It was over 9 years ago when I had just walked out of a 30 day drug and alcohol treatment center. My older brother called me and said, “be ready Sunday morning. I’m coming to pick you up. We are going to church!” I was excited but scared at the same time. I still had a lot of guilt and shame of what my life had become. I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I certainly didn’t feel like I had anything nice to wear to church. The day finally came and as we pulled into the parking lot, I was even more nervous. I had been to a very large church in Memphis as a kid and can remember feeling as though I didn’t fit in well. We got out of the truck and from the parking lot until I sat down in the sanctuary, 5 or 6 people told me, “Welcome to Hope!” I knew they meant it, because they looked directly at me. Worship started and so did the tears.
Growing up with hymnals, this music spoke directly to me more than any other songs I had ever heard. After worship, Craig Strickland walked on stage and I started thinking, “Here we go, here comes the sermon to remind me of how bad of a sinner I am.” Well, that didn’t happen. He talked about grace, love and addiction. I had never heard a pastor talk about drug addiction from the pulpit on a Sunday morning. It was then that I truly felt God tell me, “Welcome home Ben, I’ve been waiting on you.” I attended the "Introducing Hope" class immediately, joined Hope and have given this church my whole heart. I have plugged into the Kitchen Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Concert Ministry, Global Ministry—where I shared my addiction recovery story in Africa—and many other ministries. But, the ministry I’m most proud of that our church has is the Recovery Ministry. Pastor Pat Kendall came to my 1-year AA birthday and that meant so much to me! Being asked to help with this ministry has been such a blessing to me.
I like to think of Hope Church as a body shop and not a showroom. If you’re looking, there’s always Hope!