resented me even more. She felt it was my fault they were not with their mother, and she became even more rebellious and defiant.
She was going to school now and her behavior was bad there also. She would steal candy, books, or money whenever she could, and she was biting, hitting, and pushing anyone smaller than her. The older she got the worse her behavior got. It was a constant battle.
When she realized the school and the teachers were not on her side, after one of the teachers had a policeman talk with her about her stealing, she decided she needed someone to believe her.
She then took all the money from her piggy bank to school to give it away. She also used some to buy things (from the school store) for her teacher that year.
This plan worked out rather well for her. She now had an ally, and she began to plant a seed of suspicion against me with her teacher. If she wouldn’t get up to catch the bus for school, she would tell her teacher her mom made her stay home to work. If her homework was not done, she said her mom made her work. She would hide her lunch, and say that her mom wouldn’t give her any, yet she would refuse to eat a hot lunch.
Finally came the bruise on her arm. I saw the bruise and asked how it happened. She said she didn’t know because it didn’t hurt. The next day at school she showed it to her teacher and the teacher asked “did your mom do that?” She responded, “Yep, she sure did.”
In all our years as foster parents, we had never had any complaints to protective services. Since our adoptive daughter, we already had five calls, all of which proved to be untrue. But now there was a bruise and I could not prove that I did not put it there. She had convinced them I had bruised her, so we lost our foster license. I am now on a central registry for child abuse.
Things were really bad now. Our daughter informed me that there wasn’t anything I could do now as she could call Protective Services and tell them anything and I couldn’t prove otherwise.
The system had ordered us to take her to therapy about fifteen miles away and they put her in a special camp for troubled children.
While at this camp she continued to break every rule, refusing to get up, take baths, be where she was supposed to be, and do what she was supposed to do.
One time in hiding from the staff, she injured herself. Seeing the injury, she told me that it was their fault because they tried to get her out of her hiding place.
The special therapist eventually refused to see her because she began to lie and steal from them, again blaming them for her failures.
We moved from the area where we lived and into a new school system, hoping to get a new start for all of us. But it didn’t take long for her to disrupt things. She was constantly in trouble at school and had detention almost on a weekly basis.
Now that she had gotten even with mom, she began to tell lies about her dad. Now we were in a different school and county, and they were better prepared to work with these troubled kids. Also, her brother was able to give his version of what is going on so she was unable to accomplish her plan.
Still she was not giving up so easily. She continued to make life very difficult for all concerned. She refused to get up for school, and when at school, she was cussing, fighting, and refusing to do her work.
Finally we learned about Hephzibah House and our minister helped us get her accepted. Shortly after she got there, our worst fears surfaced, she was being very unruly. She was throwing things and refusing to follow the rules. Our pastor was able to convince her that she needed to make an effort. Thank God we were able to keep her there for almost four years.
Still, when the call came to bring her home, our hearts sank. Her younger brother was really concerned. After all she had put us through, threatening to stab me, and trying on three occasions to kill him. He was not concerned for himself, as he was big enough now to keep himself safe. We were concerned for mom and dad. We are older now and our strength is gone, plus our health is not the best.
We tried to reassure him and prayed that maybe she had changed. But we truly had not seen any changes in our visits, letters or phone calls. Dr. Williams had given us four months to get ready, so we began to prepare ourselves.
It didn’t take long for facts to prove our concerns were justified. Within a couple of weeks all she had lived and learned at Hephzibah House went right out the door, as well as her clothing. Now it was tight jeans and short tight t-shirts. If they weren’t short and tight enough, she would modify them so they were.
She continues to take whatever she wants without asking. She is always on the phone. She hogs the bathroom for an hour every morning, and wears the same clothes over and over without being laundered. She also continues to blame me for everything. If she misplaces something, she says I took it from her.
Everything is an argument. She has run away twice already, and refuses to do what she is supposed to do. Of course she always has a “good” excuse– mostly IT’S MOM’S FAULT.
to handle her...
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
Adopted children are special children. A parent makes a deliberate choice to adopt. It is a commitment and at times it would seem like a daily re-commitment. We have quite a number of children, some born into our family and some ‘came home’ through adoption. We asked God to plan our family size in any manner He chose....and He chose in His infinite wisdom to fill our quiver in a unique way. It hasn’t been easy...but we have no regrets.
Children make choices according to whether they would accept the God of their parents as their personal Saviour or would choose the god of this world. We are to love our children as we love ourselves...that isn’t easy! It is only possible as we are renewed daily and abide in the True Vine. Parenting requires absolute surrender to the One who says, “I am the LORD your God.”
Ten lepers were healed by Jesus but only one of them returned with a grateful heart to thank Jesus for healing him. Did the other nine complain about the compassion and service that Jesus gave each of them? Too often, we hear reports of complaint from those who received help in time of need through a ministry of some sort. Too seldom does someone return and express how thrilled they were with all the counsel and help when needed most.
A few years ago, our daughter, who was seventeen at the time, was extremely rebellious and disobedient. By the time she was fifteen, it was becoming difficult to handle her situation. We thought we would be able to help her, but we needed help. Our pastor talked to us about the benefits of sending her to Hephzibah House but we never wanted to send our children away, so we kept trying for another year.
We take seriously the Biblical command that we as parents should diligently teach our children as we live our lives transparently before them. “And thou shalt teach them (God’s commandments) diligently unto thy children, and talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:7. Living our life transparently before our children means that as parents, we need to seek God’s face and ask Him to search our heart. We need to seek God’s wisdom for our children with a humble heart...too often we are filled with pride. Too much pride to spend time alone with Jesus Who will transform us into His likeness, the selflessness of the cross-life.
As the months progressed, we found ourselves exhausted from sleepless nights where we would stay up through the night with our daughter. Our whole family was under an incredible weight of stress as we did everything we knew to help our daughter. When a child desires the world but is unable to attain it through inability to carry out the sin in their heart, and when they cannot bring their desires to fruition, they can react with bitterness and clamor directed towards everyone in their surroundings. It was at this point, our prayer of importunity was answered (Luke 11:5-13). We are so grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us exactly what we asked (that our daughter would be accepted into the Hephzibah House).
Hephzibah House was exactly what our daughter needed. Our daughter was there for 13 months while the staff worked with our daughter to give her the firm and loving counsel and an environment that she could thrive in. We cannot fully express how grateful we are for the months she was able to be in their program.
We don’t have a success story about how well everything turned out. You see, there is always the chance that if one of the girls in the program does not cooperate, that you must come and pick her up. This is made extremely clear before a girl enters into the program. That is the worst scenario. Prior to entering the program, our daughter’s difficulties were severe. We always knew there was a possibility that our daughter could prematurely come home. Then, the unthinkable happened. After thirteen months in the program...our daughter had to come home!!
Remember that only ONE of the lepers returned to thank Jesus? Nine of them thoughtlessly continued on with their lives. Could parents and/or girls receive help at a point of crisis in their lives through the sacrificial service of staff at the Hephzibah House over the past thirty years or so but then never return the thanks? We thank the Lord for the months that our daughter was able to stay at the Hephzibah House. It would be easy to forget to be thankful but we are filled with gratitude for all that the staff at the Hephzibah House did for our daughter.
At the time she returned home, we had no idea whether it would work as she had not yet allowed the Lord to fully work in her life. She continued to rebel and within weeks of her return she brought circumstances into her life that will leave a mark on her memory for the rest of her life. We had so much support from our pastor and his family and as the Lord allows, we continue to work with her emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. It has taken the cooperation of our entire family. We have grown in the Lord through this as individuals and as a family. You never know the nearness of the Lord as much as when you go through the fire and floods of life.
If you at one time were enrolled in the program at the Hephzibah House, don’t allow the devil to steal what the Lord would do in your life by murmuring and complaining about the sacrificial laying down of their life that each staff member did for you. If you are doing this, do you still have the sin of disobedience in your heart that brought you there in the first place? Don’t be like the nine lepers who never were thankful! You can be cleansed of sin as the one leper was who came back to thank Jesus for healing him -- he was healed on the inside, not just the outside.
Thank You, Hephzibah House!
There is no way to describe the heartache a parent feels when coming to the realization that no matter what you have done or try to do for your child, there is no way to help them. Everything else in life is affected when you have a child in the home who becomes uncontrollable.
(From the mom) When a pastor first mentioned Hephzibah House to me, I did not know how important the ministry at Hephzibah House would become in our lives. Our daughter was destroying herself and our marriage, and we knew we needed to get help for her but really didn’t know where to turn. Our daughter was not displaying the rebellious behavior that you would expect from a girl that age (promiscuity, drinking, drugs, and those types of outward behavior). Rather, her problems were so deep inside her that she truly was hurting herself more than anyone else– she would not keep herself, her clothing or her environment clean, she had no sense of self-decency, she was eating herself to a weight over 250 pounds, she was lazy and disobedient, she was totally self-destructive in her relationships with everyone in her life, she would not deal with or function in reality, she lied, she was deceitful and manipulative and completely oblivious to life in the real world. Our daily life was governed by her moods and attitudes. She showed no respect for us or anybody or anything around her.
(From the dad) Because she was not involved in drinking or drugs or teenage sex, I, as her father had a most difficult time accepting the fact that possibly the only thing we could do was to let her go for a time and let someone else become involved in her care, but our home and family life was so unhappy, I finally came to the understanding that the ministry of Hephzibah House may be her only hope. I knew that the more I tried to help her the more she withdrew from me and everything good in life. As her father, I know that the Bible tells us that there comes a time when childish things should be put away. So as parents we hope that our children will reach that point and do exactly that. I wanted to believe that the things my daughter was taught (at home and at church) would have shown her the right from wrong, godliness from ungodliness, light from darkness. But she seemed to be growing physically into a young woman with the attitudes and behavior of a little child.
And so we contacted Dr. Williams and began to learn what Hephzibah House could do for her and for us. As I began to understand and appreciate how the people at Hephzibah House were letting God use them, my heart was, and still is, fully committed to what they are doing there.
As we came to know more and more about the ministry and staff, we never regretted or doubted our decision to choose Hephzibah House for her. While there were many heartaches and struggles along the way, whenever we would go and visit her we could see the physical changes that were taking place– she never looked so healthy and beautiful before. And so we were praying that the changes that appeared to also be taking place on the inside were as real. We were always totally joyful to see her, and she seemed the same. She would talk to us of the way God was dealing with her, and of her love for the staff and family there. But inevitably, the calls would come from Dr. Williams or one of the staff about her behavior and attitude and the difficulties they were having with her, and we would feel so helpless because all we could do would be to write and encourage her to let God have control.
We had committed to leave our daughter at Hephzibah House for at least fifteen months, but Dr. Williams felt she needed to stay beyond that time and encouraged us to consider that. My husband really felt it was time for her to come home, and so after that initial commitment we told Dr. Williams of our decision to bring her home. For the first several weeks, it was such a joy to have her back– we went shopping together, we cooked together, and really enjoyed being together– it felt like all the barriers were gone. But soon some of her old self-centeredness, her temper and her lies started all over again– she was hiding food and overeating again, she would not keep herself or her clothing clean, and all the old feelings came rushing back. It was such a heartache to have to go back to that place again.
Unfortunately, as soon as she turned eighteen, she began living the life she chose for herself and is now having to deal with all the harshness of that life. She has been shown a better way, but has chosen to reject that and she will, at last, have to face the consequences of her actions. God’s truth was presented to her in such a way that we cannot understand how it could have been rejected or denied. However, God is faithful, and we have that to trust in.
We will always be grateful to the ministry and staff at Hephzibah House for how they helped us deal with a situation we did not know how to handle, and for all that they did for our daughter while she was there. We cannot repay them, and so we have asked God to.
Out of control,
headed for destruction....
This letter is LONG overdue as our family had investigated and was involved with Hephzibah House many years ago. At the time, I was pastoring a church, and our daughter was out of control, rebellious and headed for destruction.
It wasn’t long after our daughter had been with you that we began getting letters from her expressing her sorrow for her wrong behavior and asking forgiveness. You may not recall, but she had to come home sooner, not completing the entire program.
The benefits of her having gone to Hephzibah House are far too many to list, but I shall share a few:
1. She came home and attended a Christian high school, graduating from that institution.
2. She later received instruction and graduated with a medical transcriptionist degree
3. More importantly, TODAY she is trying to raise her four children by the kind of standards which she received while at Hephzibah, having Bible study and prayer each day.
4. Rather than throw her life away (the direction she had been heading), she is making her life count.
At one point in my Christian experience, I was the principal of a large Christian school. We had a student who had “graduated” from Hephzibah. As my memory serves me, she was a sweet, humble girl who adjusted very well to our school standards, the teachers and fellow students. She was grateful to have been at Hephzibah House.
We, as parents, are so grateful for an institution like Hephzibah House, where Bible-based training is the thrust, and bringing glory to God for salvaged lives is the goal.
Our prayer is that God will bless you richly, for we know the sacrifices you and your staff have made to pursue your God-given calling.
May the Lord richly bless you, the staff and the girls. We continue to pray for you and them.
After 15 months
she was a changed person....
Looking back on our life before Hephzibah, we thank God for a place like it. Our family would have suffered harder and longer without their help.
Few years ago, our oldest daughter, decided to ignore us as parents. She would mock her mother and disobey her father giving a very bad example for her siblings. We tried every method we knew to help her understand that the way she was going was bad. No amount of tears from us would persuade her to turn back. She understood what the consequences were, but had no power within herself to turn around. Her friends had a lot of negative influence over her that we, as parents, could not overcome. Several times she would sneak out at night to be at her friends' parties or just to hang out with them who, by her own admission, were doing bad things.
The more we tried to help her, the more she would reject us. We came to realize we could not help her at all. So, after she rejected even the help of several counselors and our pastor, and since she was still a minor, we decided to look for help elsewhere. We were advised by our pastor and other people to check out Hephzibah House and see if they could help her. We called them and, after careful and prayerful consideration, we decided to have our daughter stay there for the minimum 15 months. We understood this was not a vacation for our daughter, but an opportunity to break the chains of bad influence, mostly from her neighborhood friends. We struggled with this decision, knowing that no place out there is 100% of what we might like it to be and there is always room for improvement. We also understood that there is no guarantee for our daughter to come out right. Ultimately it would be her decision to repent and turn her heart back to God.
During the time our daughter spent there, the whole family at home prayed for her, fasted for her, and asked others to keep her in prayers. There were at least three groups of Christians that prayed for her in addition to many of our relatives: grandparents, aunts and uncles. In His mercy and great compassion to all of us, God has answered our prayers: within the first three weeks, our daughter wrote us of her decision to accept Christ as her savior. This confirmed that the hard decision we made to have her there was from God. She started to read and memorize God's Word. After six months there, she asked to be baptized. Every time we visited her, we sensed and saw good changes in her attitude and demeanor.
In addition to the spiritual blessings, she also caught up with her school, after falling behind almost a full year. After 15 months, she was a changed person.
Once she was back home, she continued to grow spiritually, willingly staying under our authority.
Today, after several years of being home, she is as sweet as she could be with her brothers and sisters, mom and dad, active in our local church. We are enjoying our life with her very much.
We believe that her life, and ours as a family, was forever changed towards the better by the help we received from Hephzibah House.
Grateful to God and to you
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