Faith Matters for Nov. 10, 2012

The House of Ruth of Baton Rouge has seen God make “amazing” changes in the lives of women during its first year, Executive Director Beverly Quezada said.

The faith-based program helps abused, homeless and recently released from prison women. It helps the women find housing and also provides services such as mentoring, vocational training and work-study and transitional and re-entry assistance for a year. Attending church is a mandatory part of the program.

“It’s incredible. They went from being street prostitutes and addicts to women who are supporting their children,” Quezada said of the early success stories. “It’s amazing what happens when you surround these women with love and confidence.”

The challenge can be daunting.

“A woman who leaves the streets of prostitution makes $200 or $300 a day and how do you tell her she has to raise her children on $7.25 an hour and not expect her to go back,” Quezada said. “We’re trying to change the system as it has worked for so many years and give them the opportunity to be proud, productive citizens, which is really what they want to do.”

Quezada, 63, got the idea for the House of Ruth in 2009 while working at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel. She said too many women left the prison bound for failure because of a lack of resources and support.

Quezada opened the House of Ruth in September 2011 and has found successful results with 13 of the 16 women who have gone through the program. She said she starts working with some inmates six months before their release.

“It’s my 24/7 passion,” the New Orleans native said. “I live and breathe this. I will wake up during the middle of the night and go to prayer for these women. This is everything to me, but it’s also a personal thing because I’ve been there.”

Her abuse started after getting married at 14 years old and continued until she was 38.

“I’ve walked in their shoes and the only reason why I didn’t wear orange (as an inmate) is I never fulfilled my dream of killing the man I was sleeping next to,” Quezada said.

God kept Quezada and gave her the strength to walk away, she said.

“He’s my direction. He’s my strength. He’s my ability to keep going,” said Quezada, a member of Healing Place Church.

Quezada tries to convey God’s love.

“He loved me in my sin in spite of who I am,” she said. “And that’s how the girls feel. They now know they are valuable, that they are not junk or somebody’s property, that they are independent, godly women.”

Quezada went to Las Vegas to escape her abuse years ago, but she said women can find a “sanctity and safety” from abusive and addictive relationships here through the House of Ruth, its numerous partners and others.

“This is the opportunity that I want to give women — that they don’t have give up your family, that you don’t have to leave. We can work together as a team,” she said.

To help Quezada and the House of Ruth team with donations and housing, call (225) 279-7505 or go to http://www.houseofruthofbatonrouge.org/programs.html.

Special gift

Pat Scivicque, 83, has a giving spirit.

So perhaps it was no surprise to members of his Sunday school class at First Baptist Church of Denham Springs when he recently presented a gift for the whole class to see. The surprise may have been the work and love he put into the wooden podium he made for his 91-year-old Sunday school teacher and cousin, the Rev. J.V. Scivicque.

Ann Harris, Pat Scivicque’s daughter, said it took her father two weeks to build the podium for the former pastor.

“He just loves the man,” Harris said. “They both were excited really. My dad was excited to make it for him and he was excited to get it.”

Woodworking is Pat Scivicque’s longtime hobby. Among his most enjoyable items are cypress chairs and rockers. He made the podium for his cousin out of oak, some of which was taken from a tree that fell during Hurricane Katrina.

Pat Scivicque worked at Kaiser Aluminum for 32 years, Mo-Dad for 14 years and served on the Livingston Police Jury.

“He’s just a wonderful man, he really is,” Harris said of her father.

J.V. Scivicque retired as a pastor in 1986. He served as pastor at South Boulevard, Northdale and Riverdale Baptist churches and has since served in counseling, witnessing and teaching.

“He (J.V. Scivicque) was just very surprised and he was just awestricken that he (Pat Scivicque) could build something like that, and that he would be generous enough to give it to him,” said church member Florence Crowder. “I think it reflected the appreciation of the years and the work he had done for Christianity.”

Jesus: The only way

Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, author Billy Ryan states without doubt or apology in his book, “Life, Death, and the Only Way to Heaven”” (WestBow Press).

“The kingdom of heaven is perfect, holy and pure,”” Ryan writes. “Sin of any kind will never be allowed to enter it ... The sin has to be paid for, forgiven, and erased from eternity forever. The only way for this to happen is for you to accept Jesus into the your life.””

Being close to Christ is just the first of the weapons believers have in their fight against the devil, Ryan says. Others are prayers and the word of God.

“(Prayer) is the direct communications with God the Creator. Many times in the Bible, you can read where Jesus went off to be alone while he prayed. He wanted there to be no distractions,”” Ryan writes.

In the 58-page book, Ryan also details some of the weapons the devil utilizes to attack to believers. Those include doubt and fear.

“The enemy has weapons, but yours are more powerful,” he writes.

Ryan, a Georgia native, also tackles a common question: “Where will you go when you die?”

For a compact book, Ryan cites plenty of examples and shares many wonderful stories to illustrate his points.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Reach Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.