David Martin is getting a fresh start at age 41.
That's when he heard about A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries — a disciplined, Christ-centered recovery program in the Overton area.
He said the court agreed to let him come to East Texas, and it's been a good experience.
“It's really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hate I missed out on in the first 40 years of my life,” Martin said. “It's almost like being a little kid going to school for the first time. It's been such a blessing to come down here and be exposed to this — just to be here. This is my first chance to deal with it on a spiritual basis.”
He said he thinks anybody who's tried all other outlets needs a chance to take a break and come to the ministry.
“Take time out and dedicate it to God. (It's an) opportunity to get right with God and get yourself together …” he said. “At 41, I have made a total wreck of my life. I have more memories over the last five and a half months that I can carry forward — positive, good things, experiences, relationships that I've made. They outweigh any kind of relationships or any kind of memories and stuff that I've had (prior).”
Martin is one of seven men staying at A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries' rehabilitation/discipleship home.
The main requirement for joining A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries is “a desire to change their lives,” said program director Denise Walker, who lives on the property as well.
It is for all addictions or “anything that's a stronghold in your life that's keeping you from progressing forward,” she said.
Each participant is asked for at least a six-month commitment.
Days are spent studying the Bible, eating, participating in prayer and worship, watching videos, completing assignments, cleaning up the grounds and attending classes led by teachers from churches.
Men also have access to counselors and get free time to work on facility repairs, use exercise machines or play with the two dogs there, among other things. The men use the on-site laundry machines at their designated time.
Outside the property, the men do lawn work and car washes to support A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries, a nonprofit organization that runs on donations.
They also make crosses, which are sold to bring in income for the program.
A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries, short for A Dedicated Disciple In Christ Today, started more than a decade ago.
After moving from Tyler to a Flint facility, the program then had the opportunity to move back to a facility in Tyler, which happened to be in the Azalea District, Ms. Walker said.
The Tyler City Council in June declined to support a zoning change to allow Ms. Walker to continue operating A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries out of her Rusk Street home.
City spokeswoman Susan Guthrie said via email that the way the organization wanted to use the house was not in compliance with the zoning for that neighborhood.
Tyler's zoning laws prohibit halfway houses and rescue missions in the district.
Ultimately, she found its current facility in the Overton area, where it has been since last summer. A dedication event is scheduled for Sunday.
“Someone told us about this facility coming available because it used to be a ministry here …” Ms. Walker said. “It was kind of falling apart and had died, so we came in and started bringing it to life again, cleaning it up, and they allowed us to move in.”
She said the ministry is all about helping people who struggle with various addictions.
“Our desire is to see men as well as women have an opportunity for a second chance — to be transformed by the renewing of their minds,” she said. That “the criminal behavior, the drug addiction — the things that's caused them to be, I guess you would say, a menace to society — would be removed from their mindset to help them know the love of God and what Jesus died for in the hopes that it will change their mind about the way they've been living and give them some sense of self-worth.”
In the future, Ms. Walker sees more teachers and more people financially supporting the program. A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries also hopes to get a trailer or house put on the property for women and start going into schools and other places, where the men can give testimonies and people can see what the ministry does, she said.
“Maybe we can give hope. If they can hear from men, it can be a deterrent to some of their behavior,” she said.
Ms. Walker also said the ministry wants to be more involved in the Henderson community and surrounding areas.
Last month, the men passed out fliers, and they already have a spot in Henderson for their car wash. Ms. Walker said the group did car washes in Tyler, so they're looking forward to becoming completely established in the Henderson area.
“I could say it's a lot of work, but I think when God is calling you to do something, it's really not as heavy as it looks … because He helps you to do it all,” Ms. Walker said.
She should also have help from Patrick McVey Hall, 61, who came to A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries about six months ago.
Hall, who was in prison for 40 years and converted to Christianity there, said it has helped him tremendously and taught him things such as obedience and to try his best to be a productive citizen.
“For me, this is a transition back into society. My testimony is it's worked for me, and it's still working for me,” he said.
It's worked so well that he plans to stay and help the ministry, even if it means being thousands of miles from his hometown of Detroit.
“I know I don't have to stay. I'm grateful this has been good, not only for me but it has been good to me,” he said.
He added, “I'm happy. I'll forever be grateful for this ministry. Not that I owe them, it's just this ministry gave me a second chance at life. I'm not going to ever forget that, and I'm going to pay God back by staying here and helping this ministry. We're going to prosper. We're going to grow.”
This report contains excerpted information from Tyler Morning Telegraph archives.