Hephzibah62:4 transitions to North American Wesleyan Church ministry
JANELLE VERNON | APRIL 1, 2019 Wesleyan News
A property sale on March 14 marks the transition from Hephzibah Ministries’ local-based ministry to a North American church-wide ministry. Hephzibah Ministries, now Hephzibah62:4, has turned a page in its long and fruitful history, continuing to honor its mission to vulnerable children and their families while expanding its reach.
On January 5, 2018, the Hephzibah Board of Directors, after determining the current residential ministry model was unsustainable, voted unanimously to take the necessary steps leading to a re-visioning for Hephzibah Ministries. The March 14 property sale culminates months of prayerful discernment that has resulted in a new ministry name and geographic trajectory.
Proceeds from the $6.5 million sale are being placed in a trust through which interest will be used to fund the new Hephzibah62:4 ministry. Two new leaders, unanimously elected by the Hephzibah Board of Directors, took office after the sale closing. Jodi Lewis is the new Hephzibah62:4 director and Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship Anita Eastlack is the new Board chair. The Wesleyan Church Discipline lists the executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship as the Hephzibah subsidiary overseer.
Lewis 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 been serving since then as Families of Promise ministry coordinator at her church, Kentwood Community Church, Kentwood, Michigan.
Her former pastor, Rev. 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.
“She has been a humble leader who has sparked a movement among local churches in Michigan and beyond,” Ray adds. “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. I am so excited to watch how God will use her in this next season of ministry leadership.”
“The local church has historically been an institution that cared for the most vulnerable in our society. As government-sponsored foster care became the norm in recent decades, there has been an unintended but unfortunate shift away from the local church prioritizing hands-on care to orphans and vulnerable children and families in their local communities,” said Lewis. “Over the past 15 years of ministry, I have watched with great excitement as the Christian community has begun to reclaim the role that God has so clearly called us to. I have personally witnessed how inspired, available people working through local Wesleyan churches in partnership with other churches, government, agencies and related organizations are a powerful instrument of transformation in the lives of vulnerable children.
“Although foster and adoptive parents are vital roles in this area of ministry, equally vital are preventive roles to help strengthen families so they can stay together, supporting adoptive and foster families to help them thrive, and other direct and indirect-care roles to vulnerable children,” she said. “Truly, there is a place in this ministry for everyone in the local church.
“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen for this important role at this crucial point in Hephzibah’s history,” Lewis said, “as we work to inspire and equip local Wesleyan churches to do this important work. Hephzibah Ministries has a rich history and we aim to honor the past while prayerfully moving forward with an exciting new ministry model. Throughout this process of transition, I have had a strong sense that even as Hephzibah will live on in a very different form as Hephzibah62:4, as an institution, Hephzibah has always had God’s special favor and we’re still experiencing miracles every step of the way.”
A Wesleyan shoulder event is being planned for the May Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual Summit (CAFO2019). Register here.
“It is an honor for us as Wesleyans to steward the 119-year-old ministry of Hephzibah62:4 in this hour when our society is seeking real-life answers for the vulnerable child,” said Eastlack. “I am thrilled that God brought Jodi Lewis as the director, an apostolic leader, who faithfully began a ministry to vulnerable children 15 years ago in her local Wesleyan church and has grown the ministry and developed leaders to a point where it is truly transforming lives, their church and their ZIP code. Imagine the day when every Wesleyan church has a part of their discipleship model that cares for vulnerable children. What a witness! Now, that could help to close the Gospel Gap.”