Church attempts to show Most Excellent Way to drug free life

Published 3:51 am Sunday, May 25, 2008

Inmates at the Pearl River County jail have been offered the opportunity to take part in a new faith-based drug rehabilitation program.

The program is conducted by members of the Resurrection Life Church and is called the Most Excellent Way Life Group. The group has been holding drug counseling classes for almost five years, but recently began offering them to inmates at the Pearl River County Jail.

Classes cover topics of leading a drug free and alcohol free life and Bible study, said Life Group instructor Christie Collier. About 20 female and 20 male inmates at a time are allowed to attend the classes on a voluntary basis.

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A collaboration of ideas and minds brought the program to the inmates. Collier said Sheriff David Allison knew of the group’s efforts since he’s a member of the church. She said she wanted to bring the classes to the inmates for years, so they worked out a way to do it.

“I would like to thank them for doing that,” Allison said.

The first class is in it’s sixth week at the jail, and future classes are expected to take place to allow more inmates to partake.

The classes for the public usually encompass nine months, once a week during two semesters. The church is offering a more condensed nine-week course to the inmates. At the end, participants receive a certificate of participation.

“We’re trying to change their way of thinking while they are here,” Allison said.

Collier said she liked the idea of helping inmates in what could be considered a the low point in their life. Nearly everyone who volunteers to conduct classes has dealt with a form of addiction at some point in their life, Collier said.

“It’s by people who have been there, done that,” Collier said.

Class instructor Jamie Snyder said she has been substance free for three and a half years. Now she volunteers her time to help people.

Shawn Kosderkai, another class leader, said the instructors form a bond with those who participate.

“When we come together here, it’s family,” Kosderkai said. “It’s what God creates through us.”

Inmate Desrie Fagot said she initially started attending the program four weeks ago because it looked like an opportunity to get out of her zone. She said during the first class she noticed that Collier projected a clear sense of knowledge on the topics. Through the class she said she has learned about the holy spirit and how to avoid substance abuse by avoiding certain company.

“It’s definitely a blessing. I encourage anyone who comes here to take the class,” Fagot said.

It helps that the classes catch inmates while they have a clear mind and are not abusing drugs or alcohol, Snyder said.

Inmate Kevin Causey Sr. said he is learning how to be more humble, which gets him closer to God. He now realizes that he should be with his family, instead of in jail.

Alex Robinson said that after his four weeks in the program he has a new outlook on the past ten years of his life when he was on drugs. He attends another class as well, but this class is his favorite.

“I get more out of this class than I do out of the ACTS class,” Robinson said. “I look forward to coming to this class.”

Another inmate, Vince Stewart, said the classes teach him a better way to live life. He said previously he lost his faith after his mother, a woman willing to help anyone and everyone, was killed by a drunk driver. The bond he has formed with the members of the church and the other inmates in the classes and the teachings have helped him find his faith.

“I know as long as I am on this path, God is blessing me,” Stewart said.

Allison said he has discussed the program with a number of inmates who have thanked him for opening up the program.

At the end of the nine-week class, any inmate who wants to be baptized will be able to in a portable baptismal system, Allison said.