Jim Phillips, a graduate of the His Way program, and his wife Tracy are making a significant impact by supporting parents recovering from addiction in their journey toward family reunification. The Phillips have taken on the role of foster parents, providing a second chance for families by fostering children whose parents are in recovery.
But the decision to become foster parents was not an easy one, especially for Jim.
Change of Heart
“I did not want to do it,” Jim said emphatically.
“We had spent years rebuilding our possessions and home and relationship together and with others. I was comfortable and happy and I did not want to be pushed out of my comfort zone again. I was selfish. I didn’t want to give of myself like that.”
At first, Tracy was going to accept Jim’s “No.” Then she came back to him again and said, “Jim, I really need to do this. It’s important to me.”
She stopped talking to him for a couple of days. Jim couldn’t handle it anymore. “I burst into the room where she was and said, ‘How long is this going to go on?’ She said, ‘I’ve been praying for two days straight that you’d change your mind about fostering,’ and she didn’t do stuff like that,” he recalled.
Jim agreed to take the required classes but secretly hoped that somewhere in the process Tracy would change her mind.
But it wasn’t Tracy whose mind and heart were changed.
“Somewhere in that certification process, I realized God was trying to get me to do something and I was fighting him on it. It scared me. I remember having nothing and nobody and it was all God that put it back together and He could take it away again just as easily.”
Jim surrendered. “OK God, I’m willing. I’ll foster,” he said. “Come to find out, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me and Tracy. We get such joy and fulfillment from fostering.”
Jim was surprised to fall in love with his foster children in the same way he loved his own kids.
“When a little girl climbs up on your lap and wants you to read her a story, she’s your child,” he said. “That’s why it would be so difficult if we didn’t get to see these kids anymore when they go back to wherever they’re going.”
The Phillips are on their third foster placement now and have continued relationships with the children and their families. Some of the families even attend the Phillips’ church.
“We are different in the foster community because no one else works with parents,” said Jim. “We immediately seek out parents and find out what problems they have, and through our experiences, we help them. We can help them with reunification of their family if they want that.”
Their first long-time foster child was a 5-year-old little girl. She lived in the Phillips home for nearly a year.
“The last weekend she was going to be with us was sad because we thought we’d never see her again,” Jim said. “Unless you have a relationship with the parents you never hear from them again. It’s like they died. They’re just gone.”
Jim and Tracy asked the parents if they could take her to church one last time. To their surprise, the family said yes, and the whole family came to church. They are still a part of the Phillips’ church to this day.
Next, they fostered two boys for more than a year. Both parents were in trouble with drugs.
“My wife got a call from the mother that she needed help, so she drove down to Cherokee County and picked her up. We got her in a program and got the dad in His Way. They both completed 9-month programs and did everything they were supposed to do.”
The benevolence ministry at the Phillips’ church, Central Church of Christ in Huntsville, helped the family get back on their feet. Today the family is back together. They have a home, a car and both parents have jobs.
The His Way Difference
Around 2007, Jim developed a drinking habit that worsened over the years. For five years, from 2010 to 2015, Jim was in and out of rehab, on a cycle of getting treatment and relapsing, going through multiple programs.
“In 2015 I went to His Way, and that’s where my life changed.”
In most of the recovery programs Jim was in, whatever you arrived with is what you left with.
“They are not trying to build you up while you are there,” Jim recalled. “Some of them will give you a little bit of religious instruction while you are there. A couple of the places will farm you out for work and they keep the money. The entry fee is exorbitant, and they keep that even if you stay five days.”
The difference between His Way and all the other programs Jim tried is the connections he made in the His Way program, the investment they made in him, and his relationship with Jesus.
“When you leave His Way you’ll have transportation, a place to live, a good job, and a relationship with God if you want it. You have to be open-minded about knowing Jesus. That will set you up for success. It’s like you’ll be in a fortress because of the support system around you. You almost can’t fail. The ones that don’t do well at His Way are the ones who isolate. The devil is going to pick you off if you get off by yourself.
“I graduated from other things and I would relapse a month later if I made it that long. His Way made all the difference.”
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The His Way Christ-centered recovery model provides a greater chance for overcoming addiction and lasting change for these men and their families. Check out all of the ways you can support our ministry and help making lasting change: https://hiswayinc.org/ways-to-give/