Tag Archives: addiction

The Devil’s Foothold

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The devil can get a foothold in each of our lives in many different ways. It does not matter your age, your race, your living conditions, or your income: he will at some point, and in some way, attempt to become the king of your life.

Last week we met with a man named Daniel who has suffered from being an alcoholic for about 10 years. This man has lost his wife, his job, tens of thousands of dollars, and most importantly his dignity and self-respect. One of the main things that stuck out to us was what he said when asked why he began to drink in the first place:

“When I was younger, I never felt like I fit in and all I wanted to do was fit in. Alcohol seemed to help me do this.”

In Daniel’s life, Satan made him feel different, left out, and alone. By doing this, he separated Daniel from people that could love, care, and support him but also discipline him when he needed it.

With many people we work with, the devil has made a way to leave an empty spot in their life. They are then choosing to fill this emptiness with something else, something of this world. This creates a foothold that the devil gets on their life and refuses to let go. Whether this is drugs, alcohol, women, or money, nothing will fulfill what only Christ can fill. Our hope is that by surrounding Daniel with Christ-following community and support he can begin to feel God release the hold that the devil has had on him.


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GIC Recap


Over the last week of February we were invited to spend time with the church body of Shades Mountain Baptist Church during their Global Impact Celebration. Each year around this time, Shades brings in the different missionaries from all around the world that they support and partner with for a time of encouragement, care, and fellowship. There were missionaries from India, the Middle East, New York City Africa, Eastern Europe, Miami, and Birmingham, Alabama.


Throughout this conference, there are multiple services that encourage church members to get involved in missions anywhere and any way you can. One of the most impactful nights is called “Stories and Songs.” On this night, each missionary is given 60 seconds to share a quick glimpse of what the Lord is doing in their part of the world.

Check out our video below of Urban Purpose’s 60-second story on what the Lord is doing through our ministry.

Urban Purpose has been blessed to work alongside the staff and members of Shades Mountain Baptist Church as we go out to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. While our ends of the earth look extremely different than some, we know that God has created these people in His image and they are crying out for love and affection from someone. We, as believers, are called to be those people.


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Did You Know: Drug Poisoning by Gender

A couple of weeks ago we viewed the statistics compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics on drug poisoning mortality in the United States between 2002-2014. Alabama has seen a large growth in the number of mortalities due to drug poisoning over the past 15 years.

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We unpacked how we have seen this statistic play out in the lives of the men and women we have worked with over the years. We’ve seen the people we work with change from a very specific demographic to a widespread issue that touches lives in all areas across our city. Another statistic that the graph highlighted was a breakdown of of drug poisoning deaths by age, sex, and race.

Did you know that in the United States (from 2002-2014) males have had significantly more drug-related deaths than women? In 2002 males suffered a total of 15,028 deaths whereas women had 8,490 deaths. By 2014 the numbers had increased by at least 10,000 for both sexes: males suffered a total of 28,812 deaths where women had 18,243.

Why is there such a disparity between the genders when it comes to drug overdoses? According to The National Institute On Drug Abuse, males are more likely to have the opportunity to use drugs than females. It’s truly that simple. Opportunity is the only difference between the genders when it comes to drug abuse and overdoses. Once a male or female is introduced to drugs, their chances of continued use and eventual overdose are similar.

Do you agree with The National Institute on Drug Abuse? Do you believe it simply boils down to a matter of opportunity? If not, why do you think males are more likely to abuse drugs and suffer a drug overdose? If you do agree, why do you think males have so much more opportunity to use drugs? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Next time, we will look at which age range has the highest mortality rate and why.

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Addressing Addiction in Alabama


On January 12, 2016 President Obama delivered his final State of the Union speech and specifically mentioned the rising problem of prescription drug and heroin abuse. Earlier this month, AL.com published a call the President made to Alabama concerning this epidemic and the toll it’s taking on our state.

President Obama said:

“As the use of prescription drugs has increased over the past 15 or 20 years, so has their misuse – as well as the wreckage caused by other opioids like heroin.  In fact, four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs, and then switched to heroin.  As a consequence, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related deaths in America nearly quadrupled.  More Americans now die of drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes.  In Alabama, overdoses claimed 723 lives in 2014 alone.”

He went on to explain that none of us are immune from this becoming part of our lives. It does not matter what profession you are in, what area of town you reside, or how much money you have, drugs do not respect socio-economic bounds and can affect all people in all places.

This is not about a specific political party or an agenda; this is about real people that are struggling to hang on to their lives before losing it to drug addiction. Regardless of your opinion on the President and his politics, the fact that our state specifically received his attention regarding this issue speaks to the significance of the epidemic we are facing.

President Obama closed with this:

“This is a crisis that could touch any of us. These kids are our kids. These folks are our parents; our brothers and sisters; our neighbors and friends.  We should treat them that way. We should take on this issue for their sake.  And if we do that, we’ll not only help our loved ones, we’ll help strengthen our families, our community, and our entire country.”

This is an issue we can all agree on. The people around us that are succumbing to addiction are moms and dads, sons and daughters, and as Jesus taught us, they’re our neighbors. They aren’t to be thrown on a trash-heap of people that most of society sees as worthless or unsalvageable. However, we know that loving them well can be extremely difficult. If you ever have any questions about an issues you or your family is facing or about how we might be able to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us: Contact Urban Purpose.

Read the article that was published on AL.com here: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/02/president_obama_its_time_to_st.html




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Volunteer Spotlight: Mark “The Trashman” Wood

Mark Wood has been one of our faithful volunteers and supporters for the past few years. He has supported the ministry in more ways than one: with his time, his finances, and his prayers. Mark has also gained quite the reputation as a volunteer. Every week he comes to our Sunday meal, grabs a trash bag and off he goes! Many volunteers and friends that come to eat the meal have labeled him the “Trashman”. This has been a way for him to easily walk up to the men and women we feed and start conversations as he serves them by picking up their trash.

Mark has also supported the ministry by racing in the Urban Purpose 5K and has come in 3rd place each time! He’s an impressive guy with an incredible heart for the Lord. We are so thankful that God led him to be a part in what we do. Take a second and get to know Mark “The Trashman” Wood.


How did you first hear about Urban Purpose? I heard about Urban Purpose from Elizabeth Johnson (another one of our volunteers) who I work next to at STV.

How long have you been serving with Urban Purpose? I would say about 3 ½ years.

How did you get the title of “Trashman”? Well I started picking up the trash pretty soon after I began coming on Sundays. Elizabeth always gives me direction… But I am very glad I got that title. Most of the folks may not always remember your name, but if you have the bag, they just call out, “Hey trashman.” I respond well to that.

Why did you begin to pick up the trash? I really believe that my part in Urban Purpose is a God thing. I would have never thought I would enjoy this as much as I do. Picking up the trash has allowed me to initiate more and more relationships with people. There are so many folks out there who are hurting, addicted, and may not feel comfortable to talk to just everyone. Admittedly I have also been into drugs, drinking, and the world in general. After years of that, God is working on me. He has brought me to Urban Purpose to talk with folks about getting over their drug use or issues and to share how God can get you out and over ANYTHING… which I can relate to well. I really love so many of these people and look forward to seeing them. I do run downtown every week for the past few years and I get to have interaction with quite a few of our Sunday folks one on one while out running. It always brings a smile to my face to see some of ‘our folks’ while out there running in the streets.

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Mark Wood completing The Urban Purpose Challenge, 5K in 2015

What is your fastest 5K time? 18:48

What are your predictions for the 2016 Urban Purpose Challenge, 5K addition? Will you finally take the title? I have been able to run the 5K each year at Urban Purpose since it started. This past year the course change did not make it any easier. I do not believe I can take the title if those young folks keep showing up. I am getting older and slower. I do not believe I can hold up to those folks in their 20’s,30’s and 40’s once you are in your 50’s you have to realize you may have already reached the plateau for running PRs.

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Waiting Expectantly


About five months ago we met a young man named Mike and started to work with him. Since then he has been in two separate rehab programs. He was released from the last program on Thanksgiving day after spending time with a family member that is a poor influence on him.

That weekend we were faced with a big decision to make. Should we help? How should we help? What does he need? We knew that this time around it had to be different.

Since Thanksgiving weekend, we have put together a team of people that have been helping to care for and watch over this man. He has not been left alone at any point over the last three weeks. He is staying with people that want to get to know him, spend time with him and love him well. He has been working with a landscaping company every day and having dinner with different groups of people each night as well as having other measurements of accountability such as drug testing.

While this may seem extremely overwhelming and unnecessary to the average person, it is what someone trying to flee a drug addiction needs- and they need it for this specific reason:

One of the first nights he was staying with the guys, they went to Jimmy John’s to grab some dinner downtown. While they were eating, Mike noticed that an old drug dealer of his walked in the room. This man walked straight over to Mike and asked him if he wanted anything. Luckily, he was not alone. Mike said no, and the dealer walked off. Shortly after, Mike expressed how thankful he was that he was not alone during that encounter because it would have been much harder to say no.

This is why we believe it is good for people to be surrounded until they can get into a program that is a more structured environment. As far as Mike goes, we have been waiting for a couple weeks to hear back from another program that he could be in for six months. That is our plan during this “time of crisis” for these people- to wait expectantly for God to open doors to bigger and better things.

You may be asking, is it worth the wait? Well, this morning we received the phone call letting us know that Mike had been accepted and we can take him in on Tuesday. We’re thankful to have been able to walk with Mike through this time and that we could help him stay strong in the midst of a hectic time. Our hope is that we can do this for many people that are wanting to get clean but need help getting on that path to the long road of recovery.

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Being Ready Part 5: Community

communityLast week, we once again experienced the battle of readiness.

We were connected with a young girl who had finally come to the realization that for the past five years, her life had been far from normal and that she needed help. She had already suffered from a heavy meth addiction and was only 21-years-old. This addiction partnered with other difficult circumstances and life choices, led her down a path of destruction, instability, and loneliness.

As we began to meet with her, we heard over and over again about how she wanted a different life. What is harder to discern is if someone is willing to put in the hard work it is going to take to successfully get that new life. [This is where most people fall short- they have the desire to change but when the road becomes rough, their perseverance isn’t there.] She had decided that she wanted to go to a rehabilitation program that was out of town. This usually takes time; maybe a week, maybe two weeks, but it is rarely ever immediate. We were left with a choice- how do we temporarily help this girl before she receives the long term treatment she needs? Her immediate needs were things like a home, food, clothing, places to go during the day, things to do at night, and people to be around that were not controlled by drugs. Typically, people who desire help do not have any of these things and therefore do not last long enough to get to where they need to go! But this girl had something going for her that other addicts lack: she had a group of people that were willing to rally around her and help her get to where she wants to go. For six days we had people willing to give their homes, time, food, clothes, families, and more to help give this young girl a chance to succeed in life. Many of the addicts we work with have burned all of the bridges that they once had in their lives. This can leave them feeling hopeless, and that there is no way out of their current circumstances.

We hope to confront that fear of being alone and without hope, and relieve it. The goal of Urban Purpose is to walk beside people who are in difficult situations and help them find their way out of it, so that they may begin to lead the life God intended for them to lead.

We were able to take our friend to a rehabilitation center in Mississippi where she will be for a month (thanks to a partnership with a local church body in Birmingham). After this month, we hope to walk with her during the time of transition into a more normal and stable life. We look forward to the future she has in store!!

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