A Culpeper congregation that cares recently launched plans to open a long-term drug addiction recovery center in the area to address the ever-growing epidemic of hopelessness as part of a multi-faceted approach to fighting a complicated disease.
Mountain View Community Church, in addition, recently helped start the 12-step Restore Culpeper ministry for those struggling with addictions and their family members and will host a nationally known musical act in August to minister to both populations.
?God laid it on our hearts years ago to engage in the war for the souls of those struggling with drugs and alcohol,? said Mountain View Pastor Mark Jenkins. ?We are working together to stomp out what the Virginia State Police say is ground zero in Culpeper.?
As brothers, sisters, moms and dads keep dying from heroin and opiate overdoses, causing immeasurable suffering for themselves and their loved ones, Mountain View is working with local partners in law enforcement, medicine and community services to hold out hope.
Helping addicts is clearly a mission of the church, Jenkins said, referencing the medieval Black Death.
?I?m looking at Culpeper now going this is our Bubonic plague. People are turning their faces away, they don?t want to deal with it, they don?t know how to deal with it,? he said. ?We already know the solution, what rewires the brain. This is not a recovery program. I?m not recovering anything. You don?t recover people from addiction. They are restored, there?s a real transformation that happens.?
Christ-Centered Addiction Restoration Services
That transformation only happens through God, Jenkins said, and that?s the basis for all of Mountain?s Views efforts, including the plan to establishing CARS ? Christ-Centered Addiction Restoration Services ? group homes on a 10-acre tract of donated land along U.S. 522 in Orange County.
The free program would offer long-term residential treatment care 24 hours a day in a non-hospital setting with a goal of creating Bible-centered therapeutic communities with lengths of stay between seven and 12 months. The centers would offer detoxification, a Bible-based 12-step program, counseling, leadership training, job skills development, internships, social skills development, recreation and chapel services.
Mountain View is modeling the initiative after existing programs such as Teen Challenge in the Shenandoah Valley and Vision of Hope in Tennessee. CARS would augment existing 30-day treatment centers in the area, Jenkins said.
?Community services is throwing up their hands up because the recidivism rate of the programs they got going is through the roof, it?s not effective,? he said. ?We want something for our people after 30 days.?
Moving forward, Mountain View wants to build a center in Culpeper as well, potentially in one of the five boarded-up homes the town recently designated as ?derelict.? Jenkins believes there is enough financial support in the community to establish CARS facilities.
?We are committed to offering this for free to people who need this. We are trying to get the word out to the people who care. I am tired of seeing and burying our neighbors,? he said.
Mountain View and its partners already care enough to minister to the hurting through the recent establishment of Restore Culpeper, an addiction support group that?s been meeting Monday nights for the past seven weeks at the Country Caf? on Orange Road.
Richard Brooking with the Culpeper Police Department helped get the program started and has been heading up the meetings. He has his own story.
?Approximately 12 years ago I was going through some personal struggles and alcohol became a crutch for me in dealing with some of these issues. My life was headed in a downward spiral,? he said.
Brooking said he was fortunate to have loving support from allies who encouraged him to get help.
?I can?t say it was easy, and I wasn?t very agreeable at first, but ultimately I began seeking help from solid people who had experienced similar struggles, as well as solid Christian friends who stood by my side,? he said. ?It took a Christian rehab, a loving and supportive family and church, but ultimately God restored my life to where I am today. My life is not perfect, but I have a level of happiness and strength that wasn?t possible before.?
Brooking has made it a goal since to help others impacted by addiction.
?Truly everyone has a story, everyone struggles with something, and Restore is a place that people can come to listen and find some peace and hope for themselves and their families in a safe environment through the stories or testimonies of others,? he said. ?It is truly neat to see husband and wives, mothers and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends wanting something better, wanting restoration.?
Brooking thanked Country Caf? owner Sherry Thornhill, her family and staff for their help and support. Jeff Kesner, an associate pastor at Mountain View, hasn?t missed a meeting since Thornhill, who lost her three sons, agreed to open her place for Restore Culpeper.
?She was our first speaker. It?s not just for drug addicts, it?s for the families walking that journey with them as well,? Kesner said. ?The stories are amazing?you hear all these people talking about what God has done in their life. The stories of how their lives just disintegrated from the drugs and how coming full circle around to God saved them. God restores people back to his original vision for them.?
About two dozen have been attending the weekly meetings with new faces at each session.
?The casualties are not the people just doing the drugs, it?s their whole family. Whole family units are just wiped out because one member is a drug addict. It?s widespread,? Kesner said.
Found & Favored Ministries: the Allan Scott Band
It?s why Mountain View is rallying to find real answers and solutions to the drugs and alcohol killing neighbors on a daily basis. The church will officially kick off its campaign to establish local long-term treatment centers August 12 with a special event being headlined the Allan Scott Band.
Lead singer Allan Scott, of Pennsylvania, knows the despair of addiction, and it led him to form Found & Favored Ministries, an outreach for individuals dependent on drugs and alcohol in rehab centers, jails and hospitals. It?s about releasing people into the grace and freedom of God, according to Scott.
?That?s what we?re trying tell people?that God is for them, not against them. That no matter how much they?ve thrown away in life, or how low they have gone, Jesus took it all. I did everything I could to throw my life away. But you do know that God?s goodness to me was not dependent on my goodness to him? Because when he found me I was not at the tail end of a winning streak. He loved me in the midst of my sin,? said the artist in a promotional video.
Scott is bringing Found & Favored to inmates of the Culpeper County Jail on the morning of August 12 with a program in the courthouse prior to a free concert event at 7 p.m. in the main sanctuary at Culpeper Baptist Church. A love donation will be taken with all proceeds to benefit the CARS treatment centers.
The August 12 concert event is for addicts, their loved ones and people who care enough to really find solutions to the area?s substance abuse scourge, Jenkins said, and will feature displays of available resources and opportunities to speak with counselors. The concert event is not for people just looking for a good time, Jenkins said.
The Allan Scott Band will be bringing a message of what freedom really looks like, he said.
?Freedom in the heart and mind, what God does to restore a human being?not just behavior modification. We put them in jail because we don?t know what else to do with them,? Jenkins said of local addicts, adding of local justice system officials, ?They?re telling me, I have the street and the prison cell, I have no beds, I don?t have anything to offer the people in this town.?
Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins said he supports programs to help local addicts, such as Found & Favored, but that local jails are not designed or funded for that function.
?We continue to look at possible programs that could work in our facility. Addiction is often the driving force in the lives of many of our inmates, as well as in the crimes that they commit,? said the sheriff, noting a lack of local or state funding for such programs. ?When an opportunity presents itself such as this I?d like to participate if at all possible.?
Sheriff Jenkins said it is a wonderful thing when faith-based groups reach out to the incarcerated population.
?I very much believe our inmates will respond positively to this message of hope because it?s coming from people who?ve overcome their own addiction,? he said. ?The message is that much more powerful because it comes from those who know.?
Mountain View members will invite attendees of all NA and AA groups in the four counties and their families to the upcoming Allan Scott event at Culpeper Baptist.
?It?s letting people know that the community does care. We may not all agree on ideology?Christians can sit right beside those who are secular saying, look I know you care and want to help. Give it the best you got. If it doesn?t work send them our way, we?ll give it our best shot,? said Pastor Mark Jenkins. ?We want to be part of the solution.?
In the end, it?s not the program that changes people?it?s God, he said.
?May the God of all hope fill you with joy and peace. In the middle of the darkness you don?t hear that. There?s no joy, there?s no peace and the problem is that those precious soldiers who are fighting for our freedom cannot bring freedom from this. This requires a different kind of war. The war will not be won in a prison cell. The war is won in the battleground in the mind and the heart,? said Pastor Jenkins.