Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 29, 2014

Altamont pastor starts program to help addicts

ALTAMONT — With substance abuse a continuing concern in Effingham and other area counties, an area pastor would like to help addicts and their families deal with the condition.

The Rev. Troy Kurtz of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Altamont is organizing a local chapter of HOPE, Helping Others Put Off Entanglements. HOPE is an Oklahoma City-based organization founded in 2008 by Dr. Rick Carter, a Baptist minister. The Altamont chapter would be the group’s first in Illinois.

Kurtz said he’s been wanting to develop such a program for quite some time. Now that some needs at the church have been met, Kurtz said he’s ready to hold the first meeting, set for 7 p.m. Aug. 1, at the church, located on U.S. 40 on the west edge of Altamont. The pastor hopes that HOPE can fill what he believes is a gaping need for faith-based addiction treatment.

“There’s not just a need, but a concern in the Altamont community about addiction,” he said.

Kurtz emphasized that HOPE would not limit itself to those addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. He said the program is designed to treat people with any kind of addiction, whether it be sex, gambling or eating, to name a few. But he added that the primary focus, at least at first, might be those addicted to substances and their families.

“We just have to get people pointed in the right direction,” he said.

The way to do that, he said, is to share the basic tenets of Christianity with addicts and their families.

“We know the real hope is in Christ,” Kurtz said. “We’re hoping to bring people to Christ so they can get over their addictions.”

Kurtz said Barbara Barr of Altamont has been instrumental in sharing a need for a faith-based program. Barr, a recovering addict herself, said HOPE will be beneficial not only to addicts, but their families.

“I highly support any faith-based organization,” Barr said. “I feel there is true freedom to be had in a faith-based recovery program.”

HOPE won’t be the first faith-based recovery program in the area. A chapter of Reformers Unanimous, a program founded in Rockford 18 years ago, is on summer hiatus, but the Rev. Jeremy Amster, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Effingham, said the “RU” group will resume meeting sometime in August.

Amster said faith-based recovery programs are the best option for addicts.

“I believe if you are going to get help, the best type of help is through Christ,” he said. “I believe the Bible has all the answers we need to have victory over addiction.”

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