TESTIMONIES OF OUR STAFF
After enduring my own rocky teenage years, I had a burden to help teen girls avoid the pitfalls I had faced. When I first visited Hephzibah House, I was drawn by the Godliness I sensed in the Williams. After joining the staff, I realized the structured program and schedule provided discipline lacking in my own life, as well as providing security in the lives of the students.
We single staff ladies lived with the girls 24/7, sharing in all activities - meals, schooling, work and play as a family. Learning individual traits, needs, and desires gave many opportunities for counseling and redirecting negative thoughts into positive channels toward victory over detrimental habit patterns that would lead to defeat in later life.
Students were brought by parents and pastors seeking to prevent them from making bad choices that would ruin their futures. Most came unwillingly at first (who wants to be separated from their family?), but soon decided to make the best of the situation and learn what they could. Although most teens act like “know-it-alls” with their peers, deep down they seek guidance from adults.
My personal goal was to see hearts changed through salvation, but for those who had no interest in God’s free gift, there was still ample opportunity to learn good character necessary for future success as a wife and mother or employee and responsible citizen.
Many girls had never learned basic household skills. I enjoyed teaching them to sort laundry into dark and light colors and sharing tips for removing stains. Some even had to be taught personal hygiene such as changing underwear daily and how to properly wash their hair and trim their nails. The “dishwasher generation” had to be taught that clean dishes are the result of more than just dipping dishes in soapy water and rinsing, hence the term “elbow grease.”
Gardening was a new experience for me. I enjoyed it, but at first my weeding was not appreciated when I finished my row and Pastor’s sunflowers were gone! After I learned, I enjoyed patiently teaching the difference between weeds and plants. The Williams family spent many long, hot days helping with gardening. I enjoy eating most produce, but eggplant and okra presented a challenge in setting a good example for the girls in thankfully eating everything. Mrs. Williams creatively used what the Lord provided to serve nutritious meals - a good lesson for future moms.
With so many occupants, we all had to do our part to keep the facility clean and sanitary. I had to learn a balance between doing a good job and taking all day to clean one room. Most girls, on the other hand, had to learn the importance of taking pride in a job well done rather than spending time trying to look busy while accomplishing little. Employers want diligent workers rather than clock-watchers.
Upon admission, many were doing poorly in school, some on the verge of suspension or expulsion because of disobedience or disruptive behavior. We strove to teach them the importance of earning their diploma through diligent work rather than trying to cheat their way through school. The Williams family are very concerned about the girls’ education, providing a curriculum that allows them to work at their own pace so they can make up the time they lost through foolishness. Many have graduated and gone on to college while some continued their lack of achievement, progressing very little.
Staff were always trying new ideas for recreation. Many times we stayed up late planning fun times for the girls. Staff never went home for holidays; instead we spent time decorating, cooking and preparing special celebrations for our “Hephzibah family.” Unfortunately, these times were often marred by unruly behavior of one or more students who showed no appreciation for all the effort in their behalf.
People often ask about our “success rate.” Individual results varied based on desire to change. Those who resisted change completely seemed miserable, but we refused to let them discourage us from providing a loving environment and guidance for those who desired to leave their dark past behind and press on toward a brighter future.
I wanted to thank you for the work that you do, for serving the Lord, for loving others, for making a difference in the lives of others. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that the Lord took me to Hephzibah House as He did. I had no idea who (what) I was/am; nor what I needed to learn. Almost everyday now I am taken back to situations there that I was in where I learned or was learning something. I did not know what the Lord had in store- that I would need those exact lessons for where I am now. I did sometimes know I was learning life lessons, yes; but not how precisely they are unfolding now!
I wonder if that made any sense! Sometimes it seems I just can't get my words to say what I'm trying to!
I wanted to say a big Thank You!
I am also thankful that you not only teach character, but that you teach Scripture. As many try to separate those I am glad you have not. I used to do a lot of "good" things for the wrong reasons, but you taught us to do "good" things because of our walk with the Lord, and because of the instructions in His Word. Thank you for laying that groundwork.
I could not completely thank you for all that you have done for me, for all that you have helped me. But I do hope and pray that God will very richly bless you.
These past few weeks/ months I have often reflected on my time spent at Hephzibah House, and I have so many good memories; not only of good/fun times, but of the people, of the lessons, of the Lord working. The only bad memories I have of my time there are the ones that I created. I am so thankful for the Lord taking me to spend what now seems like such a short time there at Hephzibah House. Thank you again for all that you do and for faithfully serving.
If there is ever anything I can do, please let me know. I would be more than willing to help you, the ministry of Hephzibah House in any way that I possibly could.
Also, if you are ever in this area, please stop in for a visit. That invitation is open for any of the Hephzibah family; I would be delighted over a visit from any of you.
It has been a privilege to serve as staff members at Hephzibah House. We are thankful that God has given us this opportunity to be a part of a ministry that helps teenage girls.
Over the many years we have served at Hephzibah, we have seen many, many girls come and go. These girls came to us because their parents were at their “wit’s end,” and didn’t know where else to turn. We have spent many hours on the phone with parents who were heartbroken because of the direction their daughter was heading. Many of the girls had run away or were sneaking out at night with friends, some had tried and/or used drugs and/or alcohol, some were outright defiant with their parents, even to the point of physically harming a parent or a sibling! Some had been kicked out of school because of truancy, disobedience of the rules, etc. In most cases, the parents pleaded with us to take their daughter as soon as possible because they were afraid they would lose her.
Hephzibah House is a safe place for these girls. They are kept away from the dangerous influences and temptations that they were facing at home. Even though it is our desire to see every girl give her heart and life to Christ and leave Hephzibah House with a changed life, we know that if she does not change in heart, she was at least kept safe from harm while she was here.
Many girls do have a change of heart while they are with us, and it is a blessing to receive phone calls and mail from a number of them after they leave us. Some girls have even said that they do not believe they would be alive today if they had not come to Hephzibah House!
The girls develop character and a good work ethic while at Hephzibah, and many have told us how much that has helped them later in life as they have gone on to college, have been wives and mothers, have gone into full-time Christian service, etc. Parents have commented on how wonderful it was to have their daughter return home from Hephzibah House with initiative, able and willing to work hard, and now a good example to their younger siblings.
God has also used Hephzibah House in our lives as we have grown in grace and gotten to see firsthand how God answers prayer in the lives of these girls.
Pastor Ron Williams came to our church when I was a young lady seeking what the Lord would have for my future. As I watched his slide show and heard the needs of this ministry, my heart was burdened for these girls. I also had been a rebellious young teenager, and it is only by God’s grace that I am serving Him today.
Through a series of events, it became clear to me and my family that the Lord would have me go to help in this ministry rather than go to college. I was young and inexperienced. It was my heartfelt desire to help in the ministry but, as time went on, the Lord revealed to me my own rebellious heart. Though I was serving on as a staff lady, in my heart I became more like a girl going through the program. I began to feel lonely and inadequate. I began to question whether or not the Lord was really real or if everyone just pretended to have a relationship with Him. The preaching at Hephzibah House was some of the best preaching I have ever heard. These pastors seemed to really know God. I always thought I did. It was in my head, not in my heart.
After being there a year and a half, I came to know the Lord as my personal Saviour. I had been in church all through my teenage years, but it took this ministry for me to realize that my sins nailed Jesus to the cross- that He loved me enough to die for me. He would forgive me and give me a victorious life in Him!
I was only able to stay at Hephzibah House for two months after this turning point in my life. I was needed at home to help my mother, who was suffering from extreme back problems. I always regretted that I couldn’t stay longer to help once I came to truly know the Lord.
I may not have understood or completely agreed with everything that was done in this ministry, but I do know that nothing was ever done, to my knowledge, to hurt or abuse any girl. There was certainly always more than enough food, with the option of half the amount for those who desired less. The girls were required to responsibly do normal daily duties in a reasonably timely fashion- keeping their things neat and tidy, basic cleaning jobs, kitchen duties, etc. This can only teach character and responsibility as well as help to keep the facility running smoothly and in decent order. I can understand that it may have been emotionally difficult for the girls to be in this ministry. It was for me, yet that is exactly what led me to turn to the Lord instead of peers for real help.
Pastor Williams is one of the kindest, big hearted men I have ever met, and very funny. We had movie nights and game nights frequently. We played volley ball often and always made a big deal of many holidays. The picnics, parties and such were great fun. We would order out and have subs, pizza, and special cakes, etc. I have many fun memories.
I now have a wonderful husband and five beautiful, happy children. I was able to have a pure courtship, a wonderful spirit filled wedding, and now, a Christ-centered, happy home. I owe all this to my Lord and Saviour, who I came to know at Hephzibah House.
Working with troubled young ladies has been an incredible blessing and a very sobering experience. My actions affect other people and I will give account for how I influenced every young soul that I came in contact with. Some of our girls turn to Christ and some continue in their rebellion. It is always their choice, but what role did I play in their lives?
It is very exciting when a new girl comes to our ministry because she is a unique individual who adds to our home. Some young ladies are athletic, musical, or poetic while others are skilled in crafts, drama, or any of a host of other talents that make for a lively and interesting home! Some of our girls have been to foreign countries or come from different cultures and enjoy sharing their experiences. We all love to tell stories, some of which add illustration to a conversation or a biblical topic we have been discussing. Some of our stories are just funny things that have happened and give everyone a good laugh!
Being at Hephzibah House has afforded me a wonderful opportunity to see a wide variety of personalities and to help each one understand how her own gifts and ambitions can be used for God’s glory. It is very encouraging and a truly joyful event to see a young lady respond to God. On the other hand, seeing a troubled heart reject God’s leading and conviction to continue in her rebellion is very hard. I can get very discouraged and disheartened by it. To know someone’s heart is only getting colder and harder is very hard to deal with sometimes.
When a girl goes home I often have mixed emotions. The girls become so much a part of my life as I interact with them every day that it is hard to see them go home. Will she continue to stand for Christ if she has turned to Him while she has been here? Will she allow herself to be pulled back into her old way of life? Will she appropriate the knowledge of God she has learned here? It is especially hard to see a young lady go home when I know her heart is just as hard, or harder, as when she came. I know her way will be fraught with peril and heartache and she will not be happy. Just as parents want their children to be happy and secure in their lives, so I want each of our girls to experience a happy and secure life. However, it only comes through Christ.
I was called by God to go to Hephzibah House over a decade ago. It was my desire to serve God in a capacity that He found suitable for me. I was shown that there was a need for staff workers at Hephzibah House, so I took a trip to Indiana to investigate the possibility. I enjoyed a two-week visit, but because of personal reasons, I frankly determined that I probably was not going to go there. The Director cordially extended a welcome for me to return should I ever decide to serve with them there. Nothing more was said, and I continued my schedule of work. No one asked or pressured me further. Another few weeks passed, and I found that I was burdened more and more for those teenagers – it was God’s call.
My life is by far a more privileged life in comparison to many of my fellow-missionaries who are living and serving in foreign countries. I have no problem with the going to a foreign field as a missionary, but God has called me to serve Him here.
My schedule is packed daily – 6:55am, I am up praying. Who can serve God in any place without looking to Him for guidance? 7:30 I dress and take care of a few details, which might include making breakfast, taking out trash, etc. The girls are up by 7:55, and the day flies from there. 8:15 breakfast, 8:30 dish crew and light duties (bathroom cleaning, sweeping, table clearing, etc.) 9:30 the girls are in school and my tasks vary depending on where I am needed most. I may be in school for the day, preparing food, baking, cleaning, gardening – basically any duty that most women would do to take care of home and the needs of children. I also have time during the day to take care of personal needs.
I enjoy cooking, so there are times when I prepare special foods. I have worked in the offices at a variety of tasks as well, but I enjoy being available for the girls and their needs – getting school supplies, answering their questions, caring for their personal concerns – there really are no dull moments.
Once the girls are out of school, we get some fresh air by a brisk walk or some calisthenics. We work together to clean the house. Oftentimes, we will have different projects to do which give variety to our duty time. By 4pm I or another staff will put dinner on. At 5:30, we are sitting down to our evening meal. Conversation at meal times is and has always been a delight to me. “I got ‘B’ honor roll,” “I finished a PACE,” “I’m struggling with Algebra,” “Hey, do you want to hear a funny story,” “Isn’t it great to see God doing this,” and on and on. The interaction is wonderful and challenging. Dinner dish crew follows, which can be at times fun and a little rowdy – splash, squeal, ugh, laughter! Evening activities typically begin by 7pm – study hall, tape class, crafts, and Scripture collation are a few of our engagements. 8:45-9:15pm is group devotions and singing. Then the girls are in bed around 9:30pm. This time of the night involves many things for me - catch up on laundry, phone calls, picking up loose ends, correspondence, taking caring of girls needs (this will often include a girl wanting to talk to me about something on her heart and mind), locking up, picking up, checking our cooler and freezer, shoveling snow or whatever else needs to be done to make the next day go more smoothly. Bedtime is usually 11pm, but it is up to me if I want to go to bed earlier or later.
Working at Hephzibah House is challenging. Not every interaction with the girls or staff is perfectly pleasant, but this is the case in everyone’s life. I have found that I learn so much when I have to deal with these challenging opportunities. I grow in grace as I see God’s work in my own heart to deal with others the way Christ would. I know that I fail at times. Personal interactions are where the rubber meets the road, and I look forward to growing every day in this area.
Since I have been here, corporal punishment has not been used nor has the withholding of food been practiced as a form of correction. The demerit system has been utilized. Sentences and restricted privileges are the mode of correction. Even this system has been modified over the years to reflect a desire to train and show grace. Any living environment needs rules and boundaries, and Hephzibah House is no different.
As I have seen it over the years, the choice of many parents to bring their girls here is a result of their daughters engaging in some activity that is detrimental to their well-being and/or the well-being of others in their lives. As they are given a tour of the facilities, every parent I have observed is careworn and burdened for their daughters. We want to reach them all. We want their relationships restored. I cannot, however, make anyone choose the path they want to walk. I can only do my best to share what God’s Word says as a final authority.
I began studying the Bible at 19. By 20 I made a decision that has resulted in many other life-changing decisions. I chose to believe that the Bible is Truth. I have made many foolish decisions, but that is not one. At 29 years old, I put my faith and trust entirely in Christ’s work on the cross to save me – not mine. I had gradually come to see that I needed Christ above all. No one has brow beat me to this decision. Any one who really knows me sees that I am not forced to do anything. My decisions are deliberate, and I am willing to do what I can to learn and grow and take responsibility for my choices.
My desire is that all who come to Hephzibah House would make the choice to do right according to Truth found in God’s Word. Whether anyone chooses to serve God or not is always entirely up to them. My heart aches that all would. If someone refuses to serve God, then my desire is that they would have good character and be a good citizen.
Again, I must say, I have more privilege than most missionaries. I can call my family often. There are many personal comforts and gadgets I could have if I wanted, but I choose not to have them. What else does anyone need? I am well-dressed, well-fed (as anyone who sees me knows), I enjoy singing, playing piano, trying my hand at guitar, sewing, crafts, cooking, corresponding with dear friends here and in foreign countries, personal days off weekly, outings to restaurants and shopping when needed. I consider myself spoiled as a stateside missionary. I lack for nothing. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him here.
I have been with Hephzibah House as a staff member since 1990. In that time, I have spent many hours with the girls and staff, and spent a great deal of time observing Pastor and Mrs Williams, as well as the other staff members.
I am always amazed at the dedication of the staff people. Dealing with rebellious teenaged girls is no easy task, and can sometimes seem to be a “thankless” job. But it is not; it is a very rewarding ministry seeing many of the girls turn away from their sinful lifestyles, and become Godly young ladies. There are many successes and failures, but I think seeing a girl restored to her parents and to go on to be a productive member of society brings joy to the hearts of not only her parents, but also to our staff. I think this is often what keeps them going.
Our girls are given excellent educational training for their junior high and high school years through standard Christian educational materials. When the girls really apply themselves, they shine. I have seen many girls come to us from the public school system, discouraged and disinterested in learning. But when they see they can learn, their confidence is built.
More than this, however, is the girls’ spiritual growth. Numbers of these teenagers have trusted Christ while here, and many others have had their walk with God restored. This is evidenced by a desire to “get things right” with their authorities: mom and dad, pastors, teachers, even siblings. I have seen renewed interest in Bible reading and prayer, and a revitalized vision for future ministry and service. This is always exciting to us! I have seen these young people come in with hard countenances, and even harder hearts. But the Word of God working in their lives often melts that hardness. Eventually, many girls confess their sins and rebellion, and really make spiritual growth. This brings joy to all of our hearts.
Our single staff ladies are greatly used by God to bring much of this change about. These fine women spend most of their time living with the girls, watching, correcting, exhorting, teaching, counseling...and really loving them. Often when a girl leaves us, one of the first persons she thanks are our dedicated staff ladies. Without them, we would not have a ministry!
Many other individuals round out our staff, and I can say each one is a dedicated servant of God...used by Him to pluck these teenaged “brans from the fire”. It has been a privilege to serve with them for these many years.
It is a privilege to be on staff at Hephzibah House, and we do not take lightly the lives with which we have been entrusted.
We all have had many opportunities to encourage and help from God’s Word, and to see that bitterness is wrong and will destroy anyone both Spiritually and physically. God wants us to love and forgive and to realize He works everything out for our good to better us. The choices people make today will affect them even until the next generation.
We do care for and love the girls. We work together, sing together, make special meals and treats, and have special activities together. We pray with them and for them and we do care about their burdens and joys.
This is not just a job, it is a ministry. We rejoice when we see them become responsible, complete schoolwork, and make right decisions and choices.
There are other things in life we could all pursue, but we know this is what God has called us to do.
Even if just one life is changed for the better- to please God- it is well worth it!
Hephzibah House is a unique ministry that the Lord has used to help many young ladies over the years. Without the intervention of this home, many girls would have ruined their lives with their wrong choices. The ministry of Hephzibah House is here to help save lives, and that it has certainly done.
As a staff at Hephzibah House, my own life has been greatly helped because of this ministry; and I thank the Lord for the way He has used this home and its staff to challenge and encourage me to happily live for the Lord. After living here and being a part of the workings of Hephzibah House, I know, better than ever before, that this is a ministry that is desperately needed.
Girls come to our home distraught, confused, hurt, angry, miserable, and wrecking their lives. They are not truly happy with the choices they are making and the paths their lives are taking. Yes, they enjoy their sin, in that it makes them feel good for a while, but on the inside they are miserable and torn to pieces. At Hephzibah House we provide our students with a safe, healthy, secure, clean, fun, joyful and loving environment away from bad influences. What better way to rescue these young ladies from the miserable condition they were in before! Ultimately it is up to each girl how she will respond and the path she will choose for her life; but we do all we can to help her turn her life around for good.
The girls are provided with great care and everything they need. They have security in a daily schedule, a clean house, good clothes, a balanced diet, healthy exercises, a school that fits each girl's specific needs, fun times, loving and caring staff, and a God that gives them this opportunity to change their lives.
I have seen girls leave Hephzibah House completely changed from how they were when they came. They become happy, healthy, smiling, and free of the turmoil that was in their hearts when they came to us.
I have heard so many of our students say how thankful they are for the ministry of Hephzibah House and that they did not know where they would be if it were not for them coming to this home. Many say that if it were not for Hephzibah House, they would probably be living on the streets, drunk, on drugs, in very unhappy relationships, destroying their lives, or even dead. This is what students themselves say, and after being a staff that has witnessed first-hand the remarkable difference, I can testify to the truth of how much Hephzibah House has helped save their lives from destruction.
I must also share one of the things that sticks out to me the most about Hephzibah House and it's staff, especially after having lived here. There is no question that the staff at this ministry genuinely care about other people. Not only are the students greatly loved and cared for, but so are all the staff, as well as any others to whom the workers at Hephzibah House minister. In all the years I have been here, no matter what struggles I was going through personally, I have never ever been able to doubt that I was cared for, shown concern, and loved. It would seem obvious that the staff of Hephzibah House love others or they would not have such a ministry to young ladies, and especially not after so many years! Certainly after living here and personally knowing those that oversee the home, I can say from my own experience that the staff of Hephzibah House truly love, care for, and show genuine concern for people; there is no doubt about that!
The great impact for good that the ministry of Hephzibah House has had on so many lives is hard to put in to words, and I am afraid I cannot adequately explain the way this ministry has helped countless number of lives. But especially after having lived here, I can say without any reservation, that Hephzibah House is not only a much-needed, but also a wonderful ministry.
I can say without hesitation, that had I gotten into trouble as a teenage girl and been in the same situation as our students, I would want my parents to bring me to Hephzibah House. Or, if I had a daughter who needed help, I would enroll her here, knowing that it may well save her life! I say this after having lived here myself and knowing the "ins and outs" of this home. I know first-hand the great help that Hephzibah House is to a girl who is ruining her life, and how this ministry can truly be a lifesaver.
Until the age of sixteen, I honestly believed I got saved when I was five. However, as I got older, I began to realize that I was basing my beliefs on the circumstances I remembered- which did not include actually asking Jesus into my heart, and to cleanse me from sin. Sometime after my sixteenth birthday, I began to have doubts concerning my salvation. I had grown up in a very conservative, Christian home; and so, there was not a dramatic change in my life. I had never committed what would be considered a “really bad” sin ( not that there is any ‘degree’ of sin), so my life continued on much the same, with perhaps a few less arguments or squabbles with my siblings, because “I was really trying”!! I was a senior in high school at sixteen and seventeen, and I had begun thinking about what to write in my graduation speech. It is a requirement at the school I attended to give your salvation testimony in your speech, and that really got me to thinking about whether or not I was truly saved. After doubting for way too long, I went to Pastor’s office during an afternoon study hall, and at that time I truly got things right with the Savior. The date was March 5, 2005.
On January 15, 2007, I came to Hephzibah House as a single staff lady. When I was twelve years old, my church received on of the Hephzibah House monthly updates, and it had a request for prayer for the need of another staff lady. From that time on, I felt called of God to be that staff lady….And seven years later I was!! Since I came to Hephzibah House, my spiritual life and walk has improved 100%. I realize now that, while I was at home, my relationship with Christ was in the process of becoming very comfortable, and coming here stirred me up. It is my own fault that I was so comfortable-not any person at home. I have learned so much more of the truths of the Bible- not just the stories that keep your attention- and how to have a deeper walk with the Lord. When I was coming upon the end of my two-year commitment as staff, I thought perhaps the Lord was calling me to help other missionary families all over the world. Soon thereafter, He showed me through a preaching message on Isaac and Rebekah that it is His will for me to stay here. He has since made me completely content to stay here for the rest of my lift- if He so chooses!
I would like to share my experience of my time at Hephzibah House. The Lord led me to be a Staff member through various circumstances in my life. At first, I did not want to be on staff because I knew it required complete surrender. When I allowed the Lord to lead and work in my life, he granted me Peace and Joy and enabled me in the days that followed.
Being on Staff was a learning experience for me that I would not trade for anything today. It impacted me so that I utilize the things I learned there in my everyday life now.
I learned to live with a bunch of females that did not always get along, but we learned to work through difficulties and problems. We knew that the girls were away from home and family and all that they held dear, so we tried to make it a home away from home.
I especially remember the birthday parties once a month. It was a special time for those who had a birthday in that particular month. A theme would be picked and they would spend a lot of time making place mats, decorations and such for the party. We would all play games, have a lot of fun together, and spend time in devotions picking a topic that would fit the theme of the party. There would be a special meal usually picked by the “birthday girls”. Often, parents of the girl having a birthday would send extra money for treats, so we would have anything from pizza, to Ice cream to “fast food”.
Every day life consisted of regular house work which taught the girls and staff character development. Many girls who came had never had to work, so it would take some time of adjustment to get used to cleaning bathrooms, washing floors, doing laundry etcY It could either be a time of drudgery, or a time of fun and learning depending on each individual attitude.
It was neat to see the Lord working in the lives of the girls with whom we worked. Dr. Williams and other Pastors would counsel the girls and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. Some resisted the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and with some; you could see their countenance change as they allowed God to do a work that only he could do.
The girls were taught the Word of God in many different ways one of which was Scripture memory. We also were under excellent preaching which was mostly Expository. Dr. Williams and the other Pastors preached God’s Word with accuracy and easy to be understood. Hephzibah House stood strong on many issues and while the girls were taught them and had to abide by those rules while they were there, it was always made clear that they had to make Spiritual decisions in their own hearts when they went home. They were not expected to Parrot what they learned, but to study and learn what God=s Word said about all those things.
While the holidays were not celebrated in the Secular way, they were special times of wonderful food and fellowship with the entire ministry. There was singing, devotions, games etc. We knew these were particularly harder times for the girls so we made it very special for them.
We always encouraged the girls to build a relationship with their parents. Many if not most of them at best had a very strained relationship with their parents for various reasons, and it was always such a blessing to see that relationship restored as the girl would get things right with them and God.
As I said before, not all the girls changed. It was very sad to see how some would resist and fight and refuse to humble themselves before God and change. They would learn to conform to the rules, but we could tell they had not had a heart change.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself: and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Luke 11:24-26
Some girls who were there came from unstable homes and did not do well when they went back to that environment. They would go from the shelter and disciplined life of Hephzibah House to a home that had not changed, thus it was often disaster which was very heartbreaking.
So many of the girls with whom we worked had come to Hephzibah House with little character. They had to learn the basics of hygiene and daily house work. It was neat to see them grow in all these areas.
We sang a lot! Many Scripture songs were written there and we would sing a lot especially around the campfire while roasting marshmallows. That was another way of hiding God’s Word in our hearts and you do not lose that, it stays in your heart and soul.
We encouraged any girl that had musical talent to use their talent for the Lord. At various times there were those who played violin, clarinet, flute, piano, guitar, and while some did not play an instrument, God had blessed them with beautiful voices making singing time full of beautiful harmony.
One thing I recall that impressed me was the intricate marking system for each girls= things so that nothing could be stolen, misplaced or left behind when they left. Each item was marked and logged carefully.
As a staff lady at Hephzibah House, I had to learn as did the others that not everyone could be treated the same because we worked with girls whose ages ranged from 12-18. We expected more out of those who were 18 than those who were 12. At times that created a challenge, but we learned to depend on the Lord for wisdom and strength.
I knew that my influence on each girl would go with them for life and that was a humbling thought. Was I perfect? No, I made mistakes and by God’s grace learned from them and loved each girl praying they would go on to serve the Lord and be all that they could be for God. They were taught to be wives and mothers.
Some of the girls applied themselves with diligence in school and excelled while others just bided their time and made the choice not to do their school work.
We all make choices in life whether good or bad and every girl was told that the choices they made now would impact them when they left and went home. Our heart=s desire for each of them was to please the Lord and follow His leading in their lives.
God used my time as a Single Staff lady to refine and break my stubborn will. I learned so much and thank God for all that I learned.
I have worked nearly everyday with the girls in our ministry for a number of years. I have seen girls come with hardened hearts, with a rebellious, “mad at the world” attitude. However, as they hear the Word of God taught and preached, develop and follow a schedule in their lives, and are removed from wrong friends and influences, it is a blessing to see their hard hearts soften, and the rebellion disappear. Many times a girl gets truly saved and wants to follow and obey God.
As I said, we keep the girls on a schedule, but we do vary it at times so things do not become “rote” or mundane. For instance, exercise time is a half hour between school and work duties. It can be volleyball, jump rope, or walking around a track, regular exercises, walking in paths in the snow made by a snow blower or other activities. Work duties can vary also. We have daily cleaning that needs to be done but we also have larger projects we do at different times of year. In the summer, the girls are outside quite a bit. We have flower beds that they help weed; they enjoy watching the flowers bloom and having them in vases inside. We also have a vegetable garden some summers that the staff and students keep weeded and harvested. Everyone enjoys fresh veggies in the summer and the extra are frozen and enjoyed during the winter months. In the winter we do more inside projects and have inside activities when it is too cold to be outside. There is a fire pit outside, and when the weather permits, the girls really enjoy being outside in the evenings around a fire.
Meals are a fun time for the girls and staff. Teenage girls love to eat and they have plenty of good, wholesome food. The girls help prepare, dish up and serve meals, especially the evening meal which is a nice time because they have plenty of time to eat and discuss the activities of the day.
Evening activities vary also. Sometimes they have “study hall” where they can work on school work or book reports. Other times they have a video class, play board games or ping pong, work on Box Tops and stamps, or “free time” where they can read, play games or crochet. Many girls learn to crochet while they are here at Hephzibah House.
Birthdays are a special time at Hephzibah House. There is a special party for everyone with a birthday that month. The “birthday girls” get to plan the party - the schedule, what games they will play, what kind of dessert they want to have, the theme and decorations they want to have. It is always a very special evening for the girls and staff.
Holidays are also special here. The girls help to decorate for the different seasons and holidays so the “decor” changes often where the girls live. Some holidays the girls and staff ladies plan and spend together, other holidays the married staff families join them. There are usually games and activities, skits, a big meal, singing, devotions, dessert, sometimes a bon fire outside. Again, it all varies so it is not always the same every holiday.
The girls also have personal devotions and group devotions daily. Many times, after several months, or even longer, we see a girl’s heart start to soften - responses and attitudes change - and there is more of an interest in the things of the Lord. I have had girls come to me crying, realizing that they are not truly saved or that they are very backslidden. They finally see their rebellion, not only the parents and other authority, but to God. It is truly amazing to see some girls change completely! We have had girls come back to Hephzibah House, sometimes with their husbands and children, just to visit and tell us how much they appreciate all that we did for them. Of course, it is not Hephzibah House, it is the Lord, He just uses us to help remove them from wrong influences in order for them to hear “the still, small voice” of the Lord.
I have the privilege of working with and helping these girls get their lives put back on the right track. However, it is not me, but our loving, Heavenly Father, working through me and all our staff that reaches these girls.
As I have been here as a staff member, I have seen girls come and go. Some girls go out and become a blessing and a testimony to their family, friends, and at their church. Sadly, I have seen girls go- some bitter, angry at their parents, or their circumstances, and even at God.
We all live together in this home; we eat and sleep in the same quarters together. We also enjoy our times mostly together at the home. We sing together and do activities together.
I have come to realize, even in my life, why the girls can be hard, unrepentant, and sometimes callous to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. I also have some struggles and character flaws in my life, as do the girls.
All of us have hearts either purposed to do right and to please God, or to choose to do what is required of us- but nothing more- when we are not yielded to God. The rest of our lives we want to hold back, because we think we will miss something if we give it all to the Lord.
All of us have problems. It is how we solve it, we either let go of the management of our lives and let God solve the tangled mess and straighten us out- to be a vessel unto His use, or we choose to let God help “bail” us out, when we are trying to manage and try to solve our own problems.
Whether you are talking to any walks of life, saved or unsaved, it boils down to whether we want God bad enough to let Him change us to what we should be.