By Sharon Mager
BERLIN, Md—Spence Baptist Church (SBC) has a new recovery program called, “Stand Fast”, based on Galatians 5:1, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Church member Daniel Freeman recently began the ministry and it’s catching on fast. They had a meeting in October and invited the community to tell them about the new program and assess interest. They were stunned.
“We had well over one hundred people,” said SBC Pastor Ken Elligson.
The church is partnering with Seven Oaks Training Center, a ministry of Calvary Chapel Bangor Maine, with the purpose of helping men overcome the bondage of addiction through faith in Jesus Christ. The church has had a longtime relationship with the organization, sending many men to them for help over the years. Elligson said secular programs dealing with addictions have about a 5 to 6 percent success rate. Seven Oaks has over a 60 percent success rate.
Daniel Freeman was one of their successes. He grew up at SBC. “I went on Sundays with my parents, and to Bible school and Sunday School. I sang, ‘The B.I.B.L.E.’”
He made a confession of faith and was baptized. But when he grew up, he stopped attending, began drinking heavily and after college, began using pain killers and other opiates that led to an eight-year addiction.
“I believed in God, but I didn’t have a desire to live like a Christian,” Freeman said.
“I sought help from many different places. I went to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and I went to 30-day rehabs, and some other secular programs.”
His life began to spin out of control. His parents, members of SBC, knew about Seven Oaks, and urged their son to go.
Freeman acquiesced and decided to “play the game.” After a brief time, he wanted to leave the program, but Elligson and others encouraged him to stay. Reluctantly, he agreed, recommitted his life to Christ and God changed everything.
“I was submerged in four Bible studies a day and I began reading God’s word with my heart, not like a newspaper. It began to speak to me,” he said. He was immersed in the things of God.
When he completed the program, he chose to enroll in the organization’s school of ministry, a one-year program that combines classroom education with hands-on work in the mission field, alongside pastors one-on-one, and helping in all-aspects of church leadership. He will receive his certificate and be ordained later this year.
Freeman has a Bachelors Degree in History and is one class short of his Master’s Degree, but his former goal of being a history teacher no longer appeals to him. His heart is pulled to ministry.
He returned to SBC and the church enthusiastically supported him with the ministry. A Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Strengthening Churches grant provided seed money that allowed Freeman to purchase a computer, Bibles, and promotional material.
Currently, Freeman oversees meetings on Thursday nights at SBC for those struggling with addictions, as well as their family members, that includes Bible study and small group discussion. There’s also a time of fellowship, prayer and testimonies.
The church has a small home that is being updated to house men who are in the third phase of the Seven Oaks program. That’s where the men are ready to begin their new lives, get jobs, begin to support themselves and move back into society, but still under a watchful caring eye.
Devon Warman, from Seven Oaks’ Ministry Program, is also staying with Freeman’s parents until the home is complete and he’s helping Freeman with the program. He will eventually oversee the phase 3 home.
Freeman has plans to expand the meetings to Berlin and Pocomoke with the goal of having three meetings each week.
Local government officials and community leaders are enthusiastic about the program and plan to help with promotions.
“Drugs, particularly opiates, are out of control in the area,” Freeman said. “Since January 2016 in Worcester County, there have been 42 reported overdoses, many resulting in death.” Government leaders are struggling to find answers and they’re open to faith-based programs to help.
For more information contact Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.