50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry

When CCHO was founded in 1969, one married couple in one farmhouse provided a safe place to stay for three to five kids at one time. Today, our family of ministries regularly serves more than 1,000 children and adults each month from nearly 20 different regional locations.

Through five decades of ministry, we have been privileged to watch broken people, broken families, and broken hearts be made new by a loving and redemptive God. To celebrate everything God has done in and through our agency, we will be sharing 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry throughout 2019. These stories will come from all corners of our ministry: former CCHO residents as well as past and present counseling clients and foster care families and children; current and former employees and board members; volunteers and long-time donors; and supporting churches.

Find our latest stories below and check back throughout the year to read more. Have a story of your own that you’d like to share? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page!

The hope of Esperanza de Ana (Story 47 of 50)

The hope of Esperanza de Ana (Story 47 of 50)

Amidst the heartache of grief and loss in the foster care system, our staff at Encourage has had the opportunity to witness the joy of adoption with many families throughout the last year. In fact, 12 children will finalize adoptions this year.

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Christmas wishes come true (Story 46 of 50)

Christmas wishes come true (Story 46 of 50)

The youth in our residential center may not wake up in their own homes with their own families on Christmas morning, but because of kind and loyal supporters, they do wake up to an astonishing example of love.

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Loving in the in between (Story 45 of 50)

Loving in the in between (Story 45 of 50)

Amidst the heartache of grief and loss in the foster care system, our staff at Encourage has had the opportunity to witness the joy of adoption with many families throughout the last year. In fact, 12 children will finalize adoptions this year.

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Thank you from Katie (Story 44 of 50)

Thank you from Katie (Story 44 of 50)

Katie needed to feel safe. She needed to feel loved. Thanks to donors like you, Katie found the support, therapy and love she needed at CCHO. She was baptized during her time at CCHO, and today she lives with a new foster family. Katie wanted to say “thank you” for all you’ve done for her!

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Challenging and rewarding (Story 43 of 50)

Challenging and rewarding (Story 43 of 50)

I was told that this was a place where I would feel loved not just by the staff, but by God. Individual therapy sessions, group therapy, wish circles, rules to be followed (and broken at times), boundaries to be aware of, sharing a cottage with eight teenagers. Some days — many days — it was more than I could handle.

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The unexpected story God writes (Story 41 of 50)

The unexpected story God writes (Story 41 of 50)

Not every season and every case are created equal, but if given the opportunity to build a bridge with bio families, I encourage you to take the first step. It has drawn a map straight to our hearts about forgiveness, redemption and purpose in the pain.

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He’d been there all along (Story 40 of 50)

He’d been there all along (Story 40 of 50)

I entered foster care at age four. By the time I was 15, I already had 13 homes including a failed adoption under my belt. Bouncing from home to home, I was subjected to physical and sexual abuse by several abusers. When I was 15, I finally found the courage to tell someone, and doing so unleashed a massive amount of fear and trauma that I’d been holding in for years.

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The transformative path (Story 38 of 50)

The transformative path (Story 38 of 50)

Since leaving CCHO, I graduated high school and then served four years in the Marines. I started a family and transitioned into a new career. I became an electrician, but I didn’t stop there.

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Compelled by extravagant love (Story 37 of 50)

Compelled by extravagant love (Story 37 of 50)

The man against whom this girl testified and had to face had gone free. Naturally, this invoked some pretty intense behaviors such as self-harm and running away, but guess who was there with her walking down the road, asking to stay with her and showing her unconditional love all the same. Rebekah!

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The Ziegler Family (Story 36 of 50)

The Ziegler Family (Story 36 of 50)

James 1:27 calls God’s people to meet the needs of children living as orphans. Brian and Julie Ziegler answered that call by joining the Encourage Foster Care network. Learn more about their story and how Encourage equips them with the support and resources they need as foster and adoptive parents.

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Blessings from Meadow View (Story 35 of 50)

Blessings from Meadow View (Story 35 of 50)

As a first-time VBS director this year for Meadow View Church of Christ, I was asked to choose a mission to support with our VBS donations. My associate minister suggested that I look into CCHO as a choice and was told our church may also be planning a mission trip there at the end of the summer.

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Grateful for a great staff (Story 34 of 50)

Grateful for a great staff (Story 34 of 50)

How do you show appreciation to staff who consistently fight for the highest good of others? Who walk alongside those in pain, laughing with some, groaning with others, but connecting through it all? Who help others experience their worth in Christ? These are difficult questions to answer because it is impossible to accurately depict how much we – how much I – appreciate our staff.

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There’s more to life than surviving (Story 33 of 50)

There’s more to life than surviving (Story 33 of 50)

As an intensive trauma therapist in the Thrive Trauma Recovery program at Encompass Christian Counseling, it’s standard to work with clients for a week or two and then wish them well on their recovery journey as they return to ongoing mental health services. Although all clients have a special story and are memorable, some clients’ stories stick with you long after their treatment in the program has ended.

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VBS programs win MVP award (Story 32 of 50)

VBS programs win MVP award (Story 32 of 50)

We are so grateful for the collection of caring churches that have supported CCHO and our family of ministries over the past five decades. Without the fundraising dollars they’ve contributed, the hours upon hours of volunteer help they’ve provided, the steady stream of prayers they’ve lifted on our behalf, and all the other ways they have been involved, there would be countless children, adults and families who were never given an opportunity to find hope and healing on the other side of their pain.

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25 years of drives, chips and putts (Story 31 of 50)

25 years of drives, chips and putts (Story 31 of 50)

What started in 1994 as a small fundraiser for CCHO in our 25th year of ministry has now become an annual event, 25 years later, that allows our family of ministries to continue providing services and support for children, adults and families in need.

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Supportive golf swings (Story 30 of 50)

Supportive golf swings (Story 30 of 50)

On Monday, August 26 at 8:00 in the morning, 15 teams will tee off for the first of 36 holes at our Caring4Kids Golf Outing. As we head into the final months of our year-long 50th anniversary celebration, it’s only fitting that this marks the 25th edition of our annual golf outing.

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Riding high with Sons of God (Story 29 of 50)

Riding high with Sons of God (Story 29 of 50)

In 1981, Gary Shire was given a vision from God that became Sons of God Motorcycle Club Ministry. Since our humble beginnings in Mansfield, Ohio, the SOGMC has grown across the United States and Canada, with multiple chapters spread throughout 25 states and Canada.

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Cool cars and warm hearts (Story 27 of 50)

Cool cars and warm hearts (Story 27 of 50)

During the early months of 2010, the Mid-Ohio Corvette Club (MOCC) met to discuss our largest endeavor of the year. We had always chosen our yearly fundraiser on the basis of the recipient’s overall need. After learning that Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) was focused on nurturing young girls and boys who may never have received warmth from a home environment otherwise, we were excited to pick CCHO.

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The ultimate storyteller (Story 26 of 50)

The ultimate storyteller (Story 26 of 50)

On July 11, 1997, a little girl was born to a single mom. That young mom was a former CCHO resident. Due to many circumstances, this baby came to live with my wife Susan and me only a few weeks after being born.

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Baptism joy (Story 25 of 50)

Baptism joy (Story 25 of 50)

That was the first time I saw Brent cry. He regretted that he would leave CCHO without being baptized. Then his peer spoke up, “That’s no problem. You’ll just get baptized with me!”

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Working all things for good (Story 24 of 50)

Working all things for good (Story 24 of 50)

I’d like to take you on a trip back to 2008. I had just earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Malone College and was applying for nursing jobs close to home. One Sunday morning, Gary Porter, CCHO’s longtime Executive Director, spoke at my church about the mission, growth and needs of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). I had never heard of CCHO but I felt a tugging in my spirit that day.

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Answering a community calling (Story 23 of 50)

Answering a community calling (Story 23 of 50)

Our group from Fairlawn Mennonite Church in Apple Creek, Ohio has been regularly volunteering with CCHO since June 2018. We have been coming one or two Saturdays each month to spend time playing with the kids and sharing devotions and prayer with them. We love supporting CCHO because we are able to see the growth in the kids from month to month, and we know they are seeing Christ in the work of the staff and volunteers.

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How Motley Lou became Pastor Louie (Story 20 of 50)

How Motley Lou became Pastor Louie (Story 20 of 50)

Late in my sophomore year I learned that my foster parents were moving to Florida. As a I ward of the state, I would not be moving with them. Toward the end of that school year, my caseworker told me, “If we do not find some place for you soon, we will have to place you in a juvenile correction facility.” I had done nothing to deserve being placed in a correctional facility. I was five-foot nothing tall, weighed 87 pounds, and the thought of being placed in a correctional facility terrified me.

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The Kandel Family (Story 19 of 50)

The Kandel Family (Story 19 of 50)

When Julie Kandel and her husband Ron began their foster and adoption journey in 1991, they couldn’t have imagined they would one day have 18 children (including three biological daughters). Theirs is an incredible story of answering God’s call for their lives and their family, of trusting during each step of the process, and of persevering through incredible tragedy to provide a safe haven for young children in need of a loving home.

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A guided imagery narrative (Story 18 of 50)

A guided imagery narrative (Story 18 of 50)

When new residents arrive at CCHO, our therapy team writes a guided imagery narrative from the perspective of the child. These narratives are designed to take the reader on a journey through each child’s past while describing their fears, abuse and trauma in detail. Listening to the guided imagery helps CCHO’s residential staff fully understand what the child has been through so they can approach negative behaviors with empathy and compassion.

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A new day for Ashley (Story 17 of 50)

A new day for Ashley (Story 17 of 50)

It is an honor to walk alongside people like Ashley, who has found health and healing for herself and her family during her time as an Encompass Christian Counseling client.

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Fifty years in one big weekend (Story 16 of 50)

Fifty years in one big weekend (Story 16 of 50)

What a way to commemorate five decades of ministry! More than 1500 people attended our three-day celebration on June 7-9, a weekend-long series of events designed to look back on all the ways God has blessed CCHO through 50 years of ministry while looking ahead in anticipation of what may be next.

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Partners in legacy (Story 15 of 50)

Partners in legacy (Story 15 of 50)

As we prepare to gather for our 50th celebration this weekend, we are especially grateful for our community partners who support our mission. They play an important role in helping individuals and families find healing throughout our family of ministries.

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Leading with kindness (Story 13 of 50)

Leading with kindness (Story 13 of 50)

Helping meet the needs of our residential youth takes a lot of hands and partners. We are especially grateful for the kindness of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. There are good days and growing days in our children’s residential center. With the often unpredictable behavior of youth with trauma, there are times when the sheriff’s office makes frequent visits to campus.

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Memories from our second resident (Story 12 of 50)

Memories from our second resident (Story 12 of 50)

I came to CCHO in August 1971 and lived there until I graduated [high school] in June 1975. I was the second resident in the program and still go back often just to visit. I feel that CCHO’s work then and now was and is very helpful to so many. My memories are numerous but here are a few.

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See the possibility (Story 11 of 50)

See the possibility (Story 11 of 50)

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.

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Trading worthlessness for faithfulness (Story 10 of 50)

Trading worthlessness for faithfulness (Story 10 of 50)

I met Mia last summer when she first became a resident in our Young Girls Cottage. I was working as a treatment specialist in a different cottage at the time, so I only got to see her every so often. I was immediately struck by Mia’s kindness, openness and her bright, vibrant personality.

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A faithful foundation (Story 8 of 50)

A faithful foundation (Story 8 of 50)

Fifty years ago today, on a Tuesday evening at Rittman First Church of Christ, 12 men were selected as members of the interim Board of Directors for Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). Several months later, one of those men would become CCHO’s first executive director while also serving with his wife as the organization’s first set of house parents.

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Josie’s triumph (Story 7 of 50)

Josie’s triumph (Story 7 of 50)

When I first met Josie, I met a powerhouse of a young woman; she presented as a strong, independent teenager with something to prove to the world. She was fluent in psychology, philosophy, and teenager, and she had an opinion about every current issue facing our nation.

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Decades with Discover (Story 5 of 50)

Decades with Discover (Story 5 of 50)

As the Discipleship Minister at Discover Christian Church in Dublin, Ohio, I have led our annual CCHO men’s mission trip for the past 10 years. Our senior minister and I discussed how long Discover has been involved with CCHO. While neither of us can remember when it all started, we know it’s been at least 20 years!

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One Heart, One Family of Ministries (Story 4 of 50)

One Heart, One Family of Ministries (Story 4 of 50)

From the first employee hired in 1969 to our most recent group of new hires, thousands of men and women have served at CCHO and our family of ministries. They have served by caring enough to step into the pain and hurt of life to offer hope and peace.

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“I don’t want you to love me” (Story 2 of 50)

“I don’t want you to love me” (Story 2 of 50)

Each day, employees of our family of ministries aim to uphold our three core values: relentless commitment, selflessness and kindness. We believe our interactions with the children, adults and families we serve throughout our three ministries, as well as our interactions with fellow employees, should be infused with these values.

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

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

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.

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