Originally published in Western Recorder – www.westernrecorder.org
Pike County—For the past two months, Dave Hammond, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Myra, has been bringing news of Christ’s hope to men in a drug rehab facility in Pike County on Thursday nights. Hammond’s team has seen a dozen professions of faith and 30 rededications at West Care, and is moving forward with their baptisms.
“In Luke 4, Jesus says (paraphrase), ‘I’ve come to set the prisoner free. I’ve come to set those that are captive free. And heal the brokenhearted,’” Hammond shared. “We’re seeing that happen … through the power of God and the Word of God.
Each of the men are there as part of a court-ordered option, instead of incarceration. They complete an approximately six-month program, where they are taught various skills such as anger management and good parenting. Just recently, the facility added voluntary worship services.
Hammond was quick to offer his time because he, too, had once been at “rock bottom,” he said.
Although he made a profession of faith at age 16, he later developed an alcohol problem and was fired from his job as a teacher and coach. He saw that as God chastening him and soon repented.
He was called to the ministry shortly afterward, and he has spent the last 26 years as a bivocational pastor of Faith Baptist.
Hammond shares his testimony with the men in the facility. “It’s been amazing what God has done,” he begins. “When we surrender out lives to God, He will use us.
“God loved me through it all, just like he loves those at West Care. He’s totally changed my life and used me for his glory,” he said.
“I think a lot of times we look down on people who are in a jail or a rehab facility, when in reality, it’s the church’s job to uplift them because we’ve been saved through the grace and mercy of God,” Hammond challenged. “We should pray that God will save them and restore them.”
Hammond said he sees a “hunger for change” in these men. “They want to come out of this situation. They’re addicted; they lost their families; they lost their careers. They’ve been labeled by society as a loser.
“But not with the Lord,” he continued. “We, as the church, need to minister to these people and love them as Christ loved them.”
Along with other members of Faith Baptist, Mark Sanders, who often travels and sings with Hammond, ministers to the men each week through song.
“I just think music is a powerful thing,” Sanders said. “It can touch you a lot of times in a way that a message can’t. I think that just kind of opens it up a little bit for him (Hammond) to minister to them after they hear some songs.”
Sanders added, “You know, these guys, they just really need to know somebody cares about them, and for someone to give them the message of God’s love and how much He cares about them.”
“They just need hope,” Hammond agreed.
“As a church, we need to go find where hurting people are,” he said. “I look at church as a filling station. You come in to get filled up then go outside the walls to do the ministry.” (WR)