GILBERT - “I looked out over the congregation of our church during a Sunday service, and I saw miracles that God has performed in several men’s lives that were in the devil’s grasp of drug addiction, and I thought to myself – wow, this is incredible! If this is possible with these guys only attending church one or two days a week, how many lives would we see reformed if we could work with them seven days a week?” asked Clifford Rawls, pastor of the Reach Out Community Church in Gilbert.
“With a donation of 14 acres given to us by a dedicated church member, this vision can - and will, with God’s blessing, become a reality,” Rawls said.
The property Rawls is referring to is on the Horsepen side of the King Coal Highway, not far from Mingo Central High School. Rawls’ vision is to construct and operate an all-male rehabilitation (step-down) program as an alternative sentencing for individuals who are convicted of being addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“We’re talking about the first-of-its kind facility in the county that would serve the needs of men,” he said. “Crossroads in Gilbert does a phenomenal job for females, but we have no alternatives for men in crisis.”
Rawls explained that this vision has been burning in his soul for quite a while, and he said he has spent many an hour in prayer, trusting God to provide a way if it was meant to become a reality. When the offer of the land was presented, the pastor knew this was the beginning of a fantastic journey.
“Our dream is for this to be a privately funded, Christian-based facility that would start out taking possibly 6-10 men when it’s first up and running, and then work our way up to accommodate greater numbers,” Rawls said. “We’re not talking about a 2-3 week program … you can’t do what needs to be done in such a short time frame. Instead, we’re planning on a minimum of six months. This would be an alternative sentencing to jail, and it would be for offenders who suffer from addiction problems.”
Rawls said this would be a secured facility, complete with guards. Although it will not be an actual jail, it will be not be a place where the defendants can roam free or come and go as they want. It will have an on-site cafeteria, kitchen, gym and a sanctuary in which to worship. Christian-based counselors will be located there 24/7 to address any problem or issues with those in the rehab program.
The facility, when opened, will accommodate offenders who reside within the county, according to Rawls.
“It’s very important to me that we take care of our own before we consider those from outside the boundaries of Mingo County,” he said. “Everywhere we look, we see despair and pain that have stemmed from drug usage. We don’t just plan to provide help for these men; it will go a lot further than that.
“Our goal is to restore them to the person they once were … the father that his kids remember, the spouse their wives fell in love with and married, the son whose parents pray every day he will come back home,” Rawls said.
“This program, through God’s blessings, can work miracles in lives that are so badly crying out for help but have nowhere to turn,” the pastor said.
Rawls and his congregation have formed a 14-member board of directors that will oversee this project. He said he prays that he will be able to fund thisfacility strictly through donations from supporters nationwide who see the need for this type of program in the Gilbert and Mingo County area.
“God is opening so many doors and we are praying and believing that he will make a way where some say there is no way … with God, all things are possible,” Rawls said.
“Each and every Sunday as I see people in attendance at our church that I know God has delivered from lives of despair, it gives me even more inspiration to see this vision through to the end,” the pastor said. “Our county needs this, our residents need this. It’s a win-win combination.”
“If we do our part with the little bit that we have, it will be multiplied by God and there is no limit to his grace and his blessings,” Rawls said.
For more information on this project, to donate or to become involved in fund-raising activities, you may contact pastors Clifford and Barbara Rawls at 304-664-8112.