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Church Helps Addicts Heal: Monte Payne

An Arkansas man who helps clients overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol says it takes a life overhaul to stay clean. Monte Payne knows the pain of addiction and helps people finally turn the corner.

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Monte Payne: “I’ve been there. (police siren) I’ve been homeless. I’ve been crack-addicted. I’ve been an absent parent. I’ve had no hope.”

By the time they end up in the basement of Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Monte Payne’s recovery clients know there is no “quick fix.”

(Women in counseling group) “I have been, ya know, into drugs and alcohol.”

(Monte Payne to group) “We’re in treatment now.”

For many, it’s not their first attempt at sobriety. It took Monte Payne himself more than once.

Monte Payne: “When I got here I almost had to have a diagram for living. A lot of the counseling that we do here like helping with jobs, helping with finances, helping with parenting, would seem real simplistic to the average American but they didn’t lose ten or fifteen years of their life in drug addiction!”

… and, the endless consequences of addiction.

 (Payne to resident)  “Okay, you know we’re meeting next week.”

Some of the residents in supportive housing operated by B.C.D.-- the Better Community Development agency, which works in conjunction with Theressa Hoover UMC--come out of prison to a world for which they are not equipped. Others are fresh off the streets.

(Monte) “I came to check on you.  Everything going alright?” (D’Angelo) “Well, I’ve got a little issue.” (Monte) Oh man, what’s going on?” (D’Angelo  Lee talking to Monte) “I want to make the right decision, right choice. I don’t want to let her down, especially with those kids.”  (Monte answers) “You can’t always just discount what you can do sometimes just being a parent, just being able to answer that phone is enough for right now. So don’t ever discount yourself on that.”

To rebuild lives, Theressa Hoover and BCD started with a neighborhood overhaul. There are new and repaired homes, and subsidized long-term housing. One of the beneficiaries of a credit repair and mortgage program is Monte Payne.

Monte Payne: “You see that right there? That’s my home, just bought that home with my son. I was just on drugs and alcohol 20 years ago- to think now, I’d have that!”

Payne now has custody of his high school age son. He credits the BCD’s youth program as one reason the boy hasn’t followed his hard road.

(Monte Payne in car) “We’re not just treating drug addiction and alcoholism, we’re treating spiritual death. And that’s right where I was.”

Payne believes the spiritual component of the Hoover treatment center helped make the difference for him.

 (Monte Payne, sitting in church) “I was bitter at God. But when I came to Hoover I was you know pretty much beat down and I was ready to listen to some people. When I started trying to pray, I started getting what they call a natural high.”

(Monte Payne to group) “If I can’t do what I want to do around my own family that I love, I don’t need to be doin’ it. That’s what I learned.”

Monte Payne: “Just because I was a drug addict in my past, does not mean that my life is over. On the contrary, it means that my life is beginning because I lived two lives in one lifetime. I have been right where these people are. That’s why I know how they really feel.”

 (Monte calls hello to neighbor while at his mailbox)

Monte Payne: “I know that someone had to love me till I could love myself. And, that’s what I try to do with the people that come through our doors.”

Ministries like community outreach programs at Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church change lives through affordable housing and help for families breaking the cycle of addiction.

The purpose of Human Relations Day is to call United Methodists to recognize “the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other."

The Human Relations Day offering helps nurture at-risk youth, strengthens community self-improvement efforts, and supports advocacy work that challenges oppression and injustice.

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