By Chris Moon
Gateway Christian Church in Saint Albans, W.Va., is not turning a blind eye to the drug problem in its community.
The church purchased a home near its campus and converted it into a recovery house for men emerging from substance abuse addictions. Three residents currently are living in the home, and work is ongoing to make room for more.
“The problem is so big,” said Dave Stauffer, lead pastor of the multisite church. “It’s bad everywhere. We can’t ignore it. We want to reach people with the gospel, but it’s hard to do that when they are strung out on drugs.”
The church is using a close-proximity therapeutic model that integrates the residents of its recovery house into the life of the church. Residents serve in the church and are part of small groups. They also work in the facilities department at the church, which averages about 750 weekly and also has locations in Marmot, Teays Valley, and Beckley, W.Va., and Haiti.
“These men need to be close to the faith community,” Stauffer said. “It puts the responsibility on them, and it puts the responsibility on us to include them and make their recovery part of our mission.”
The church began looking into ideas about how to make an impact on the drug-abuse problem in its community after Stauffer served several years ago on a local grand jury. He said about 90 percent of the cases brought before the grand jury that year were drug-related.
“I was kind of convicted in that courtroom,” Stauffer said. “We haven’t done anything about it. The Lord was dealing with me on that issue.”
A KEY HIRE AND A HOME PURCHASE
Meanwhile, the church hired Dennis Mosley to serve as a facilities manager at the church. Mosley has been free of a crystal meth addiction for more than 10 years and now is seeking a master’s degree in counseling.
“God sent us Dennis, and this was his passion and heart,” Stauffer said. “Dennis is leading the charge.”
The church bought a house next to its main campus and, in December 2019, began offering it up as a recovery house. A remodel to the basement of the house should allow for three or four more residents, in addition to the three rooms that currently are in use.
The typical stay is 6 to 12 months.
Stauffer said the Gateway congregation, after initial and temporary pushback from some parents in the church’s day care program, is on board with the program.
“They love that we are doing something,” he said. “A lot of people talk about this problem in our country, but not everybody does something about it.”
Recently, the church brought residents of the recovery home to the front of the sanctuary during a Sunday service. One resident had just celebrated six months of sobriety. Another was celebrating two years.
“It was applause,” Stauffer said. “It was just total support.”
The church uses a 12-step recovery program in the house, and the men are required to attend four to five support meetings a week.
Mosley hopes someday the church will open more recovery houses, including one for women.
“The most important thing is to save lives,” he said. “If you can’t save his life, you can’t save his soul.”
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.