by Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE Correspondent
GLEN BURNIE, Md. –Every Sunday evening about 30 people arrive at Glen Burnie Church with books in hand, grabbing cups of coffee, chatting and settling in. They’re attentive and ready to go. They’re participating in Recovery in Christ, a ministry of Glen Burnie Church, and they’re in the process of seeing God break their chains of addiction.
Founder and leader, Foty Namo, is so excited when he discusses the response to the ministry, that he leans forward, talks louder and his Greek accent becomes more pronounced. “It’s a very demanding course,” Namo explains, “but with love,” he stressed.
Namo uses a tweaked 12-step approach that strongly emphasizes the need for Jesus and he leans heavily on positive reinforcement yet holding them accountable. A large part of the program’s success is Namo’s strong connection and his tenacity with his students.
He began working with addicts while doing prison ministry at Ordnance and Jennifer Road Detention Centers, and now has added Brockridge Correctional Facility and Jessup Correctional Institution.
“I wanted to go to Hawaii, Haiti, Jamaica, The Virgin Islands, anywhere to be a missionary…then the Lord said,‘Really?’…and He sent me to prison,” Namo laughed.
He claims an 80 percent recovery rate. “Those who come to my class don’t go back to prison,” Namo said with a twinkle in his eye. “I will never give up on anyone who is part of this program no matter what it takes,” he said. Christ does not give up on people, Namo explained, and it is He who is working through the program.
When some of his students left prison, they couldn’t find a program like Namo’s and asked him if he would start something on the “outside,” so he began offering the program at the church. Now, in addition to those who were recently released from prison, the Sunday program includes church members and others in the community.
There are four “codes” Namo teaches:
1) wake up!
2) want to change;
3) submit to Christ and
4) stay on track.
“It’s a no nonsense approach,” Namo said. Jesus is the higher power, it is only through Him that people can be changed. “If you take Jesus from the course I might as well pack up and go home.” “It is better to die than to compromise. I am here to satisfy His desires.If the truth steps on the toes of addicts than so be it,” he stressed.
“There are twin brothers in addiction. One is the addiction itself and the other is the craving. They can quit the addiction.They can’t quit the craving. The only way to quit the craving is through Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Everything I do is in the power of Christ, not in the power of how I teach,” he added.
Namo seeks volunteers to help with the program in various ways: teaching; being part of a prayer team; becoming a mentor; and researching local resources. For more information, contact Namo at [email protected].