Treating addiction just one part of the Mission's mission - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Treating addiction just one part of the Mission's mission

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Salvation comes easy for "Spanky" Brown inside the four walls of his dwelling at the Oliver Gospel Mission in downtown Columbia. In there, life's temptations are shut out.

"I lost my house, my car, my boat, by truck, good job of 27 years. Lost all that because of my stupidity," said Brown.

Bad choices, many times made after too much alcohol, brought "Spanky" to The Oliver Gospel Mission. But, not before a robbery conviction landed him in prison for 10 years.

"I did all my 40's in the penitentiary," said Brown.

Now at 55, it's round two for "Spanky" in the Mission's Recovery Program, a ministry that helps men beat drug and alcohol addictions. "Spanky" left early last time. Six months of hard work, gone when he simply walked out.

Handling addiction is a challenge for many of the men at the Mission, even if they're in it for the long haul.

Instead of 12 steps, it's four phases of working on the mind, heart, and finding a career. Channon Moss is close to landing his first job post-recovery.

"I'm just all smiles right now," said Moss. "We still have our ups and downs. We've learned how to deal with them instead of turning to a bottle or drugs. We know how to deal with our emotions and cope with our issues now."

It didn't come overnight for Moss. He put in the hard work to heal from the inside out. He stopped drinking, earned his GED, and learned to be a better dad.

"I've done and completed in 6 months, given time to just leave the drugs and alcohol alone and using my mind the way God intended it to be used," said Moss.

Moss is now an example of what men now entering the program strive to be, like Jeremy Jeffers.

Jeffers just re-entered the program. He's back after four years away proved to be too much. He fell into bad habits. Now he's back to a program he believes will "stick" this time.

"A lot of structure, a lot of counseling, a lot of good people good preachers, a lot of good things were put in me; planting seeds and prayer," said Jeffers.

Jimmy Perry is back in the program as well.

Like "Spanky" and Jeffers, Perry is back after a return to his old neighborhood quickly brought back old habits.

"First thing I did, bought alcohol, bought marijuana, started dishing out money," said Perry.

When Perry left last time, he says he left the gospel at the Mission, but an ultimatum from his girlfriend brings a promise that this time is different.

"She told me to stop," said Perry. "Either it's the drugs or me. So I stopped."

It's Pastor Tony Gordon's job to make sure these men get a healthy dose of the gospel, practical life skills, physical activity, and community service.

It's a year-long commitment to changing the way they think, they feel, they love, they work, and they make decisions free of addiction.

"Every one of our clients, they're someone's son, somebody's husband, brother or uncle, people like all of us know," said Gordon.

"It's good to know that you aren't the one to have to do it, there is a higher power, a Holy Spirit that's able to keep you from falling," said Gordon.

Falling has come easy for "Spanky" but it's at the Mission, where he's accepted and loved, that he's learned he's not the only one. Everyone falls sometimes, but it always helps to know someone is there to sing your praises.

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