For the past week, our series on heroin use in the Ozarks has revolved around treatment options. Most options are medicinal. But KOLR10’s Collin Lingo found some addicts are finding comfort not through medicine, but in their faith.
Among the graduates sitting in Evangel University’s Spence Chapel, one man, John Alarid, stands out.
His orange jumpsuit, a reminder of his criminal background -a reminder of his time selling and using heroin.
Believe it or not, John, the same man in that jumpsuit, is the pastor of Springfield’s City Reach Church, which meets at the Assembly of God Theological Seminary’s Seymour Chapel.
It’s a perfect place for Sunday services. But there is one ministry requires more, private, secluded whereabouts.
They call it a Hope Home. It’s a place where young men can live and reestablish the precious parts of their lives, lost to their battles with addiction.
“Well I was an addict. And I just have a heart for guys that struggle with addiction,” says Tom Moon, the live-in manager for City Reach Hope Home.
He says daily activities at Hope Home range from doing basic chores, to more challenging efforts like learning how to rebuild important relationships.
“That’s why people use,” he says, “They have that void in their life and that guilt. And that’s how they fill it instead of going to God and having people surround them, they isolate themselves. And that’s the last thing you want to do.”
Daily responsibility and constant community, all in the name of rebuilding the foundation to a clean and consistent life.
“That’s teaching them to be servants. Jesus was the son of God. He was God in the flesh. And he still served everybody,” says Moon.
It’s a method Pastor John swears by.
“We believe that until you deal with the soul, until you deal with the spirit, you haven’t got to the core of the issue,” says Pastor Alarid.
He himself lived in a hope home in Phoenix, Arizona almost 30 years ago.
“By seeing these hard core drug addicts and convicts that were able to get their lives clean, that kind of encouraged me that if there’s hope for them, maybe there’s hope for me,” he said.
There are options though for those who, for one reason or another couldn’t live in a place like Hope Home. And though the method and environment may be different, the message is the same: Faith heals all wounds.
Les Palmer has been working with the celebrate recovery ministry her in Springfield for more than a decade.
“What they did was take the 12 steps that most people are familiar with through AA and they went back and put scripture underneath all of the 12 steps,” he explains.
He says it’s a program reaching beyond medical recuperation.
“The treatment part is the really intense stuff of getting detoxed getting the stuff out of your system, but the next question becomes, how do you rebuild your life? That’s where we come in.”
But Palmer isn’t the only person leading these groups. There are many churches in Springfield, and even across the whole country, hosting celebrate recovery ministries.
“Many people that come here have had a touch of Christianity or have been exposed to churches in the past, they’ve never really learned how to access that in terms of their recovery.” he says.
Palmer says, it doesn’t matter where you go as long as God is there with you.
When asked if faith was enough to stop this epidemic, he said “There is absolutely nothing that is greater than the power and the healing of Christ.”
The power of Christ.
Enough for John Alarid, the man standing out in that crowd back at the Evangel graduation ceremony.
Alarid: once a heroin addict, now a seminary graduate.
And it wasn’t just treatment, but recovery that led him to replace his bright orange jumpsuit with a black cap and gown. A reminder not just of his rehabilitation…but his redemption.
You can see all of our stories about heroin addiction in the Ozarks here on our Courageous Conversations: The Quiet Epidemic page