MOUNT IDA – A group of local residents gathered Thursday evening to discuss the possible benefits and logistics of opening a residential counseling home for women in Montgomery County.
A group of at least 40 people were on hand for the meeting held in the Mount Ida Civic Center. Pastor Brent Furr introduced Doctor Larry Pillow, who spoke on behalf of We Can, a Christ-centered network of transformation ministries for addicts.
Dr. Pillow shared that his vision began when he was pastoring Second Baptist Church in Conway several years ago. A failed attempt at a group home in 1995 did not deter Dr. Pillow, but it would be 2008 before he was able to open Renewal Ranch in Conway.
The success of Renewal Ranch drew others to learn how he and others had started the program. Since the opening of Renewal Ranch in 2008 He Can has been able to help 12 facilities open with two more to open soon.
Dr. Pillow shared his personal story about growing up with an alcoholic father. He also shared that he had lost a son to drug addiction. Knowing the pain as both a son and a father has helped him throughout his work with He Can.
Those in attendance heard testimonials from three graduates of the program who now work in one the facilities they had attended.
Angela Martinez shared that she was the first graduate of the Harbor House for women in the Conway area. She stated that she was originally from Mount Ida, but was sent to live with family at age nine. After struggling with addiction for years it was a chance return to Mount Ida that helped her make the decision to join Harbor House. She joked that many of the rules at Harbor House are there because of her mistakes, but she is honored to be the first graduate from the home. She now serves as a director at Harbor House.
Furr stated that he became aware of We Can and the work they were doing while listening to a radio program in his car. He shared that he believes Montgomery County needs a facility like Dr. Pillow is promoting to help women in the county struggling with addiction.
Dr. Pillow stated that the program is in two phases and lasts from six months to one year. It is a residential program so residents live in the facility full time while they receive treatment which includes extensive Bible study three days a week.
The program is a faith based program which believes the secret to overcoming addiction is to get to the reason someone is using and help them deal with the root problem. They believe the best way to do that is by fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ.
While answering questions from the audience Dr. Pillow shared that they do not employ certified counselors in their sessions. What most would call counseling sessions he labeled as deliverance sessions. He was quick to say he didn’t discount secular counseling, but pointed out that much of what they deal with involves demonic influence which requires a spiritual approach. He did add that one of the homes has just recently employed their first certified counselor.
Since 2015 the 12 facilities have graduated 233 residents from their program. Dr. Pillow stated that they have around a 50 to 75 percent success rate with participants.
The next step will be to find a local long-term leader for the program and then select a diverse group of people to form a start up team. The start up team will meet regularly for a few months praying as they seek to clarify a vision for the home. They will need to elect officers and apply for 501c-3 status with the state.
Eventually the start up team will be phased out and replaced by an operational ministry leadership team and board of directors. It will be their job to continue development of the program and promote the program to the community.
Once a facility is located and acquired the We Can team will come in and assist in any way needed to help open the home.
Homes are financed two ways. The mission model depends primarily on financial support from local churches, businesses and individuals. The work model depends primarily on funding provided through work projects performed by residents.
Group shares vision for local women’s home