10 years later, House of Hope still going strong

MARSHALL – A time for reflection and entertainment while helping out a valued community asset is in store for this weekend.

House of Hope Minnesota, a Christian home that serves as a refuge for teen girls, is presenting “Witnesses” for its annual “Come Thirsty” event this weekend.

The presentation, which is at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Marshall Middle School theater, is billed as a “one actor/seven characters/a fresh look at Jesus.”

The actor, Jonathan Swenson, is from Two Harbors and currently lives in Marion, Iowa. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s of art in psychology, theater and music and from Luther Seminary with a master’s of divinity in 1994.

“He has performed in Marshall before,” said Claudia Stenson, HOHM founder and executive director. “He’s also been in Lake Benton at the Opera House. (‘Witnesses’) is a show he does during the Lenten season. It offers different perspectives of Jesus. He uses minimal staging and just uses props, clothes and voice. It’s a drama, but there’s humor. Hopefully it will cause us to reflect during this season of Lent.”

A musical performance by Popular Demand will take place before the presentation. Popular Demand is an a capella group comprised of Wendy Chisham, Deb Hoganson, Deb Carlson and Rhonda Maker.

In addition to entertainment, the annual event offers a short time of praise and testimony.

“One of our first graduates contacted me and said she’d like to share her story,” Stenson said.

Many of the 60 graduates “reach back and call, text or e-mail” just to say hello and thank you, Stenson said.

The event serves a number of purposes for HOHM, which began taking in girls in 2005.

“It’s three-fold – one is to bring good family entertainment to our community,” Stenson said. “The second is to increase awareness about House of Hope. It amazes me how many people have no idea what House of Hope is.”

The residential program serves six girls at a time who live at HOHM for nine to 18 months. The girls receive Christian-based counseling, schooling and life lessons. They come from a two-hour to three-hour radius around Marshall, including Iowa and South Dakota.

“The program is for girls ages 13-17 who are participating in some sort of self-destructive behavior,” Stenson said. “We have a parent program. They are involved on a regular basis.”

“Come Thirsty” is one of the fundraisers HOHM has throughout the year so it can offer scholarships to girls.

“We raise funds to help make it possible for girls to come, regardless of their financial means,” Stenson said. “We don’t turn anyone away because of inability to pay.”

There is no cost to attend the event, but a free-will offering will be taken at the end of the program.

The event is sponsored by Grill Works, Inc., Borch’s Sporting Goods, Hoganson Chiropractic Center, Lockwood Motors and Northwestern Farm Management Co.