About the Founder/Director
Betsy Hake felt a pull to missions at eight years of age when a missionary visited her church but it wasn’t until she was in her last year of High School in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting that she came to understand that God wanted to have a personal relationship with her. She was excited about knowing Jesus up close and personal but wasn’t so excited about letting Him have control of her life. She attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and studied nursing and basically lived a double life….wanting to please God in her heart but looking for love in all the wrong places. Just before graduation and after a mission trip to Guatemala, Betsy relinquished the rights to her life to the Lord and began a journey with Him that would radically change her life plans.
She arrived in Puerto Cortes, Honduras in August 1980 to teach second grade in a bilingual school and after two years sensed God calling her to long term missions. God chose Trinity Episcopal School For Ministry, a Biblically based seminary lodged in the hills outside Pittsburgh, to begin to work on Betsy’s character. The challenge? Mountains of pride and good old German self-reliance. God would continue the challenge of removing those mountains when Betsy returned to run a small clinic on the North Coast of Honduras. God used a servant named Rosario de Jerezano (affectionately known as “The Bazooka”) to assist Him in this work and His chosen tools were fasting and early morning prayer.
Six years later Betsy moved to the capital city of Honduras and joined a team of SAMS missionaries whose goal was to plant a church in the city. It was this team that would be further used by God to help her learn to trust in Him and not rely upon her own understanding. She learned to seek her worth, not in man’s approval or in a position (what exactly did she do during those years?) but in Christ. It was towards the end of her time working with the team, that God put a burden on her heart for the women trapped in prostitution. She asked Him, “Who are the people in this city who will never set foot in Your church without us going to them?”
Influenced greatly by the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson and by George Mueller’s autobiography on living by faith, Betsy took a step of faith to begin Jericho Ministries. The name was chosen to remind them always that this was a work that could only be accomplished by the power of God. The glory would be for Him alone. Betsy has been blessed with an amazing staff, international and circus-like in nature. She has a passion for evangelism and discipleship and loves to witness that which the world despises and rejects totally transformed and made useful through His power. She desires more than anything that the name of her Beloved be lifted high. Betsy is not a highly sought after speaker, nor has she published anything, but she is sought out by some very needy women on the streets and by the seven children she is helping to raise.
On Feb. 14, 1997, Betsy and two Hondurans from her church began to visit an area of the city at night that was known for prostitution. They were struck by the women’s openness to the Gospel and by the overwhelming love of Jesus that flooded their hearts for these women trapped in prostitution. They took coffee and cookies and would often sit on the curb with the women to share the scriptures...kind of curbside Bible studies. After a year of visits to the streets and to the women’s prison, God allowed them to be midwives to the first woman who would leave the streets by the power of Christ. Nancy accepted Christ without much fanfare but it was a real conversion.
She confessed later that she had wanted to leave the little street gathering that April night in 1999 but the Holy Spirit kept drawing her back. After she accepted Christ, the women from Jericho asked if they could give her a ride home. She declined, relating that she had a debt to pay of 500 lempiras (approximate $30 US). The Jericho crew took down her name and address and promised to visit her the next day.
They arrived the next day at the address that Nancy had provided and that’s when Nancy shared two surprises. First she told of how a man approached her on the streets after she had prayed to accept Christ. She explained that he was not a client and that she began to tell this man of her encounter with Christ earlier in the evening. He encouraged her to get off the streets and told her he would help support her if she promised to go to church and to stay off the streets. And then he pulled a 500 lempira bill out of his pocket and gave it to her. “Was this the hand of God?”, she asked her new friends from Jericho. They were all in clear agreement that God had used this man (angel?) to encourage not only Nancy, but the Jericho crew as well. They needed to know that God would sustain those whom He had called.
The next surprise had to do with a woman they had come to know as Pati. Betsy had met her the first night they went to the streets and had spoken with Pati on several occasions. What was she doing there at Nancy’s? The story unfolded as Nancy revealed that Pati was actually her mother. They did not tell people of this truth simply because it caused them shame. If you ask the women the main reason they are on the streets, they will almost always state the reason as wanting to provide a “better life” for their children. But of course actions speak louder than words and although Pati had helped Nancy to get halfway through High School, Nancy dropped out of school and followed her Mom to the streets. Pati had been out on the streets for over 20 years. The night that Nancy came to Christ, Pati was sitting on the curb, too, and she prayed silently that Christ would free her from the life of hopelessness she felt trapped in.
Pati’s coming to Christ had a huge impact on the lives of the women still on the streets. On the Saturday night visits that the Jericho crew made, the women would always ask, “Is Pati still with you?” The women from Jericho knew that what they were really being asked was, “Is God’s power enough to free us from a lifestyle of sin?” It was evident that Nancy and Pati would need some means of gainful employment. Betsy asked Nancy what she would like to do and Nancy mentioned that she had wanted to learn to sew since she was a child. Betsy found two new sewing machines and got permission from her mission society to rent a small space on the same block where the women solicited. Nancy and Betsy laugh now when they think of those early placemats that were made and sold to kind mission teams who had mercy on them. Within five months that two room rental area was filled with eight “rescued women” as they called themselves, a store filled with placemats, and an office.
It was bursting with activity and so they all prayed for a bigger place. God was providing just enough for the salaries and the rent and so this would take a step of faith to trust Him for more. Every month God would provide just what was needed. One day there was nothing in the account and it was payday. All of the women at Jericho got on their knees and cried out to God. That afternoon a mission team from Japan came and bought out the entire Guatemala section of placemats enabling the ministry to make payroll.
After several months, God led the ministry to a space down the road where all eight women could sew comfortably. The Lord provided enough funds to rent both the original space for the office /store and for the second floor sewing workshop which was one block away. Eventually the space below the sewing workshop became available and the ministry was able to operate in one area with space for everything except a children’s ministry.
From the start the Jericho team knew they needed to help the women with their children. Many of the women didn’t have a safe place for their kids so in January of 2002 when $9000 extra came in through donations, it seemed that it was finally time to start Jericho Kid’s Ministry. The second floor apartment over the offices became available and so by May, God provided everything needed for a day care center.
The first teachers were a Dartmouth student, a Korean volunteer, and a Honduran missionary in training. These three worked together to help the children begin to live in a more structured environment filled with love and healthy discipline.
Not long after the day care center was up and running, Neyda, one of the rescued women expressed a deep concern. Her 8 year old son was already running with gang members. There was a four hour gap between the time he got home from school and the time his mom got home from work and so it was during this unsupervised time that he was getting involved with the gangs. The ministry prayed together and sensed the urge to start an elementary school for the older children. Once again everything fell into place….everything except the teachers, that is. They moved ahead with plans to start on Feb. 9, 2003 but there were still no teachers one month before, two weeks before, one week before, until finally two teachers came TWO days before starting Jericho Christian Elementary School. God’s timing was definitely different than the team’s but He was faithful to His promise to provide all that was needed.
The next area of expansion had to do with land. The ministry began to sense a real need for a place in the country. So many of the women were experiencing freedom in Christ from addictions and unproductive behavior patterns but some of them needed to make a clean break with their past to find freedom. (See Laura’s Story). After much prayer and fasting the Lord led the ministry to a 100 acre wood in the country just 68 km outside of Tegucigalpa (Click on photo story, home page).
It seemed like the perfect place to focus on God for healing and restoration. After six months Betsy and her staff received the go ahead from God to make a final offer that was received by the bank. The bank owner accepted Christ with Elvia and Betsy that morning of the 23rd of December 2004 as they signed the papers. There was much rejoicing in heaven and on earth!
Construction on the land began in February of 2005 with the construction of “The Great Wall” as it is referred to jokingly by the staff. Their beloved civil engineer, Fito Ortiz, insisted on establishing a big presence from the start and it turned out to be a good thing since so many people were used to trespassing on the land. The rehabilitation center and water tank were started next and the progress, though slow, has been good. God sent a team from St. Mark’s, Geneva in June 2005 and on that team was Chris Miller. Chris, a professor of architecture at Judson College, offered his time and talent and he came up with some magnificent drawings. He has visited the site three times during the last six months and he and Fito get along well and are working together to make an adobe building for God’s glory. This center will be used to teach the women skills such as cooking, baking, canning, woodcarving, sewing, hair styling and computation. The women will also spend time in Bible study, prayer, as well as in recreation in the great outdoor sanctuary.
In the middle of the construction of the rehabilitation center, the Lord brought a house in Tegucigalpa to the attention of the Jericho staff. The owners were desperate to sell and had been praying for three years that a Christian family or ministry would buy it. It didn’t seem big enough on first inspection, but with the addition of three classrooms above the patio out back and a bit of remodeling, it seemed just the place for the growing Jericho family. God then provided the exact amount that the house cost through a one time donation!
The area of town is much easier to access and the whole atmosphere of the ministry is much more “homelike”. You can’t miss the house because it’s rather orange in color! Jericho Ministries continues to reach out to the marginalized women of the city whose lives reflect a hopelessness that can only be changed through the power of Jesus Christ. These first years have been full of challenges, laughter and sorrow but most of all joy at watching Jesus do only what He can do…...transform lives from the inside out! There is nothing like watching the hand of God pluck a diamond from the muck, only to cleanse it and polish it to make it shine for His glory.