Posted on : Tuesday August 12, 2014

By Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE Correspondent

Monarch HouseNORTH EAST, Md.—New Beginnings Christian Fellowship (NBCF) officially opened their nonprofit ministry, “The Monarch House,” a drug and alcohol recovery home on Main Street in the small water-oriented town of North East. Men with at least 21 days of verifiable sobriety may stay in the house from six months to a year. In addition to the sobriety rules and daily curfew, the men attend worship services and Celebrate Recovery sessions at NBCF. The house will accommodate six men.

Robert Laird is the manager of the new recovery home. He is a self-professed recovering alcoholic and a member of NBCF where Phil Meekins is the senior pastor.

“Pastor Phil has a great passion for this ministry,” Laird said. Meekins also struggled with addictions in his past. Read Meekins’ testimony here.

Laird praises God for his recovery from addictions. He calls it a “spiritual awakening.” He said he drank until he was 49 years old without significant consequences. Then he fell hard. He went to “thousands” of meetings, was in and out of rehab houses, halfway houses, and was even homeless.

While in a mental health ward at a hospital, Laird said he had a “spiritual awakening,” and felt God moving in his heart.

“For a brief moment, God let me look at myself through the eyes of my children,” he said.

“I knew what was leading me back to my inability to stop drinking was my guilt and shame over missing time with my family”

He walked back home from the hospital from Elkton to North East. When he was almost home, he realized he had passed several bars and liquor stores where he would always stop to pick up the cheapest liquor he could find. This time he hadn’t.

“God removed my compulsion to drink,” Laird realized.

Laird called Phil Meekins. He had heard of Meekins and the church through a conversation with a local reporter. Laird makes and sells sand-cast bird baths. He met a reporter who suggested writing an article about his craft. In passing conversation, she mentioned Meekins and New Beginnings Christian Fellowship. The name stuck in his head. He called Meekins and Meekins responded and mentored Laird.

“Pastor Phil took me under his wing. I spoke to him every day. I always knew Jesus died on a cross and shed his blood for everyone but I didn’t think I was worthy. I came to find out I was included. That went from my head to my heart and my heart changed forever,” he said. “It changed my outlook on everything.”

Laird stays at the home and oversees the daily operation as well as helps with the church’s extensive food ministry.

For more information about the house, email Laird,