By Sharon Mager
INDIAN HEAD, Md.—Jim Hodges, co-founder and leader in Road to Victory (RTV), a drug and alcohol addictions ministry at Indian Head Baptist Church, is laid back and relaxed. Sitting next to his wife, Marie, he prepares to begin the readings for the weekly RTV Saturday evening meeting. The group of about half a dozen just finished dinner – turkey burgers, a pasta dish, and salad. They enjoy a meal together each week before the meetings. As Jim opens his Bible and study notes, a few guys grab some coffee and quickly sit down. They talk about the church. Jim reads Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
“Why don’t people want to attend church?” Jim asks the group.
O’Bryan says, “Fear—they might have had a bad church experience.” (Full name not used intentionally.)
“Intimidation,” says Marie.
Paul says, “Maybe they don’t want to let people into their lives?”
“Maybe it’s commitment,” Jim says.
Each of the group members can relate. They’ve been addicted for years. Some have been in rehab, have fallen down, gotten up and fallen again. They’re in different places in their lives. Some are in their 20s, others in their 60s. They’ve all had different church experiences.
The meetings usually average about six people, sometimes more. With the encouragement of IHBC’s Pastor Jeff Dwyer, Hodges applied for, and received, a Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) strengthening churches grant. They used the funds to purchase a 30-hour Christian Counseling course. “We then embarked on three months of training before our weekly Saturday night meetings,” Jim said.
Marie is the only woman tonight, but there are others who have attended. One woman in the Charles County Detention Center was visited by webcast. Another was taken to Grace Home by her home church that morning.
Jim says Marie is the catalyst for how Road to Victory began. She shares that she became addicted to drugs in her 20s, but after receiving Christ in her life, He miraculously removed the addiction. She was amazed and thankful. She began attending a local church regularly.
“I struggled to fit in. No one took me under their wing, but instead of looking for someone to help me, I looked to the bottle,” she admits.
Jim says, “She got saved in 1986 and got victory over drugs and tobacco. But she thought she could drink, and it came back to bite her.
Meanwhile, Jim, though a believer, was not attending a church. “I had been a drug addict and a biker, I was in my late 20s, and the season of sin had run its course. I had gone way further than I wanted to go. I had wrecked my life. In 1986 I went down on my knees before God and prayed. I went to Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and to Narcotics Anonymous (NA).”
Marie and Jim had met in the military in 1979. The two married in 1986.
“My wife bought me a Bible and the Word of God spoke to me through reading His Word. One day I cried out and said the sinner’s prayer. I turned myself over to Him in 1991. For some time though, I really resisted the calling of joining a church. I went sporadically. I did a lot of good works as far as the world would see in a secular manner, but it wasn’t what God wanted.”
Jim loved Marie and saw that she was fighting a losing battle with alcohol. “She had season of grief, many deaths, began drinking…. We thought it was hopeless.”
Marie, smiling with joy, said Jim came to her and asked, “What can I do to help you stop drinking?” She answered, “Go to church with me.”
God led them to a Bible-believing church. The pastor, after hearing their story, was quick to refer Marie to Grace Home, a ministry of Hebron Colony in South Carolina.
“She knew she was back at the cross,” Jim said. Through the teaching, discipleship and love, Jim said Marie found healing and peace.
“She had a restoration and immediately she was a changed woman. The peace of God had finally sunk into her.”
God was also working on Jim. “He showed me who was in charge, where the power was and how far I had strayed from His intention for me, and what a sinner I really was. That time, our home changed. When she came back it was very much, ‘As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.’
“That’s what we’ve done since 2005”. Jim and Marie were so impressed by Marie’s transformation that they began to serve in local Celebrate Recovery Groups, to refer others to Hebron Ministries, and even to host Hebron graduates to help them acclimate into a church, to disciple them, help them get back to work, and continue to provide fellowship.
Paul Gautier, a 2005 graduate of Hebron, and Jim decided to form RTV in Oct. 2015. Jon, a 2015 Hebron graduate, coordinates Hebron admissions for the men and Marie and Melinda, a 2017 coordinate with Grace Home for the ladies.
The graduates and others who come to the meetings are encouraged to minister to others.
For example, during the Saturday night meeting, O’Bryan, a 2017 graduate, excused himself and took a phone call. When he returned, he shared that the call was from a man who was struggling with a crisis.
“We have a lot of ladies who come. Most are not necessarily full-blown in addiction, who need an in- patient rehabilitation,” Jim says. “We have some hard cases sometimes, but most women benefit from a women’s ministry and a loving church body. The men are everything from ‘right out of woods’ homeless to those who know they have serious issues,” Jim said.
Most people fail because no one comes along beside them, Jim said. “If you love on people, even though they can be the slickest con artists, if you love and walk with them, and do what you have to do, they’ll do exactly the same thing,” Jim said. They’ll follow Jesus’ example that you mirror, he explained.
The ministry leaders also emphasize the importance of working and the importance of fellowship. The main truth of all, is the absolute believe that a person can have Victory through Jesus Christ.