Focus on Recovery – Michael Knighton

By Tom Bond, Director of Programs

A picture says a thousand words. Transformation – a word we use at Helping Up Mission to describe the amazing journey of our program members.

Michael Knighton is a man who truly exemplifies this definition. As you can read in his story, Michael had more than his fair share of bad breaks growing up that led him to a life of crime and violence. He learned to take advantage of others and prey upon people’s “goodness”, an attribute he viewed as a weakness. As he projected a façade of toughness and callousness, underneath that mask was a man yearning for God’s love. So, he learned to mask his pain with drugs and alcohol.

But today, after completing the one-year recovery program, Michael is a completely new man, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He presented himself broken and empty before God, and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill his heart. Now, Michael has no need for drugs and alcohol and no need for masks. He is, as the scriptures declare, a new creature in Christ.

Spring 2015 – Focus On Recovery

In the old Dickens classic, a Christmas Carol, Scrooge tells the ghost of Christmas present that he is too old to change. Go redeem some younger person.

Well, every now and then a “youngster” like Ambrose graces the halls of the Mission with the full hope of redemption. Ambrose is 74 years young.

“I started using (drugs) at the age of 16,” recalled Ambrose. “Even though I grew up in a spiritual home, I was curious about the feeling. I did things I knew were wrong. And I got used to the wrong thing for a long time.”

But, Ambrose was told to keep praying. So he kept praying. Even when things stayed bad, he kept praying.

“I couldn’t stop on my own.  I asked Jesus to save me from this poison,” he said. “I went through five overdoses. I confessed. And, the God that was always there breathed, His life into me.”For nearly 6-months, Ambrose has allowed God to work in him and through him at the Mission. And this young oldie can’t help but breathe life into the place with his infectious smile.

“I look in the mirror and I like what I see, “he said. ” I’m looking forward to spending time with my family – my grandchildren and great grandchildren whom I always ran away from in my shame.”

“Now, said Ambrose,” life is beautiful. It’s never too late.

Mike Rallo
Director of Spiritual Life

Focus on Recovery – Paul Bashore

By Gary Byers, Deputy Director

Like many guys at Helping Up Mission, Paul grew up with loving parents willing to do whatever they could to help him. Probably enabling him at times, they’ve always been in his corner.

Also common at HUM, Paul never finished high school. And when he was introduced to alcohol, he said, “more, more, more!!”

Comfortable being by himself, Paul was willing to travel for work. But after 3 DUI’s, he wasn’t driving anywhere – so he hitchhiked across the US.

After a few decades battling with alcohol, he wanted to stop. Interestingly, in New Orleans Paul got sober – for 18 months.

But the loner traveler took off again – hiking the Appalachian Trail. Not planning to drink, but – with no great plans not to – a month later, old Paul was back!

From the other side of the country, Paul’s loving parents helped again and got him to Baltimore. God brought him to HUM.

Once here, Paul became a great example of what can happen to a guy. He accepted our structure and spiritual focus and settled in.

He earned his high school diploma – his parents showed up for his graduation! And his job on campus was to help others earn their diplomas.

Then Paul graduated from our 1-year Program and continues on as a graduate intern. In college, he’s figured out how to combine his passion for art, his love of teaching and the need to “pass it on.”

It’s feeling good being Paul these days!

Focus on Recovery – Charles Kent

By Tom Bond, Director of Programs

Charles speaks in his testimony about what we on staff here call the famous four, which are the words almost every person utters the first time they visit the mission: “I Had No Idea”. Many people formulate an idea in their head that the Mission will be dark and depressing, when in fact Helping Up Mission is bright and brimming with hope.

Charles didn’t come here to just get clean; he came to reclaim his life. There is a huge difference between being abstinent from chemicals and being engaged in Spiritual Recovery. It’s not just about staying clean and sober; It’s about transformation and living the life God always intended for you.

Helping Up Mission offers men the incredible opportunity to immerse themselves in a culture of Christian love and support for up to five years, and delivers back into the community men who are disciples of His grace. We do this through programs designed to rebuild the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of every man who walks through our doors. I urge you to call and schedule a time to take a tour of our campus. Then we can hear YOU utter the famous four!

Focus on Recovery – Bryan Modecki

Spiritual recovery is the focus of our 12-month residential program here at Helping Up Mission. We believe a spiritual encounter with the God of the Bible is the best thing a man can do to find empowerment over chemicals and change his life.

Yet, to develop self-sufficiency in long-term recovery, there are plenty of other things guys need to address while they’re here, as well. Two critical aspects of that process are education and employment.

While men who need high school diplomas start working on that early in our program, the opportunity to go to college, trade schools or employment comes in the final phase of their year here.

Bryan’s story illustrates the process. He’d earned his high school diploma while incarcerated, but the only job he ever had was selling drugs on the street. New job skills were a priority in his spiritual recovery!

For Bryan, it was culinary school in the final part of his year here. Then, after his HUM graduation, he chose to continue living on campus as he finished his education. Now, Bryan’s also added his first real job to the mix!

These days Bryan calls HUM home – it’s where he’s learning to become the man he was created to be!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Focus on Recovery – Tim Holt

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.” -Matthew 12: 43 – 46

At HUM, we can’t just clean up men. We quip to the guys at times that this is not a spiritual Jiffy Lube where you get cleaned up and on you go. We must replace the addiction with something that brings greater life than the drugs, alcohol, or whatever else we seek to replace the empty space that God wants to fill.

Unfortunately, Tim was content on getting “cleaned out” but he stayed empty. The empty shell was welcome space for evil to return with more vengeance.

“I never thought I could function without using,” said Jimmy, another man, now in his fifth month at the mission. “I also never thought I could have any contentment.”

Then this weekend, Jimmy was out with guys from HUM – having fun on a Friday night . “We went bowling…crazy for me. Pizza and soda – just talking and laughing,” he said. “I never thought I could have this much fun without being high.”

“On Sunday, I saw my 4-year old daughter. She came running to me and gave me a big hug. It was the best I have ever felt. What a weekend!”

Jimmy is replacing the emptiness with the good things God has for him.

Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Focus on Recovery – Ryan Cashman

HUM’s 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program is full of smart, capable guys who have also accomplished some pretty cool things in life. Yet they still found themselves unable to effectively address inner emotional struggles that just wouldn’t go away. Consequently, they turned to chemicals as a temporary fix!

This was Ryan’s story, too.

While he had family, he felt alone and craved acceptance. And like many of us, Ryan took a wrong turn trying to fill that inner void.

“Since I’m not much good to anyone else if I’m not okay with myself,” he managed to mess up a marriage and a successful career while trying to ease his pain with drugs. Ryan also wound up in jail! But guys often say lockup was an important spiritual time in their lives. It’s how Ryan wound up here.

It isn’t easy facing the truth about ourselves, let alone admitting it to anyone else. That was Ryan. So, from the beginning, we have guys share their stories in class. After all, we’re only as sick as our secrets!

It turns out Ryan’s story – while unique – was still so similar to everyone else’s! He got comfortable admitting who he was and where he was. In fact, as an upper classman, he would stop by class and shared his story with new guys.

Spiritual recovery works, because it changes us from the inside out. Just ask Ryan!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Focus on Recovery – Adam Mathis

When Adam first arrived here three years ago, he was a young alcoholic out of control. Yet, it was pretty clear from the beginning that he had already experienced a spiritual awakening through Jesus Christ. He regularly communicated a spiritual interest in Biblical truth and talked about Bible college from the first time we met.

But Adam struggled with self-confidence, no doubt due at least partially to his addiction. His faith didn’t empower him over alcohol and his spiritual walk was crippled by it.

When he returned to our Spiritual Recovery Program a second time, there was a new level of openness and a commitment to do things different. Certainly there was some new just good old-fashion discipline in his life. But Adam was also learning to live Honest, Open and Willing (HOW) in his daily spiritual walk and it gave him empowerment beyond his own ability.

He’s been clean over 2 years now and is genuinely enthusiastic about his life. He’s a very good student at Bible college and is attempting new challenges almost daily. Old Adam would not have had the confidence to even try. Even the interview for this newsletter was a big step of faith for him! But Adam’s found a new daily source of empowerment and it keeps working…one day at a time!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Focus on Recovery – Matt Brown

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and Christian philosopher, once wrote, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”

Matt Brown knows all about that heart vacuum! He’s always been a hard-charging guy – athletics, academics, business, addiction! Still a young man, he has experienced lots and accomplished much – yet none of it ever really satisfied his soul.

But, today, Matt also knows about God filling his heart vacuum. And when that happened to him here at HUM, it was contentment – believing God has already provided everything necessary for his present well-being – that filled his heart.

Not that everything has gone smooth, but God shows up in his life every day and Matt is okay with what He is doing. It’s changed him and now he wants to help facilitate the same type of change for countless others, too. Man, this Jesus stuff really does work!

Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

Focus on Recovery – Rasheed Savage

Like many guys in Helping Up Mission, Rasheed came from a broken home and struggled with all the chaos that comes along with it.  Like most of the guys here, Sheed also had talent – he was (and still is) a good basketball player!  And like all the HUM guys, drugs and alcohol finally took their toll on his life.

Rasheed knew that times when he had structure in his life, he functioned better – like when he did 6 years in prison.  In fact, later on, Sheed even considered prison the best place for him!  But instead of prison, he was willing to try Helping Up Mission.  That’s worked out pretty well, too!

Today Rasheed is 3 years clean and counting.  He also took this HUM time as an opportunity to follow his aspirations and go back to college.  He’s just about finished his AA degree – while working a full-time job here at HUM.  And, something Rasheed didn’t mention in his story was that he received a promotion and serves as Program Manager at HUM today.

Isn’t it amazing what bright and capable guys can do when they get clean, focused and develop a spiritual connection!

Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director