March 31, 2019
Dear Hephzibah friend,
The question I have received most often since the decision was made to close the residential aspect of Hephzibah Ministries after the ministry model became financially unsustainable is “What is going to happen to the Macon campus?” Since the property was listed for sale, it has been my daily prayer that the right buyer would step forth. Honestly, I could never have imagined that the sale would unfold as it did.
When I received the call in December that the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia had just left the campus, I felt such a sense of peace. It was unexplainable because they had not even made an offer. Only the Lord could have orchestrated this.
Shortly afterward, an offer was made. Following negotiations, our boards came to an agreement and the closing date was set.
I then traveled to Macon to visit with the staff, as well as work through the record retention process. I was not prepared for the emotions I felt as I drove on the campus. Tears filled my eyes as I pulled through the gates. In fact, I pulled over and thought about the countless hours and generous donations which many had given over the years to make this campus a reality. So many, including you, have given so much.
As I entered the administration building, I felt the weight of the responsibility entrusted to me as the chairman of the HMI board through this property sale and the revisioning process. My thoughts were interrupted as three people I did not know entered the room. Pat, the Rescue Mission director, and two board members were there in the process of revisioning their mission. What a providential moment.
Meeting Pat, I told him I had done some study on the Rescue Mission and realized we both desired to impact the lives of vulnerable children. I told him that we were entrusting the property to them and partnering with them. As I said this, I held out my hands as though I was handing him something. He took my hands and said he received it. Once again, I sensed God’s peace in this process. And last Thursday, we signed the paperwork to complete the sale.
While this is the close to that chapter of the Hephzibah history, it is the new beginning for the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia on that sacred property and a continuation of the Hephzibah ministry founded there. Love will continue to be found in Macon as the Rescue Mission expands its ministry to battered women and children and continues to partner with the Rock Springs Church.
As part of the closing of the residential campus ministry, all current employees were given severance packages based on their tenure with Hephzibah. This included long time employee Shirley Duncan. In addition, Shirley will be honored at the Gathering in Pigeon Forge, TN in April. Shirley faithfully served at Hephzibah for over 30 years and we are grateful for her and her husband, David!
This also marks a new beginning for Hephzibah62:4. Property sale funds will be held in trust and the earnings used for our new partnership working with local Wesleyan churches and universities to expand the Hephzibah mission throughout North America. I am excited to see the Hephzibah mission reach even more vulnerable children. And I am excited to introduce Hephzibah’s new leaders.
The Board of Directors unanimously elected Jodi Lewis as the new director and Anita Eastlack as the new board chair. Both took office after the property sale and are hitting the ground running. I will remain on the Board of Directors.
I believe you know Anita who serves The Wesleyan Church and has provided oversight of Hephzibah Ministries as executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship. She has been serving on the Hephzibah Board since taking office in 2016. Let me introduce you to Jodi.
Jodi gave up her career as a registered nurse in 2004 to found and develop a multi-faceted church ministry, Families of Promise, focused on awareness, care and support of orphans and vulnerable children and those who care for them. She has since then been serving as the Families of Promise ministry coordinator at her church, Kentwood Community Church, Kentwood, Michigan.
Her former pastor, Kyle Ray, said, “Jodi is a wonderful person to lead the next leg of the journey for Hephzibah. I have had the privilege of watching her lead a team of people in building a world-class orphan and adoption ministry in the life of Kentwood Community Church over the past 15 years.
He adds, “she has been a humble leader who has sparked a movement among local churches in Michigan and beyond. Jodi understands that while there are many different models of ministry, the need to care for the most vulnerable among us must remain central. As an adoptive mom herself, I have watched her both talk the talk and walk the walk. She is a practical theologian, although she might not describe herself that way, who walks with a quiet yet consistent humility. Her husband and family have walked alongside of her and supported her each step of the way. I am so excited to watch how God will use her in this next season of ministry leadership.”
A Hephzibah62:4 web site is in development. In the meantime you are invited to get connected for ongoing updates at the new Hephzibah62:4 Facebook page.
A Wesleyan shoulder event is being planned for the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual Summit (CAFO2019) in May. Register here.
A process to award Hephzibah62:4 grants is also in development to invest in ministries, projects and adoptions through local Wesleyan churches and universities, with the goal of transforming the lives of vulnerable children and ultimately bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to entire communities. We ask for your continued financial support to enable us to inspire and equip many to participate in this important work.
Until our new website is launched, please mail your donations to:
Hephzibah62:4, PO Box 7084, Fishers, IN 46038
You can connect with Jodi Lewis and the Hepzhibah62:4 team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 478-477-3383.
I know this is a very long letter, but I wanted to share my heart with you. Please continue to pray for Hephzibah62:4, Jodi and Anita, Wesleyan churches and the vulnerable children and their families yet to be reached.
God is faithful and we can look with confidence to the continued ministry that is known as Hephzibah.
God bless you,
Sherry Gorveatte, Hephzibah Transitional Board Chair