Addiction counselor steers addicts to recovery
by MELISSA SNYDER, Banner Lifestyles Writer
Mar 06, 2011 | 4462 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RECOVERY CELEBRATED  — Outside The Salvation Army’s Celebrate Recovery facility, counselor Jim Welch prays with a woman. Since breaking free from his addictions, Welch has committed his life to helping others with addictions, habits and hang-ups. He is the addictions counselor for the new program. Banner photo, MELISSA SNYDER
RECOVERY CELEBRATED — Outside The Salvation Army’s Celebrate Recovery facility, counselor Jim Welch prays with a woman. Since breaking free from his addictions, Welch has committed his life to helping others with addictions, habits and hang-ups. He is the addictions counselor for the new program. Banner photo, MELISSA SNYDER
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The lowest point of his life was when Jim Welch did drugs with his own son. An addict with no future and no hope found himself at the end of his rope — praying for God to let him die. His behavior was a symptom manifesting from addiction. The once-ordained minister, pastor and missionary was struggling with depression, the heartache of divorce, the loss of employment and attempted suicide when his life was at a major crossroad.

Welch was peering back at his reflection when he realized he needed to help his son and be the dad God called him to be. He told himself a life of addiction is not getting him anywhere.

When his son tried to take his life, after spending his entire paycheck on drugs, he took the help offered to him and entered a rehabilitation facility. Welch decided it was time for him to help himself too. Six weeks after his son began his recovery journey, he entered a 10-month program at No Longer Bound, a men’s sobriety group with a mission to regenerate addicts and their families through the healing power of the Holy Spirit.

Welch soon discovered the No Longer Bound staff was serious about discipline and feeling sorry for him was not something they were going to do.

“They didn’t buy into my junk there. They didn’t play, but what they did do was speak the truth and love and God used that program to change my life,” Welch said.

Even through he was well aware of the horrors of addiction, Welch knew he could overcome with the grace of God. Soon into the program, he was able to put the shame and guilt of his past behind him. With determination and boldness he turned his past substance abuse into a positive platform. The resources and direction he received turned his life into a vehicle to help others.

The mess turned into a message

“I immediately began giving back. I served on staff at No Longer Bound for six months before I went to Jesup, Ga., to manage Free Hart Recovery Center.”

According to Welch his downward spiral began when he was laid off from his job at the age of 25. In the military town in south Georgia, many of the church members where he was an associate pastor were sent to the Gulf War. When this happened he turned his back on God.

“I told God I was going to do it on my own and get rich without Him. It was the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I realize now I had the wrong perception of God — His mercy and grace.”

If things didn’t work out as Welch expected he felt let down by God. His expectations got him in trouble as he walked away and right into drinking, drugs and adultery.

“In a very short time I was out of control. I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, became addicted to cocaine and whatever came along to self-medicate myself. I started going to clubs and by the time I was 37 years of age, my wife left me. I dealt with depression, was diagnosed as bi-polar and prescribed medicines by doctors and psychiatrists, but none of it helped until I totally surrendered to God.”

Welch describes himself during this time as a “terrible husband and father.” After some healing and time of recovery he now realizes even before he became a drug addict he was a selfish person.

On the way to No Longer Bound, Welch heard God’s voice for the first time in many years saying He would have to “break” him before He could make him.

“I heard it very clearly and that is just what He did. He broke me down like a double barrel shotgun when I was in the program. I had to humble myself and humble myself and humble myself.”

New addictions program available

Since breaking free three years ago, Welch is enjoying his life and living it the way God intended. He has made a commitment to help those who are bound by addictions. His life was a mess until God turned it into a message.

“I feel good. I want to tell others there is hope. They can live a joyful, peaceful life. I always wondered what total peace and serenity would be like and now I am experiencing it. Now I am able to enjoy life and freedom, and not being bound up by habits.”

Since moving to Cleveland after deciding to shorten the distance in his long-distance relationship with his girlfriend, doors of opportunity have opened. Through his Cleveland connections Welch met Ruthie Forgey, administrator for the Cleveland Salvation Army. Forgey has been planning to initiate something for hurting people bound up with addictions since she became affiliated with the Salvation Army. It is not an accident that Welch will lead the new Bible-based Celebrate Recovery addictions program for The Salvation Army which covers any addiction, habit, hurt or hang-up for men and women.

“People know and trust the Salvation Army who has always been about helping those in need,” Welch said.

“I didn’t see any drug or addiction programs in Cleveland I could work at and I know that is what I am called to do since God delivered me,” Welch said.

Welch smiles when he talks about God’s way of doing things and God’s timing. He met the lady he is dating when she came to support her \nephew who was going through the recovery program he was working at in Georgia.

“Now her nephew is no longer bound, has his family and home back and is doing great,” Welch said. “He came through the same 6-month program I did and worked at when I finished.”

Celebrate Recovery is aimed toward people dealing with life issues including chemical dependency, eating disorders, sex addictions, anger issues and any other habit or hang-up. Welch and the leaders will sew seeds of hope into lives that addiction has shattered and give them tools to experience a quality life.

Welch shares with others how God took the mess of his life and turned it into a message. He applies the scripture God gave him years ago to his daily journey which is; “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Luke 4:18

“God loved me enough and loved people enough to open up a way through the Salvation Army,” Welch said. “I agreed to come here for a very small part-time salary but with big faith because I knew God would provide.”

The once addict has

learned God really is love

“No matter what I do, no matter what I say there is nothing I can do to separate me from the unconditional love of God. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or any less. He will never turn His back on me. I’ve turned my back on Him but even then — He didn’t turn his back on me. There’s nothing we will ever do that He won’t forgive us for. We are never too lost that He can’t find us,” Welch said.

For more information about Celebrate Recovery, call 380-8178, or The Salvation Army social service line at 473-8281 or by e-mail at jimwelch1965@gmail.com. The new facility and administrative office is located at 435 Inman St. and is equipped with classrooms. The experienced leadership team working with Welch has a heart for those hurting and in need. They are committed to positively impacting lives.

Anyone who feels they have a calling or the experience to help Celebrate Recovery can also contact The Salvation Army. Greeters, servers, praise and worship leaders and assistance in other areas are needed. With contributions of money, time and resources, The Salvation Army can fulfill its mission of “Doing the Most Good” with a Bible-based message and continue to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Donations can also be made to The Salvation Army to continue serving needs in the community, by calling 308-3467 or 304-9281 or mailing to P.O. Box 5325, Cleveland, Tn. 37320

“I told God I was going to do it on my own and get rich without Him. It was the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I realize now I had the wrong perception of God — His mercy and grace.” — Jim Welch

“He [God] broke me down like a double barrel shotgun when I was in the program.” — Jim Welch