Hephzibah House Journal

Hephzibah House Journal
Susan Grotte's journal from her experience as a student at Hephzibah House, told in short-story form.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mom's Story

I hope my story will help other parents avoid the same mistakes we made when dealing with what we perceived as a "problem child." I am the mother of a daughter that we (her father and I) sent away to be "rehabilitated" at a home for girls called "Hephzibah House" (located in Indiana).

In 1981 we were new believers in Christ, and we wanted to be part of a church that could help us grow in our new found faith. We found one in a local independent Baptist church where we learned many good Biblical principles. After several years, we were compelled to move to another town to accommodate my husband's job. We moved and again joined a small Baptist church that we felt was like minded.

The pastor there was new and extremely charismatic, and though in the beginning he seemed kind and caring, it wasn't long before control became the issue of the day. The podium soon became a whipping post for members (who were called out by name) and sermons were always on the issue of standards rather than doctrine (i.e., hair, dresses, relationships with members of the opposite sex, total submission of wives to husbands, socializing, etc.). The teens in our church were all "suspect" (all the teens except his own daughter).

During this time our two teen daughters attended a Christian school, which was associated with another church, but our pastor convinced us that they should have no contact outside of school with the other kids. No more sports, teen groups, or extra curricular activities. Our girls could do virtually nothing for enjoyment. Everything came to a head when our oldest child, then seventeen, ran away from home to a friend's house. Long story short-we were advised to enroll her in a home for wayward girls-Hephzibah House.

We were so stressed at the time, that we agreed, due to the pressure and advice of our then pastor. Once we got to Hephzibah House, we had to agree to no visits for months at a time, and only once monthly phone calls. It was not until years later, that we found out that all the phone calls were strictly monitored and censored in order to prevent her from telling us the truth. We also found out that she received our letters with huge portions blacked out with a permanent marker, which she perceived as us saying something to her that was inappropriate.

It also took years for her to be able to tell us about the beatings, the deprivation, isolation and humiliation, and the rationing and withholding of food. Our daughter stayed at Hephzibah for the entire 15 months that we had agreed to. However, after about 6 months at Hephzibah, our daughter turned 18 years old. I had looked forward to this day as her homecoming. When I called to make arrangements to pick her up early, I was actually put on the phone with her, and she told me that she did not want to come home. I was heartbroken and asked her why she didn't want to come home, and her reply was that she was "not ready."

Years later, knowing how the phone calls were censored, this conversation now makes sense to me. In 1989-1990 we sent approximately $350 per month to Hephzibah House, and in addition we sent all of her personal needs items as well (deodorant, toothpaste, etc), yet she was denied the very things we sent for her.

While we now have a normal mother-daughter relationship, I have watched her struggle through the years with severe depression. I have seen her make less than wise choices regarding her life, and I am convinced that her experiences at Hephzibah House have played a huge part in that. You may be surprised to know that even now, my husband and I belong to a Bible believing independent Baptist church, and we have attended there for the past seventeen years. It is a place where Biblical doctrine is preached, and the people flourish.


  1. Two Italians from Jersey need to pay this "preacher" a call....

    Hey Vinnie..
    Hit him wit da bat.

  2. You are still SICK!

  3. Not all baptists are like that but he can go to HELL.

  4. Tha pastor this, the pastor that. No darling. It was YOUR weakness. You could have saind no, then NO, then NO, **** OFF ALREADY and slam the door but you did not. Forget the pastor. It was YOU. Not only are you weak... you are not even willing to take responsibility for your acts. Phew.


    1. Matthew 12:35-37-
      "35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
      36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
      37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

      Matthew 18:1-14-
      "1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
      2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
      3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
      4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
      5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
      6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
      7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
      8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
      9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
      10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
      11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
      12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
      13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
      14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

    2. Matthew 25:31-46-
      "31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
      32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
      33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
      34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
      35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
      36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
      37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
      38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
      39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
      40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
      41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
      42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
      43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
      44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
      45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
      46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

    3. Deuteronomy 22:25-27-
      "25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
      26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
      27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her."

      These people cried out and there was NONE to save them, if you are EVEN human, you'd better be about changing YOUR PERVERSE, depraved, sick, and SATANIC heart:

      Matthew 7:15-20-
      " 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
      16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
      17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
      18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
      19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
      20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

    4. I don't know who, or neither WHAT you are, "Anonymous 1/29/13 6:49 AM," but God knows who you are, and what you are, and I know THIS, if you don't change (assuming that you are capable), your eternity (assuming The Holy Bible is correct) WILL be as follows in the scriptures I copy and pasted above. You are a devil, a foul-mouthed product of Satan’s OWN bowels, and by bowels, I’m referring to excrement, and NOT as in the kindly, and loving way the Holy Bible describes a man’s offspring (as issuing forth from his bowels)! And as it is written, and as I write myself, an adder’s poison is in your tongue, and in your lips, you DO harbor a cockatrice’s eggs—as your heart—or lack thereof—is made known by what your wasteful mouth spewed in your own post! But GOD will remember, UNLESS you give Him cause to forget, by repenting of the EVIL that lurks within you, as you so FOOLISHLY, and DEGENERATELY (so PROUDLY so) made manifest in your OWN COWARDLY post! At least I know that GOOD can come from your evil words! There are NO words though, that can ADEQUATELY describe YOU! Though, I’d call you a “dog,” you are UN-WORTHY!
      I KNOW this is NOT necessarily the way that The LORD calls us to respond, but you are a MONSTER and even WORSE—a LIAR and a THEIF as well! PLEASE don’t lie for your FrIENDS, as by doing so you steal yet ANOTHER precious care, and nerve from you all’s victims! But your MASTER (SATAN), must be quite pleased with you!

      *Newsflash, The Devil, Satan, doesn't like, love, or favor ANYBODY, he only uses our FOOLISHNESS to steal whatever he can from God! And THAT'S his ONLY goal. WHY? Satan KNOWS his end...and like ALL LOSERS...misery LOVESSSS company!

      Hell...for eternity...ain't pretty. It WON'T be fun, and by the time those that go there find that out...it'll be to late to right the wrongs that got them there. I just am going to try hard to not get there. You'd be wise (for once) to do the same!

    5. I'm sorry, I have to apologize to whoever posted this:

      Anonymous1/29/12, 6:49 AM

      Tha pastor this, the pastor that. No darling. It was YOUR weakness. You could have saind no, then NO, then NO, **** OFF ALREADY and slam the door but you did not. Forget the pastor. It was YOU. Not only are you weak... you are not even willing to take responsibility for your acts. Phew.


      I thought that you were TRASHING the girls who lived at the house, Miss Susan Grotte! I've been reading about other's travails in these Homes for Girls and Boys since yesterday, and I've read about, and/or witnessed the evil atrocities adults (and at times, other children) inflict upon children (and vulnerable adults) for a lifetime!

      SORRY, SORRY, SORRY! I thought you were one of those cowardly monsters that inflicted pain upon these children. I am SO SORRY, it wasn't until I read a post in which someone said "By writing this testimonial she took responsibility," that I realized you were responding to the mother. Please read my next post, it may help you forgive this mother in your heart, and perhaps anyone close to you that you may have been hurt by as well. God bless and heal you and other victims, I am SOOOO sorry, please understand that I thought you were an abuser tormenting a former Hephzibah girl, Ms. Susan.

      -Much Love, and regret, J.A. White

    6. Friend, please read "Clark's" reply. I got this after trying to do some quick research on 2005's Hurricane Katrina, due to the words of a preacher's website that I'd happenend upon in search of trying to find God, or answers to help me in my desire to be saved, and know for SURE what HIS word and HIS instructions are.

      I ended up finding about the New Bethany homes in New Orleans, Louisiana (for boys, and girls), and subsequently in South Carolina, I believe. And that took me on a search for a particular victim, which landed me on a blog called ChucklesTravels, or something. This blog recommeneded, or follows the Hephzibah site, and THAT's how I ended up finding out about THIS particular "hell house," as I'm referring to these devils' lairs. I guess a year or more ago I'd ONLY read of this in Catholic Schools, were this same evil (and more, frighteningly) had been executed upon the girls by the evil nuns, and evil priests, as in the case of Sister Charlotte, I believe her name was.

      Child abuse knows no religion, as with ANY abuse of ANY vulnerable group, evil really doesn't change it's methodology, regardless of the group said perp belongs to. Anyway, read Clark's reply to Bebe. I'll post it next. And I'll list a list of links in my final post, which will proceed the one after this.

      *I'm separating the links, just in case Blogger doesn't allow links to other sites, as most sites don't (HTML). Oh well, hope this helps,
      Much love, to you and to ANYONE affected (or effected) by cruelty!

    7. bebe36
      How much trouble could this young woman have been causing as a teen for her mother to have abandoned her to this?
      Perhaps her mother did not know of the history of this place, but that is no excuse. No child should be turned over to an institution unless thorough research has been conducted.
      I, too, would struggle to forgive...

      Rebecca Catalanello
      It seems clear that many parents believed this was a good option for their children and probably had good intentions when they decided to enroll their kids. One woman I spoke with talked about how her parents' pastor suggested New Bethany as an option. The home visited churches and marketed itself as a place that could help guide children toward more positive paths: "A place where God is changing lives," reads one brochure. Other children, it seems, came from already troubled homes. As Tara Cummings says in the video, some were considered "throwaways."

      bebe - I have heard the very same questions you ask many times over the years.
      1st, you have to remember this was before the days of Internet access.

      I struggled a very long time myself with my mom over being taken to New Bethany. In 1981 there just wasn't really anyway to research a place like New Bethany.

      When my mom took me to the Boys Home in Longstreet little did she know that the man running it, L.D. Rapier, had been arrested in May of 81 for child abuse, months before she took me. Law enforcement in Arkansas also wanted to talk to him as well from his previous work running a home there yet they couldn't find him one state over.

      I have a copy of a newspaper article about that arrest from Houston, TX. I didn't get my hands on it for almost 30 years. We were from Alabama and it definitely didn't make the news at home back then or since then.

      The question that lingers in my mind now is this: How do you arrest someone for child abuse, let them out on bond, and let them go right back to being the director of a "Children's Home" while awaiting trial on child abuse charges?

      Maybe the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's office and the State of Louisiana would care to answer that one.

      And then let's flip that around and back on me. I was there for 7 months when L.D. Rapier was arrested again and the home was shutdown. I was put on a plane and sent home. How could I not tell my mom or anyone for that matter, what went on?

      Well I was petrified of going back. I was 15 at the time, two states away, and lived under so much fear of one person that I defended them to my own mother. Because of that my mom ended up sending my younger brother to the home when it re opened under a new director in Walterboro, S.C. He was out of control and it was that are he was going to end up in juvenile detention center.

      Now you would think, okay, new director, the abuse case at the old home was isolated, it should be okay. Boy was everyone wrong about that one. The new home, under a new director, was shut down during a raid, and a boy was found shackled to a concrete floor in his underwear. When the police demanded the key from the director, Olen King, he refused and they beat him up which resulted in him only doing 5 years probation instead of going to prison.

      He now runs a home in North Carolina or did as of two years ago. I and others alerted the sheriff's dept there and to no avail. They said there were no boys there. Yet we have a copy of a flier announcing an upcoming graduation for some boys from that home. So either the sheriff is lying, was lied to, or there are no boys and it's a sham to get money through donations and this all in the age of the Internet and information at your finger tips.

      So imagine 30 years ago when all you had was a rotary dial telephone or preachers to talk to for research about these homes.

      Thanks for the info, and sorry for the pain you suffered.

      Thank you. I have a ton of info, police reports, news articles, etc... Amazing that nothing has ever really been done about it except for the Walterboro, SC case.

    8. The article that these comments came from was called:

      To New Bethany and back: One woman's journey to report the man she says sexually abused her

      But if you will, I'd recommend you view this first, PLEASE, PLEASE view THIS first. Just Google:

      The Long Road to New Bethany and Back By Rebecca Catalanello | Photos and Video by Kathleen Flynn

      *You don't even need to put the names of either article in quotes. Just Google each article separately, and the first link that comes up SHOULD be the correct article. Again, I STRONGLY recommend you view: 1st: The Long Road to New Bethany and Back By Rebecca Catalanello | Photos and Video by Kathleen Flynn (Read it from start to finish),

      And then just jump down to the "Comments" section in: To New Bethany and back: One woman's journey to report the man she says sexually abused her. Once you get down to the comments section, click on "Oldest," so that you can read the comments in their true order.

    9. Oh yeah, I have NO affiliation with ANY organization, or ANY of these people. I was just searching for help on finding out how I can be saved by God, and how to have faith in Jesus Christ, whom I believe to be His ONLY Son that He did not CREATE, but had, via the Holy Spirit impregnating Mary, a virgin, who birthed Jesus in her virginity. Sounds strange, but I believe that with anyone who could create the complicated bodies, of human beings and actually attach a soul to it, and then the ecosystem, and the more that I see in the intelligence of animals, both wild, and pets, and then miracles (one in my life from 2 years ago), and one in my Grandfather's life (before I was born), and the Sky, and the beauty of the stars, and the beauty of sunsets, trees, flowers, etc, and the organization of the food chain/cycles, and predator/prey chain (before being intrerrupted by us modern humans...:-),) the whole virgin birth isn't a big deal to me, even the healings that Jesus is written to have done...I mean...He's God's Son, and has GOD in Him, and was there talking to Abraham (I believe that the three men who were speaking to Abram--who we now know as Abraham, in Genesis 18:2 were God, The Father; The Lord, Jesus Christ, God's only NON-CREATED Son; and God's Holy Spirit, The Holy Ghost." This is not only in the King James Version of The Holy Bible, but ALSO in the Jewish English Translation of The Holy Scriptures, to which THAT THING was NOT changed. Some things WERE changed, or ARE different between the two Bibles, but that story didn't change ONE iota. In the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 edition of the Hebrew Bible in English, which can be found here:

      mechon-mamre [DOT org/p/pt/pt0118 [DOT htm

      *END NOTE: Regarding the av1611 [DOT] org site, I can't say that I can personally recommend ANY preacher--be it Dr. Terry Watkins, or ANY church place of worship, or even EVERYTHING in The Holy Bible--because I see things, that bother me, but that's ME, I do not have that type of purity where I can speak to God, and He'll speak audibly right back to me, as He did with Moses, and as He vouched for Jesus aloud in Matthew 3:16-17; and again in Matthew 17:1-9; but I DO trust in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, in the New Testament, and ALL of the books written by Moses in the Old Testament, which are the first five (5) books of the Old Testament, being: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

      It's not that I don't read, or haven't read other books, it's just that right now, I have so much trust in THOSE books, and I believe and really HOPE that if I commit myself to being obedient as laid out in those six (6) books, then Almighty God, our Father in Heaven, WILL help me and talk to me in a way that I will hear, instantly, and explain to me His word, and teach me.

      Again, sounds crazy, but, what is impossible for The One who created ALL things, and made ALL things POSSIBLE?

      He IS the Master Engineer, The Master Mathematician, The Master Chemist, The Master Linguist, etc...how could he NOT be--HE created all those things! He only gives man little hints here and there along the way, and the AMAZING brains (I'm referring to engineers, architects, inventors, biologists, "Rocket Scientists," LOL, etc,) to figure a little bit out every now and then, so what's IMPOSSIBLE to us..is really...trying to figure out what's possible through Him!

      After all, who saw the Red Sea Opening up for the Jews to WALK through, and then closing partially behind them, as the Egyptians pursued them (and then wacking the Egyptians tires off their chariots and scaring the mess out of them BEFORE He wiped them away--who saw THAT coming--I mean--other than Moses--who was told prior...by God, Himself!

      That's all! Much LOVE!
      -J.A. White

    10. Sorry,

      I'm not going to post anymore, even IF I see another era I wrote--but in my apology in which I refer twice to Miss Susan Grotte, I just re-read it and it was written POORLY by me, because it looks like I'm TALKING TO the ANONYMOUS poster, J, as if "J" is Miss Susan.

      That is SOOOO terrible communication, what I meant was, I was referring to the Anonymous poster, "J," and saying to "J," that I thought s/he was bullying Miss Susan Grotte, and NOT as it terribly looks, that I was referring to Miss Susan Grotte as the bully...I hope that that was clear in my angry initial posts--in which I--AGAIN WRONGLY--thought that Anonymous poster, J, was a bully who was affiliated in some sick, perverse way with Hephzibah House, and defacing this blog, to further torment the girls who suffered abuse there, and the victims that were affected that loved them (like moms, and possibly their children--like not understanding their mom's or something...haven't read enough of this blog yet to know how the children of the abused women related to their mothers...as sometimes abuse of girls can make them distant mothers, or mothers that seem cold, or whatever, just depends on the circumstances, I'm speaking from personal experiences, and things that I've read others' experience, like Miss Jennifer Halter in that article I recommended for you, entitled, "The Long Road to New Bethany and Back," By Rebecca Catalanello; Photos and Video by Kathleen Flynn (I have ZERO affiliation with ANY of the parties that wrote, published, or were featured in the article, I'm just someone who came upon it yesterday).

      Anyway, I gotta go. And to Susan and Jasmine Grotte--I prayed for the girls in the Flickr pictures, and you two are SO beautiful--not just outwardly, but OBVIOUSLY inwardly too!!!

      God created ALL of you survivors that are helping and are willing to help fellow survivors of atrocities, as this abuse, and other pains, to NOT ONLY help those who went through similar torments, but for those who are going through OTHER abuses too! God bless you beautiful girls, and thank you for your hardwork and dedication, and for having the bravery to allow folk to post anonymously on your blog!

      I can't post any other way than anonymously right now, but I can be an awesome "DOER" of the word of God, and not just someone, who at most can offer up a prayer, or some other miniscule thing (God understands my situation, even though I can't communicate it in a way other than through this jibber jabber I've typed here, LOL!)

      God bless you all and yours'!
      -Amen, Love, your sister in Christ (I'm getting there, :-), LOL!
      J.A. White!

    11. ARGHH!!! I meant I hope to be an awesome DOER of the word SOME DAY SOON, and not just someone who can be a DOER through prayer only, and other miniscule things--my prayer is miniscule, I think, because I have separation from God--but i am working to end that, as it's my responsibility to HELP Jesus' brethren as BEST I can, and to be obedient, and well-pleasing to Him and His Father, and His Father so that I can one day go out and preach the gospel and be light set upon a hill, because for a LONG stretch, I've been like salt that has lost it's savor

  5. By writing this testimonial she took responsibility. Though there were restrictions, there was no conceivable way for the parents to have prior knowledge of the inhumane conditions their children were subjecated to. She has to witness the pain this place caused her child. Can you be naive enough to believe that she isn't regretful of that decision? I would like to also point out that there wasn't a method of finding the stories of the survivors nearly as easy as it is today. To begin with, you would have to have prior knowledge of the depravities being committed there, which many of the parents did not. She came out publicly so other parents choose a better option and AVOID making the mistake she did. There was absolutely no need for dragging out personal insults on this woman.

  6. I can't even begin to imagine the pain a mother/parent would feel finding out all what their daughter suffered. Years ago before internet and website such as heal-online.org and willing survivors to post their stories, no one knew anything about these abusive homes except the abusers themselves, many pastors were clueless, deluded or abusive themselves. Today there are no excuses for a parent to not do their research before making this god-awefull decision to place their child in the hands of these twisted psychopaths. I appreciated parents willing to swallow their pride willing to admit they wrongly trusted a man behind a pulpit who supports these prison camps. Shame on preachers and church leaders who to this day continue to support these places, there is now no excuse for their willfull ignorance except they be partakers of their evil deeds.

  7. Why would you even have kids if you don't plan on loving them and sending them away for 15 months?

    You're a horrible parent.

  8. Satan is in the church too......we all need to be discerning.