Southside Baptist offers help to the lost

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

You can run but you cannot hide from God.

That was essentially the message three local women said they kept receiving as, throughout their lives, they repeatedly committed acts that would separate them from God’s presence and love. Conversely, they are now so in love with God that they are leading others to the cross through a new Drug and Alcohol Outreach Ministry at Southside Baptist Church.

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Katrina Courson, Sherri Hagaman and Karen Ann Reagle recently bared their souls to describe their own addictive behaviors.

The R. Stewart McCarter said the women came to him with a vision of helping others addicted to drugs and alcohol. He set up a meeting with Ron Vinson of New Mount Joy Family Worship Center, Vinson’s spiritual home where he established the first alcohol and drug outreach ministry in Suffolk.

Through New Mount Joy’s program, more than 3,000 people have received the ministry of Jesus Christ and recovered from alcohol and drugs, said Vinson, founder of the &uot;Brothers Against Drugs&uot; program.

&uot;I got together with the Assistant Pastor of Southside Baptist, John Rismiller, to help put together the program for his church,&uot; said Vinson. &uot;We all sat down and talked and we worked out the details to establish the alcohol and drug outreach ministry here.&uot;

Reagle said she would be making contact with members of the community as she and Vinson visit the city’s courts and churches.

&uot;We want to visit the courts to let the judges and members of law enforcement know the ministry is here for them to refer people to for recovery,&uot; said Reagle. &uot;We also want to let the churches of Suffolk know that we are here for people struggling with addictions. We just want to let everyone know that we have been through it all – we understand addiction and how it destroys your life, takes your family away from you… we’ve seen it all and we believe our truth can help set others free of their addictions.&uot;

Hagaman serves as chairman of the Southside Baptist Drug and Alcohol Outreach Ministry. She proudly announced that she’s been &uot;clean&uot; for two years and she’s looking forward to helping others recover.

&uot;Each of us, Karen and Katrina and I have all been addicted to different substances,&uot; said Hagaman. &uot;I was mostly on alcohol but it’s been two years on that and I’ve been clean from drugs for four years now. I will never go back to it because I like how I feel when I get up in the morning and I have a family that cares about me. I still have bad days – like yesterday – it was bad but I just called my friends at church and got them to pray for me.&uot;

&uot;Alcohol, marijuana, crack, any kind of pills, all of it… I did it all,&uot; said Hagaman. &uot;It made me less than nothing, but God has shown me that it robs me of my self esteem, it steals all hope of a decent life and it will kill me. I was living hell on earth because I was spiritually and morally dead inside. I hit bottom and I know what it is to go to prostitution, abortion, physical and mental and sexual abuse as a child… I’ve been there.&uot; Hagaman said there was nothing she wouldn’t do for drugs until she went to jail for possession of cocaine, breaking and entering, two petit larcenies and several other charges.

&uot;I had hit bottom and I had nowhere to go but to Christ,&uot; she said. &uot;God has taken a person who was so broken, a person who wanted to die, and he’s filled me with hope and joy. As many drugs and all the alcohol – well, I just never got the feeling I now have with God through any of that.&uot;

Courson, just seven weeks from delivering a baby, said she was a &uot;party girl&uot; who tried alcohol and marijuana, but she was never addicted. Still, she saw her ex-husband kill himself because of drugs. She also saw friends become addicted. With all that knowledge, she feels that she can help save someone who is on that destructive path.

&uot;The one thing I can bring to the table is that once you know Christ, it never has to be that way again,&uot; said McCarter. &uot;You can give your family the hope that you have found, the confident expectation that you now have. Secondly, people who come in here to meet with these women will know that they will not be condemned or looked down on. We understand because Sherri, Katrina and Karen have come through it all and now they are living for the Lord and ready to help others overcome the same addictions.&uot;

&uot;I just want to say that I so appreciate the courage and dedication that these women have shown,&uot; said the pastor. &uot;With God’s help you can accomplish miracles.&uot;

The Southside Baptist Church Drug and Alcohol Outreach Ministry is open to all who will come in search of help. Contact the church at 539-6629, or visit them at 917 Carolina Road.