Sometimes God uses the past to impact the future.
When Teresa Oechsli and Jim Williamson met for the first time in the sloshy driveway of Hosea’s House in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, they seemed quite different.
Oechsli is the founder and director of Hosea’s House, a shelter for women and children in crisis. Williamson is the president of Power of Design Group, a consulting engineering firm.
Her business plan is faith. He runs a tight budget of checks and balances.
But it didn’t take long to realize they are more alike than different. They were raised by single moms in the same neighborhood, attended the same schools, survived tough backgrounds and are passionate about helping moms like their own.
As they walked through Hosea’s House, Oechsli explained how most of the women she helps come from a dark place of abuse, addiction, abandonment and trafficking.
“Families give up on them, and they’re running from abusive husbands and boyfriends,” Oechsli said. “I tell them that I was just like them. This ministry was born out of my past. God has redeemed that. He does the same for them.”
Williamson listened as they toured Hosea’s House, which has expanded to include two homes.
He believed Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman was talking to him as he urged people to invest in others. He found Hosea’s House on the Southeast website and called Bonnie Epperson, who works with local partners in Missions Ministry, to see the ministry for himself.
“I was impressed with Teresa’s passion for the ministry and the development of Hosea’s House,” Williamson said. “I love that they focus on a few women and families at a time and give them so much love and support through whatever challenges they are facing.”
The goal at Hosea’s House is to walk alongside women as they learn to work, parent and make good decisions. They attend Bible studies, parenting classes, counseling, school and work. Residents contribute to expenses, but the ministry relies on donations.
Oechsli’s business plan is rooted in faith. Just as the women come one at a time, funds also come in one dollar at a time. Sometimes at the last minute—what Oechsli calls the midnight hour.
“Some say faith is a bad business plan in today’s market,” Oechsli said. “Yet I never doubted God would pay His bills. Hosea’s House is His ministry. I can’t fund it, but He can.”
By “chance” on that first visit, Williamson met Amanda McKenzie, a graduate of Hosea’s House who has come a long way toward healing from the trauma of addiction and the loss of a child. She is now taking college classes on a full scholarship, working part-time at a recovery center and buying her first house.
“A lot of us come from a place where we have no family, no support,” McKenzie said. “Hosea’s House gives us a sense of family and love. Here we learn about Jesus, who loves us without conditions.”
When Williamson left after the tour, Oechsli had no idea how God was leading. One wild thought: Maybe he’d help fix the sloshy driveway.
Fifteen minutes after he left, Williamson was back to invite Oechsli, her husband, Jerry, and McKenzie to the company Christmas party where he surprised them with a check for $25,000, a commitment for an additional $100,000 over the next two to three years and a promise to stay involved with the ministry.
“I wanted to partner with a mission that not only provided for single moms but one that provided the resources and support to enable them to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children for the long-term,” Williamson said. “I was really impressed with how long Hosea’s House would be alongside them, pouring into them not only financially, with life skills and personal development but also spiritually. When Teresa described Hosea’s House as supporting ‘women and children in crisis,’ it really resonated with my journey and was exactly what I was looking for in a mission.”
Williamson’s gift means a lot to Oechsli, but it also means a lot to residents.
“When you turn your life over to Christ, though you have hurts and trauma of the past, investing in us is a visible reminder that people care,” McKenzie said. “I felt invisible my whole life. No one cared if I was OK. I now know that God sees me, and so do His people.”
In Williamson’s world of checks and balances, Hosea’s House is a great investment.