Area churches look for hope in fight against drugs
Hundreds attended the launch night for “Hope is Here” Sunday night at Danville’s Southland Christian Church, where they learned more about future plans for the Hope Network organization, which formed last year after hosting Hope over Heroin.
Plans include a building that would serve as an after-school hangout spot for children, specifically those in fifth grade and up.
“If we want to break this chain of addiction, we’ve got to start with the kids. We have to show them there’s hope,” said Gary Chidester, chairman of the Hope Network, after the launch night event. “We’re going to work on it together. We’re going to work on it in a big way.”
From stage, Chidester encouraged those in attendance to drop the church names that separate congregations and instead work together as one.
The Hope Network initially launched in Boyle County about three years ago, coming out of a Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy meeting.
“It was a special meeting so that Judge Petrie, the Isaiah House, the sheriff, the director of the ER of the hospital, and what have you, could sit and tell the community of Danville how bad the epidemic was as far as drug use in our community,” Chidester said. After that meeting three years ago ended, the group was asked if anyone had a comment.
“I could not help it, but I raised my hand quickly and I shouted out, ‘I want you to know that my God ain’t dead.’ My God ain’t dead,” he said.
After that, Chidester and others worked together to put on the first Hope over Heroin event in Boyle County.
Chidester said he believes that giving the community hope is the responsibility of the churches.
“The problem is people have no hope. That’s what the church is supposed to be here to do. That’s what we do,” Chidester said. “If someone dies with no hope, that’s on us.”
Jason Kilby, volunteer with the Hope Network and local pastor, spoke Sunday about the number of students facing a battle with addiction.
The most commonly abused drugs among teens are marijuana, also called “loud,” according to Kilby; synthetic marijuana; cocaine; heroin; ecstasy; inhalants; LSD; and mushrooms. He said 35 percent of high school students drink some form of alcohol each month, which is “easy to get” when they want it.
“We have to come together as a network of believers to provide this hope. To provide a meaningful relationship. It starts with you,” Kilby said. He explained that the number one thing students want is someone to have a relationship with, someone they can count on.
Besides a future building for students, giving those students a place to go to keep them from becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, the Hope Network also provides intervention through Celebrate Recovery, a support group that meets in various churches around the community.
“It’s a Christ-based, Christ-centered step study,” said Billy Brose, one of those who spoke on behalf of the Hope Network. “It deals with all the hurts, habits and hang-ups that keep you from God.”
Celebrate Recovery helps the addict “walk with Jesus,” Brose said.
“The greatest thing about Celebrate Recovery — you get to watch Jesus in action,” he said.
Brose said that the church has to “step out of denial.”
“The church isn’t powerless against this. It’s time we get involved. It’s time we start pointing people to Jesus. In Celebrate Recovery, that’s what we do,” he said.
Another way the Hope Network is getting involved is through the Circle of Hope, which will help those who are recovering from substance use disorders or who have been released from jail and are having difficulty finding employment to get a job.
“We want to help replace that isolation with work,” said Brian Wofford, a former narcotics detective, now volunteering with the Hope Network.
Circle of Hope helps the participants from beginning to end as they move through the process to gain employment, Wofford said.
“Gaining employment is often the most transformative event for those in dire need, because adequate income enables that individual to provide for basic necessities,” he said. “Work is a road out of poverty and we as Christians should be encouraging as many people as possible to take that road.”
Jason Roop, the advancement coordinator at Campbellsville University, spoke to those present to kick things off. A former addict of 17 years, Roop shared his perspective on how important it is to not give up on addicts. It was the persistent faith of his mother that pushed him to get help.
He also shared his testimony. Roop found his way to the Isaiah House, where he was able to get clean. He worked there for some time before enrolling in a master’s program at Campbellsville University. Now he works at the college, working with students and sharing his story.
“My life is not my own, it belongs to Jesus Christ. I’m not defined by what I went through, rather I’m defined by Jesus Christ and by what he has overcome through me in my life … God brings beauty from ashes,” Roop said.
Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.
SO YOU KNOW
There will be a Hope Network meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Danville Church of God. For more about the Hope Network, visit hopeky.org or visit the “hopenetworkky” page on Facebook.
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