Tag Archives: drugs

Scarred but Restored: Ministry Gives West Virginia Women Second Chance

Lori Meadows baptizing one of the ladies she’s invested in.

By Carl Stagner

Often derided and dismissed, they’re considered the fringe of society. In chains and often in danger, they stand in need of rescue. Made beautifully in the image of God but scarred within, they are the “least of these” and must not be ignored. That’s what Lori Meadows recognized while riding the roller coaster of emotions when her daughter was nearly swallowed up by the quicksand of drug abuse several years ago. While walking alongside her daughter, God opened her eyes to the brutal world of women suffering from addiction. In time, she and the ministry she founded called Recovery Warriors became inextricably connected to Southridge Church, the Church of God congregation in South Charleston, West Virginia. In mid-November, the church hosted a spiritually potent “Beauty Day” for the ladies of the local recovery home. The occasion was yet another reminder that these “warriors” are totally committed to giving West Virginia women a second chance. Continue reading

Restored and Resolute: Pastor’s Painful Past Redeemed for Purpose, Promise

Pastor Ray Hodges preaching the gospel at Resolute Church.

By Carl Stagner

Ray Hodges had personal experience with church; he’d never had personal experience with the risen Christ. Growing up Catholic, he’d acknowledged the existence of God but would confess there was no relationship with Jesus. Even when he began attending the Iglesia de Dios (Church of God) with his girlfriend, it was the kindness of the people, the lively music, and the relatable preaching that he came to know and love. Without the foundation of Christ in his life, the allure of drugs and parties soon became too much to bear. Thankfully, the patience and persistent prayers of his wife and pastor over Ray’s fifteen-year addiction paid off when Jesus Christ gloriously redeemed his painful past for a future of purpose and promise. Continue reading

Called to Connect the Inner-City to Christ in Connecticut

Special moment of prayer at New Antioch Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

New Haven, Connecticut, is home to Esau Greene. He grew up in a family well-known to the community, achieving success in school, excelling especially in sports. After college, his story took a turn for the worse. But before it was too late, Jesus Christ not only rescued him from a life of drugs but also called him into ministry. Knowing what it’s like to live on the streets yet highly educated with a degree in human services, and coming from a family of influence yet familiar with the allure of drugs, Esau Greene is God’s man for the job—urban pastor in a college city. Though the church he leads is only three-and-a-half years old, it’s already grown from 5 to some 130 people. Continue reading

Drunkenness: A Sobering Reality in Church and Society

By Carl Stagner

A November 16, 2018, article published in USA Today spells out the latest statistics on the rise of alcohol-triggered deaths in the United States, especially over the last decade. While the media has shone the spotlight on the horrific and very real epidemic of opioid abuse, the article suggests the alarming truth that alcohol kills far more people each year through liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, and suicide—not to mention traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the conversation about alcohol has started again in the Church of God, as the general director of Church of God Ministries issued a column on the subject in the October issue of Move! in the wake of the hotly debated Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. David Sebastian, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has talked about the subject for years in the classroom, at conferences, and at camp meetings. As he’s observed, drunkenness is a sobering reality in church and society. That’s also the title of his new book, which challenges Christians to re-examine the issue of alcohol use and abuse. Continue reading

WV Church Reclaims Hope Amid Opioid Crisis, Prostitution, and Poverty

Clothing giveaway at Madison Avenue Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In small towns, big cities, and everything in between, drug abuse is out of control. Especially dangerous is the increasingly popular opioid. Not limited to its common appearance as heroin, addiction to pain killers is also growing concern, as are the deadly additives fentanyl and carfentanyl. Far more complex than a cause-and-effect scenario, a vicious cycle connects the opioid crisis, prostitution, and poverty. Madison Avenue Church of God in Huntington, West Virginia, has declared war on these three products of hell. In the heat of the battle, they’re seeing bonds broken, hope restored, a once-declining church grow again, and a city slowly being reclaimed for Christ. They’re taking back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

Chivalry Restored: California Church Gives Men a Second Chance

Joshua_House_YubaCityCA_Graduates_Aug_2014_FORWEB

Photo: August 2014 graduates of Joshua House proudly dressed for ceremony and celebration.

By Carl Stagner

Crossroads Community Church of God in Yuba City, California sees an often overlooked need in our culture today—ministry to men. Specifically, they’ve recognized a void in outreach efforts to men who have hit rock-bottom, given their lives over to drugs and alcohol, and have lost all hope for recovery. After just a few years in operation, Joshua House has celebrated men who have stepped up to the plate, broken free from addiction, acquired jobs, and reunited with their families. For these men, however, the road to recovery is not without its twists and turns. Continue reading