Recovering grace

Published 1:17 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

By the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, a group of Pike Countians has overcome their substance abuse addictions and members are now reaching out to others in Christian understanding and love.

The group has formed an Addiction Recovery Ministry (ARM) that meets weekly at Riverview Baptist Church on Highway 231 north of Troy and is in the planning stages of Open Arms Ministries, a Christian organization that will provide a transitional living home for adult males who have recently completed an addiction recovery program.

After returning home from “The Home of Grace,” a faith based residence for men recovering from substance abuse where Mark Brantley completed a 90-day program, he began to share his story.

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“I started receiving invitations to speak to youth groups and to do testimony services at churches,” Brantley said. “I went to schools in the area and held classes on the dangers and effects of drugs and alcohol.

“Through an appointment my grandmother had with Dr. Malone Chandler, pastor of Riverview Baptist Church, I was invited to do a testimony service at Riverview. A few of my friends and I were blessed to have the opportunity to bear witness as to what the Lord has done in our lives.”

A few weeks later, Brantley met Bubba Campbell, who is a member of Riverview.

Campbell had recently graduated from Crossover Ministries, which is also a faith based residential recovery program.

Brantley and Campbell began meeting with Chandler on a regular basis

“Our conversations always seemed to be about recovery from substance abuse,” Brantley said. “We saw the need for a ministry to meet the needs of those in our community who have been through a recovery program and need a transition program to continue their recovery.”

Together, they continued to talk and pray that God would lead them in the way they could best accomplish that goal.

“The visions became clear that the need was there for a home where men recently out of a substance abuse recovery program could live,” Campbell said. “A place where they would have a faith-based home until they were established and could enter society as productive self-supporting citizens.”

But Brantley and Campbell, along with others who had been in substance abuse recovery programs, realized that a home for those recovering from addictions was a long-term goal and one they would work diligently to achieve. However, they also knew that there was an immediate need for a support program for those in recovery.

“Those of us in recovery programs knew that when we finished the programs there was no place for us to go except back where we were,” Campbell said. “Making the transition is not easy. You’ve got to have help. We placed our faith in the Lord and we needed somebody to lean on.”

With the encouragement and support of Chandler and Riverview Baptist Church, a group of recent graduates from faith based residential substance abuse programs – Brantley, Campbell, Sonya Jackson, Henry Reynolds, Rusty Singleton and George Town organized an Addiction Recovery Ministry (ARM).

“ARM is for anyone who has or has overcome an addiction or anyone who knows someone with an addiction,” Jackson said. “And, it’s also for anyone who is concerned about addiction problems.

“Our purpose is to give hope and offer support and encouragement to anyone affected by addiction and to proclaim the scriptural truth regarding overcoming addiction. Our purpose is also to help anyone affected by addiction to find fulfillment in Christ alone. We all are testimony to our purpose.”

Campbell said he is sure that being with others and sharing their trials and triumphs has helped him through some very tough times.

“I know that the Lord can save anybody from addiction because, if He saved Bubba Campbell, He can save anybody,” he said. “But I have always known that recovery is an ongoing process and that you need others there to hold you up when you’re not strong and to be your encouragement and your hope. That’s what ARM is all about. Any one of us will tell you that.”

Singleton echoed Campbell’s belief that addictions can’t be conquered alone.

“I had to realize I had a problem and then I had to want help,” he said. “I had lost everything. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I was as blind as a bat. I was at the lowest place in my life and God lifted me up.”

Singleton didn’t enter a substance abuse recovery program. He was saved through Christ and it was his church that held him accountable and still does. And, it’s ARM that wraps him in its care.

“It’s all because of the Lord that I am where I am today in recovery” he said. “And, it’s because of this group of people and that I have a place to go to talk about what’s going on in my life and someone to guide me along.”

Jackson said that often women suffer their addictions alone because they are ashamed to admit they have a problem.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of groups and women will come up to me or call me to say they are proud to finally have someone they can talk to,” she said. “Most women are very reluctant to admit that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Those who have children are afraid their children will be taken away from them.

“I’m taking a stand because I want women to know that it’s all right for them to admit there’s a problem and not wait until the problem has gone so far that it’s too late. If you have a problem, don’t hide it. We are there to help.”

ARM meets at 7 p.m. each Wednesday at its host church, Riverview Baptist Church. However, ARM is a non-denominational organization and everyone is welcome.

Peggy Harris prepares supper each week and the meeting is a time of reflection and sharing and energizing.

“I felt like a sore thumb at first but that feeling didn’t last long,” Campbell said. “What we’ve all been through is similar. Some of us have had a rougher time and some of us have lost more but we’re all back on the right path and we’re helping each other along.”

Singleton said ARM puts everyone on a level playing field.

“We’re all children of God,” he said. “We’re recovering addicts on a mission. We’re trying to save others and we’re searching out the hedges and highways to reach in the fires to pull them out.”

To do so, ARM members are anxious to go to schools, churches, clubs, organizations – anywhere to tell their stories of how God has saved them from a life of destruction and lifted them to a place where they can be successful.

“We all have a dark, ugly side to our stories,” Campbell said. “We’ve all been through personal pain and put our families through so much. But those aren’t the stories that we want to tell.

“We want to tell how God can take care of any problems that we have and how we can overcome addictions and lead successful lives,” he said. “And, by telling our stories and reaching out to others, we can help them overcome addictions and look to the future with hope and promise.”

ARM extends an open invitation to anyone whose life is being diminished from the use of drugs or alcohol to join the group on Wednesday nights at Riverview Baptist Church.