Constructing redemption

Published 9:07 pm Friday, September 11, 2009

For many years, Ralph Scott didn’t see himself as a pastor or even a Christian.

“I’m a face-value type of person,” Scott said, admitting he had trouble with the concept of faith for many years.

Scott, a Portsmouth native, began smoking marijuana at the age of 11, and was sniffing and injecting heroin by the time he turned 17. He cycled through the legal system and numerous substance abuse treatment programs, never finding any of them effective.

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“I kept going through that cycle,” he said. “I was caught up and didn’t know how to get out.”

However, his life changed in 2001 when he was once again in a drug treatment program. Late at night, he cried out to God, seeking evidence of His existence.

“God, if you’re really God, take this away,” he said.

It was a sleepless night for Scott, but when morning came, he wasn’t suffering any of the usual effects of withdrawal he usually endured.

“God did it for me,” Scott said. “He delivered me from it.”

Since then, Scott has gotten married and become an ordained minister. He became mentor to people in Portsmouth’s drug court recovery programs — and it was there he found his gift for helping others find the deliverance he experienced.

“People get in the state of mind of trying to do it by themselves,” Scott said. “You’ve got to have a good foundation. The spiritual foundation never breaks … I teach them how to apply Biblical principles to everyday life.”

This year, Scott started his first church with about four people in someone’s living room. The church grew out of his drug mentoring, but has since moved beyond that, he said.

“It has changed not only ex-offenders’ lives, but people never affiliated with drugs,” Scott said. “I’m excited about it.”

From its beginnings, the church has grown to more than 30 people just since February, he said. Last month, the church moved into its first building that is not somebody’s home — a rented space at 9 S. Court St. in Windsor. All are welcome for worship service at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, and Bible study at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t be talking about Jesus Christ the way I am unless He proved himself to me,” Scott said. “I think He did this for a reason.”

Scott hopes people will attend the new church to get help for an addiction, or simply to worship.

“Jesus Christ exists,” he said. “Folks are afraid of that word ‘faith.’ I think people would rather take things into their own hands.

“There is hope if you know how to deal with it.”