Dr. Jim Berg of BJU’s seminary faculty has watched the addiction ministry Freedom That Lasts grow over the past three years from one church’s outreach to a wide-reaching ministry that helps individuals throughout South Carolina to overcome life-dominating sins.
The outreach began in May 2010 when Berg hired a company to remodel his house and began witnessing to the drywall workers. One of the men, a Christian who had fallen away from the Lord because of a drug addiction, asked for help with his addiction after listening to Berg’s testimony.
“He’d been begging God to send someone his way to help him,” Berg said. “When I witnessed to him, he said, ‘This is God’s answer.’”
Berg began meeting with the drywall worker every Friday night, and soon several of the man’s friends began coming as well. By the end of the summer, Berg was discipling five or six men with various addictions.
The group changed the location of its Friday evening meetings to Faith Baptist Church in Taylors, and within several months 25 students were attending. Members of the church began helping Berg with this ministry, and Freedom That Lasts was born.
“It’s been really exciting,” Berg said. “It’s done so much for our people who are participants.”
Although some church members were worried that they wouldn’t be able to connect with the addicts, Berg has encouraged church members to become involved, even if they have never personally struggled with an addiction.
“We have more in common with an addict than we have differences,” he said. “We all know what it is like to go back to a sin that is destructive.”
Berg soon developed a curriculum to go along with the ministry, and as it grew even more, Larry Pierson, a BJU grad, was hired as part-time director. Since then, 17 chapters of this ministry have been started at other churches throughout South Carolina, and Pierson now works as the full-time director at the Faith Baptist Church chapter of Freedom That Lasts.
The curriculum Berg developed begins with a small booklet for the student to complete before returning the next week. It’s a salvation guide that reveals the spiritual starting point of the student. And no matter where that is, anyone struggling with a life-dominating sin may enter the program.
After the initial evaluation, the student is placed within a care group, a group of seven to nine individuals headed by a church member and assistant. In this group the student is given the Freedom That Lasts Student Manual, which is based on the essential virtues found in II Peter.
Students work through this eight-section manual at their own speed. After completing each section, they receive an award to pin to their name badge.
“That is so important for some of them,” Berg said. “They haven’t had many wins in their lives.”
Along with the manual, students receive a Freedom That Lasts Spiritual Life Journal to guide them through daily prayer, Bible reading and Scripture memory.
The program takes an average of one to two years to complete, with the end goal being an addiction-free Christian who is able to stand on his or her own and is an active member of a church.