BY JACLYN ROSE –
Born in the Texas Panhandle, Edith Wegner Ruth was married two years before she graduated high school. Though this marriage sparked the hardest time in her life, through the redemption and restoration of Jesus Christ, it also sparked what would be her life’s mission. “I graduated high school in 1968 and I was married in 1966, he was headed to Vietnam and we just couldn’t wait. While he was done, my son, Doug, was born. After he returned he was addicted to heroin and had, what we know now to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), at the time it didn’t have a name. He was very volatile and abusive and we had to run for our lives. We hid for many years,” said Ruth.
It was during her time in hiding that Ruth met and married Bob Ruth, another full circle part of Ruth’s story. After six years of marriage they went their separate ways and shortly after, Ruth gave her life to the Lord. “Coming to know The Lord was a life changer for me and I began to develop a desire to help other women and children in crisis,” explained Ruth.
After several moves with her son and parents they finally settled in Cherry Hill, Arkansas, where they ran a chicken farm. “Around this time I felt a calling for Doug and me to go to Guatemala to serve as missionaries. We spent 18 months working at an orphanage and school for the needy. It was a life changer. I saw so many heartbreaking things; it really increased my desire to help. We came home when my dad had his first heart attack,” Ruth explained.
After moving home, Ruth began volunteering at The Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA) before working there full time from 1990-1993. “In early 1993, Herbie Shreve called me in to his office and asked me where my heart really was, I told him of my desire to help women and children in crisis. He was very instrumental in pointing me in the right direction and assisting me in the legal work and in creating a Board of Directors for Covenant House.
They were able to purchase property and immediately began cleaning up and working on the land, almost immediately after opening their doors, women and children started to arrive. Through the years of Covenant House, more than 1,000 lives were helped, lots of them children, and facilitated 45 adoptions. “There were not a lot of homes that housed both women and children and we saw a need to help both. When a mother would go away and get clean and straightened up and then would go back to her children, that have never seen a straight mother, it would almost always be a recipe for disaster, explained Ruth.”
After years of running Covenant House with her parents, and little outside help, Ruth began to burn out. “When Dad passed away I had to take on the maintenance work and them mom got sick and could no longer help, I just got tired. I choose to stop taking on residents but still counseled and taught classes. God brought be through that and I didn’t know how it would be possible to reopen Covenant House but God had a plan. Two years ago, my pastor at Penuel Assembly of God in Hatfield, came to me and said he felt God wanted the church to partner with Covenant House to reopen. We are working on our women’s center and hope to have it opened by the first of the year. Our long-term goal is to turn the Mena property in to a men’s center and eventually be able to host entire families in crisis. We believe its God’s heart to preserve the family,” Ruth explained.
Not only has God proven Himself in the restoration business in Ruth’s ministry but also in her personal life. Three years ago she wrote in her journal what she felt to be a Word from the Lord. It said, “God knows the desires of your heart and your husband is closer than you have imagined. You will know him when you see him.” Last year, she realized her former husband, Bob Ruth was living in nearby Talihina, Oklahoma and they began talking and after time realized they loved to be around each other and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. They remarried on June 6, 2014, after being divorced for decades. “Always remember God’s desire is to restore, not only for the girls at the Covenant House but every person,” Ruth said.