I was addicted to drugs for ten years and was in jail multiples times. My last time on probation, I got a new charge and was recommended for long-term treatment. I wanted to stay close to my family, so someone told me about Program Living at Hope House.
I had some health issues in 2016 when I first applied to the program, and I knew then that I needed to change so I could be there for my family and goddaughter. I had not been to church since I was a child, so I came in open-minded but unsure.
I’ve been clean for a year and two months now, and in Program Living since January. I don’t have the desire to get high anymore, which helps me stay focused on God and growing closer to him. The way I act now has changed, and when I’m having a bad day, I’ve learned to step back and examine my heart to see what’s really going on. I’m proud of the person I’m becoming.
I’m looking forward to giving back to Hope House, maybe working part-time. I know a lot of incoming Program Living men don’t have families close by, so I want to be there for them.
"I’ve been in jail six or seven times in my life, and I’ve had a drug addiction for a long time. I’d be sober for a little bit then fall back again. It’s no life to live, I know that. It’s not worth it.
I decided to join Program Living because I wasn’t there for my kids anymore, and I realized that I had a drug problem. My first day at Hope House, I got to see Charlie, Jeff, and Kevin graduate at Cooking for Hope. I didn’t really think there would be so many people supporting this program, but when I looked around, I realized there were hundreds.
I’ve only been here one month, but I’m not experiencing the everyday struggle with wanting to get high. I feel like this has taken that urge away from me, and I’m coming closer to God. Just because you take away addiction, doesn’t mean you’re healed. You have to have God, too.
I’m looking forward to drawing closer to Jesus, being a better dad, a better person in general, and using all the skills I’m learning here when I graduate. I’d like to do something like auto body or be a mechanic when I graduate, so I can race go-karts with my boys and build the motors for them."
In 2012, I was charged with drug trafficking, and I’ve been in and out of jail every year since then except one for the same charge. I was struggling to make ends meet, and I’d get off drugs then fall back, like I was taking one step forward and three steps back.
At the end of last year I was miserable. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find joy in anything: drugs, relationships, my family. If I did, it was very short-lived. I’d thought about getting help before, but it never made a lot of sense to me. Saying, “I’m an addict,” over and over just felt like I was pushing myself down lower.
During one of my first meetings with Jon after joining Program Living, I was angry, struggling, and wondering why I joined the program when I could’ve just been released from jail.
I’d always heard “Give it to God,” but I never understood what it meant until that Saturday. I didn’t know if it would really take root, but I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior that day.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
I’m a new person, a new creation, and I don’t have to be the same sinner anymore. I can focus on being a good person, a good dad, a member of society, instead of hiding from society.
I was baptized about a week ago. Being a Christian is not easy. Living in a house full of men is not easy. At the same time, I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. It doesn’t make any sense except that God’s doing it, and I thank him for that.
I want to thank my sister, my mom, and the staff at Hope House. They’ve all been very supportive and helpful to keep me on track. I’m really looking forward to being a dad to my children and establishing relationships that the person I used to be kept me from doing in the past.
Hope House first began as a way to care for the people of downtown area of Bowling Green, and those who started the effort wanted to go about their efforts in a drastically different way.
“Our heartbeat was and is the desire to be a development center where people could gain the tools and resources needed to get out of poverty, rather than stay stuck in it,” Hope House Executive Director Bryan Lewis says. “What we have learned over time is that we must look deeper into the neighborhood and recognize that every person has gifts, talents and assets that God will use to help change the downtown neighborhood.”
Hope House began in 2009 with the community development center in the heart of Bowling Green to serve those experiencing homelessness, drug addiction, chronic and generational poverty and any number of other trials. The organization works to implement a number of programs to help break the systemic cycle of poverty and lack of education. Hope House programs include:
Hope House is funded by local churches, businesses, individuals and private grant writing. The group also hosts large fundraisers each year including Cooking for Hope, a dinner fundraiser held this past April, Swing for Hope, a golf scramble set for September 17 at Indian Hills Country Club and Hit for Hope, a Wiffle Ball tournament and home run derby set for later this year. The organization also continuously collects items for their community store and food pantry.
Bryan Lewis has been involved with Hope House since its beginning and has been Executive Director since 2009. He loves the work he does with the staff and volunteers, as well as people involved in the programs at Hope House.
“I love that I get to partner with people rather than do for them,” Lewis says. “It is so rewarding to be a part of an organization that strives to not be an enabler or increase someone’s poverty by doing something for them that they can do themselves.”
Lewis says that the partnership with local churches, business leaders and individuals is essential to the success of Hope House and their help brings about real, tangible change in people’s lives.
“I love getting to hear the stories of life change from our graduates of Jobs for Life, Faith and Finances and Program Living,” Lewis says. “Our staff and volunteers get to be a part of stories of redemption each day and see families being restored through Jesus healing those relationships through his death, burial and resurrection.”
Hope House is looking for individuals who are interested in volunteering with the organization. Lewis says the only requirements for volunteering with Hope House is a willingness to learn and walk through poverty with those going through all the programs.
To find out more about Hope House, go to hopehousebg.com. If you would like to set up a tour, volunteer or schedule a date for Bryan Lewis to speak to your group or organization about Hope House, email Casey Rice at email@example.com.
This article was originally published by VIP Magazine.
In my past, I was in and out of jail for so many different things. I had a desire for drugs, and I suffered from anxiety. My relationship with my family was broken, and I was unemployed. But through Program Living, I’ve come to realize that I’m not defined by those things anymore. I am a child of God, justified by Jesus Christ!
On November 20th, 2016, my son Kayden’s birthday, I chose to follow Christ in believer’s baptism. My life is slowly being changed throughout this process of sanctification. I’ve had a few setbacks, but I count them all as joy because it has strengthened my faith and brought me closer to the Lord each time.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit that I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
I’ve prayed for a long time for God to remove that heart of stone and put within me a heart of flesh. I didn’t want to be the sinful, prideful person that I was anymore. People who know me now tell me that they can’t imagine me ever being a bad person. My response is, “It’s nothing that I’ve done, I give Jesus all the glory.”
Through Jesus Christ, I have my needs met. I have been delivered from anxiety medicine that I no longer take. I no longer have a desire for drugs. I not only serve my church but am a part-time employee there, which is very humbling. I have my family back, I have a job that I love, and I have friends and a church family who support me and hold me accountable. I thank God for using everyone at Hope House to better my walk with Him.