By: Katie Sobiech
“For I know the plans which I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for well being, and not for harm, to give a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Opening its doors in July of 2003, the Darlene Bishop Home for Life was something that Darlene Bishop, President, Founder, and Co-Pastor of Solid Rock Church, host of Sisters TV program and author of several books, was passionate about and held in her heart for nearly 20 years.
The purpose of the Home located in Monroe, Ohio (near Dayton) is to provide a safe place of refuge for pregnant, unwed mothers, as well as to minister to those dealing with the hurt of abuse or addiction and to encourage them in an atmosphere of hope and healing.
The original intent for the home was that it be a place of refuge for pregnant young women, but over the years has expanded to even more.
“We now help women who have been dealing with drug and alcohol addictions, who have been abused sexually, physically, or emotionally, or are homeless,” Beth Ward, Director of the Home for Life said.
This highly structured residential program is for women 18 and older who are serious about turning their lives around.
During their stay at the home they go through discipleship classes, GED preparation, vocational training, counseling, life skills education, parenting, adoptions and childbirth education and more.
The Calling Begins
Bishop became passionate about the topic of abortion in her adult life after her mother told her that she almost aborted her. Because Bishop’s mother almost lost her life during her first pregnancy, doctors told her if she ever had another child she might not live through it and so her father had made an appointment with a “back alley” or abortion doctor.
“My mother was actually going out the door to go have an abortion. My dad said ‘You are not leaving me here with this child and dying. We are going to get rid of this child’,” Bishop said.
Her mother responded “If I die, I die, but I’m not going to kill this baby.”
She ended up having a safe delivery and four more children after that.
Following that day, Bishop began to study the abortion issue.
“It triggered something in me every time I heard about abortions,” she said, “And knowing how close I came to being aborted. If it would have been legal like it is now, my mother might not have had the morals of stopping and thinking ‘this isn’t right’.”
Not long after, a girl came to Bishop, telling her that she just couldn’t get over the fact that she had an abortion.
“She said ‘Darlene, I didn’t have any other choice. My parents kicked me out and I couldn’t come back until I had an abortion,’” Bishop said, continuing “When she told me that I thought ‘Oh my God, we preach against abortions but then we give no alternative for girls that are in situations like this’.”
Her next thought was ‘I’m going to build a home where girls can have an alternative’. She wanted to create a safe haven for women who wanted to keep their babies or give them up for adoption.
The Home is a beautiful, 28 bed facility offering peace, healing and tranquility for those needing a pause in life. At the home they have a chance to step back and take a deeper look at their lives, allowing God to put the pieces the pieces back together.
Inside the home are elegant bedrooms, each with a bath. They share a large kitchen, chapel, computer room and library filled with spiritual books and tapes on all sorts of topics. Beautiful paintings of children, babies and angel wings cover the inside walls. Outside are an array of colorful flowers, tiny trees, bushes, butterfly chairs, fountains and statues of children playing and angels.
“Relationships are what mold our lives and frame us for the rest of our lives. They have everything to do with our outcome, so when you put a young woman in an environment with all Christian girls it makes such a difference in their life,” Bishop said of the home.
“There are many treatment programs out there that say they can provide treatment for women with addictions to drugs and alcohol,” Ward said, “but if you don’t provide a program that includes Christ, you are not going to find wholeness and healing.”
“We look at the whole person,” Ward said, “We’re dealing with the emotional, physical, spiritual – all of that – as much as we can for a period of time consisting usually of 9-12 months. Sometimes they stay longer, depending on their needs.”
They provide structure for the women, having them take on the responsibility of cleaning their rooms and preparing some meals, doing minor chores, as well as Chapel, devotional time, computer training, nutrition and fitness, arts and crafts and other activities.
“There are a lot of social service agencies in our communities that are doing a good work,” Ward said, “but we combine all of that under one roof and think that has made a big difference. It has been a key issue for us.”
This ministry has watched many women emerge from the darkness that once trapped them.
The key to their transformation is “The born again experience,” Bishop said, “it is the only thing, because once you are born again, the things you used to love you hate, and the things you used to hate, you love.”
One teen came in after having been in 44 different foster homes since she was 6 years old. Her mother left her and her 4 year old brother at a hotel until the police found them, while she was roaming the streets as a prostitute and doing drugs.
When this young lady first came to the home she had an attitude, fought everybody and they thought they were going to have to send her back to jail where she came from.
“But there was something within that girl that just made me hold onto her, and after a few weeks she wonderfully got saved,” Bishop said.
The teen graduated from Bible college this year and “is an on-fire preacher,” Bishop said, “She was doomed if she would’ve stayed where she was because she was a crack addict and into everything in the world.”
“Many of the women tell us that they’ve been in a lot of treatment programs before, but never really dealt with the deeper root causes of those addictions,” Ward said, which seems to make all of the difference.
Working with the Prisons
The ministry is now working with court systems and prisons.
“We are recognized as a step down facility from coming out of prison to transition, before you go into independent living,” Ward said, “The courts will actually mandate some of their women who are in jail, saying ‘You have to do one year at the Darlene Bishop Home for Life’.”
She explained, “When someone has been in prison for however long, they are not ready to come out, find an apartment and get a job. They haven’t had that and are scared. There are half way houses but there’s not that holistic, complete person program elsewhere that I am aware of.”
Ward works with probation officers, who she says love when they find out about the ministry because they don’t know where else to put the young women.
“You can go into prison and minister, but they need someone to hold their hand when it is time to leave. They go back to familiar surroundings where people, places and things haven’t changed too much and they’re going to be doing things they shouldn’t be doing,” she explained.
There is Hope
If you know of a woman 18 years of age or older who is struggling please consider telling them about the Home for Life. There are downloadable applications on their website http://www.dbhl.org.
“We really ask God to show us what women to take,” Ward said, continuing, “I want to be full of women who are motivated for change.”
They also do a workshop twice a year, in May and October, going over the how to’s, policies and forms, and the staff teaches on and shares what they feel works and doesn’t work.
“We are more than happy to share so that people don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get ministries up and going in Ohio and across the United States,” Ward said, “We’re not the only ministry out there, but we feel that we’ve found something that works.”
Ward also teaches a housing workshop nationally.
“We are affiliated with a national organization called Heartbeat International who works with pregnancy centers and maternity homes,” Ward said.
For three years she has been teaching workshops on the larger home and the dynamics of a home.
“And it’s a lot of work,” Ward said, “but the reward is to see the girls dancing in the altars at church because God has set them free from something.”
For more information visit their web site: http://www.dbhl.org or call (513) 423-543