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In God’s Time

“And He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. . .”

-Malachi 4:6

John & Charlie

John & Charlie

John’s lifestyle of alcohol and drug abuse began to get out of control shortly after his mother died as a direct result of alcoholism.  It was then that he says he began drinking, using drugs, and practicing the dishonesty that often goes along with them…to the point that it put a huge strain on all his relationships, including with his 2-year old son, Charlie.  Eventually John’s fiance left to try and force him to “wake up and get help”.  Instead, he says, the loneliness and hopelessness he felt seemed to increase his desire to cope by drinking and using drugs.  In fact, he says that he drank to the point of blacking out several nights per week.

He started missing work frequently and eventually lost his apartment.  He also was arrested several times for DUI and possession charges.  He was still visiting his son weekly until one night he was arrested in front of Charlie, under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  During the arrest, the police allowed him to hug his son goodbye for one last time, but they wouldn’t remove the handcuffs. John says that it broke his heart, hugging his young son while the handcuffs rubbed on his son’s back.   And after his release, Charlie’s mom no longer allowed him to see Charlie.

“I just fell deeper into addiction after that,” John says with sadness.  “And I started smoking and manufacturing meth”.  As his addiction continued to spiral out of control, he was eventually arrested on a manufacturing charge.  It was then, while waiting in jail, that a family member told him about “His Way” and he agreed to get the help he needed upon his release.  “When I got to His Way”, he says, “I had no relationship with God and no idea who I was anymore. But I knew I had to change if I ever wanted to see my son again and I didn’t want his last hug from me to be with handcuffs”.

While at His Way, the desire for a reunion with Charlie weighed heavily on John’s mind.  John remembers a conversation with director Tom Reynolds where he described missing his son and his regret for having missed over a year of Charlie’s life.  He expressed his strong desire to see him again.  John says that Tom’s response was simple , “We’ll pray about it”.  At first, being told to “pray about it” made John angry, but he agreed and began praying every morning during the devotional time about the restoration of his relationship with Charlie.

Charlie’s mom asked John to sign over his parental rights. Not being able to afford a lawyer, John felt like his hands were tied.  Again, he sought counsel from Tom and was advised to respect their wishes and stop trying to contact them, but instead to pray for them and have patience. John says, “I didn’t want to pray for them.  I wanted to see Charlie immediately!” But, hesitantly, he continued to pray for them.  “I felt that all I had left was prayer”.

John eventually transitioned out of His Way and then relapsed, which led him back to His Way for a second time.  Still praying for Charlie and his caregivers, he began studying the Bible more earnestly and felt the conviction to be baptized.  John says, “After being baptized, I felt a sense of peace that I can’t describe.  I continued praying for them, but I started adding that the Lord’s will would be done and asked God to bless Charlie and keep him healthy and happy”.

On January 1, 2018, John received word that Charlie’s mom wanted to begin reuniting him with his now 10 year old son.  John began to tell everyone he saw excitedly –  “God finally answered my prayers!”  He began speaking to Charlie every day and he apologized for his actions. A few days later, he got to see, hug and spend the afternoon with Charlie for the first time in almost 8 years, and will get to see Charlie every Sunday as they begin to re-develop a relationship and get to know each other again.

John finishes his story by saying, “God is Good!  And looking back, I thought God wasn’t listening to me, but I realize now God wasn’t ignoring me, I just wasn’t living for Him. It wasn’t the time for Him to answer my prayer.  I was putting a lot of things above God including my relationships.  It wasn’t until I started putting God first that he saw fit to answer my prayer.  Now my prayer is that he will help me be the man and father he wants me to be”.

Introduction to a Paradoxical Manifesto from a Former Heroin Addict

Andrew KrugerI am a grateful believer, fearlessly developing my relationship with God the creator through Jesus Christ, guided by scripture, with help from the Holy Spirit; my name is Andrew.

Eight years of daily heroin use has led down some dark roads – however, in my case, darkness was needed to find the light. I, quite literally and figuratively, needed to die to live. After multiple overdoses, encounters with the law, and other institutions, it became painfully apparent that I was blindly running in the wrong direction in a vain attempt to find some semblance of peace, satisfaction, hope, and purpose. Pain was my touchstone for growth.

In this moment of clarity, another venture to rehab seemed to be the way out or at the very least, a step in the right direction. I needed to stop to move forward. I had two options at my disposal and both were met with feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and anger; rehab number 8 or death.

Letting myself go would have been the easier, softer way out, but my pride intervened.  Pride was another large deterrent and was also a convenient disguise for fear. My mindset was that I could resist anything but temptation.  Having been to 7 other treatment centers and not managing to stay clean, my intellect was screaming rehabilitation was impossible. Impossible; arguably the most hopeless word in the English dictionary.  But with God, all things are possible. I had no mental defense against my drug of choice, no other viable options, and no way out.  From the ashes of desperation came my 8th attempt at long term sobriety, and in doing so I have found peace within the war.

My renewed faith has afforded me a considerable measure of hope. I am learning to trust other people, and found I must give to receive. My common misconception was that I had to replace something with nothing. Habits, if not kept in check, soon become necessities. Today I am developing good habits. For the past few months, one of my roommates and I pick a different theme each week (this week it’s love), and find edifying verses appropriate to that theme to meditate on each night and then apply the following day; 5 total versus per week, 1 verse per day. In a attempt to remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy, we reinstate all the versus from that week, in their entirety, on Saturday and Sunday.

The point of this exercise isn’t to memorize or gain any academic inclination but rather practical application of God’s living word.  Morning devotionals, spiritual step studies, and fellowship with other believers, strengthen my resolve to walk with Jesus. Through these daily fundamental practices, I have found it true that habits replace habits.

Jesus loves to walk…and when He stops, something is about to happen. Today, I watch and pray because my spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Jesus doesn’t run. He hasn’t left me behind. And, I truly believe the past experiences I’ve endured uniquely qualify me to reach those, thought by many, to be untouchable. Although we all come from different places (geographically, spiritually etc.), we all come from the same place (addiction).  I am becoming the light inside the darkness.  After developing a strong prayer game, I now know it to be true that God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  At this current time in my life, I know two undeniable facts; there is a God, and I’m not him. Staying focused on my walk, one step at a time, has enabled God’s will to manifest in my life and subsequently, His grace, mercy, and love is allowing me to be a true example of reconciliation.

Andrew (His Way Resident)

Completing The Task!

Central - Doug

Doug Stogner Sharing His Story

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”

For me, this is one of the great assurances of God, that He completes what he starts. After 33 years of suffering and sacrifice for us, Jesus’ final declaration from the cross was, “it is finished!” God completes what He starts, and one of the pillars of our teaching at His Way is to complete what you start.

10 years ago, Doug Stogner came back to Huntsville with a dream and a vision to begin a Christ-centered, residential recovery facility for men. Partnering with Clyde Jones, that vision became a reality. Tragically, one year into the ministry, Doug relapsed and disappeared. This took him down the pain filled path of years of homelessness, recovery programs, and incarceration.

On November 8, 2016, Doug stopped running and returned as a resident to the program he started. He completed 6 months in the program in May of 2017, and then joined our Advanced Recovery Group for a second 6 months of recovery leadership. Doug completed that on November 9th, and continues living and working at His Way. Doug is beginning to experience completion of what God began in him some 10 years earlier.

Doug and Clyde

Doug With Clyde Jones

 

Doug has also returned to college, seeking completion of another pursuit he began right out of high school, but too quickly abandoned over 30 years ago. As I write this, Doug is studying for his first final exam in over 30 years! That commitment reveals the nature and character of God.

Early this year, after much prayer and planning, we broke ground to build our His Way Community Outreach Center that will include office space, classrooms, a large assembly and event space, and a commercial kitchen. This project will also immediately expand our residential space from 33 to 42, allowing us to help more of the over 40 men currently on our waiting list. In addition, this facility will provide space to offer outpatient services and classes to those unable to participate in our residential program. Our vision is for this facility to become a hub for training and supporting other groups interested in beginning Christ-centered recovery programs throughout the world.

Construction has progressed well, and we expect to move in by April of next year. We’ve raised over 70% of the building cost. In keeping with God’s character and Doug’s example, we need your help in completing what God has begun among us. Please consider helping us reach our year end fundraising goal of $150,000 with a generous donation.

Visit Growing His Way to learn more about this project and how you can help us reach our goal.

God Bless You!

Tom Reynolds

 

Tom Head Shot

Tom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way.

Soul Rest…and a tandem bicycle

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

In our hurried and harried world, is this not a promise we all clamor for?  Rest!  As I interacted with people this week, the friendly conversations would usually turn to plans for Thanksgiving.  One young lady simply told me that her plan for Thanksgiving was to sleep all day!  Rest!  A gift we all crave.

But Jesus doesn’t just talk about physical rest in Matthew 11, He goes on to emphasize that it is “rest for your souls”.  Soul rest, an even more significant and allusive need.  The reality is that no matter how much physical rest one pursues, if your soul is restless, you will never be well rested.

I observe men recovering from long runs of drug and alcohol addiction.  When they finally collapse into their bed in our recovery program, they cannot get enough sleep.  And the reality is, while physical sleep is essential to a healthy life, there is not enough sleep to rest one’s soul.

Jesus says soul rest is found in, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) What?  Soul rest found in taking on an instrument of work?  A yoke?  A yoke has been used for generations to link powerful beasts of burden (oxen or horses) to one another to pull vehicles, whether it be plows or wagons, in one common direction.  This combines the strength of multiple animals into one uniform pulling machine.

A yoke does not sound, in any way, like a good instrument for rest, especially soul rest.  It is interesting that Jesus’ offer of rest does not come with more sleep or a lengthy vacation, but being joined with Him in work.  The key is being joined with Him.  He even goes on to say in verse 30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Tandem-Bikes

My mother never learned to ride a bicycle.  She was always very cautious, so the threat of a bike fall  panicked her.  But as my youngest sister grew up, her favorite recreation was to ride bikes, so dad would go bike riding with her.  They would come back with incredible stories of beauty and adventure.  And mom would yearn to participate and make this a full family activity.  But while she longed for the family participation and the thrill of pedaling through scenic valleys with the wind whipping through her hair, her inability to ride left her behind.

Dad finally decided to get a tandem bicycle, so that mom could participate.  While dad’s experience could steer, balance, and pedal the bike, mom could ride behind participating with pedaling but without the burden of balancing or steering.  She could enjoy the thrill of riding and family adventure, while depending on the experience and skill of dad.  To this day, my sister will share great memories of mom, dad, and her riding bikes throughout the gorgeous river valleys of Western Washington.

But mom’s “rest” was found in her ability to be yoked to my dad on that tandem bike.  It was easy and light because of the one to whom she was linked.

You want to find the “soul rest” of a thrilling adventure, then yoke to Jesus for the ride of your life.

Tom Reynolds

 

Tom Head Shot

 

Tom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way.

Dig Down to Rise Up

Great News!  Construction has begun on our long planned for and much awaited Community Center.  This is a project that was part of the initial dream of His Way ten years ago, but has been worked on in earnest for the past year and a half.

The trees have been taken down and the earth is being moved.  And I mean a lot of earth is being moved.

Construction - Trees Being Removed

Construction Begins

They have cleared off over 270 dump truck loads, or about 4100 cubic yards, of beautiful top soil.  It is painful to watch such rich, quality soil leaving while being replaced with with old, hard, red, Alabama clay.  But this hard pack is essential for laying a solid foundation.

Constructions - Trees Gone

Ready to Build!

In watching this process, it is a vivid reminder of what we have been doing through this program for the past 10 years.

In order to lay a firm foundation for a successful life of recovery, you have to begin by removing tons of soil upon which the past, failed life was built.  As Paul says “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:5-8)

You cannot build a new, godly life on the remains of an old, failed system.  You must remove it! Then you can bring in the new soil upon which a successful life can be built.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (verse 12 & 13)

This process can be long and arduous, but it is essential for a foundation of success. Remember Jesus’ final illustration at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When you decide to allow God to change your life, don’t be in a hurry.  Dig deep to remove all that cannot support a godly life to grow high and lasting on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Just remember, you need to dig down to rise up.  And the further down you are willing to go, the higher you will be able to soar.’

Tom Reynolds

 

Tom Head ShotTom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way. 

 

 

Click below to learn more about His Way’s construction project and how you can help!

Growing His Way

 

 

Happy 10th Anniversary to His Way!

This year marks “10 Years in Recovery” at His Way. We had a great celebration this past weekend with current & formal residents, past & present staff members, Board Members, and volunteers!

Great Turn-Out!

Great Turn-Out!

His Way founder, Clyde Jones, finally receiving a graduation certificate!

His Way founder, Clyde Jones, finally receiving a graduation certificate!

Entire group of current & former residents

Entire group of current & former residents

A Simple Letter

From time to time, area youth groups will visit His Way to help with a project and/or encourage our residents. We wanted to share this letter from a 15 year old girl that visited His Way with her church group over Spring Break. 

Letter

Dear His Way, 

Hello! Some of you won’t know me, but my name is Ellie and I visited with a group of kids from my church a little while ago. Even though I couldn’t meet and speak with all of you, I wanted you all to know how proud I am of you all. It takes tremendous bravery to accept God and his help, and you have all taken that crucial first step. Each of you has faced struggles and challenges, but you all, with the help of God, can and will overcome them. 

You are all in my prayers, and I know all of you have what it takes to succeed and to reach your goals. Remember, the Lord is good and kind, but you must reach to him to truly feel his grace and mercy. May God bless and protect you on your journey ahead. 

Yours Truly,

Ellie 

“Still other seeds fell on good soil where it produced a crop – – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:8

Thank you, Ellie! Your letter and visit encouraged our entire house. Please let us know if your small group or youth group would like to bring a meal or share a devotional at His Way. Building positive relationships with strong Christians is invaluable to our residents as they seek Christ-centered recovery. 

Free The Hostages

Tom Head ShotIt has been said that addicts don’t build relationships, they take hostages.  I dare say that that can be said for many more than just addicts.  Because hostage taking in relationships happens every time I enter a relationship to get and not give.  Every time a relationship is driven by a need to fill what is lacking in my life, we allow our personal insecurities, fears, and doubts to suck others dry and call that a relationship.  We are, in reality, taking hostages.

My experience and observation is that we think of relationships as either a random or calculated collision of two individuals at a life intersection.  We join internet sites to create a life collision as we wait impatiently at the dating intersection.  We hover around locations with the hopes of intersecting with my future life partner.  Those locations may be bars, churches, singles groups, social clubs or any other potential collision point.

The problem I have seen is that the focus is on meeting and capturing an individual instead of on a life purpose.  My goal becomes about meeting someone instead of becoming someone.  On finding a match rather than being matched.

I want to recommend another traveling metaphor for relationships, instead of a collision at an intersection, how “about merging on to the interstate”?

Relationships can be built as we all pursue a common goal and life focus.  More specifically a relationship with Christ and service to Him.  As we pursue this life purpose, we find ourselves merging with fellow travelers who share a common focus.  We begin to interact with many of them and over time find ourselves connecting with one specifically that shares our passion, pace, and interests.  Then, eventually we choose to merge our lives with them as we continue our common focus and journey.

I first saw this picture with a couple who were involved in campus ministry with me.  They were together reaching out on the college campus, ministering to students, and they eventually began noticing each other and developed an interest.  They gradually began merging their lives together and ultimately got married as they continued to minister on the college campus together.

This is my picture of a merging relationship and not one on a collision course.  I believe this is a much healthier and holistic approach.

May God bless us all in merging our lives together and free the hostages.

Tom Reynolds

Tom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way. 

Celebrating Success (The Jeff Johnson Story)

As we celebrate 10 years of Christ-centered recovery ministry, I would like to reflect on success.

Jeff Johnson & Tom

When this ministry began, and known national recovery rates were less than 10%, we became very careful about how we defined success. As Christians, whose mission is primarily to sow the gospel, we defined success as “sowing the seeds of recovery (the gospel) in every man’s life.” This way, we did not tie our success with anyone else’s behavior or performance, but instead simply to our actions and attitudes.

Over this 10-year period, we have seen 207 men graduate into a life of recovery. Over this period, we have averaged 45% of residents who enter this program graduating (this number was actually 71% over 2016). Of our graduates, we evaluate known sobriety quarterly, and consistently find about 60% of our graduates report being clean and sober.

But numbers don’t tell the story like lives do.

 Jeff entered our program on April 14, 2016. He had resisted coming for some time, but his drinking became so out of hand, he eventually became desperate enough to come. At 36 years old and having grown up in the church, he had over time turned off his faith. His contradictory lifestyle had caused him to lose faith and hope. He came to His Way broken, yet open to something different.

During his time at His Way, his faith began to grow. Particularly during our morning devotionals, as he began to see both consistent and miraculous answers to prayer in the lives of our residents. He even began to experience some of these answers himself. He would eventually testify to the house that his faith had grown due to the “remarkable answers to prayer”.

As I counseled with Jeff, I began to see his faith grow through obedience. I Peter 1:22 states,

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” He would come to me with life challenges, and we would prayerfully discuss his options, come to discover a Christ-focused response, and he would immediately and decisively act upon it. Then, Jeff would come gleaming back into the house to testify about how God had resolved this situation beyond what he could have hoped or imagined.

As his faith grew, so did his love for his brothers in the house. He would counsel them, encourage them, serve them, and bless them in any way he possibly could. He loved the brothers and the brothers, to a man, loved him.

Jeff graduated His Way on October 13, 2016 to a packed pavilion of supporters. He exclaimed that, “He was the closest to God he had ever been!” During his six-month recovery program, Jeff experienced tremendous victories in finding a job that he loved, reconciling with his family, enjoying weekly lunches with his Dad, getting plugged in to his home church, and even seeing his beloved Cubs win the World Series after a 108 year drought!

Yet tragically, Jeff passed away two and a half months later from physical complications due to a lifestyle of alcoholism. But he died having reconciled his life with those he loved and most significantly with the Lord.

The Apostle Paul declares in I Corinthians 15:54-56,“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

At 37 years old, Jeff has overcome the world through Christ with all its turmoil and struggle. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Today, Jeff stands in the face to face presence of the Lord in the heavenly realms celebrating with His holy angels. His faith has become sight and he has fully realized the victory that comes by faith. As John writes, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith!” (I John 5:4)

And this is the victory of Christ-centered recovery!

Tom Reynolds

Tom Head ShotTom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way. 

Click the link below for more information on the Jeff Johnson memorial fund. Donations to this fund will support His Way’s expansion plans to allow more men to enter our program. 

http://www.hiswayinc.org/jeffjohnsonfund.html

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

David WilbournMy whole life I’ve used anything I could to cope with the feeling of being uncomfortable. I hated the feeling of being uncomfortable. I’ve had multiple ways to escape the feeling in the past. Being around a lot of people I don’t know, dive head first into my iPhone and get lost in social media. The thought of letting someone in too close, hit them with that Heisman stiff arm. Catching myself in a situation where I’m supposed to act professional, become a jester. And sometimes I would do it without even thinking. Shutting down emotionally, jumping into my favorite Apple Music playlist, coming across as super arrogant (Kanye West didn’t have anything on me), isolating from the rest of the world, making excuses why I can’t come through on a commitment I’ve made to someone, and my number one go to for many years, Oxycontin and heroin. Not only do opiates kill physical pain, but they also eliminate emotional and mental pain.

One thing I heard early on in my road to recovery was you have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yea, no thanks, I’m good on that. I mean, what does that even mean? I didn’t have a clue at the time, but I think those words stuck with me because it sounded like such a paradox. Then things started to happen around me. A buddy from church, Carlos, invited me to a cookout at his house. There were about fifteen other peers from the church there, all of us engaging with stuffing our faces with burgers and side dishes. Eventually everyone there made it to the living room, and Carlos realizing I was the newb to the group said, “David, why don’t you share your story, your testimony, with everyone”.

Wow, nothing goes better in regards to a first impression than sharing with a group of sold out Jesus followers that you had just ended a long, serious relationship with heroin.

My mind was paralyzed by the feeling of being uncomfortable. It was deeper than that though. What was at the the root of that was fear? Fear of judgement, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, low self-worth. All of those things were what created that feeling of being uncomfortable. And it left me in the same place that I had been for so long, paralyzed while life passed me by. I got to a place in my recovery where I was tired of letting fear of judgement, and rejection keep me in a place of idleness. I wanted to, and was ready to break free from that mental slavery. And the thing about the prison that I put myself in inside of my head was the prison door inside my mind was not locked. I had the choice to walk out and leave that place. Freedom was on the other side. I just had to kick the door in. Kick the door, ya dig?

So I made a choice, a choice to embrace the uncomfortable feeling, to take it head on. To not go to anything to cope with the feeling, but to wear it. To let it pulse through my veins, and dance throughout my mind. And in doing so a new boldness came over me. I realized that I could take on the feeling without fear. That it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. Because you come out the other side a little braver. A little more confident. And each time the feeling of being uncomfortable came over me I was able to walk through it a little easier. Slowly the fear disappeared. That root that was so deeply running throughout my heart and mind was being uprooted, until it was no longer there. What I learned was that taking on those feelings head on is what made me grow the most. That in that doubt, in that fear, in those moments, I grew even more. That’s life.

David Wilbourn

David is a graduate of His Way, and a current staff member. To read more from David, visit his personal blog: 

https://coulditbethatcomplicated.wordpress.com/