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Send this to someone who needs God’s help for drugs & alcohol

BESSEMER, Ala. (BP)–The newspaper of today serves many functions: to disseminate information, line animal cages, decorate refrigerators (cartoons and funny clippings), advertise products and services -­ and change people’s lives.
At least that’s what the July 17, 1997, issue of The Alabama Baptist did for two recent graduates from the Bessemer Rescue Mission City of Hope.
Through the mission’s New Beginnings program, which incorporates Bible study into a drug rehabilitation and work environment, former drug addicts Janet Giles and Steve Willmon have overcome the substance abuse and domestic problems that had taken control of their lives — and begun a new life in Christ.
“I didn’t care about anything -­ not my sons, not myself,” said Giles, 27, who 15 months ago finally “had all she could take” with drugs and alcohol. After a two-week drinking binge, Giles returned home to her mother’s house in Cullman County and picked up a copy of The Alabama Baptist, praying to find something inside that could help deliver her from addiction. On the cover that week was a story titled, “Addicts finding refuge at Bessemer mission.”
If not for reading that article, “I think I would eventually have lost my sons. … I was heading toward hell pretty fast,” said Giles, who the next day called Bill Heintz, executive director of the rescue mission, who informed her he had only one bed left. He held it for her.
Upon her arrival that first day, Giles immediately knew her prayers had been answered.
“When you first walk in, you feel a love you’ve never felt before,” Giles said. “You feel accepted, no matter what you’ve done.” She found in the rescue mission a place where the top priority was to change her heart, not just her habits.
City of Hope is “not just a rehab,” she said. “It totally changes the way you think, how you act.”
The City of Hope is now home for Giles and her 4-year-old son, Houston, who came to live with her in April. Besides singing in the mission’s choir, she also serves as the women’s dorm supervisor and a secretary in the telemarketing department.
Most importantly, her life is now centered around a commitment to serving others through Jesus Christ. “I thought I was saved when I was young, but now I know I have a relationship with God,” Giles said. “And that is something that no one can take away.”
Willmon, 42, had gained everything that makes one successful in a worldly point of view, before his world came crashing down around him.
“I even had a phone that floated in my Jacuzzi,” he recalled. However, his $500-a-day cocaine habit eventually resulted in the loss of his family, multimillion dollar business and expensive home and automobile. In a desperate cry for help, he contacted his mother in Fayette, Ala. She told him about an article she had read in The Alabama Baptist about a place where he might find help.
“I was brought here by my family,” Willmon said, choking back tears. “I was headed straight to hell.”
Since his arrival in October 1997, Willmon, who set up the City of Hope’s telemarketing department, has also become its director of development. This involves pursuing grants, working with the media, publicizing events and more.
And along with beating his cocaine habit, he keeps the beat as the drummer for the City of Hope’s band.
Willmon also has regained contact with his 14- and 12-year-old sons. And despite some lucrative job offers, he plans to stay, like Giles, and work at the City of Hope.
“I’m tired of using my skills to serve myself,” he said. “Now I intend to put them to work for him.”
Willmon finds it hard to believe how much his life has turned around in only a year’s time.
“God is so good,” said Willmon, shaking his head in disbelief. “Sometimes I wonder if I can take it.”
The mission’s telephone number is (205) 428-8449.

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  • Jason Skinner