Tag Archives: rehab

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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One for the Books

Sunday was a great day. It was a day full of surprises, excitement, hopefulness, encouragement, and rejoicing. Sunday was a day to remember.

You see, since the spring of 2014 we have been closely walking with a man in his 20s who struggled with a severe heroin addiction. Throughout our time together we were able to provide him with housing, medical assistance, financial budgeting and loans, steady counseling, transportation, employment… and pretty much anything else you can think of. Even after failing over and over again, we chose to show him grace (but trust me, this was not always our first choice).

Eventually, things got to a point where we did not have any other healthy options to offer him. He had been given many chances- from jobs, to housing, to failed drug tests- he had run through them all and we were at our ropes end. We realized that at that point he needed much more intensive 24-hour care than we could give him. So now he was left with a choice. He could either choose to admit himself into at least a 3 month recovery program, having us walk with him during that time, and continue to move forward with him upon completion of the program or he could choose to completely part ways with us. Of course, the latter  is what none of us wanted, but it was the only way to help him see that a drastic change had to be made in his life.

Over the next couple of weeks, we saw everything take a dramatic shift in this man’s life. He went from having a fairly stable life to having the walls of that life come crashing down around him. Overtime he saw the necessity that was for a guy like himself, and became willing and wanting to get into a program. With the help of our ministry partners, we were able to get in touch with a great rehab program in town and after just one week, he was in. For the first month he was in, he was visited by a number of people and we were encouraged by the progress he had already made and the direction he seemed to be heading.

But then this past Sunday happened. As we drove into the Terracon parking like we do every single week, we saw him standing to the side with a few of our volunteers. Needless to say, we were all holding our breath waiting to figure out why exactly he was here. The first thought that came to my mind was- he’s been kicked out. But man was I wrong!

For the rest of the afternoon we were able to hear stories of confession, repentance, asking for forgiveness, and thankfulness for what all had been done for him this past year. He talked about having a relationship with Jesus and spending time with other believers. All of this coming from a man who just a few months ago made the comment: “I’m just an addict and that is never going to change.”

Sometimes it’s easy to get going in our normal routine and forget that we serve a God who is anything but normal.

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A Telling Obituary

After a young man’s death came from a drug overdose, his family wrote an obituary that has sent shock and awe throughout the internet. Clay Shepard was a 22-year-old, North Caroline resident who was well-liked by all. Another thing he had going for him was a family that loved him dearly. What this family wanted to do by writing this obituary is to warn and give advice to some people that might be struggling with the same sort of issues. Sometimes a loving family might not be enough to fight the intense battle that addiction brings.


Our charismatic and beautiful son and brother died Sunday morning from a drug overdose. Clay was the youngest of four children, raised in a loving home in Apex with two brothers and one sister. Outwardly Clay looked like he had it all: Intelligence, confidence, athletic ability, height, beautiful blue eyes, broad smile, fantastic wit, and the ability to engage and forge a relationship with anyone. Inwardly Clay was sensitive and had struggles that he hid well from his close and clannish family.

We loved Clay with all of our hearts, but we now know that was not enough to shield him from the world. This note isn’t an attempt to assign blame for Clay’s death. It’s not to vent our anger and frustration at a world where drugs can be ordered and delivered through the internet. We write this obituary in hope that it may provide an insight to those that need to change their behavior one night at a time.

Clay was a solid student, decent athlete, and a very likeable kid. With his seemingly endless positive traits, he had the potential to be anything from a captivating politician to a brilliant engineer, but drugs began to creep into Clay’s life while he was in high school. As trouble hit, his father stepped in and forged an incredible bond with Clay. Although Clay could never be completely honest about the trouble he was in, his love and respect for his father became a lifeline over the last few years. He successfully completed drug rehab several times, but the craving that comes from true addiction was more than he could overcome.

While we always felt we had some grip on Clay’s issues, his ability to hide and disguise his addiction proved superior to our parental (and sibling) sixth sense. The worry that we have felt watching Clay struggle, has been replaced by a deep feeling of loss that now exists knowing we will never see his smiling face again. Despite these troubles, we can smile knowing that the last communication we had with Clay was a text and answer between mother and son to say “I love you”, just as it should be.

To all children, this note is a simple reminder that there are people who love you, with everything they have and no matter what you do – don’t be too afraid/ashamed/scared, too anything, to ask for help. To all parents, pay attention to your children and the world that revolves around them – even when the surface is calm, the water may be turbulent just beneath. Clay’s struggles have ended. He is finally at peace. We will miss his keen sense of humor, impersonations, cooking, plant advice and rhythm on the dance floor.

Goodbye Clay, we love you and miss you dearly.

Mom & Dad, Cole, Wade & Jess, Jean & Lucas

The full obituary can be found here, on Legacy.com.


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Never Alone: Wilkes’ Story

We wanted to share another “Never Alone” story with you. Wilkes became part of our lives in the fall of 2013 and it’s been amazing to see what all God has done in his life this past year.

My name is Wilkes, and this is how Urban Purpose has stood beside me during probably the hardest trial I’ve encountered in life. I grew up in the city of Jackson, Tennessee. I was your average kid who played sports, was involved in church, and made good grades in school. College was a turning point in my life. I had everything paid for through academic and athletic scholarships. One would think I’d have been content with the way things were going, but along with new freedoms and new scenery came new friends. I began to associate with the wrong crowd and started putting myself in situations that molded my way of thinking and my behaviors. Slowly, I started to experiment with “recreational” drugs. To me they were harmless, but as time passed I began using harder drugs. Due to certain circumstances I lost my scholarships to the university I attended and moved back home, taking my drug habits with me. Over the next 7 to 8 years my addiction got worse. I tried several different short term rehabs in Tennessee but was still not ready to change. As a last ditch effort I came to Alabama to try and change my life in a year long program, and it was here that I met Mark Jenkins and Jim McFarland from Urban Purpose. When I started this program they came and spoke with me about the services that Urban Purpose offers. They continued to visit with me as I got further along in the program. About four months into it, I made some bad choices and was kicked out of this program. Seeing as I had already exhausted my options with my parents if something like this happened, I called Mark and they came directly to me to help me figure out what I was going to do. They made no judgments about the choice I made that resulted in me getting kicked out; they were there only to help me with a plan of action. Urban Purpose took me to another recovery mission here in Birmingham to wait out 30 days before I could re-enter the same year long program. They met with me a couple of times to discuss the terms of their sponsorship back into this program. Eventually I was able to get back into it with their help. I’ve been here for almost a year now and have turned my life around by the grace of God and with the assistance of Urban Purpose and those affiliated with them. Since I’ve been back in this program, Urban Purpose began to help me make plans for what I would do when I got out. They set me up with an interview, and I was able to get the job at an electrical company where I have the opportunity to start a career. I’ve also gotten a vehicle which is a major help to someone like me coming out of this program with nothing. I came to Alabama scared and on my own, but with Urban Purpose I am never alone.

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Heroin on the Rise: Wrapping It Up

We hope that our “Heroin On The Rise” series has given you some insight into this epidemic that is growing here in our city, as well as around the country. Our desire in writing this series was twofold. First, we wanted it to be educational. That was the purpose behind us telling our story in the first post and then giving some stats in the second. There are people all over our city, and sometimes right down the street, that are living in a world that is completely unimaginable to most of us. It is important for us to know what’s going on for the sake of our children and families. It’s also necessary for us to know the struggle people are facing if we are to follow God’s call on our lives to be good neighbors. That is where our second goal in this series comes into play. That was the purpose behind us digging into the “why” behind the epidemic in the third post and then giving insight into a mother’s journey in part one and part two of “A Mother’s Perspective.”

The truth is, we are all flawed and deeply broken, it just looks different for different people. Apart from Christ we are all seeking to fill the void in our life with something. For some people it’s money. For some it’s sex or relationships. For some it’s reputation and status. And for some, they turn to drugs to mask the pain and fill that void. Their struggle plays out differently and in most cases, it plays out in a much more destructive manner. But at the core, we’re still all the same. We’re broken and flawed people looking for something that can only be found in Jesus. We believe that looking at this issue through this lens allows us to be good, loving neighbors that care for the whole person God has created and loves. That is what drives our tagline: “For the Gospel. For Birmingham.”

If you have any questions about this issue or if you feel like Urban Purpose can help you or a family member that is struggling in this regard, feel free to email Mark Jenkins at mark@urbanpurpose.org.

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