By Northwest Baptist Convention
NW Baptist Newsletter
GOLD HILL, Ore. — As morning dawns over the Rogue River Valley in Southern Oregon, men rise early at “U” Turn for Christ. Seemingly insurmountable struggles with addiction have led each of them to a small church in a quiet town to grasp for a more meaningful existence. recoveryThe daily routine is highly structured for the men when they first arrive at the place they will call home for at least two months. Some days the struggle to remain is minute by minute, with the pull of old habits still fresh.
It was to this place Kevin Darr returned after an 18-year government career in Southern California to begin the ministry with no guarantees in sight.
“God had been preparing me for many years as I investigated horrible situations that kids in the foster care system had been subjected to,” said Darr. “I found that a huge majority of the people involved in those purely evil situations had substance abuse problems. After my nephew, who played professional baseball for the San Diego Padres, drove drunk and killed himself and a friend, I knew I had to do something.”
So Darr pulled up stakes with his wife and two small children in January 2008 and returned to the southern Oregon town of Gold Hill to begin the slow process of reclaiming men in the name of Christ. He explored current ministries in the area where he grew as a boy and talked to many local pastors, discovering much need, but little action.
“In the Northwest, these problems are so prevalent, but there are not a lot of ministries like “U” Turn for Christ,” Darr said. “We moved up here with nothing but a promise from God. It was a big step because along with the good salaries we left, we also had debt.”
It was providence that opened a discussion with a local man whom Darr and his brother encountered while fishing in April of that year.
recover2“We saw a man downriver that looked like he knew what he was doing, so we made our way over there,” Darr said. “As we began to talk, I found he was an elder at the local Southern Baptist church. He mentioned that his church had been praying about what to do with their facility. One thing led to another and I was invited to the church as a guest preacher.”
Darr and the church members at Lampman Road Baptist Church made the decision to pursue the “U” Turn for Christ ministry, and charged ahead with needed renovations to a second story structure above the church which can accomodate up to 15 men.
“They eventually asked me to be pastor as well,” Darr said. “I had never dreamed about being the pastor of a congregation, and now I couldn’t imagine life without them. I have grown to love it so much; it has been such a blessing.”
The small church made the necessary improvements to the building while Darr contacted other local churches in the area, developed brochures and began accepting people into the program. Many come from other parts of the country, seeking a fresh start away from the past that has mired them.
“We have received some men from referrals, but most of the time it is through word of mouth,” Darr said. “The program we use is patterned after one I was familiar with in California, also called “U” Turn for Christ. We have a daily schedule that begins with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up, followed by Bible meditation and a strict schedule throughout the day. So many guys that come in have been to the point of burning every bridge in their life and they need it.”
The men agree to complete the highly structured two-month program, with almost every minute of the day accounted for. They complete Bible studies and are involved in community ministry such as home repairs for elderly and work in a community garden where the food is donated to the disadvantaged. They may choose to spend additional time with the ministry as they transition back into the society but are required to begin seeking employment while enjoying the benefits of accountability.
recovery3“We have had some bail out on the program before the two months are even up and it’s heartbreaking,” Darr noted. “Spiritual battles rage within these guys and it is intense, with some going through detoxification. Our church members have just embraced these men, and when they leave it, is like family moving away.”
Darr enlisted the help of Damian Farroux as an overseer, who lives on-site and gives needed support to the program. Introducing the program to people in the area is still underway, and Darr notes the unrelenting pressure of financial concerns to the small church.
“More than anything we need prayer support,” Darr said. “But the payback is worth every minute of it. We had three guys in the process of divorce when they came here and through this process of walking with the Lord, he has restored those relationships with family and friends. To see them sober and working is just the biggest blessing of all.” For those interested in supporting “U” Turn for Christ or wishing more information may call 541.291.3040 or email [email protected].
Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.