Hephzibah Stories

Rev. Edward Parker Buck, Superintendent of Hephzibah Children’s Home, 1947-1949

Edward BuckIn Touching Tomorrow, The Story of Hephzibah Children’s Home, a 1950 Booklet about Hephzibah, written by J.R. Swauger, records these words by Rev. Buck, of his time at Hephzibah:

One day while the problems of management were heavy, the calls from the outside may, the finances a real concern, and some of the inmates in need of correction, we were reminded by the Holy Spirit that we were not carrying on simply for the sake of the children, the Church, nor for self; Hephzibah was an Institution established, maintained and managed “For Jesus’ sake.”

Just to keep the child for his own sake, profits, and comforts and to save him from the hazards of the world, is certainly worth consideration. It has its values but is lacking in the more essential thing. Jesus will lighten the burden, cause men to respond, and promote interests, which otherwise would not be realized or worthwhile, if we do it for His sake.

All during the life of Hephzibah there has been maintained a constant emphasis of spirituality. This has been foremost during all the years. The testimony of Mrs. Lucile Ernest, who has been faithfully working with the Home since about 1900 is, “These days seem like the days when Aunt Bettie Tyler began here; God still blesses like He used to” (Metz, p. 59).

Shirley Duncan, Former Resident and Staff Member of Hephzibah Children’s Home

Shirley duncan​Once a vulnerable child removed from an alcoholic and abusive family, Shirley Duncan came to Hephzibah as a 13-year-old and eventually became the devoted and much-loved Director of Church and Public Relations there for over 30 years.

Shirley recalls a day when she was a child and able to see a miracle at Hephzibah Children’s Home. On this day Shirley missed school because she had a doctor’s appointment to have a physical exam. Shirley joined the staff for their daily prayer and devotion. She heard them talk about the little food they had and lack of resources to purchase more. As the director, Joe Neyman, led the staff in prayer they prayed for God to provide food. As they were praying the phone rang and Joe directed Shirley to answer it. The voice on the other end of the line was the manager of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store asking if they needed food. The manager said the freezers at the store had stopped working and they needed to give all the frozen food away before it thawed. The same day a truck broke down near Hephzibah Children’s Home and the driver walked up the driveway to use the phone. After finding that it would be a while for help to arrive, he asked if they would like to have the ice cream that was in his truck. At a young age, Shirley personally experienced the answer to prayer as God provided an abundance of food and treats for the children and staff of Hephzibah Children’s Home.

Dr. Larry Freels, Director of Hephzibah Children’s Home, 1993-2008

Larry FreelsDr. Freels recounts in Touching Tomorrow, The Story of Hephzibah Children’s Home, “My personal chapter in this chronicle began in the fall of 1993. I stood on the edge of the timbered 180-acre land to which Hephzibah Children’s Home purposed to relocate. The site was perfect. The plans were exciting. The cost was awesome. My personal sense of inadequacy was overwhelming. The assignment to lead in this massive project was frightening. I knew God had called me to this ministry and surely He would see me through. Yet, humanly, there was the temptation to recoil. ‘The task is too big for me.’ But the Lord…

I have been reminded of Peter stepping out of the boat on the water. The miracle didn’t start while he was in the boat. It seemed I was in a boat with Peter. I stepped out of the boat…and the miracle began to happen. Almost immediately, God began a process of bringing the right person, at the exact time of need, with the precise skills to resolve a specific problem.” (Metz, p. 133-134)

After countless miracles and the efforts of over 2000 volunteer workers, the relocation of Hephzibah Children’s Home finalized in July of 1997. By the following year the debt was paid!

But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:18b-19 (Metz, p. 140-142)

Carol Gage, Former Foster Youth and Staff Member of Hephzibah Children’s Home, 1997-2001

carol gage​Carol was the youngest of four children who lost her mother as a toddler and whose father suffered from alcoholism and was unable to parent. Carol’s chaotic early years were marked by frequent transition as she moved from home to home, first with an aunt and uncle, then four different foster families. As a young teenager she finally settled into the Morgan family, whom she calls her “spiritual family,” a special pastor and his wife at Morley Wesleyan church in upstate New York, the church at which she says she first felt loved. It was at this church that she first learned of Hephzibah Children’s Home and dreamed of going there one day.

Carol thrived in the Morgan family and met her husband Loren Gage, who eventually became a Wesleyan pastor. Years later, when the Gage’s youngest daughter was nearly grown, Loren and Carol were clearly called by God to serve at Hephzibah Children’s Home. They worked for four years in the senior girl’s dorm and fell in love with the girls and with Hephzibah. During their time there they cared for a total of 20 girls. After their service to Hephzibah was completed in 2001 and the Gages returned to the pastorate, they kept up with many of the girls who were in their care. They have celebrated successes and marriages with some and continued to pray for those who struggled.

When Carol learned of the plans for Hephzibah to sell its Macon, GA property, and revision of the ministry, it was an emotional time. Her heart was attached to that beautiful place and to the many she had served alongside there. When Carol shared her powerful and emotional testimony at a special service at Morley Wesleyan Church in the summer of 2018, the Northeast District Superintendent Dr. Karl Eastlack was present. Afterward, he came to explain to her that his wife, Rev. Anita Eastlack, was serving on the new Hephzibah62:4 Board. God was continuing to expand the work of Hephzibah through a new ministry model to transform the lives of vulnerable children in communities across North America! That assurance meant a great deal to Carol.

Mi’Shae, Former Resident of Hephzibah Children’s Home

Mi'Shae​I was pregnant when I was first put in foster care. I was moved between two different group homes before I had my baby girl. After I got out of the hospital, I was shipped to Hephzibah Children’s Home. There I met multiple strong women who helped guide me. Now I also have a son, and I’m doing great. I graduated from high school at the top of my class and now I’m working on my RN degree at a technical college and earning a 4.0 GPA. I have Hephzibah to thank for helping me raise my daughter and teach her things while she went to the on-campus daycare. Thank you all. – Mi’Shae

 

 

 

Metz, Alberta. Touching Tomorrow, The Story of Hephzibah Children’s Home. Second Edition Revision by Ronald R. Brannon. Wesleyan Publishing House, 1998.