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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
I grew up in foster care, and my life has been full of unstable relationships with family, friends, and many others. I tried to solve that problem for myself in a lot of ways, none of which worked. Eventually, my circumstances got so unstable that they led me to jail for drug use, among other things.
I’ve met with many therapists, counselors, and social workers in my life, but it wasn’t until I met with Jon at Hope House that I felt like I was talking to someone who really cared about me and my situation. On September 29, 2017, I told Jon I was very eager to give Program Living a try.
At the beginning, I didn’t embrace the program the way I should have, but since then, I’ve been able to make significant strides toward changing my life for the better. I don’t think there’s a single part of my life that my time at Hope House hasn’t positively affected.
I’ve rebuilt strained relationships with my biological family, I have less anxiety and fear, and I’ve gained much more confidence and direction for myself. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but now I’m looking into going back to school to pursue a degree in culinary arts to strengthen my passion.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
I pray that I’m able to keep this direction, both in my understanding of God and my understanding of what I’m meant to do with my life, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in the eight months I have left in the program.
For a number of years, I lived with pain pill addiction, but I didn’t know I had an issue. It took the loss of a job, relationships, my home, and health for me to be so broken that I didn’t have anywhere else to turn except to God.
On April 5, 2017, my daughter, who’s 19, brought me to Hope House. With tears in her eyes, she begged me to participate in Program Living. But I have a history of not finishing things. I didn’t think I would finish the program.
Even though I’m graduated now, I’m determined to finish Faith and Finances and the Conflict Resolution class I’m teaching at Program Living. God has given me the courage to finish what I start.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3
The last year has conditioned me for what lies ahead. This isn’t the end of anything, this is the beginning.