Opening wider doors to hope

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

Arlene and John Hurst recently moved from Lancaster, Penn., to serve as house parents for the new Hannah House ministry wing of Door of Hope in Columbus. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Ministry creates long-term women’s counseling program
John and Arlene Hurst trekked the 580 miles from Lancaster, Penn., to make a new home in Columbus, not only for themselves but for young women they’ve never met.
The Hursts moved here to become house parents for Hannah House, a new ministry arm of Door of Hope aimed at providing long-term counseling for young women in need.
“I think it was definitely a call from God,” John Hurst said. “We had wanted to find a way to minister to people; reaching out to hurting people, people in need.”
They’ve found a way through Hannah House.
Door of Hope secretary Alicia Hershberger said Hannah House developed out of a dire need for more in-depth counseling. Door of Hope began providing one-on-one and group counseling back in 1999. They didn’t, however, have the facilities or staff to provide a place of refuge for those who needed additional time to heal.
“The first month or so I was here, we were just flooded with calls,” Hershberger said. “It was difficult and frustrating to have to tell people we weren’t set up to help them in the way they needed.
“For someone who’s been deeply, deeply hurt, they need longer to heal. Some girls take two weeks, some two months.”
Hershberger mentions young women in particular because the majority of calls they’ve received come from young women or families of young women who have been sexually abused or assaulted. The ministry also works with people facing mental issues, anger and those from broken homes.
The Hursts’ roles are to offer the image of an unbroken home during each individual’s stay.
They aim to provide a sense of support and security through a family setting.
“We want them to know that having a family is not just an idealistic goal for them,” John said. “This is something that does happen even though they may feel they’ve missed out on it in their lives.”
The couple plans to create a family atmosphere through regular family meals, prayer time and devotionals, family time playing games, making crafts and taking long walks and even regular household chores.
While the Hursts provide healing security at home, counselors will do their part through three-hour sessions.
“We believe that healing comes through Jesus Christ, so we would offer them His healing,” Hershberger said.
Hershberger said a big component of pursuing that healing is forgiveness. She said the girls must get past what people may have done to hurt them.
John said he and Arlene felt drawn to Door of Hope because the ministry looks deeper into a person’s problems than most others.
“They look beyond the symptoms – depression we see as a symptom rather than the problem,” he said. “We feel it is there because of a root cause and the ministry tries to heal the person from that place.”
For example, John said, if someone is dealing with feelings of abandonment they typically feel that way because of an event in their childhood. The Hannah House program aims to dig down to those root causes and work through them.
“We’ll be excited to see girls find healing,” John said. “That’s our goal to help that process along with the counselors.”
Door of Hope and the Hursts dream bigger for the future.
The current home the ministry rents affords room for at least three girls at a time, while also offering a basement apartment for the Hursts.
The ministry hopes to eventually expand to a larger property.
Arlene has a vision of a household vegetable garden that would act as another teaching tool and as a stress reliever, she said. The overall dream is to also have space to keep farm animals. The Hursts and other Door of Hope staff believe that type of setting would only provide further healing for the young women coming through the Hannah House program.
“That’s the big vision – that’s the dream,” Hershberger said.
Also supporting the program, in a financial way, will be revenue from the ministry’s soon to open New for You Reuse it Shop.
The thrift shop recently received a semi-truck from New Horizons Ministry in Colorado filled to the brim with clothing, books and other items to stock the store. The store will provide income for Hannah House and Door of Hope, as well as providing a place for the girls staying at Hannah House to work, thereby offering them a sense of meaning and purpose, Hershberger said.
The New for You Reuse It Shop is set to open Feb. 1 in the old Tryon Little Theater building on Hwy. 176 N (near the intersection of Hwy. 176 and Hwy. 108 in Tryon). During the grand opening an espresso machine will be available to make warm drinks for visitors. Donations will be accepted.
For more information on Door of Hope, visit

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