Even a small, tightly knit community is no guarantee against a drug problem.
CASTOR – Even a small, tightly knit community is no guarantee against a drug problem.
Here, where the 2000 U.S. Census recorded a population of about 200, the problem, specifically methamphetamine use, was so apparent a group of men began gathering to pray, asking the Lord for guidance on how they could help.
“Souls Rehabilitated for Christ was the answer,” said Chris Guin, a member at First Baptist Castor as well as a member of the prayer group that began the program. “We are a recovery and prison ministry,” he added. “We help recovering addicts, alcoholics, and we also minister to inmates at Bienville Parish Jail.”
Souls Rehabilitated for Christ, however, is just one arm of a diverse ministry. Christian Community Action Alert, a four-year-old ministry that acts as an umbrella to many others ministries, seeks to speak out against things that are an abomination to God and to alert people to things they can do to take action on these issues, Guin said.
“When I was led to do this, it was to branch out beyond our community,” Guin added. “I’m fortunate enough to work in a community where three churches support this.” Besides First Baptist, New Ebenezer Baptist and New Ramah Baptist are also involved in CCAA.
One ministry of CCAA involves creating and circulating petitions that are then sent to different corporations or various authorities, including U.S. President Bush. The ministry also organizes boycotts; conducts a clothing ministry and a Christmas ministry; provides school supplies for needy children; conducts a prison ministry; and conducts a drug rehabilitation program.
The prison and drug rehabilitation program together are known as Souls Rehabilitated for Christ, Guin said.
“Chris, myself, and a couple of other men had a desire to make a difference in our community with the drug problem,” said Max Rasbury, an organizer for Souls Rehabilitated for Christ. “We got together and started praying, asking for the Lord’s leadership. He led us to start a Celebrate Recovery [a Christian based program that helps participants overcome harmful behaviors such as drug addiction], which led into prison ministry.”
Organizers are New Ebenezer members Sonny and Peggy Wilson, Mark and Tracy Plunkett, Sam and Anne Marble, and Max and Doris Rasbury, as well as Guin and his wife Pam.
After Wednesday night services these men gathered to pray specifically about the drug problem in Castor, Guin said.
“We did that for several months before we felt the Lord was leading us in a certain direction,” he added.
Rasbury, a recovered addict himself, and now a Christian, came to the Lord in prison after having been convicted of a drug-related murder, he said.
“God put me through that for a reason,” Rasbury said. “While I would take back the things I have done, I would never, ever want to give back the time I spent in prison because it saved my life and led me to know Jesus Christ. When God gives us a testimony like that, then we’re to use it to lead others to Christ.”
Souls Rehabilitated conducts a weekly meeting for those who want to begin the process of overcoming drug addiction, Rasbury said.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize what is going on in small communities in Louisiana,” Rasbury said. “They’re just infested with methamphetamine”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Agency,
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a crystal-like powdered substance that can be taken orally, injected, snorted or smoked. The drug creates an intense rush that lasts a few minutes and is followed by a state of high agitation that can sometimes become violent. Increased wakefulness, decreased appetite, anxiety, convulsions, and heart attack are also possible affects. Meth is also addictive, and users can develop a high tolerance, needing larger doses to get high.
Chronic use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behavior and delusions. Long-term use, high dosages, or both can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis (often exhibited as violent, aggressive behavior), usually coupled with extreme paranoia. Meth can also cause strokes and death.
“It doesn’t just infect the people who use it,” Rasbury said. “It robs you of dignity, morals, and self-respect. People will steal from their families to support their drug habit. They’ll sell everything to support their habit. People prostitute their children to make money to buy it. If you look at a person who has done it for 5-6 years, it looks as if they’ve aged 30 years.
“It’s in our community, parish, state and country,” he continued. “It’s running rampant. You can make it in an ice chest in the back of a truck and just ride around while its making. It’s not easy to catch people making it.”
Because of that problem, that’s why we were praying,” he said. The recovery program has gone well, though attendance comes and goes as organizers expected. “Several people have had success as a part of our program,” Rasbury said. “Coming to know Jesus is important. I think that we were just a small part of what has helped some of these men and women get away from the drugs. The important thing was that they came to know Jesus Christ.”
As other people became involved in the recovery ministry, the group felt led to do more outreach into the Bienville Parish Jail, he added.
“We have church,” Guin added. “[The inmates] are real receptive. We provide them with Bibles, reading glasses, and hard candy. Mostly we just open up the Word.”
An average of about eight people minister at the prison every Tuesday night, Guin said, though many more are involved. “We have a large array of folks who go,” he said. “Not everyone can go every week.”
One member of the team, Marco Chavez, a member at New Ramah, became involved in the prison ministry when the team was confronted with a Mexican at the jail who couldn’t speak English. Guin recruited Chavez, who is also Mexican, so that the group could provide a witness to the inmate.
“He does an awesome job,” Guin said of the work Chavez now does in the jail. “He’s grown so much as a Christian through this ministry. Even though the Mexican inmate eventually got out, Marco kept going.”
The jail houses about 60 inmates. The ministry team arrives in the parking lot, has prayer and then divides into three groups before entering the jail, Guin said.
The work is not lacking in fun, Rasbury, said.
For instance, Wilson often brings a tambourine which he says helps him get “juiced up” for the Lord, Rasbury said, chuckling about his friend’s antics.
“He can’t sing a lick, but he goes in the jail singing Amazing Grace,” Guin added.
“Someone usually has a word out of the Bible, and we start doing a devotion [in the jail],” he continued. “It’ll sound like preaching, but none of us are preachers. It’s all lay people, deacons and church members committed to the Lord. There’s no pastor in the bunch. Sometimes [inmates will] ask us questions.”
Recently the ministry team began a Bible study for the inmates, Guin said. As inmates finish one section, they turn it in and get another, up to twelve units.
“When they get through, we plan on giving them a nice Bible with their name on it,” Guin said.