Published August 12, 2004
Bill Burns was a talented musician and had played in Tommy Dorsett’s “Big Band,” but seemed to be an incurable alcoholic. Occasionally, Burns would get sober and, filled with remorse, vow never to drink again, only to “fall off the wagon” once more. At last, Burns died in a drunken stupor. One can only imagine what would have happened if he had received the kind of help offered at Penfield Christian Home.
PCH, a ministry of the Georgia Baptist Convention, is engaged in “reclaiming alcohol and drug-addicted men through Christ and Christian love.” The success rate for this GBC entity is almost triple that of the average addiction recovery program according to statistics from NIDA, the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Lem Clark, executive director of Penfield Christian Homes, relates, “This ministry is rooted in the belief that recovery from the addictive use of alcohol and drugs can be achieved through a personal faith in Jesus Christ.”
Last year this ministry, located in Greene County on the original campus of Mercer University, touched the lives of more than 200 men and saw 72 of them receive Christ. Fifty-eight of them were baptized under the watchcare of Penfield Baptist Church.
A variety of clients
Clark said, “One of the requirements of Penfield Home is that every client must go to church; and we just love to get some of the people that come to our recovery program. We get atheists, agnostics, humanists, Buddhists, doctors, psychiatrists, executives and blue-collar workers. Addiction is aggressive in its pursuit of men and has no social, professional or educational boundaries. But regardless of who they are, they hear about Jesus while they are here.”
David Jordan, pastor of Penfield Baptist Church and a counselor at PCH, remarked, “Sometimes a client gets exposed to the gospel and discovers the forgiveness, freedom and victory that comes from knowing Christ and change begins to occur rapidly in his life.”
Jordan told about an incident that occurred during a Bible study where the Sermon on the Mount was being read. He explained, “A certain man got under conviction and pushed his way through four people to come to me and shouted, ‘I need to get saved now.’”
From ministered to ministers
Penfield Christian Home’s success rate has been validated by what has happened in the lives of many of the men who have completed the recovery program. Some are now attending seminary; others are serving as pastors, counselors and church leaders.
Jordan is a stirring example of one who has been through the program at Penfield and is now effectively serving the Lord.
He first came to Penfield as a client. He had gone through a difficult divorce, and consequently got under bondage, but found deliverance by submitting to the stringent program provided at PCH.
For several years the staff at Penfield had dreamed of expanding the facilities to accommodate the increasing number of applicants. When Harmony Grove Baptist Church in Union City brought their ministry to a conclusion they gave the proceeds from the sell of their property to five different ministries. PCH received $132,000 from the Union City church and that became the seed money for the expansion, which had been envisioned.
Ground for the 14,741 square-foot addition was broken in February and significant progress has been made in the past six months. Because of the 4,500 man-hours of work and supplies and building materials provided by various mission teams, the building project is going to be completed for $28.76 per square foot.
Help from others
Ray Grubb, a retired government employee at Fort Gordon in Augusta and lay leader at Lincolnton Baptist Church, has been the on-site building coordinator for this project. He has moved a mobile unit onto the Penfield Home property and has lived there since June 10 to provide invaluable direction to the work teams.
By the time the building is completed, Penfield Christian Home will have a new complex valued at $1.6 million for less than half the cost. This evidence of remarkable stewardship is due in part to the help of mission teams from First Baptist Church in Fairburn, Sardis Baptist Church in Sardis and Macedonia Church in Ranburne, Ala. as well as churches in North Carolina, South Carolina and Lake Placid, New York.
Those who have volunteered their help have done so with their love and prayers. Many of the studs have prayers and scripture verses inscribed on them by workers who labored with a hammer in their hands and a prayer in their hearts.
While the work is well under way, there is yet much to be done and other volunteer groups are welcome. Call Lem Clark at (706) 453-7929 if you are interested in providing materials or a helping hand.
“The whole heartbeat of this project is to minister to more men who will be set free from the bondage of the sin and sickness of addiction,” Jordan explained.
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