July 2018 – “When they shut that steel door on me, I knew this time I wasn’t coming back,” Shane Scribner said. “I had a one million dollar bond, and if that was paid, there was another million dollar bond. When they undid the handcuffs, I threw myself on the concrete floor in front of 32 inmates and gave my life to the Lord Jesus.”
For 20 years, Scribner had been in and out of rehabilitation centers and jails. Sentenced in 2010 to 40 years to life, it seemed like the moment to give up hope. But four years later, Scribner was not only free from a jail cell, clean from drugs and alcohol, reunited with his wife and children, and succeeding in his own construction business – he was stepping into ministry entirely by faith.
“It was just like talking with you,” he said. “The Lord spoke to me and told me He wanted me to open a faith-based program to help other addicts and alcoholics. I told my wife, and she said, ‘Are you sure it was the Lord?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I know it was.’
“So I rented a building, bought paint and cleaning supplies, and started cleaning, building walls, putting in a kitchen. Soon, three guys showed up to begin the program, and I wasn’t even ready yet. We ended up letting them stay at the house with us and held devotions at my office. Then there were 7, then 14, then more than 20.”
Broken Lives Rescue Ministry now houses 48 men at a time, and although they have had to turn men away for lack of room, they are expanding with a new facility in nearby Nettleton, Mississippi. All told, 1,400 men have completed the 4-6 month program since April 2014. Men transitioning out of the program after at least eight months can move to a halfway house in a nearby town.
Victory in sight
Men come to BLRM from as far away as California – on their own initiative, encouraged by a friend or family member, or from area county jails.
“Even the jail I came from will call me now, wanting to know if we will take some men,” Scribner told AFAJ. “That’s how the Lord has turned my past around.”
BLRM’s program follows the same path Scribner found for addiction recovery – with the Lord’s help.
“Through the Lord Jesus Christ and prayer, I’ve been able to fight the battle,” he said. “And that’s what we try to get into these men’s heads: It’s not just your battle; It’s the Lord’s battle. You’ve got to give it to Him.”
The men learn one other important lesson from the start – it’s time to give back. For the first 30-45 days, every afternoon is spent in community service.
“Mowing yards, trimming trees, putting on roofs; they start giving instead of taking,” Scribner said. “That shows us that they’re willing to give back, and then we’re willing to help them get a job.”
“After they start working, they’re able to give back some more. Instead of parents or a wife or kids sending them money, the men are sending money to their families.”
Victim no more
Preparation for employment is an essential part of rehab that keeps recovered addicts and alcoholics from falling back into homelessness and further crises.
Rockford Rescue Mission in Rockford, Illinois, also focuses on job training as an integral part of its mission to restore personal and spiritual wholeness to men and women struggling with joblessness, homelessness, health issues, or addiction.
“Rockford is on those lists that nobody wants to be on as one of the ten worst places to live due to taxes, crime, and the economy,” said Sherry Pitney, executive director, who has worked with the mission for 35 years. “We are the only shelter in the region. About a third of our population is at or near the poverty level – homeless or near homeless, and a large number do not even have their GEDs. So we try to make inroads with education and employment, to help them pass the GED test or receive vocational training so that they have an opportunity to start at some level and work their way up.”
The process begins with a 9-12 month recovery program, which takes people out of the homeless shelter and on the road toward rebuilding their lives. Health needs are treated at RRM’s Hope Clinic, mental health is stabilized with the partnership of a mental health center, and spiritual needs are met with Christian counseling and classes.
“Many of the people coming to us have been in 30-day treatment centers 25 different times,” Pitney said. “And they haven’t had the spiritual or faith element of their lives addressed. We educate people so they’ll identify the pain they’re trying to use drugs and alcohol to cope with, and then provide them with hope that they don’t have to make poor choices or be victims of the past.”
Every person who enters the recovery program works for six weeks in RRM’s Restoration Café, where they earn a food handler’s certificate. They also can progress through academic goals at the Works! Center, create and sell items in the Remade store, or develop their talents through art therapy and performing arts.
Value to society
But probably the greatest asset people find at RRM that equips them for a better life is the connections they make there.
“People really need our help when they get to the end of their relationships,” Pitney said. “If you or I lost our job today, more than likely we’d have a family member who would help out. But people come to the mission because those relationships are broken, or they’re just void of healthy relationships.”
It is the people who are willing to put faith in the restoration of a broken person who make long-term changes possible.
“We develop relationships with people who believe in second chances,” Pitney shared. “For example, Paul came to us from the drug courts, on probation from the jail across the street. For many years he had been out on the streets, really struggling to make it just one more day. But because an employer was willing to take a chance on Paul, his life has been restored.
“It’s like a magnet when they see there are people who believe in them and that their futures can be bright. They’re attracted to the idea that life can be different. They don’t have to stay stuck. They can begin contributing to their families again, to their churches. They get jobs; they’re taxpayers. It’s just a process of coming full circle and being that whole individual again.”
*Taken from the hymn “Rescue the Perishing,” lyrics by Fanny Crosby, 1869
When Alaric (photo, left) returned to Broken Lives Ministry the second time, he said that God opened his spiritual eyes to Jesus, and that has made all the difference. When he leaves the program, Alaric hopes to work at his mother’s day-care where he can share Christ with children and steer them away from the path that led him to drugs and crime.
Rockford Rescue Mission is part of Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (agrm.org), which has 300 member missions across the United States. As many as 30 million people go hungry every day, up to one million are homeless on any given night, and 88 million Americans are in bondage to drugs and alcohol, the AGRM website reports. AGRM member missions assist the church in providing a lifeline for those caught in these adversities.
Rockford Rescue Mission
Broken Lives Rescue Ministry