Ministry tackles addictive behaviors

From left, Lydia Carpenter, Wendy Harris and Alan Harris helped create the Intensive Transformation Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Alabaster nearly six years ago. (Contributed/Wendy Harris)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Alabaster resident Wendy Harris and her husband, Alan, started learning about the addiction problems many in their own community faced, they knew they had to do something to help.

After hearing about the Intensive Transformation Ministry, which was created by Rev. Charles Mozley, from Lydia Carpenter, a member of the Harrises’ Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church of Alabaster, the church volunteers started looking for ways to bring the program to their hometown.

“I actually went through the program just to see how it worked. It was a very powerful program,” Wendy Harris said, noting Carpenter introduced the program to the church.

Although there are many addiction recovery programs in the state, Alan Harris said ITM brought a faith-based, cost-free program to the church.

After working to organize the church’s first ITM session nearly six years ago, church volunteers have helped dozens of local residents overcome their addictions.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people healed by the Lord,” Alan Harris said. “There are many people right here in our community who struggle with addictions to alcohol or drugs, gambling, pornography and just about anything you could think of, and you may never know they’re struggling.”

During the 12-night ministry, the ITM volunteers help those in the program to grow in their faith while addressing the root causes of their addictions, Alan Harris said.

“When they first come, they don’t know what to expect. But by the end of the first week, they start to open up and bond with God,” he said.

Alan Harris said many addictions stem from “unforgiveness or bitterness” in a person’s life, and said the program works to address the causes through faith.

“A lot of people will try to numb that with alcohol, drugs, sex, any number of things. But they can’t fill that hole in their lives,” Alan Harris said. “Only Jesus can do that.”

Wendy Harris said much of the program focuses on forgiveness.

“Our big thing is working through the forgiveness process. Not only forgiving others, but learning to forgive yourself,” Wendy Harris said. “There really isn’t a whole lot that isn’t covered in ITM.”

The next First Baptist Church of Alabaster ITM session will begin at the church on Jan. 23, 2012. After meeting three nights a week for four weeks, participants will graduate on Feb. 15.

The program is free, and participants can register by calling the church office at 663-3531.