“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
God spoke these words of comfort and encouragement to His people Israel when they were in captivity in Babylon. He is telling them that despite their rebellion and failure, He will act in abundant mercy, lavish grace, and steadfast love toward them. Just as He had rescued them once before out of Egypt, He promises to take them on a new journey in a new way. He will give them a new beginning.
Our God is the God of new beginnings – from the new birth we experience through faith in Jesus Christ to new mercies we receive each morning. He does not want us to become discouraged because of the past, but rather He wants us to trust Him, receive His grace, and move forward with a renewed spirit and full of faith.
Since opening in 2016, Faith House has extended the offer of a new beginning to women and women with children experiencing homelessness. Through a Christ-centered program including spiritual mentoring and practical instruction, these women have discovered purpose for their lives and found healing and hope, all while working toward the goal of achieving sustainable housing.
But before the Mission could offer these services, Faith House itself had to experience a new beginning. Prior to 2004, Faith House was located on the corner of South and Market Streets (the current location of il Porto Italian Restaurant). A thrift store occ upied the ground floor, while Faith House used the second and third floors to shelter women. But the Mission experienced some difficult times and Faith House closed its doors in 2004.
However, God was still at work. In 2005, Arnold Farlow became the executive director of the Mission. Almost immediately, Arnold and the board of directors began working on several important projects, such as equipping the Mission’s main building to meet fire code requirements and constructing a new dining hall with classrooms above. With the building renovations finally complete by 2011, Arnold turned his thoughts toward Faith House.
“I met with board member Charlie Smith one day at Starbucks,” recalls Arnold. “We discussed the need for a women’s shelter in Frederick that would serve women experiencing homelessness, while offering them new life with Christ.” Although there were existing shelters for women living in abusive situations or struggling with substance use disorder and addiction, there was nothing available for a woman who was exclusively experiencing homelessness. Motivated by the desire to establish such a program from a Christ-centered perspective, the search for a property began.
After a suitable site was located, the arduous work of acquiring zoning changes and performing renovations began. The late Michael Proffitt provided architectural design for the house and Faith House Director Kathy Schey was often seen wearing her hard hat as she enthusiastically provided oversight for the ongoing project. Kathy helped to turn Faith House into a welcoming, comfortable, and safe home for women and children.
Meanwhile, Arnold and Mission leadership consulted Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville, South Carolina for help in developing Faith House’s Christ-centered program. Finally, in December of 2016, Faith House celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Governor Hogan, local officials, and Mission leadership and supporters. Twelve years after it closed its doors, Faith House had a new beginning!
Since opening in 2016, the Faith House 90-day Emergency Shelter Program has welcomed over 250 women. Cu rrent Faith House Director Terri Gray joined the Mission in March of 2018. “When I came to Faith House, it felt more like a calling than a career,” says Terri. “I had been through so much adversity in my own life. Over 20 years ago, I was nearly homeless when my husband left me with thr ee kids, in a new location, with $150 in my pocket, and no job. Through the grace of God, we not only survived, but we thrived. My goal is to make Faith House a place that I would have wanted to come to with my three kids.”
In her role as director, she helps women and children find healing and hope in the Lord and the strength to push through their circumstances to create a life of self-sufficiency. Terri also leads the Faith House Transitional Living Program, which offers graduates of the 90-day program continuing support for up to one year. “Making women resilient is precisely what Faith House strives to do,” says Terri. “Through case management, life coaching, and daily devotions, Faith H ouse intentionally equips women and children with the skills to build resiliency and thrive amidst adversity.”
Veronica has been a Faith House resident since August 2020. She grew up in nearby Montgomery County, and struggled with problem drinking and an unstable family environment. After giving birth to her son, Carter, in October 2019, she moved in with her mom because Carter’s dad was in a recovery program. But like so many others, COVID had a harmful impact on her mom’s mental health and Veronica knew she had to find somewhere else to live. Her grandmother and uncle told her about Faith House.
“Faith House restored my confidence in myself,” Veronica says. “The staff connected me with resources where I can find help and provided a safe, healthy environment where I can grow. They gave me the opportunity to be independent. Most important, they brought me back to the Lord and helped strengthen that relationship.” During her stay at Faith House, she also obtained her driver’s license and realized a lifelong dream of attending beauty school. Soon, she will have her own home with help from Advocates for Homeless Families and will graduate from the beauty school program.
“In my experience,” continues Veronica, “you don’t see people get clean and stay clean apart from God.” She has experienced the power of God working in her heart and life, and she is grateful for her own new beginning. Carter’s dad is working hard on his recovery, and Veronica looks forward to becoming a family soon. And one day, she hopes to “give back” to others in the same way she has been helped – to assist others in finding their own new beginning.
“Our God is the God of redemption,” says Arnold Farlow. And in this sure knowledge, Faith House continues to minister His grace, hope, and love to the women and children who find shelter there. God promises that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17 NLT). Within the safe haven of this house and under the compassionate care of its staff, God is at work changing lives now and for eternity.