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Most members of this congregation are in drug/alcohol rehabilitation

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Addie L. “Buddy” Owens remembers the day he stopped drinking. It was Oct. 28, 1982, the week before the annual Florida-Georgia football game.
The road back to sobriety was tough, especially at first when the staunch Bulldogs fan from Brunswick, Ga., had to learn how to enjoy the game without depending on alcohol to enhance the fun.
During the past 16 years, whether his team has won or lost, the game has served as a marker of his victory over substance abuse.
Owens had tried quitting before, but with short-lived success. After receiving his first white chip at Alcoholics Anonymous as a reminder of committing to kick the habit, he broke the chip placed in his billfold when he sat on a bar stool to order a drink.
One year later, he received a second white chip to replace the broken one and has kept it and his commitment through the years.
Owens, who formerly taught an “Experiencing God” discipleship class at First Baptist Church, Delray Beach, Fla., became pastor of Christ Community Chapel in 1996 after a 20-year career in the banking business.
He recently told his story to the congregation, who largely understands his struggle because many of them are in struggles of their own. The two-year-old congregation consists mainly of people in drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
The congregation, under the sponsorship of Northwood Baptist Church in West Palm Beach since this past February, meets at the location of First Baptist, Delray Beach, after it relocated to new facilities. A drug and alcohol treatment center, which bought the property, allows the chapel and other religious groups to use the former sanctuary to conduct voluntary services for the center’s residents.
In the past two years, more than 430 people have made professions of faith at the chapel’s Saturday evening services. During the first service there in April 1996, 17 people came forward to make decisions.
“Many of these people had never heard the gospel before, had never even been to church before,” Owens said. “God is changing lives and touching hearts here.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of the ministry, Owens said, is to see people who have completed treatment continue to attend the services.
These members also have brought family and friends who have become a part of the fellowship.
Fred Chalmers, a member of Boca Glades Baptist Church, Boca Raton, leads the music for the chapel. He and Owens met at a Promise Keepers “Wake Up Call” prayer meeting after the 1995 St. Petersburg Promise Keepers event.
They were prayer partners for almost a year, during which time Owens’ Promise Keepers prayer group incorporated under Delray Beach Praise Team Inc. to form the ministry.
Chalmers said he became interested in the work after hearing about how God was using the ministry to touch the hearts of hurting people. “God says, ‘Go and tell all the world,’ and all the world is made up of all different types of people,” Chalmers said. “God did not say to preach only to those already on the straight and narrow but also to the ungodly and those knee-deep in sin.
“How else can they know the straight and narrow unless someone shows them the way?”

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  • Kristi Hodge