Posted January 14, 2015:
You See, This is Providence

by Agnes Shehade.

There are many stories that could be told about the House of Grace, but these are mainly about one thing: how God takes care of a family when, abandoning financial security and putting their trust in him, they give their lives to serve him in the poor.

A Miracle

During the winter of 1982, we began the renovation of the building we would be using for the House of Grace. The areas surrounding it were abandoned; there were no houses and no water supply.

So our helpers had to fill water barrels far from the worksite and bring them back.

This was obviously a heavy burden on them, but we were soon blessed with a miracle: it began to rain over the weekends. This rain was enough to fill the barrels so that the workers no longer had to make the trek for water. Then during the work week, the weather resumed its normal conditions.

For this we thanked the Patron of Haifa, the Prophet Elijah, who prayed for rain in Old Testament times and was watching over us as we built.

Our Daily Bread

In the early days of the House of Grace, our financial situation was critical, and we were often uncertain that we could continue.

One morning, a few weeks after settling in, we found a bag of fresh bread at our gate. This continued for months, and though we continued to watch the gate, we never found out who brought it.

God’s Providence

My husband Kamil’s faith was very strong. We were short of money, and once we paid the men working on our house, we had barely enough money left for food.

During these hard times, a woman came and asked to talk with Kamil. At the end of their session, I saw him giving her an envelope. Then he told me her story.

She had been in pain for months with a severe headache, and no doctor could find out the cause. She went crazy. She started to hit her children and to break and throw things in her home. She shouted constantly.

Finally it was discovered that her jaw was infected. She urgently needed treatment for her teeth, but it was costly, and they could not afford it. So Kamil gave her all we had.

I was furious. True, I felt pity for the woman, but how could our family of three survive? Kamil calmed me and only said, "Don’t worry, it will be OK."

Usually we took a nap in the afternoon. That day, I woke up hearing voices. I was surprised as there were no houses around us.

When I looked out the window, I saw a group of tourists standing in our yard. This had never happened before, and I did not know how to react.

The House of Grace was not even known locally at that time, so there was no way it could have been known abroad.

Anyway, I told them about the founding of the house and about our vision for it. I was so excited about their visit that I forgot to ask them who they were or where they had come from.

At the end of the visit, the guide gave me an envelope for Kamil. When he woke up, I gave it to him. There in that envelope was exactly double the amount he had given the woman in the morning!

All he said was, "You see, that is Providence."

We never found out who the group was.

An Angel Up Above

During the first winter, our roof was leaking and giving us a lot of problems. We had to put buckets all over the house to catch the leaks. We knew that we would have to repair the roof that summer, but we had no means to do so.

One evening, a young man arrived at our door asking for directions to Jerusalem. But it was late, and there was no transportation available, so we invited him to stay overnight.

As we visited with him, we found out that he was a roofer. When we told him about our roof, he said he was willing to look at it and advise us as to what to do.

But then, after seeing the damage, he decided to stay on longer and repair the roof himself. He did it all alone and refused any payment. We never had any problems with leaks after that.

A Warning in the Night

During our first few years, along with released prisoners, we also hosted drug addicts. Living together was not easy, and they often quarreled and fought among themselves. It wasn’t easy to stop them from doing this, and it was not easy to break up a fight once it had started.

One night when Kamil was asleep, somebody shook his shoulder and said, "Hurry, go to room 3." He immediately got up and rushed to that room. He arrived just in time to prevent one of the residents from striking the other with a knife. Then he managed to split the two and settle the fight.

Though the man who had woken Kamil was hardly recognizable in the dark, Kamil later said he was sure it was the late Bishop Hajjar, who is buried in our church.

My Son’s Guardian Angel

Sometimes we hosted families or single mothers with children. One boy, Anan, was living with his mother and us.

Of course, children will quarrel. Once, my son and Anan were fighting, and my son ran after Anan. Anan hurried to his room and closed the door, but my son found a way to enter through the window.

Just when he was about to jump through, Anan shut the shutter and my son fell down.

The children came running and screaming, and I knew that something terrible had happened. They led me to my son lying on the ground unconscious and blue.

Fortunately, a relative was there with his car, and we drove my son to the emergency room at the hospital. There they took care of him and, a little while later, he regained consciousness. The only damage was two broken ribs and a few scratches.

Back home, I went back to look at the place where he fell—a place where renovations were happening. There were several pointed pieces of iron lying on the floor and on all the sides there were sharp iron spears. My son’s guardian angel was definitely watching over him during that fall!

The Faith of a Muslim

Since the very beginning, we have taken in people from all denominations and faiths.

One day when there was a heavy storm, we begged all the residents and children to stay indoors. The sound of the wind was scary, and things were flying through the air.

I saw that a wooden block connecting two pillars was getting loose, and was ready to fall. Suddenly I saw one of our men standing in the yard exactly underneath the plank. There was no time to open the shutters to shout and warn him. And so it happened: the plank fell.

But just before the plank hit him, a gust of wind blew it away, and it crashed directly behind him.

At first, I was trembling so hard that I was unable to hurry down and tell him about the miracle. When I finally did, he looked at me with surprise and said, "Why are you so excited? Don’t you know that I am in the palm of Allah. I pray every day. How could he let me down?"

The Child on the Roof

It is not always easy to watch children, especially when we had several living in our home at once. One day when I was cooking, the house was especially noisy due to the children and to the repair work being done.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of hammering on the roof, and had a sense that something was wrong. I went to see. It was not a worker’s hammer; it was my son having fun jumping up and down at the very edge of the roof.

I stepped outside just in time to prevent him from falling. I know our guardian angel was doing his work.

The Tree

Though we live in the middle of town, we have a garden and some trees. One evening we heard the tremendous noise of something crashing.

Running outside we saw that one of our fir trees had fallen down and was blocking our entrance. Fortunately, nobody was around at this moment, and strangely enough, the tree fell down between the parked cars and did no damage. Everybody was sure that this was a miracle.

Bombs During the War

During the war with Lebanon in 2006, many missiles reached Haifa. A few people were killed and lots of buildings were destroyed.

Having no shelter in our house, whenever the alarm sounded, we would rush down to the church seeking protection. Several times, missiles struck very close to our place, but we were never hit. We were sure that St. Elijah and Our Lady were holding their hands over us in protection.


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