Recovery group helps men and women with addiction

Published 2:43 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

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By Angela Cutrer
Life is hard enough. Add the hardship of addiction, and life can become unbearable.
Recovery Soldiers Ministry, a recovery program in Elizabethton, is headed by people who have experienced first hand the soul-crushing pain of addiction.
The leaders of the “soldiers for Christ on the battlefront of addiction,” Joshua and Marley Scalf, know personally the experiences of those who come to them with no hope for the future.
“Addiction was a way that I escaped from reality,” says Marley Scalf, whose early life made her victim of abandonment and sexual abuse. “Addiction was how I escaped that pain. Little did I know it would turn into a six-year addiction.
“So many people [who] have become addicts are simply hurting and suffering from some type of past trauma. We must see past the addict and find the wounded inner child in order to truly help them recover.”
Her husband, Joshua Scalf, founded Recovery Soldiers Ministry (RSM) on April 15, 2011, after an epiphany while serving four years in the Virginia Wise Correctional Unit. He finally saw how life could be better with God guiding him rather than his addiction. Joshua said he gave his life to Jesus Christ then and discovered an overwhelming love for others who suffer from addiction.
The Scalfs readily confess their past addictions and the decades that plagued their lives. They bonded together to begin this ministry to teach and aid others in finding the freedom that could come from leaving a life of drugs and alcohol. This path, they said, is through Jesus Christ.
“Nothing brings me more joy than to be a small part of the families being restored by the love of Christ,” Joshua said. “Addiction has a domino effect of destruction. It’s not just the addict that suffers. He has a mother, father, brother, sister and loved ones who also suffer.”
He said his great joy is to see families reunited. “To see a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby girl run and jump into daddy’s arms at visits is what our ministry is all about,” he said. “To witness a mother cry tears of joy instead of tears of sadness because her son or daughter is sober and receiving the help they needed makes it all worth it.”
Marley grew up in Altamont, a small town in Grundy County. She attended Grundy County High School, moved to Knoxville when she was 18 and then to Elizabethton when she was 22. She now has a ministry certificate from Johnson University and is in the process of become a certified peer recovery specialist.
Joshua, who now also has an undergraduate ministry certificate from Johnson University, grew up right here in Carter County. “My family has been serving good home cooking to the community for years from our restaurant, Nanny’s Country Cooking,” he said. “I love my family roots being here in Elizabethton.”
He graduated from Unaka High School. “It is a loving community, but there was nothing here to combat addiction and I was lured into its grasp at a young age,” he said. “Now — today — I am honored to be able to provide help to those who struggle in our area.”
And RSM is open to anyone needing structure to change their lives away from addiction. The program is a 12-month discipleship program that separates into two — one for men and one for women. Its main vision is “to provide men and women with a faith-based recovery program that promotes spiritual development through practical biblical teaching and comprehensive life skills that release them from the bondage of addiction.”
Its mission is “to help individuals develop positive life-skills that guide them in to a deeper relationship with God and others.” It does this through its values: redemption through the saving faith of Jesus, recovery from the bondage of addiction, and reconciliation to God, family and society.
During the program, men and women move away from lifestyles centered around active addiction, confront the opportunity to live drug-free and learn to make fundamental decisions in a highly structured environment. Recovery Soldiers Ministries offers environmental change and teaches practical life skills to cope with their addiction’s roots.
The program has now graduated 72 men from the men’s home that opened six years ago. It has seen the graduation of five women from its women’s home that only opened a little more than a year ago.
The mission now boasts a new thrift store called Super Thrift. The Scalfs are in the process of building a cabin community to provide housing for graduates as a way of continued recovery and after-care support in a safe place while graduates work to gain their independence. In the near future, the program will also include a vocational classroom for the instruction of auto mechanics.
Marley said that their program works to help addicts find something else that means more to them. She said taking addicts off the streets who are potentially planning their next robbery or drug deal or who could potentially sell children drugs at school and placing them in an environment of change involves teaching them new behaviors.
“We provide them with tools and assistance from mental health professionals to give them a new desire,” she said. “Putting them back into society a totally different person with new desires, desires to contributing and give back to the very community that they were taking from, that’s the warm and fuzzy part of the big picture.
“Not only that, but also that this former addict is now a transformed, contributing Christian going back in society means a mother no longer loses sleep at night, a father no longer struggles financially because of all the times he has had to bond his son out of jail or paid for an attorney. There is all that, too.
“There’s also a little child who now has a parent back. Honestly, I can’t stress enough of just how important RSM is to this community. It takes time to see those results, but when those results come it’s so worth it.”
And the reviews are in from former addicts themselves:
• Jo – “The judge sent me to RSM instead of four years in prison. Through RSM, God is restoring the relationship with my loved ones.”
• Titus – “I graduated from Recovery Soldiers May 4, 2019, and now I am four years clean. I give all the credit to God. I’m so thankful for Recovery Soldiers Ministry. They really showed me a new way to live.”
• William – “I’m 55 years old and had been doing drugs for 40 years. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t do anything about it. But after I went to RSM and got closer to the Lord, he gave me the power to overcome drugs and drinking. The blessings I get from helping is my blessing! I thank RSM for helping me turn my life around.”
• Tanner – “Jesus Christ has truly changed my life since I came to Recovery Soldiers Ministries. It hasn’t been easy, but I can’t wait to see what all God has in store in my life. I thank God and RSM for all they have done for me.”
• Dustin – “This last time in jail. I had enough. So I was at my rock bottom. So I asked God to help me and to send me a sign. He sent me to RSM, where I have learned so much. I am going to be a better brother, grandson, role model to people in the community. I am going to school in May for an industrial electrician. I recently got married and I now have two beautiful children.”
“Our mission is to help individuals develop positive life skills that can take them into a deeper relationship with God, themselves and others,” Joshua said. “We accomplish that mission by teaching biblical principles to help people become soberly minded, emotionally stable, socially adjusted and, most importantly, spiritually alive.”
Solution-based and cognitive-behavioral counseling is also part of the plan, in addition to biblical study, work-skill lessons and mainly, being around others who know the pain of addiction and want to help.
“It takes a lot of courage to admit you have a problem, but it takes even more courage to do something about it,” Joshua said.
“You can find hope and freedom from your addictions here,” Marley said. “Call us.”
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