Heaven’s Army Home of Amazing Grace held a celebration on July 31 to thank supporters for providing financial and spiritual backing for the Christian-based non-profit as it moved from its former location in Cleveland to a 22-acre estate in Tarkington to better serve women struggling with addiction and domestic abuse, and to escape sex trafficking.
The property, located on FM 2518 about two miles north of SH 105, provides enough space for the non-profit to better serve the women enrolled in the year-long program and to pursue plans to build a separate facility for men facing similar problems with addiction and sex trafficking.
The property was purchased through generous donations from area businesses and individuals. Some of the recent funding came through a bridge plank project that Heaven’s Army Founder LaNora Purvis explained was her husband Howard’s idea after the two toured the home last year.
“I told Howard that night, ‘This is where we are supposed to be. This is where God is going to take us to another level.’ He said, ‘No way,'” LaNora explained at the grand opening celebration. “I am the one who jumps off in faith and Howard is the one who reels me in. We kind of argued about it that night. I said, ‘God, if this is where you want us, then you speak to him because he is my head. You tell me what you already have told me.'”
The next morning, LaNora said her husband described a dream he had that included the bridge on the Tarkington property.
“He said, ‘If we replank that bridge [with the names of donors], then we will have the money to get into this home,'” she said.
Dozens of planks, each for a $1,000 sponsorship, have already been sold. The 2 X 6 treated planks were donated to Heaven’s Army by McCoy’s in Cleveland. When the bridge plank project is completely finished, it will feature the names of 232 individuals or businesses. The center plank is reserved for the late David Ling, the former owner of the property, who used to stand in the middle of the bridge to feed the fish in the large pond.
For LaNora, the bridge was symbolic for two reasons. First, a bridge was featured prominently in a discarded poster they found in their first women’s home in Cleveland. Secondly, the bridge represented a move from barren land to the promised land, which LaNora believes is representative of the organization’s move from their former location in a rented home in Cleveland, which they tried and failed to buy, to the new location in Tarkington.
“This is all because of you guys,” she told her supporters. “This is your ministry. This is your fruit. This is us, as a community, doing this.”
Since 2010, roughly 200 women have enrolled in Heaven’s Army’s program. Of those, approximately 60 have gone on to lead successful lives. Of the 20 graduates who have completed the six-month program, only two have returned to their former lifestyles. All of the graduates in the one-year program have been successful, according to Purvis.