Story of our Name
Many people have asked if our name comes from the story of Rahab who was rescued from Jericho when the scarlet cord was tied to her window, but the real reason we are named Jericho is because the story of Jericho highlights the power of God to do the impossible using a strategy that makes no sense in the logical realm. Joshua listened to God and then obediently marched around Jericho with the Israelites until the power of God brought the walls tumbling down. The only explanation for those walls falling down was that God showed up! Only the power of God could have brought those walls down in that way! We sensed God putting on our hearts a great conviction to live by faith, trusting in His ways, many of which don’t make sense to us, so that the Lord could do the impossible in us and through us. Only His power can bring the walls and strongholds down in the hearts of the lost and wounded. And so one of our biggest joys is watching God do what the world deems impossible….bringing beauty from ashes, healing the incurable, transforming the abused and rejected, setting the captives free, and demolishing the walls built by the enemy in each heart. All.for.His.Glory! That’s what Jericho is all about.
Our Calla Lily Story (our logo)
When Jericho was being birthed, Hae Young, Betsy, and Betsy’s sister Mindy traveled to Amsterdam to learn from the ministries in the red light district. They joined one of the ministries in an outreach to the women behind the glass windows, and to prepare, they spent an hour in prayer beforehand. During that prayer time, Betsy, who had never before experienced a vision, “saw” a clear glass bowl filled with calla lilies that were wilted, drooping, their beauty all but completely faded. Then she saw what seemed to be a wind which came and swirled around the flowers causing them to twirl in the bowl and what remained after the wind were calla lilies full of life and beauty.
Betsy sensed that God was using this vision to show her what He would do with the women. By the Power of the Holy Spirit, the women would be brought to life, rescued, restored, and used for His glory. God confirmed this even more when He gave the ministry team the verses from Isaiah 61:1-3 on five different occasions. He would bring beauty from ashes for His glory. What the world deemed as useless and of no value, the Lord would use for the display of His splendor.
The First Women
On Feb. 14, 1997, Betsy and two Hondurans from her church began to visit an area of the city at night that was known for prostitution. They were struck by the women’s openness to the Gospel and by the overwhelming love of Jesus that flooded their hearts for these women trapped in prostitution. They took coffee and cookies and would often sit on the curb with the women to share the scriptures…kind of curbside Bible studies. After a year of visits to the streets and to the women’s prison, God allowed them to be midwives to the first woman who would leave the streets by the power of Christ. Nancy accepted Christ without much fanfare but it was a real conversion.
She confessed later that she had wanted to leave the little street gathering that April night in 1999 but the Holy Spirit kept drawing her back. After she accepted Christ, the women from Jericho asked if they could give her a ride home. She declined, relating that she had a debt to pay of 500 lempiras (approximate $30 US). The Jericho crew took down her name and address and promised to visit her the next day.
They arrived the next day at the address that Nancy had provided and that’s when Nancy shared two surprises. First she told of how a man approached her on the streets after she had prayed to accept Christ. She explained that he was not a client and that she began to tell this man of her encounter with Christ earlier in the evening. He encouraged her to get off the streets and told her he would help support her if she promised to go to church and to stay off the streets. And then he pulled a 500 lempira bill out of his pocket and gave it to her. “Was this the hand of God?”, she asked her new friends from Jericho. They were all in clear agreement that God had used this man (angel?) to encourage not only Nancy, but the Jericho crew as well. They needed to know that God would sustain those whom He had called.
The next surprise had to do with a woman they had come to know as Pati. Betsy had met her the first night they went to the streets and had spoken with Pati on several occasions. What was she doing there at Nancy’s? The story unfolded as Nancy revealed that Pati was actually her mother. They did not tell people of this truth simply because it caused them shame. If you ask the women the main reason they are on the streets, they will almost always state the reason as wanting to provide a “better life” for their children. But of course actions speak louder than words and although Pati had helped Nancy to get halfway through High School, Nancy dropped out of school and followed her Mom to the streets. Pati had been out on the streets for over 20 years. The night that Nancy came to Christ, Pati was sitting on the curb, too, and she prayed silently that Christ would free her from the life of hopelessness she felt trapped in.
On the Saturday night visits that the Jericho crew made, the women would always ask, “Is Pati still with you?” The women from Jericho knew that what they were really being asked was, “Is God’s power enough to free us from a lifestyle of sin?” Within five months that two room rental area was filled with eight “rescued women” as they called themselves, a store filled with place mats, and an office.
It was bursting with activity and so they all prayed for a bigger place. God was providing just enough for the salaries and the rent and so this would take a step of faith to trust Him for more. Every month God would provide just what was needed. One day there was nothing in the account and it was payday. All of the women at Jericho got on their knees and cried out to God. That afternoon a mission team from Japan came and bought out the entire Guatemala section of place mats enabling the ministry to make payroll.
After several months, God led the ministry to a space down the road where all eight women could sew comfortably. The Lord provided enough funds to rent both the original space for the office /store and for the second floor sewing workshop which was one block away. Eventually the space below the sewing workshop became available and the ministry was able to operate in one area with space for everything except a children’s ministry.
It was evident that Nancy and Pati would need some means of gainful employment. Betsy asked Nancy what she would like to do and Nancy mentioned that she had wanted to learn to sew since she was a child. Betsy found two new sewing machines and got permission from her mission society to rent a small space on the same block where the women solicited. Nancy and Betsy laugh now when they think of those early place mats that were made and sold to kind mission teams who had mercy on them. Pati’s (whose real name we later learned is Vilma) coming to Christ had a huge impact on the lives of the women still on the streets.
Jericho Day Care Center
From the start the Jericho team knew they needed to help the women with their children. Many of the women didn’t have a safe place for their kids so in January of 2002 when $9000 extra came in through donations, it seemed that it was finally time to start Jericho Kid’s Ministry. The second floor apartment over the offices became available and so by May, God provided everything needed for a day care center. The first teachers were a Dartmouth student, a Korean volunteer, and a Honduran missionary in training. These three worked together to help the children begin to live in a more structured environment filled with love and healthy discipline.
Jericho Christian School
Not long after the day care center was up and running, Neyda, one of the rescued women expressed a deep concern. Her 8 year old son was already running with gang members. There was a four hour gap between the time he got home from school and the time his mom got home from work and so it was during this unsupervised time that he was getting involved with the gangs. The ministry prayed together and sensed the urge to start an elementary school for the older children. Once again everything fell into place….everything except the teachers, that is. They moved ahead with plans to start on
Feb. 9, 2003 but there were still no teachers one month before, two weeks before, one week before, until finally two teachers came TWO days before starting Jericho Christian Elementary School. God’s timing was definitely different than the team’s but He was faithful to His promise to provide all that was needed.
In the middle of the construction of the rehabilitation center, the Lord brought a house in Tegucigalpa to the attention of the Jericho staff. The owners were desperate to sell and had been praying for three years that a Christian family or ministry would buy it. It didn’t seem big enough on first inspection, but with the addition of three classrooms above the patio out back and a bit of remodeling, it seemed just the place for the growing Jericho family. God then provided the exact amount that the house cost through a onetime donation!
The area of town is much easier to access and the whole atmosphere of the ministry is much more “homelike”. You can’t miss the house because it’s rather orange in color! This building now houses our offices, Jericho Christian School, Jericho Christian Faith High School, a store to sell our graduates products and our coffee shop.
The Jericho Villa
The ministry began to sense a real need for a place in the country. So many of the women were experiencing freedom in Christ from addictions and unproductive behavior patterns but some of them needed to make a clean break with their past to find freedom. After much prayer and fasting the Lord led the ministry to a 130 acre wood in the country just outside of Tegucigalpa . It seemed like the perfect place to focus on God for healing and restoration. After six months Betsy and her staff received the go ahead from God to make a final offer that was received by the bank. The bank owner accepted Christ with Elvia and Betsy that morning of the 23rd of December 2004 as they signed the papers. There was much rejoicing in heaven and on earth!
Construction on the land began in February of 2005 with the construction of “The Great Wall” as it is referred to jokingly by the staff. Their beloved civil engineer, Fito Ortiz, insisted on establishing a big presence from the start and it turned out to be a good thing since so many people were used to trespassing on the land. The rehabilitation center and water tank were started next and then the women’s apartments were built in 2007. God provided an architect for us in an amazing way. Dr. Christopher Miller, a professor of architecture at Judson University just “ happened” to be on one of the first construction teams (St. Mark’s, Geneva,). He humbly asked if we needed help and quickly understood the vision to build a place of beauty for the women that would also be affordable. He offered his time and talents and he came up with some magnificent drawings. He and Fito worked well together to make an adobe building for God’s glory. The rehab center was initially built to be used to teach the women practical skills (baking, sewing, hair styling, computation etc) as well as to provide a place of intense discipleship; but God had other plans for it.
In January of 2008 Hae Young Keoun felt called to start the ministry in the Villa. In the fall of 2007 three women come to us for help and we sensed that they were ready to enter the rehab program in the Villa. We were ecstatic to finally begin ministering to the women in a setting that seemed idyllic. The vision to help them find healing and wholeness through the power of Christ was becoming a reality and our whole ministry was abuzz with excitement. But after only a month, all three women independently of one another,chose to return to the city. One woman snuck out quietly leaving her two daughters (ages 6 and 8) behind, trusting that we would care for them. The initial excitement and anticipation that permeated the ministry atmosphere was replaced by a sense of failure and bewilderment. What had gone wrong? Why had we failed to help the very women we had so longed to minister to? What was God doing?
A shift in focus: At that very same time we held a medical brigade to minister to our friends from the streets and to their families. One of the women brought all 5 of her daughters and one of them, just 11 years old, revealed that she was living in a sexually abusive situation and that she wanted to come and live at the Villa. She got Jericho’s phone number and called us for a week. We were fasting that week and so we prayed and asked God what we should do. Running a home for children who were sexually exploited was totally different than ministering to women in a two year program. We sensed that God wanted us to focus on these children of the women who, without intervention, would end up on the streets just as their mothers had. So we began the ministry at the Villa, not with women as we had hoped, but with three young girls whose mothers were trapped in prostitution.
At one point when God brought us two boys who were growing up on the streets, their wildness uncontainable while we interviewed their Aunt, Betsy wondered whether the ministry had been hijacked. This was certainly a distant cry from the initial outreach on the streets to the women. But God spoke to her heart and reminded her that these little boys, so destitute and abused, would be the future transvestites, much like the ones we meet on the streets, unless someone intervened in their lives.
The Villa now is home to 35 children and we praise God for the transformation we see in their lives day by day. He is truly setting the captives free.