Jericho House: Built on the foundation of Christ.

October 27, 2015
Theresa and Linda hold a Bible study at Jericho House.

Theresa and Linda hold a Bible study at Jericho House.

“And may you have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:18. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Linda, Theresa and Jackie have found themselves in a place in their lives where they have needed some extra help. Each of these women have unique stories and circumstances that led them to this point in their lives. Each have sought the refuge of Jericho House, a small home that sits at 912 E. Ludington Avenue.

Jericho House was founded 11 years as a Christian-based organization. Its primary mission was to serve women who had recently been released from incarceration. Since that time, its mission has changed to allow for any qualified woman in need to use its services.

“We wanted a place where women who recently got out of jail could stay at minimal costs and focus on finding jobs,” Christy Sniegowski, the house director says. “Since that time, we have opened up the doors to any woman who finds herself in a desperate life situation. This place basically looks different for every woman.”

Linda, who is from Muskegon, was involved in a domestic abuse situation, which included Child Protective Services separating her from her 2-year-old child. She’s been at Jericho House for a month.

“The Jericho House and the leaders here have been helping me achieve a place in my life where I can get my child back,” she says.

Theresa, who comes from Gaylord, says she has faced a lot of heartache in her life and just found herself in a place where she had nowhere else to go. Theresa has been at the house since April. It’s the second time she’s been there. “My brother passed away last January and I was staying with some family for three months but that didn’t work out,” she says. “I was able to come back here and get back the job I worked in when I lived here before.”

Jackie was facing homelessness when she came to Jericho a year ago. Addicted to drugs, with most of her money going to her incarcerated husband, she couldn’t pay her bills and was living in a house with no electricity.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been able to get a new job and also start going to college to become a registered nurse,” she says.

The Jericho House is not just a place to stay, though. Getting in and staying at there requires a commitment to pursue Christ and to become a productive member of society.

“Our number one goal is to put these women in a place where they have a relationship with Jesus,” Christy says. “Another goal is to give these women the tools they need to survive on their own, a major part of that is to find them a job.”

Potential residents have to go through an intake process. They also must abide by the 4.5 pages of rules.

“There is structure here,” Christy says. “It’s not just about being a Christian home, though that’s a big part of it.” The rules include the requirement of attending church and church functions throughout the week and a daily Bible study, led by one of the house’s board members or volunteers. Residents attend Sunday services at Path of Life Ministries in Pere Marquette Township and then a mixture of evening services at Path of Life and Prayer and Praise Assembly of God in Ludington. Both churches are within a short walking distance from the house.

Rules also include no drinking and limited smoking and no men, meaning women who reside at the house cannot be in an active relationship.

“It’s not about discouraging relationships but rather allowing the women here to focus on themselves,” Christy says. “Most of the women who stay at Jericho are in a place where they need to take burdens out of their lives.”

Linda says she has a fiancé but she only sees him at church on Sundays.

“He’s been attending church with me and that’s been great,” she says.

Linda says the rules were intimidating at first. “I was worried about the rules when I got here,” she says.

“You have to be a disciplined person,” Theresa says. “It seems easy for me now, but in the beginning it was hard. Plus, you have to deal with different personalities.” Currently four women live in the house.

While Christy and other members of the ministry’s board are around during the day, they aren’t in the house 24 hours a day. Christy says the women are adults and need to be treated as such and need to be trusted too. Christy makes herself available anytime for them. Christy says she is in contact with the women at all hours of the day.

“This is so much a part of my life,” Christy says, though she falls short of ever taking credit for herself, she considers herself a steward of God.

While the residents agree that God gets the glory for Jericho House and its successes, Christy is a certainly a blessing.

“She is a mother figure to us,” Theresa says. “She is a big part of why this is working. God is working through her and she does whatever it takes to help anybody out, whether that person lives here at the house or is a homeless person on the street. She never tires of helping someone or having a good attitude and loving the unlovely.”

Jackie agrees. “Without her and the Lord helping me I would not be here,” she says.

Jericho House is located in the same block at the new COVE (Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters) building, which includes a shelter for women and children who have been in domestic abuse situations. Staying at that shelter has a time limit, though.

Christy says she works close with COVE and other local social service organizations. She says COVE specifically is for domestic violence while Jericho House provides housing for women in many different situations. She says both are equally important in the community.

Since it was formed in 2004, 229 women have stayed at Jericho House. Each of those 229 women have a different story. At a quick glance it would appear that not every outcome fulfilled the house’s mission of pursuing a life of Christ and becoming productive citizens.

Christy then quotes Hebrews 6:10: “He will not forget the work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”

“God works differently in each person,” Christy says. “While not every woman who has been at Jericho House may appear to have had a successful outcome, I truly believe we have planted a seed that will be with her the rest of her life. We may not see direct results in the short term but the pursuit is for an eternal relationship with Jesus.”

Jericho House is owned by J&J Missions, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Christy says one of the organization’s goals is to establish a Joshua House, which would serve men. However, the services take finances. The Jericho House budget is only $27,000 a year. It relies on contributions from the community in order to operate. The house accepts monetary donations and also accepts material donations, such as food and clothing. Right now one of the biggest needs is to replace the roof on the house.

Donations may be mailed to J&J Missions, 912 E. Ludington Ave., Ludington, MI 49431.

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