Real change, one man at a time
by Daniel Bramlett
Friday night was a high point for me. I got to witness the graduation of the first three Banner Hope participants. Their graduation represents hundreds of hours of teaching time for lots of volunteers, a whole book of Scripture memory verses, the completion of multiple courses, over 500 hours of community service and lots of new friendships. This is a story of what God can do when we get out of the way.
When Banner started, we didn’t know how to run a rehab. We didn’t know the depth of addiction. We didn’t know the hellfire the enemy was going to pour down our throats as we did ministry in his backyard. All we knew is Southwest Arkansas was being choked to death by drug addiction and Jesus held the keys to freedom. With the greatest amount of humility we could muster, we prayed and asked God to lead us in this effort. Slowly, one at a time, the pieces began to fall into place. God began to give us a vision of a region free of the stranglehold of addiction. We believe Jesus is the missing link in this freedom process, and we began to act on that belief.
One by one, men began to emerge from the darkness with a desire to be free. I was in the room when these three graduates were first interviewed. We heard their stories and spoke frankly about the hard work in front of them if they entered into this program. We placed the large, thorough applicant agreement in front of them, and they each signed it. That began one year of early morning devotionals, weekly meetings with counselors, deep theological conversations and lots of different skills classes that vary from cooking to carpentry. Weekly worship services marked the beginning of each week. This has been an arduous process for every volunteer, every teacher, every leader and every participant. These men earned these diplomas. I am so proud of each of them.
Each of these men represent restored families, restored homes, restored sons and restored citizens. Each of them worked hard, taking from our community because the enemy had taken so much from them. They were working to survive. Now, they are giving; they are thriving. You can be proud of these men.
What does fruit look like from this work in the long term? I can tell you quickly what it doesn’t look like. It won’t be a factory that churns out perfect men. Men who stand up in our program are still human. They will disappoint, fail and sometimes relapse. They will not be perfect. But, many of them for the first times in their lives, will want what God wants for them. They will seek Him and the righteousness He provides. They will look for the good before they choose the bad. They will serve and willingly put themselves at the back of the line instead of racing for the front. They will love Jesus and the people Jesus places in their lives.
I tell people all the time, every step toward Jesus is a good step. We thank God for real men; men who fail and men who can stand up again. We see good, productive citizens being made. They aren’t critical and hopeless. They don’t see all that is wrong in our area but all that is right. They don’t want to spend their days in the darkness, guessing which way leads out of whatever problem they are facing. They’ve learned how to spend their days walking in the Light, trusting the God who leads them.
Please pray for these men and their families. Right now, we have nine men in our care. These are fine men who have been trapped by the enemy for far too long. They are learning how to stand up. Please pray for them. They are learning how to give the Lord their hearts, minds, souls, strength, lips, hands and feet. Every part of their bodies has to be retrained. Every piece of their lifestyle has to be combed and restructured. Just like a major surgery patient has to receive rehab, so these men have many, many hours of work to accomplish before they are ready to walk again. But God is doing it. Please continue to pray for them.
Thank you for one solid year of prayers and time. So many of you have volunteered in some way or another. THANK YOU! We are excited about year two. God is teaching us so many new things and we are ready to learn! If you would like to be a part of all God is doing through Banner Hope Center, please call 501.514.5260 and ask for Rusty. He is our Director and he would love to talk about how you can partner with us for an addiction free Southwest Arkansas.