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When Jane sat down beside Lori Cline, a Mission volunteer teacher in the Downtown Rescue Mission’s classes for women, she was a broken person, hunched over in her chair and too depressed to even have much human interaction. While there’s no normal progression for a person who falls into addiction, Jane wasn’t who you’d think of when you picture a person who becomes a drug addict. She had a college degree, a good career, was married and had children.
And like so many addiction stories, it only took one thing to start her downward spiral. Jane went through a messy divorce. Then a car accident left her needing pain pills. Those pills were necessary at first, but she soon realized the opioids gave her false peace.
“When she came into the program and sat down next to me … her shoulders were so rolled forward and her head was so bowed down, it broke your heart to look at her,” Lori said. “She was so broken that she couldn’t even make eye contact with you.”
But over the course of her time at Downtown Rescue Mission, Jane started to change. As she learned more and more about God, the God who loved her, Lori could see her eyes light up with every concept she understood. The following winter, Jane was a speaker for an event at the Mission.
She was a different person—one who was confident and articulate, one who didn’t allow the fear to stop her from talking to people or standing up in front of an audience. Jane is just one of the many success stories coming out of the Downtown Rescue Mission’s recovery programs.
For the past seven years, Lori has volunteered by teaching classes for Downtown Rescue Mission’s women’s program—a year-long drug and alcohol recovery program. She’s seen some who were not ready, but she’s also seen a lot of women like Jane who got their lives back from the addiction that took over.
The classes Lori is assigned to teach revolve around finding a practical application for the things written in the Bible. Many of the ladies in her classes know God’s Word because they had a relationship with God but have fallen away from Him. Lori has noticed most of her students know the verses and what Jesus said to do—and not to do. The confusion comes when they try to take those 2,000-year-old words and apply them to 2017.
“They don’t know how to use God’s Word to bring strength into their life or how to lean on it in any form,” Lori said. “They can quote you Bible verses, but they don’t really know how to apply it in their life or even what it looks like in action.”
Called To Action
Lori was a Navy wife for two decades, moving around the world with her husband every two or three years. She’s been coast-to-coast and even lived in London for a while. While her husband was serving his country, Lori felt she was called to serve as well—just in a different capacity. She got involved with military ministries, working with servicemen and women and their families. After her husband retired and she returned stateside, she was lost as to where she could go to serve God.
“We had been here maybe four months, and I was praying—what did God want me to do because Huntsville is right there with the … Arsenal, and I thought maybe God wanted me to continue with military ministry,” Lori said.
When someone from Downtown Rescue Mission came to speak to her Sunday School class, she knew she had an answer to that prayer.
“I literally felt the Holy Spirit doing a tap dance,” Lori said.
The 12-month program for women focuses on teaching them how to have a relationship with Jesus and then using that faith to overcome addiction. Throughout the year, the women receive food, shelter and life skills classes, like budgeting and job skills. On top of that, the Mission has staff and volunteers like Lori come in and teach classes centered on using biblical principles in everyday life.
Empathy for Her Students
At first Lori was hesitant to help with this program. Her life had been pretty straight-laced for the most part—at least in recent years—so she wasn’t quite sure how she would relate to women battling addiction.
During her very first class, a woman asked if Lori was going to help her not be homeless any more. It was a legitimate question, so Lori took the opportunity to show the women that she had been through some rough times as well. If she could survive, so could they.
Until then, Lori had only told a few people about what happened to her as a teenager. She lost her virginity when she was raped at 19, but because of the conservative Christian community she grew up in, she didn’t tell anyone what happened. The rape and secrets led to a lot of bad decisions.
This little connection has allowed Lori to be relatable to the women she’s teaching. The women realized she understood some of the things that caused bad life choices.
It wasn’t the only time Lori has been able to relate to her students. One time she eliminated sugar from her diet for two years. She managed that decision well until she saw a QVC segment offering petit fours. She had a Christmas party coming up, and the rationalization set in—surely she couldn’t go to a Christmas party without bringing something sweet. It was the same kind of addiction cycle her students go through. They want to quit, but then one thing or the another comes into their lives, and they start to reason why it would be okay just one more time.
“When you eliminate something from your life that is a … core thing—you go to a party and sweets are part of it—it’s a little bit painful, and you realize that we all are addicted to something, and we tend to replace God with things for comfort instead of going to God for comfort,” Lori said.
Recently Lori was diagnosed with a genetic condition that makes her extra sensitive to heavy-metal poisoning—to the point that even one of those aluminum tumblers made her sick. One day the pain was so bad she thought about taking some left over pain pills from a surgery she’d had earlier.
“If you’re missing God, and you do get on pain meds in your life, it does bring a sense of relief of some sort,” Lori said. “If you don’t have God, you just go for the easiest thing. And most of the time, pills are the easiest thing. If you can’t get them legally, you get them illegally.”
Drug addiction is hard to beat, but the teachers at the Mission want you to know that it is possible with God.
Lori Cline is just one of the dedicated teachers at Downtown Rescue Mission. If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol addiction, contact Alease Bigby, Director of Women’s Program, (256) 536-2441, ext. 347.
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