by Art Werry
FRASER, MI – What a difference a year makes. Last Father's Day, Brandon was caught in the throes of a drug addiction that was taking him down the path that kills tens of thousands each year in America. Brandon’s life continued to fray as his heroin and alcohol addiction led to more and more family conflict. Continually forced to choose between caring for his family and feeding his addiction, he repeatedly chose the latter. His children faced the very real possibility of growing up without their father. When he wasn’t distracted by the drugs, Brandon was too ashamed, so he would simply stay away from the children he loved.
What could change the course of this troubled man? Was it the fear of becoming another statistic – one more number along with the mother of his 14-year-old daughter, who had already succumbed to overdose? Desperate to change the course of this all too familiar drama, Brandon’s wife, Patty, stepped in. Gathering the family together for an intervention, she gave Brandon a choice, get help or get lost. Running short on options, Brandon went into treatment, but he dropped out before completing the program. After walking to Patty’s house, he hoped she would relent and take him back, but that was not to be. Firmly standing her ground, she insisted he get help.
Stunned, Brandon decided to break the downward spiral and get serious about recovery. He entered and successfully completed a 45-day program. As part of his exit strategy, Brandon began investigating longer term 3/4 housing options. The name of our program, Pathway To Freedom, caught his eye because it sounded hopeful. After an initial phone call, Brandon entered the program, and the rest is history. We began praying for him and pointing him toward Christ, the only hope of lasting recovery. A few months later, Brandon prayed to receive Christ and was baptized with Patty and the children watching. He is not only staying clean and sober, but he is also holding down a steady job. Brandon readily admits, “I used to be impressed by the big, shiny things in life. Now with God in my life, I’m so grateful for what is right in front of my eyes – my family”
New Life has operated this residential program for men for many years now. Participants are given a safe place to live and a structured environment in which to combat the chaos that is a by-product of addictive behaviors.
Pathway is a long-term program that allows the opportunity to share Christ with men who are desperate for something to break the chains of addiction that they have battled in many cases for decades. New Life shares a partnership with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) as they support the ministry. Sadly, the scourge of addiction that is ravaging our country shows no signs of letting up any time soon. Pastor Art Werry regularly encourages pastors to consider starting a recovery program in their church – even if it is only a 12-Step table that meets in their building. The heartache of addiction resides on every street in every city.
Pastor Werry says, “Pathway is by far the most rewarding ministry I have ever been involved. Our recovery ministry is based on the belief that lives can be restored through the power of Jesus Christ.” He regularly tells the men in recovery that he does this ministry as much for the sake of their children as for them. He adds, “Our heart’s desire is to see the multi-generational cycle of addiction broken by the power of Jesus.” It is such blessing to hear a spouse like Patty say, “I enjoy seeing the relationship being built between the children and Brandon. The kids adore him.”
This year, Father’s Day will look remarkably different for Brandon from last year. Sitting in church with his children, he can focus on a future that is much brighter than it was just a few months ago. What a difference a year makes. What a difference Christ makes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Art Werry has been pastor of New Life in Fraser for over thirty years and executive director of Pathway to Freedom for over 25 years. He also handles the technology needs of the BSCM. Art and his wife Tricia are raising their teenage daughter, Hannah.