April 2021 Newsletter

Celebrating Life Change

“When I reflect on the Eugene Mission’s Life Change Program, I think of the glorious transformational power of trusting in Jesus Christ and the beauty such brings. The account of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 comes to mind as we see how trusting in Jesus permits Zacchaeus to joyfully take steps to put things right in his life. We see how a life transformed is a cause for celebration and how it is a profound gift to others.

We celebrate our Life Change participants for their commitment to life transformation. In this issue, you will read about lives transformed that are in stark contrast to many experiences in our broader culture that is largely unwilling to support efforts to prevent and/or break the cycle of addiction.

Oregon’s statistics on substance abuse do not paint a pretty picture. While Oregon had the third-highest addiction rate in the country last year, our state ranked 47th out of 50 states in treatment options. This inverse correlation is not good. Addiction costs Oregon an estimated $6.7 billion annually. Substance abuse costs families and individuals an additional inestimable toll as it is often an insurmountable barrier to maintaining relationships, employment, health and housing.

The Eugene Mission recognizes the brutal suffering caused by substance abuse and supports its guests in their sobriety. We are committed to changing the terrible trajectory of substance abuse and to providing a pathway out of addiction. Recovery is a critical piece of the journey off the streets. We recognize the recovery journey takes time, dedication and resources.

The Eugene Mission’s Life Change Program embodies our commitment to walking this journey with our guests and to sharing the complete healing that only Jesus Christ offers with them. The Life Change Program provides 12 to 18 months of intensive residential relapse prevention services free of charge. The program helps participants heal and grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially and vocationally so they may victoriously re-enter healthy community.

Time and again, we experience the miracle of life transformation and are encouraged! May it be to His glory!

Sheryl Balthrop
Executive Director

Life Change Graduation

The Eugene Mission invites you to attend the 2021 Life Change Program graduation.

6:00pm June 18, 2021

@City First Church (formerly First Church of the Nazarene)
730 W 8th Eugene, OR 97402

Limited capacity for reservations email: LCgraduation2021@gmail.com

Join us via livestream, details to follow on eugenemission.org

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”
[Luke 19:9]

Where Are They Now?

Denver Harris – Life Change Manager, Joe Dodson – (2018) Life Change Graduate, Jeff Hogan – (2019) Life Change Graduate

Jeff Hogan and Joe Dodson burst through the front doors of the Eugene Mission and give Life Change Program Manager Denver Harris a warm hug. It is a back-clapping kind of hug that conveys a level of comradery that is deep and mutual. Both men look strong, happy, relaxed — and they complete one another’s sentences. It is inspiring to behold.

We are meeting with them to see how they are doing after completing the 18-month program. Jeff and Joe completed the full program two and three years ago, respectively, and have remained very close friends, including working together as drivers for Lane Apex Recycling and Disposal.

“There’s no better feeling than sobriety and knowing that you don’t have to stay trapped,” says Joe. “I don’t want to feel that way ever again, and I don’t have to!”

Jeff agrees emphatically, adding, “There’s no going back. Your priorities change and the positives outweigh that hook of addiction. I have great support from my family, a wonderful church family, the tools I need, and I have faith.”

The Life Change Program is a 12- to 18-month residential relapse prevention program that is Christ-centered, structured and intensive. The program has five phases, each lasting several months with content, curriculum and goals that build upon one another. As guests progress through the program individually and together, deep bonds of trust and friendship are built. Joe likens it to rocks in a tumbler. You come in rough and craggy and the process of knocking into one another and the grace and forgiveness from God produces something of polish and beauty.

“Taking time out from life to work on myself was the best decision I ever made,” says Joe.

“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” agrees Jeff. “I couldn’t do life on my own any longer. I tried every single day for twenty years.”

Joe started the Life Change Program in 2017 with Jeff joining in 2018. Both agree that the first 30 days, called the “Honesty Phase,” were difficult.

“I was emerging from a fog,” remembers Jeff. “I had been doing meth almost every day for 20 years. It does something to your head. It takes time to move out of that. At 30 days, I felt like I was just beginning.”

“The first 30 days are so critical,” says Life Change Program Manager Denver Harris. “This is the period where people think ‘I’ve got this.’”

Joe agrees that those initial months in the program can be deceptive. “I stayed for the entire 18 months and I needed every single day.”

As he says this, Jeff nods in agreement. “The days are long, but the years are short. You’ve got to take the time. It works.”

Now both post-program, Jeff and Joe stay in close touch with one another while enjoying restoration of their relationships with their families and loved ones. Joe has a five-month-old baby boy and has been happily married for two years. Jeff has teenage sons, and he beams that he is present for them and talks to them every day. Both men love their jobs and have settled into secure housing and financial stability.

When asked what they would tell someone who is considering the Life Change Program both chime in: “Do it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. The program is 18 months, but this is about the rest of your life. Put in the time.”
Amen!

Life Change in Five Phases

The Life Change Program is structured into five phases that build upon one another in an intentional progression over the course of 12 to 18 months. Before entering the Life Change Program, an applicant is interviewed to evaluate whether the program is a good fit.

“The ideal applicant recognizes that they are ready to surrender to the fact that they cannot do life on their own any longer,” says Program Manager Denver Harris. “We are talking about not just being abstinent but living ‘sober-minded.’”

Each of the five phases has a “time interval” that can be adjusted to accommodate individual needs and benchmarks. Upon successful completion of each, the individual advances in a process called “Phasing Up.”

Phase One of Life Change is called the “Honesty Phase.” These initial 30 days in program are a time to stabilize and complete a beginning Recovery Plan.
“A hard-core addict that has been at it day after day for years needs 30 days just to stabilize. It takes 30 days just to be clear-headed enough to function,” says Harris.

Phase Two, called the “Endurance Phase,” lasts for approximately six months. During this critical time, a program member acknowledges the need to surrender and recognize that their addiction has become completely unmanageable. The entire program focuses on accountability and the Endurance Phase has structured classes and regular shifts in the Mission kitchen.

Program participants also find a church and attend regular AA or Celebrate Recovery meetings. This is when a sober community begins to form around the individual and they develop healthy relationships that support sobriety.

The “Transformation Phase,” Phase Three, occurs at the nine-month benchmark and is a time to begin real-world preparation including plans for an occupation. Participants continue to work reliable kitchen shifts, participate in community service projects, bible study, classes and process groups. During this phase, much time is spent in the Eugene Mission Academic Center (EMAC) learning computer skills, writing papers and preparing a resume and job-seeking skills.

Phase Four, the “Commitment Phase,” is characterized by learning how to navigate, including managing both time and money. A program exit plan is initiated during this three-month phase. Financial management and budgeting “need vs. wants” is established. Participants seek jobs and begin working full- or part-time.

At the one-year mark, Life Change participants begin Phase Five.

“The final six-month phase is independent living with accountability,” describes Life Change Counselor Joe Beal. “It’s a phase likened to training wheels. You live independently and go to work, go to meetings and are accountable to check in with your counselor.”

During Phase Five, the Life Change Program offers on-campus studio apartments to simulate independent living while allowing participants to save money for future expenses.

“It is incredible to see these people who come in here, so lost, so broken and so beat up. To see them walk out of here 18 months later with their head held high, with a job, with money in the bank,” says Harris, getting emotional as he describes the transformation, “it’s incredible to watch God’s work in these people. Incredible.”

Where Are They Now?

Danyelle Daniels (2016) Life Change Graduate

Danyelle Daniels joined us on Zoom call from her apartment in Redding, California where she is living and attending the Destiny School of Ministry.

Danyelle laughs as she says, “It is safe to say, I never saw this coming back in those days.”

“I managed to keep my life together until I couldn’t,” recalls Danyelle. “I came to the Mission because I had nowhere else to go. I had burned bridges and I could not see my way out.”

“Those days” refers to Danyelle’s struggle with methamphetamine addiction.

Danyelle is emotional as she recounts her experience at the Eugene Mission. Deep relationships were formed with staff and other women in the program at the time. Five years later, Danyelle hopes to work in the pastoral field with people who are facing what she once wrestled with and was able to assimilate and move beyond.

“Through the Life Change Program, I experienced the love of a community that would donate its resources for the sake of a stranger that made poor choices. And, through a staff that have committed themselves to giving all of who they are for the sake of my healing. It is the love of God expressed through a community. It was the very thing that helped restore me as a person. The possibilities are now endless for my life. Thank you”. — Danyelle Daniels, LC 2016

Preston Harris (2020) Life Change Graduate

Preston Harris joined us on FaceTime from his home in Phoenix, Arizona. It is warm and sunny there and Preston isn’t pulling any punches about the winter rain in Oregon.

“It’s gorgeous today,” gushes Preston with a huge smile. “I love it.”

Preston is working as a security guard and lives close to his family. He is four years sober and isn’t looking back. Preston joined the Life Change Program in 2017 after years of struggling with alcoholism, homelessness, periods of sobriety and what seemed to be inevitable relapses.

“I was so depressed and so bitter,” recounts Preston in his written testimony. “My father moved away when I was young, and I was looking for a man figure in my life. The people I chose were smoking and drinking, so I did too. I didn’t realize how angry I was for feeling left.”

Preston recalls his time in the program as a time of incredible love and compassion. “I felt very loved and very cared for. I had never experienced that before,” he says. “God makes a way out of ‘no way.’ I was holding a lot of things in.”

Preston says that graduating the Life Change Program feels miraculous.

“Every day is a miracle.”

Way to go Preston. We knew you could do it!

Prayer Requests

Please pray for our Life Change graduates as they transition into housing and independent living. We pray for continued financial support of the Eugene Mission and the formation of an endowment to support our programs, including Women’s Life Change.

Wish List

  • Cumin
  • #10 Cans of marina
  • #10 Cans of ketchup
  • #10 Cans of corn
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Hardwood: Apple, Maple or Cherry for our smoker
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bandaids

We wish you Easter blessings.

We are so blessed that you are part of the Eugene Mission family. We look forward to continuing to serve the least and lost together.
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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
[2 Corinthians 5:17]

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling