It’s hard to watch the local news today without hearing a lot about the heroin epidemic that is sweeping the country. It is especially bad here in Ohio. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the inner city, the suburbs or the rural areas of Ohio. It’s everywhere.
With all of the bad news coming with this subject, you can still find some good news and inspiring stories. Check out the story of the in the video below, from here in Lorain County.
What a powerful story.
He had been to government sponsored rehab for his addiction over and over and over and over again. And he had failed every time.
He finally lost his wife, and then his freedom as well. After getting out of prison, he went back to the drugs even harder than before.
Finally, another man reached out to him. A man who ran a faith-based program got involved in his life. He’s been clean ever since, reunited with his wife and spends time with his kids every day. Instead of getting high.
Within an hour of watching this video, I found myself at Beyond the Walls Church in Elyria. After reading more and why they need help (which I’ll get to shortly), I had to see it with my own eyes and made the short drive to check it out.
Paul Grodell from the video is the head pastor of Beyond the Walls Church. He doesn’t look like the stereotypical pastor. He looks like he should be leading a motorcycle gang instead of a church. But he saves lives.
How do they do it?
They call their program “Creation House”. It’s not a quick fix, but other faith-based that are similar to this have an 80% success rate, much much higher than government and traditional rehab programs. This is how it works.
Creation House first and foremost is a HOME. The most important facet of any home is the foundation. We believe that a Faith Based, Christ centered Home is the answer to the breakdown of the family, and the dynamics as well as the struggles that come with it.
There are 3 Phases that are implemented when a candidate enters Creation House, and they are part of our Mission Statement.
Reach the Lost, Restore the Broken, and Release the New Creation
The Introductory Phase – whether we go out to the streets, under bridges, in abandoned homes or someone comes to us, we accept them as they are, right where they are at.
Phase I: Introductory Phase (First 4 months) REACH
Candidates should enter Creation House with the understanding that after the Intake Process and the Conduct Agreement that they are HOME! This home is a faith based program that teaches biblical principles through group and individual studies. The core of this phase is the mentoring that takes place on a daily basis. We call it the Paul & Timothy ministry for the men and Naomi and Ruth ministry for the woman.
Phase II: Training & Teaching (Next 4 months) RESTORE
This portion of the ministry is vital as it uncovers behavior patterns that held the candidate in destructive cycles and the life of addiction. The Training & Teaching program helps the candidate to get a biblical view of why they were created and the purpose and vocation in their life.
Phase III: New Creation (Last 4 Months) RELEASE
Planning for the Exodus! In the last four months of the program, the candidate plans out a reintegration back into society. The candidate can begin the process of looking for employment via internet, phone interviews, transportation, home church, a place to live and most of all an accountability partner. Putting into practice what has been learned in the previous eight months.Creation House first and foremost is a HOME. The most important facet of any home is the foundation. We believe that a Faith Based, Christ centered Home is the answer to the breakdown of the family, and the dynamics as well as the struggles that come with it.
Just last year, the church bought an old school building for $50,000, with plans to use it to greatly expand their ability to help the addicted and the homeless. It will be the new Creation House.
Being under 45 minutes from Cleveland, Beyond the Walls got a special visitor in July. When House Speaker Paul Ryan was in town for the Republican National Convention was in town, he headed to Creation House for what he called his “most important meeting of the convention.”
Read more about Speaker Ryan’s dedication to this issue here and here. He has a plan to fight poverty and addiction, and part of it includes removing government barriers, allowing more indigenous programs like Beyond the Walls to sprout and operate.
Ryan says his plan would create more places Beyond the Walls that can help people recover from addiction, a problem both parties have identified this year as one that must be solved.
“What we are trying to do is get rid of those barriers in society to make sure more of this can happen,” Ryan said.
Unbelievably, the city of Elyria is actually adding barriers, not getting rid of them. You would think that the city would do everything it could to help them. Instead, Elyria has tried to shut them down.
The building was safe enough for children, but not safe enough for adults. At least, that’s what the local code enforcement officer said.
But that isn’t what Paul Grodell was told when he and his ministry first purchased the old abandoned school building. They were ready to transform the 62,000-square-foot eyesore into a church and a recovery home for opioid addicts—something the impoverished and heroin-infested city of Elyria, Ohio, desperately needed.
So what’s the problem?
“They eventually told us the building met state requirements for a school,” Grodell said, “but now that we changed the use of the building to a place of worship, it changed all the fire code violations.”
As recently as 2009, the school had housed more than 1,000 young children. But according to the code enforcement officer, the building was no longer “safe” by state standards, even though nothing about the building had changed. And the explanation for the last-minute new requirements was even more baffling to Grodell.
“They told us their reasoning for requiring all this work is because they taught the children fire drills a couple times a year, so the kids would know how to get out of a burning building,” Grodell said. “But I guess they think grown adults wouldn’t be able to figure it out.”
The cost for updating the building—which must include dozens of new doors, new walls, new fire alarms (even though the current system works just fine) and a whole assortment of confusing bureaucratic mandates—adds up to about $75,000.
The church already needed hundreds of thousands to totally convert the large 3-story portion of the school into dozens of dormitories for the people they are treating. But then, the city came and kicked them out of the 1-story portion of the school where they held their worship services.
They were forced to put up tents and hold services in the parking lot. And it further delays them from being able to treat more people who need it.
They now have a temporary permit and are back in the building with some temporary measures. But they are still far from the $75,000 they need to meet the city’s demands.
This is where they need our help. It will take a lot of money to address the city’s code requirements and complete the renovation to get Creation House fully under operation so the people they are treating have a home.
First, if you can donate to this cause, even just a few dollars, please do so at their newly created GoFundMe page.
Second, please share this story on social media and/or email it to your contacts.
The more people who learn the story of this incredible project here in Ohio, the more people they can save and the faster they can improve their neighborhood.