What Brought Me to His Way
My name is John Neiland and, I’m honored to be here tonight with several others from Atlanta, Georgia, representing His Way Atlanta!
My personal journey in recovery ministry started some 20+ years ago. I was focusing on my career, raising my family, and minding my own business when several people here tonight and I got involved in what was then called Atlanta Outreach. This was an outreach program to homeless people seeking solutions to their drug and alcohol addictions, and our job was to provide spiritual mentorship. We would load up in our old rickety, painted blue school bus and head down to a recovery program in a not-so-nice part of town on Tuesday nights. Nevertheless, rooms would be packed, relationships were made, a lot of pizza was consumed, and the Gospel was shared.
I would often bring other Christians with me. I knew it would make an impact on them, and I was always curious about their reaction. One said to me, “Wow I can’t believe what I’m seeing! Growing up, my church always told me to stay away from people like this.” But Jesus invites us to join him in his mission to proclaim freedom for prisoners, recovery of things lost, and to release the oppressed.
On Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings we would drive an empty bus down to the recovery program in Atlanta and bring those interested to join our church family in Huntsville. My friend Patrick, when telling his story of early recovery, would say he noticed early on that the people who seemed to be doing well in their recovery were getting on that blue bus, so he got on the bus. Word spread.
As we continued to work with individuals in recovery, we noticed a significant correlation between those that had a strong, stable, residential program and their ability to remain clean and sober long enough to experience the transformative power of the gospel.
Spreading the News About His Way Atlanta
Meanwhile, I kept a close connection with the His Way Recovery center in Huntsville, and I was able to see first-hand the success and growth they were experiencing by doing the hard work of solid Christ centered residential recovery. I would like to share a little bit about these friends.
My friend Jeremy Mitchell began making trips over to speak to our recovery group in Atlanta and we would dream about the possibility of bringing His Way to Atlanta. My friend Patrick is another friend who became so intrigued with the idea that he “checked himself in” a few times at the His Way Huntsville center and always came back ready to launch a new program in Atlanta.
My Brother Bill, Tom Reynolds, and I have had many meetings, conversations and outings to look at properties in Atlanta over the last few years. Tom and I began praying together weekly about 2 years ago, and soon we started to see the following things happen:
- We found a residential facility in Atlanta – a 12-bedroom quadraplex that was a bit of a fixer upper. We’ve had work days at the residential facility to do demo and clean up, with painters and contractors donating their time and supplies.
- God has prepared a large team and network of Disciples that have worked with people in recovery for years, ready to help make His Way Atlanta a success. At our kickoff event we had over 70 people sign up to volunteer in some capacity.
- We already have a network of 40-50 people poised to start supplying meals for residents.
- 6-7 churches are eager for this effort to begin and to support us.
- The lease is being prepared for our His Way Community Center, which will serve as our hub of operations. This is where we will do the daily business of recovery work for His Way Atlanta, such as intakes, classes, counseling, group meetings, and mentoring.
- Finally, we are so excited that Jeremy Mitchell, long time program director of His Way in Huntsville, will be leading the opening of the His Way Atlanta Recovery Center. Along with Jeremy, Chris Stone and Zach Miskelly (graduates of the His Way Huntsville program) have been very busy making connections and laying the groundwork for us to begin taking residents soon. Spread the news! We are still looking for a few staff members to add to our team.
The tremendous work you have started here in Huntsville has spread. I’m excited to announce that we are just weeks away from accepting our first residents at His Way Atlanta! Keep your ears open for more good news spreading about what God is doing there!
Learn more about His Way’s vision to advance Christ-centered recovery as a rallying point that unifies mission-oriented churches and Christians through sharing materials and resources, providing training and proved recovery models, and planting new programs and ministries around the world.