Events – Page 2 – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio


See the possibility (Story 11 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). We hope you will enjoy story #11, courtesy of Emily Engman, LSW, foster care assessor and trainer at Encourage Foster Care, from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series. Her words are timely as we recognize National Foster Care Month in May.

When you hear people talk about foster care and adoption, you often hear about a broken system, damaged children and a whole litany of all the challenges, difficulties and reasons to stay away rather than get involved. At Encourage we see the heartache our foster parents experience when they grieve the loss of separation from a foster child they loved as their own. I am most inspired by the families who persevere and press forward, take on another placement and once again love and care for another child whose future is uncertain. It is often this uncertainty that weighs foster parents down. Not knowing if a child will be in your home for three months, a year, or forever, is tough.

Our goal in child welfare is always to reunite a child with their biological families. Reunification is a beautiful thing. Adoption is a beautiful thing, yet it is also born out of a significant loss. As Christians, we’ve just celebrated Easter. To walk away from the challenges and not move forward, is to leave Jesus in the tomb.

The hope in Jesus is that there is restoration for each and every one of us. For the parent who hurts their child. For the foster parent that wants to quit. For the child whose behaviors makes them seem most unlovable. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than to help a foster and adoptive family through the struggle of foster care and see them come out on the other side.

In the last year, I have had the blessing of working with a few families who had just about closed their doors or had been told by other agencies that they wouldn’t have more children placed in their homes. But I think the hope we have calls us to do more. In the summer of 2018, we accepted a family who had experience fostering/adopting but had been through a challenging situation. Since they have worked with our team, they have fostered four more children and were chosen this week to be placed with a little girl who has medical needs and is currently available for adoption. If they hadn’t become an Encourage foster family, they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to love and care for these children.

Being able to witness the healing and restoration of a foster family is such a privilege. While we minister to the children in our care, we minister to the families as well. I love to see our Encourage foster and adoptive families experience success and know that our staff is there to support them along the journey. When I think about foster care, I don’t see a broken system or damaged children. I see the possibility.

I’ve been a social worker for over ten years, and I am still passionate about children in foster care not just surviving but thriving in our foster homes. Our strength lies in our ability to believe in something greater than ourselves and that each and every foster parent, biological family and foster child has value and meaning beyond ourselves.

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

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Perfect love casts out fear (Story 3 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). We hope you will enjoy story #3, courtesy of Encourage Foster Care, from our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series.

It’s not easy being a foster parent. In fact, many foster parents would say opening their hearts and homes to children in need is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

Gwyn would agree. When she took in a terrified four-year-old boy and his baby sister nearly five years ago, Gwyn’s whole world was turned upside down. The siblings’ two-year-old brother had just died as the result of suspicious injuries allegedly inflicted by their mother’s boyfriend. After months of praying over the beds in an empty room in her house, Gwyn watched God answer her prayers in an unexpected way.

The transition was incredibly difficult for everyone, especially early on. The little boy, who insists he also had been abused by “the bad guy,” bombarded Gwyn with questions, trying to figure out if he was finally safe. Fear and anxiety ruled him, and he wondered why he hadn’t died too. His anger sent him into intense “fight mode,” repeating the words and actions that he endured from his mother’s boyfriend.

Gwyn says she believed that God had placed this little boy and his baby sister into her home for a reason, and she knew she had to love them in return because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). “I couldn’t guard my heart if I was going to love them and give them what they needed,” she says. “I had to make them feel safe…. So I just said, ‘Okay, God, I’m going to love them while I have them. While they’re in the circle of my arms, my family, my home, you are giving them to me to invest, to love, to nurture, to do my best with.’”

Breakthroughs began to happen during the boy’s trauma-informed counseling, and six months later, he started praying that Gwyn would adopt his sister and him. That prayer was answered two years later.

Today, the nine-year-old boy has a new name – Joshua, which he chose because he wanted to be as strong and courageous as the Joshua he learned about one day in Sunday school. He’s a big baseball fan who loves camping, fishing and riding his bike. “He’s just my outdoor kid that wants to go wander the woods all the time,” Gwyn says. And after starting this school year two full grades behind in his reading level, Josh has nearly caught up with the other kids in his class.

Meanwhile, Josh’s sister, Lena Rose, is now named after Gwyn’s grandmothers. While she tries to make sense of her big brother’s grief and anger, Lena hasn’t been as impacted by the traumatic events as Josh because she was so young when she was placed in Gwyn’s home. She loves reading and will be starting kindergarten next year. “Lena would swim every chance she gets,” Gwyn says. “She’d grow a tail if she could, so we love mermaids now.”

Gwyn, Josh and Lena Rose

We featured Gwyn and her beautiful family in a recent video for Encourage Foster Care. To learn more about this ministry, please visit

While the initial trials and immediate turmoil have passed, Josh still has days when his emotions get the best of him. However, his overall progress, Gwyn says, is remarkable. He sometimes struggles understanding other people’s boundaries but he has become much more empathetic toward others.

“He definitely puts himself first,” Gwyn says, “but he’s able to recognize he’s doing it and he can come back and apologize (in those moments). I never saw that at all from him at first.”

In particular, Josh still wonders how “the bad guy” could do what he did. “I told him people can only do that if their empathy is broken,” Gwyn says. While Josh’s sense of empathy was damaged by what happened to him, Gwyn says she has explained to her son that they are rebuilding it. “I said…‘we’re teaching you to look at what is happening to others and how others feel, and you’re learning to care about other people.’ And that made sense (to him), and he took it and ran with it.”

Gwyn’s prayer for her children is that they would “love Jesus ridiculously,” that they would both grow up being incredibly strong and courageous, just like Josh’s namesake, while using their gifts to impact God’s Kingdom. As for herself, Gwyn has been reminded that God is big enough for everything she has faced, and that He will be big enough for anything she, Josh and Lena will face in the future.

When asked what advice she would give to herself at the beginning of this emotional five-year journey, Gwyn says, “Hold on tight because you’re in for a wild ride.” She pauses before adding, “It’ll be really hard, but it’ll be worth it. It’ll be worth it.”

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

A place where kids and God can meet (Story 1 of 50)

For 50 years, Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) has been “a place where kids and God can meet.” It is truly an honor to serve at a place where we see staff each day being the hands and feet of Jesus to children and adults from hard places. Initially ministering to three to five kids at one time, CCHO and our family of ministries today serves more than 1,000 active clients each month. That incredible growth was built on the foundation that was established in 1969 and further cultivated under the leadership of the first two executive directors, Dennis Bowers and Gary Porter. Dennis was the director for the first decade of CCHO’s history and, in 1979, Gary and his family began his over three-decade tenure at CCHO. A big bear of a man with a heart for Jesus that was even bigger than his stature, Gary’s love for all that is CCHO was and still is inspiring. It is with an extremely grateful heart that we present our first of “50 Stories from 50 Years of Ministry,” from Gary Porter.

~Kevin Hewitt, CCHO President & CEO

A farmhouse, small barn and old tenant house sat on 175 acres of land in Wooster, OH. A group of caring individuals with a vision to create a place where kids and God could meet tried to purchase the property, but no local banks would give them a loan. Incredibly, a family from Orrville Christian Church stepped up and bought the farm for $65,000 so CCHO could begin its ministry. Leadership then made payments on the land as finances allowed until the property was fully purchased. What a blessing.

When CCHO began in 1969, I was in the role of youth minister at the West Akron Church of Christ serving under the direction of Senior Minister Rod Huron. This godly man was a positive influence on my life. He also happened to be one of the initial leaders of CCHO, playing an instrumental role in the founding of the organization and in having me become involved in 1979 as well. I was also privileged to know most of the original board members.

At the time of its purchase, the land had been in trusteeship for years and needed a lot of repairs. I was a part of several groups that completed work projects at CCHO, and it was during that time that I fell in love with this emerging ministry. Little did I know or even imagine that in just 10 years, my family and I would be living on that piece of farmland and that I would soon become CCHO’s second executive director.

I believe this was all a part of God’s plan.

Gary in 1989 with his family on the CCHO campus

I have many memories of our years of service at CCHO, with certain individuals coming to the forefront of my mind. These are just a few of the lives God made new through our ministry.

I recall a 15-year-old girl who had already lived in 13 places before she came into our care. Today she has a ministry making comfort bags so that other children never have to use trash bags like she did. She and her husband just adopted two children.

I remember a young man who gives credit to our ministry for how his life was changed. He served four years in the Marine Corps. He is now married with a family of his own, working hard as a master electrician. He says that none of this would have been possible without a loving God and the caring staff at CCHO.

When we began our foster care ministry in 1989, we received a call from Cuyahoga County with a need for emergency placement for three girls who had been abandoned at their office. My wife Bobbie and I headed to Cleveland and as we entered the building, we saw the three young girls sitting on the floor at the feet of a caseworker. Our hearts broke and we immediately took them back with us to Wooster. All three eventually were adopted and went on to college. One of the girls came back to CCHO after graduation and served as a social worker in our foster care ministry.

I remember a young Cleveland girl who put all she could carry in a plastic bag, took a bus to her local children’s services’ office and said, “I can’t take it anymore.” She was placed in one of CCHO’s foster homes in Amish country and thrived there. She was first in her high school class, graduated from the College of Wooster, studied in London for a year, and then went to work for a major auto manufacturer.

I recall a very smart and rebellious young man who went through our residential program many years ago. This same man has been a missionary pilot for more than 20 years.

I think of a defiant teen girl who once told me, “You are not going to change me.” She went on to graduate from Milligan College with a degree in nursing and now supervises nursing at a hospital.

A Tribute to Gary

We honored Gary Porter for his 33+ years of stewardship with our first Heart for the Home award in 2017. Please watch this tribute video to learn more about the godly leadership Gary provided CCHO and its family of ministries for more than three decades.

God provided for my 33 years of full-time ministry. Achievements were and continue to be possible because of the commitment and sacrifice of the best staff serving in childcare anywhere. Our board of trustees consists of some of the most dedicated and caring people I have ever known. I was blessed to serve under their direction.

I had the opportunity to tell CCHO’s story to and seek support from more than 300 churches. And this is where I need to thank my family. We made these church visits together, set up displays, passed out literature and listened to numerous presentations. Any one of these family members could have done the full presentation on their own. I am grateful for their support.

CCHO has been blessed by all of our individual donors. Without them, we would not exist. We have also been blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we continue to know who we are and Whose we are, the blessings will continue.

Gary D. Porter
CCHO Executive Director, 1979-2012

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

Read more

Calling all bidders!

We are gearing up to launch an online auction on March 15, with proceeds benefitting CCHO and our family of ministries. Of course, this isn’t our first rodeo – we typically host a silent auction as part of our Heart for the Home Celebration each spring featuring more than 100 auction bundles that receive nearly 500 bids annually. But this year, we’re changing things up!

As we commemorate 50 years of ministry with a benefit dinner on Saturday, June 8 and our seventh annual Great Grill Off on Sunday, June 9, we wanted to give donors and supporters a fun way to still bid on popular items. And so, we’re introducing the Promise Project Auction, where you can impact the lives of children, adults and families throughout Ohio by bidding on items, making cash donations or simply sharing the Promise Project Auction across your social media channels.

You’ll have the opportunity to click and bid on an array of things like vacation packages, golf packages, antiques, home décor, theatre tickets, sporting events and unique experiences. Beginning March 15, our first batch of items will be open for bidding. New auction items will be added on the first and 15th of every month, through June 14, and each item will be available for about two weeks, with the end date and time displayed with each item.

Bidding is similar to online auction applications like eBay, so get that mouse ready to click and bid! If you’re the winning bidder, your item can be picked up at the CCHO campus in Wooster. Special arrangements may be available on a case-by-case basis for delivery within an hour of Wooster. Tickets, gift certificates and travel packages will be mailed directly.

It’s quick and easy to register to bid; you just need to provide your name and email address. If you are the winning bidder for an item, you’ll be asked to provide credit card information on the secure site.

Click here to register for our online auction today. That way, you’ll be ready to bid when our first items go live on March 15! In the meantime, please help us spread the word by sharing our auction page on Facebook.

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A great night with great laughs at the 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration

Laughter has a way of bringing people together, and on an early spring night at First Christian Church in Canton, comedian Michael Jr. definitely brought the funny! Nearly 500 people attended the 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration in support of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio and its family of ministries on Saturday, March 24, and they were treated to an assortment of tasty hor d’oeuvres and desserts, a huge silent auction with more than 100 bundles up for bidding, and a live comedy show from Christian comic Michael Jr.

We also handed out our Heart for the Home awards to Marge Furney in honor of her late husband and former CCHO board member Russ Furney, who served the agency for more than 20 years; and Ryan Rasmussen, lead pastor at First Christian Church, for the church’s decades of support and service. As a special treat, one of the young CCHO residents celebrated with us after being baptized earlier that day by sharing her testimony on stage before singing the song “Oceans” for the audience, a performance that earned her a standing ovation!

Flip through some of our favorite photos from the night below, and be on the lookout for details of our 50th anniversary celebration, coming in 2019!

Photo Gallery

Click the thumbnails below to view larger photos.

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Michael Jr. shout-out!

Our Heart for the Home Celebration on March 24 in Canton is the biggest event of the year for our family of ministries. We are so excited to have Christian comedian Michael Jr. performing live that night! The evening will be filled with tons of great food, a huge silent auction and endless laughs. Get your tickets today — the deadline is Monday, March 19 at 11:59pm EST!

Judging by this video, Michael Jr. is excited for March 24. We hope to see you there!

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Michael Jr. says it’s OK to laugh at church

Comedian Michael Jr. will be performing a live show at our 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration in Canton on March 24 (get your tickets here)! To help you prepare for what promises to be a night of laughter that you won’t soon forget, we’ll be posting some Michael Jr. videos in the coming weeks.

Today, let Michael Jr. convince you that it’s OK to laugh at church!

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Heart for the Home Celebration

As we move ever closer to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) in 2019, we wanted to take some time to look back on our agency’s long and storied past, an incredibly fruitful history that would not be possible without God’s guidance and blessings at every step. To do that right, not only did we need to praise the Creator who has made everything possible during CCHO’s existence, we also needed to honor the men and women who have invested their lives in our family of ministries.

And so, the first-ever Heart for the Home Celebration was created as we sought to not only pay tribute to our past but also look forward to an exciting future that God is unfolding for us! Nearly 400 people attended the event at the Greenbriar Conference & Party Centre in Wooster and after an opening prayer from Pastor Jerry Birch, the team chaplain for the Cleveland Cavaliers, everyone enjoyed the delicious dinner and dessert that was served while also bidding on more than 100 fun and unique packages in our silent auction.

The first highlight of the evening occurred early when we honored former CCHO Executive Director Gary Porter and his 33 years of dedicated service with a video presentation and our first Heart for the Home award. Please watch the full video below:

After dinner, CCHO therapist Brandon Jurkovich treated everyone to a personal and inspirational spoken word performance that examined the importance of fatherhood in the lives of children before handing the mic off to Dru Joyce II. The head boys basketball coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and former mentor to LeBron James continued the fatherhood theme by speaking about his many years working with the young men on his teams and how his time as a coach and mentor has impacted his relationship with his own kids.

We also unveiled our agency’s first book, “Father’s Day Miracle: Faith, Fatherhood and the Day Everything Changed for Cleveland Sports Fans.” Everyone in attendance received a copy of the new book, which examines the intricate and sometimes messy relationships that are formed at the intersection of our calling as fathers, our passion as sports fans and, above all, our identity as followers of Christ. To learn more about this project and how you can get a copy of your own in time for Father’s Day, visit!

Finally, we discussed our exciting plans to build a gym on the CCHO campus, a place where our young residents can shoot some hoops, burn off some energy and escape the cold Ohio winters. We will be releasing more information on this initiative in the coming months, so please stay tuned!

We were overwhelmed by the generosity and support that those in attendance and our sponsors demonstrated at the Heart for the Home Celebration. In total, the event raised nearly $90,000, which far exceeded our goal for the evening. Incredible! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who attended, and be on the lookout for the next Heart for the Home Celebration in 2018!

We will be posting more video highlights from the evening, so stay tuned. In the meantime, to get a closer look at the festivities, please check out the photo gallery below.

Photo Gallery

Click the thumbnails below to view larger photos.

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