Each Harvest Evangelism graduate has unique story

Each Harvest Evangelism graduate has unique story

Fourteen graduates of Harvest Evangelism’s recovery program celebrated one year free from addiction in a service held July 20 at First United Methodist Church, Opelika.

“It’s a celebration of what they have accomplished and a reminder that there is still a battle to be fought,” said Rick Hagans, founder of Harvest Evangelism.

Hagans began the ministry in 1986 to serve those seeking freedom from addiction.

“We are a Christ-centered, Bible-based Christian recovery home,” Hagans said. “It’s for men and women with life controlling issues like drugs, alcohol and all the things that lead them to use drugs and alcohol.”

His Place for men and Hosanna Home for women each help between 15 and 25 residents at a time in the one-year rehabilitation program.

“Broken humanity’

“Most came to us homeless, some out of prison, a couple from mental institutions,” Hagans said. “This is broken humanity, which we all are without Christ.”

Brittany Bonner came to Harvest seven months pregnant and completely addicted to methamphetamines. Afraid for her baby’s life, she tried repeatedly to get clean and sometimes begged God to take her life.

At Hosanna Home, the only Christian program in Alabama accepting pregnant mothers and mothers with their children, Hagans said, Bonner found refuge and identity in Christ.

“God has made an amazing turn around in my life,” Bonner said. “I’ve become this mother that I never thought I could be. I’m starting school in the fall. I know that tests will come but I’m excited to see what God has for me and my children.”

His Place director, Kenny Young, a Harvest graduate himself, can relate to the men in his care. Young came to Harvest from a neighborhood called “Meth Mountain” where he made and sold drugs. Young said he had lost everything.

At Harvest he discovered freedom from addiction, a deeper relationship with God and a calling to help others. Since then, Young has seen 17 men graduate under his care.

“God turned everything I had around,” Young said. “I was homeless. I tried to commit suicide twice. I didn’t have nothing. Next thing you know here I am running a ministry.”

“These men come in broken,” Young said. “We just show a guy love. Society shuns them because they are addicts. We show them who Christ is and He shows them who they are.”

Graduates shared their testimonies of life before and after accepting Christ. Leading individuals to Christ is what Harvest Evangelism is all about, Hagans said.

“We go unto them and bid them come unto us,” Hagans said. “There are all kinds of hurts out there but the solution is Jesus changing people.”

Seeking freedom

Harvest graduate, Jamie Hairel, began using meth at age 17. He received Christ at 38 but soon relapsed to his addiction.

“I was going to church three days a week and getting high at night,” Hairel said. After suffering an overdose, he heard God calling him to seek freedom.

“Through the classes and the love I found here, I learned who Jesus really was and I realized I had been set free,” he said.

April Boggs had a beautiful family and a great teaching job but struggled with feelings of inadequacy before she tried meth when her mother was dying with cancer. She was hooked from the start but at Harvest she found more than a way out.

“I’m a different person today,” Boggs said. “That is all because of Jesus and what He’s done for me. He was my Savior when I came here, but now He is Lord of my life. He changed me from the inside out. I thought I had done too much wrong, but He made a way for me.

At Hosanna Home women learn that faith in Jesus is the only way to stay sober. “It’s more than sobriety,” Boggs said. “It’s learning to walk with Jesus every day and to put Him first.”

Brandon Chavis’ drug addiction left him homeless and serving jail time. He drifted in and out of mental facilities before coming to His Place where he met Jesus.

“If not for His Place, I would probably be back in jail or on drugs again,” Chavis said. “I was just lost and I turned to drugs and alcohol to kill the pain. Now I’ve got my health back and I even have a relationship with my family. I’m a new me and I don’t have to have that poison in my system anymore.”

Allison McBride sought validation in bad relationships and drugs costing her custody of her children. She tried other rehab programs but couldn’t stay clean for long.

“The other times I tried to get clean, there was no God in any of that,” McBride said. “This time the whole focus was on Him and that has made all the difference. He has changed the areas of my life that led me to addiction.”

Harvest serves residents free of charge and is supported by donations from individuals and churches. To learn how you can help, visit their website at www.harvestevangelism.org or call 256-868-0281.