Kentucky addiction recovery center having own 'great revival' with 1,050 professions last year


HARRODSBURG, Ky. (KT) — Gary Chidester knows there is victory in Jesus, but says it’s often found in places you might not expect. As director of discipleship at Isaiah House, which ministers to those struggling with addictions and substance use, Chidester said it is amazing to see how the Lord is changing lives.

“People are talking about the need for a great revival, but I believe it has already started — it is happening at Isaiah House, at Addiction Recovery Centers (ARC) and other treatment centers,” Chidester said. “We solely believe there is power in the blood of Jesus to break people out of addiction, through the powerful name of Jesus.”

Isaiah House has 425 people in five facilities in Kentucky. “People come in and tell us they have ruined every relationship they have, they have a family that doesn’t love them, and we are allowed to help them understand there is love and power in the blood of Jesus. We are watching people come out of addiction.”

Isaiah House has seen 1,050 professions of faith in the past year. “One of the first things that happens to someone who enters Isaiah House is they meet a chaplain — and that chaplain is with them whether they are there for 28 days, 98 days or nine months. We are watching CEOs of companies, presidents of universities, lawyers and doctors, families being restored — all having relationships with Jesus being made.”

But the story doesn’t end with those salvation experiences. There’s an essential next step that Chidester, a member and long-time deacon at Calvary Baptist Church in Danville, focuses on.

“My responsibility is to make sure when they leave Isaiah House, they are still getting discipled. We all need discipleship — I don’t know where I would be in my walk with God if I didn’t have people come alongside me to disciple me.

That has led to creation of a Certified Recovery Church program to connect those leaving addiction treatment facilities to churches which can bridge the gap between addiction and a God-centered life.

Chidester talked with Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director, about the need for churches to become involved with the program. “We have people in our communities that believe we (addiction treatment facilities) are in competition — we are not in competition at all. We are in this together. We have the opportunity to share what Jesus is doing in a mighty, mighty way. It’s incredibly exciting to see this. Starting on Jan. 20, we are starting Certified Recovery Church, and we want to place every individual coming out of Isaiah House into a church. If someone gets out of treatment on a Wednesday, we want somebody waiting in a foyer of a church to greet them and tell them ‘we don’t care what your story is,’ but we want to love you and disciple you. It’s a great opportunity to be that positive reenforcement in a world that is getting incredibly darker every day.”

Requirements to be a Certified Recovery Church are …

• Believe that the Bible is the true word of God. Jesus Christ died for the sins of humanity, and those who believe in Him have eternal life.

• Have pastoral support.

• View addiction as a treatable disease, not a moral issue.

• Embrace and support people in recovery and walk with them on their journey.

• Come beside or partner with another church with a visible outreach in the community.

• Share recovery information.

• Host or refer individuals to recovery support groups.

• Complete basic training which includes Addiction 101 Class (one hour), Mental Health Class (one hour), Trauma Class (one hour) and Suicide Prevention Class (45 minutes). “In none of these do we expect the church to be a therapist, doctor or nurse, but the classes are to give understanding.” Chidester recalled when his youngest daughter went through recovery. “I understand as a father and as a church member, the church wasn’t ready to deal with it, but we had to get ready. We don’t have to run away from it or be scared about it.

“It is worth the effort,” Chidester said. “This is another opportunity for the church to be the church.”

Chidester told of a situation last year when a woman in his community contacted him, saying her son was living in Morehead and wearing an ankle bracelet. She told Chidester that her son was ready to go to church and wanted to go to church, but said he didn’t know where to go. Chidester got on the phone and within five minutes had two churches willing to help. “I let the man know what church to go to — someone met him in the foyer, and the relationship has been going on for a year. That is God doing what God does.”