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The History of Harbor House


 A Testimony of God's Faithfulness

    by Karla Eberle, Founder and Director

Preface ||  1  ||  ||  Chapter 3  ||

Chapter 3

I WANTED A NICE LITTLE HOME with an extra bedroom or two.

As the steering committee came together and the ideas for a maternity home were explored, we began to look for a location that fit my vision. After meeting with the steering committee and talking about the size of the home we would need, it was decided that a single dwelling home would not be large enough. We agreed that the house family would need to have their own living quarters and yet be able to be with the girls full-time. The young ladies we expected to serve would probably not come from strong, stable two-parent homes, and we wanted to be able to model for them what God intended a family to be. We were also aware that many times maternity homes closed for lack of available house parents, and in most cases these were single house parent-type homes.

My friend Karla Rieth and I looked and looked at houses, this time looking for duplex-type homes. We found none-none that we knew could be the building.

Finally after much searching Karla and I found a home on Sugar Street that met our needs. We went through the building more than once. It was out of the way but close to downtown. It was divided up into two distinct living quarters. And it had a yard. It seemed to us, God had spoken-this was the house.

We had someone start working on the plans to show the few changes that would need to be made. Only a couple of days went by before the realtor phoned and said someone else had looked at the house, liked it, and had signed an intent contract on it. When we had first looked at the house the realtor had told us that it was not being looked at by anyone else. It had been empty for almost two years and no one was interested.

God had slammed the door on us. As saddened and discouraged as we were, we had peace in knowing that God knew the perfect plan for his ministry and we would wait.

Randy, our realtor, who was acting as a buyer's agent, would call every so often with another possibility. Each time it was something close but each time it wasn't right in one way or another. Months had gone by since we had started looking. Summer was now autumn.

Doug drove through Celina every day for his job and early in our search he had noticed an old hospital building for sale. He mentioned it to me and I told him, "No, I will not raise my children in downtown Celina and most definitely not in a hospital building. There's no yard and no where for them to play. This is not the kind of building that I'm looking for."

Not long after the disappointment of the Sugar Street home, an article about Harbor House ran in the local newspaper. That night a man who I didn't know phoned and asked to meet with me. He told me that he knew where God wanted the home to be located. So when Doug got home from work we went over together to meet with this fellow.

He told us that he had been walking down Fayette Street and had walked past the old Gibbons Hospital. When he did, he felt an overwhelming urge to pray. After walking around the building and up the steps, he got down on his knees and said that at that moment he had the impression God wanted the building to be used for children.

His conviction in what he told us softened me to the possibility, but I was far from sold on this man's "impressions."

I called John Gibbons, the owner of the building, and asked to see the inside. I explained to him what we were thinking of doing and he let us in to look around. There were many days of just coming in, praying, and looking around at how God could use this building which had set empty for almost 10 years. I was looking at all the work that would need to be done and all the people it would take to do this amount of work. And still there was a peace that this might be where God wanted this ministry. I decided that we would take the steering committee through and see what they had to say.

Together, we looked at each room. I visualized the floor plan in my mind, thinking of the needs we had and if they could be met in this building. After much discussion we ended on the steps, prayed, and unanimously decided that we should proceed with renting the building.

I phoned our realtor to let him know that we would like to rent the building with an option to do any renovation work to meet our needs. But then God slammed shut another door-John Gibbons had just agreed through another realtor to lease the building to a local community group of prominent citizens who were going to make it a homeless shelter

"So there's no way that he'll rent it to us, I guess?"

"He still would rather sell the building," Randy told me. "Let me talk to him and find out what he says."

Randy called back to let me know the news-that the only way we could have the building would be to come up with a down payment for a purchase by the coming weekend-$20,000 total-and this was Wednesday.

Here again was impossibility. We were just a group of folks, a new ministry, and all we had was a name. We had no money in the bank, no credit history and we needed to have $20,000 in just a few days. I was down, but God had shown me before that he was big enough for obstacles that I considered impassable. I was being made to rely on God again, to reinforce in me who it was who was really doing the work.

I called the members of the steering committee to give them the bad news. When I called my friend Karla, her husband Bill reassured me and encouraged me. Since I've known Bill, as a good friend and a pastor at our church, has always been the one to encourage.

Thursday evening Pastor Bill called me to tell me that an anonymous donor would be wiring $20,000 to us so that the contract could be signed on Friday. Man, God works quickly!

Our anonymous donor did not remain anonymous forever. Her son was able to coax her into revealing her identity. Unfortunately for those who knew and loved her, Elizabeth Rieth passed away in April. Our benefactor turned out to be Pastor Bill's mother, and since that first large donation she has given and given again. We publicly acknowledged her generosity when on December 3, 1995, when we named Elizabeth Pregnancy Services for her. We will miss her.

Preface ||  1  ||  ||  Chapter 3  ||

© 1998 Karla Eberle/Harbor House Maternity Home, Inc. All rights reserved.

Related Links

Ordinary Miracles: True Stories of an Extraordinary God Who Works in Our Everyday Lives
by Rebecca Montgomery, details the story as given to the author. Available through Amazon.com

Gibbons Hospital

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