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Queens Chronicle

Finding spirituality after drugs, drink

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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:45 pm | Updated: 1:18 pm, Thu Sep 1, 2011.

The road to recovery after drug and alcohol addiction can be a long and arduous one, especially when individuals do not have an adequate support system. One Jamaica church hopes to help with a program aimed at reconnecting with God and spirituality.

The Evangelism Outreach Ministry of New Jerusalem Baptist Church has teamed up with J-CAP, a drug and substance abuse program, to offer a handful of those who volunteer to participate religious counseling and other support.

“This spiritual component will help them sustain themselves in their life and give them the tools to fall back on as they continue their journey,” said Al Smith, chairman of the outreach ministry.

The church provides participants with GED tutoring as well as clothing and other supplies. They attend new member classes, which are aimed at getting them to continue to go to church services after the sessions end.

Part of the program also includes breaking up into groups by gender and discussing the various problems participants are having in their lives and trying to come up with solutions. They also engage in several courses of study including evangelism, stewardship, bible study, salvation, baptism, prayer and missions.

It is all designed to give a support system to prevent them from relapsing into their old lifestyle. The church patrons offer the volunteers a non-judgmental environment where they can sustain their growth.

There are about 25 people in the group, ages 20 and older. It meets every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the church for 10 weeks. This is the first class since the program started, but a new session will begin in September.

“Most of them have grown up in the church and they realize that sometimes people stray away from their beliefs,” Smith said. “None of them blame God for their troubles.”

The idea for the program began in April when the church held a day of healing and new beginnings, an event designed to get participants to unload their burdens and purge themselves of any unresolved anger.

“They can’t grow, if they are holding things back inside,” Smith said.

They invited J-CAP members and staff and had a large turnout, so they decided to continue the spirit of the day in the form of a program.

Members of the first class will be graduating next week and the church invites all to attend and show their support.

Norma Bailey-Payne, the evangelism coordinator for the church, said it is very gratifying to see how prayer has improved the lives of the participants. “We can see such a change,” she said.

Janette Douglas, 56, of Brooklyn was addicted to crack-cocaine for decades, but has been clean for the last five months thanks to the help she received at J-CAP and the church.

“I find it helps to keep me be centered and focused on the road to recovery,” Douglas said. “I have learned to walk in the spiritual realm instead of the carnal realm, which had gotten me into the situation I was in. I was able to seek out the purpose the Lord has for me.”

Douglas said the church group has provided her with peace, solitude and a place to unload the burdens that had weighed heavy on her spirit.

Tajana Jordan, 47, of Hollis was addicted to freebasing cocaine and then crack for 30 years. Her addiction became so bad that she recently spent 10 days on the street prostituting herself to make money. Her sister advised her to enroll in a recovery program. Now, she has been clean for three months and is confident that she won’t return to her old ways.

“I just didn’t want to get high anymore,” Jordan said. “I didn’t want to be that person anymore.”

Jordan said attending the church group made her “feel like a whole new person,” and helped her make sense of her life and God’s place in it.

The graduation will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28 at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, located at 122-05 Smith St. in Jamaica. For more information, call Smith at (917) 651-3244 or the church office at (718) 978-5777 ext. 300.    

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