LaVale Baptist Church and other churches in the Cumberland area are taking a stand against the opioid crisis, and it all started with prayer.
While meeting together as the local National Day of Prayer Committee, God created a bond of the likeminded pastors and lay leaders.
They began meeting regularly as “Cumberland Area United Church Outreach” and began to address community issues from a spiritual standpoint. A big issue is the opioid epidemic.
“We want to see people saved and their lives transformed,” says Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale Baptist Church (LBC). “The opioid crisis is one of the problems plaguing us out here in Western Maryland. We’re trying to see what we can do.”
The stereotype “junkie” is no more, Jeffries said.
“There are a lot of folks who have fallen into addiction through injuries or chronic pain prescriptions,” he said. “We want them to know there is hope, and there is a future, and they can reach out for help.”
Another member of the church outreach committee, David Hill, a member of Central Assembly of God, was addicted to heroin and has spent time in prison.
He now leads an organization called, “Hope Against Heroin.” That group sponsors a march each year that draws over 1,000 people to bring awareness to the issue and help to those suffering.
Marchers start from six different locations and end at the canal where there are bands, people giving testimonies, food, and booths with various health organizations offering information and help.
LaVale Baptist Church has joined in the annual march. Jeffries takes an active role each year. This year members participated in the march and provided hot dogs, chips, and water with the help of an extended family of the Jeffries’ who lost a son last year to an overdose.
Everyone is touched, Jeffries said. Every family has a connection to someone suffering from opioid addiction and most have lost a loved one or friend to an overdose.
Bringing awareness is the start of dealing with the problem, he said, but ultimately Christ is the answer.