RENSSELAER — The Jasper County Recovery House recently held its second successful banquet at the First Church in Wheatfield at the corner of SR 10 and US 231.

The banquet is a chance for the Recovery House staff and men who have been or are in the program to celebrate their successes and the opportunity to continue to help men who are slaves to addiction become sober, and turn their lives around.

Since last year’s banquet, the house in rural Rensselaer has seen 31 men pass through on their way to a better life, with 18 of them completing the program, which begins in Jasper County for 30 to 45 days before they go to Elkhart to complete the program, which takes about a year.

The men are referred to as students, and many of them were in attendance from both Jasper County and the main headquarters for the program in Elkhart. They served beverages to guests and spoke of their addictions and their new lives. The program is called Adult and Teen Challenge, and is open to men from 18 and above.

The author of the book, “The Cross and the Switchblade” David Wilkerson, began the program to help young men overcome their addictions among the dangerous gangs in New York City in 1958. His program has grown to become the largest network of faith-based recovery centers with over 1,400 centers across the world.

The Jasper County Recovery House opened its doors in March of 2018 as a way to encourage the men, some as young as 18, to overcome their addictions, stay out of jail and become vital members of their communities. The center offers the men a chance to learn how to cope with life and to work sober. The work program is run by former student Dale Borkholder, who said it “creates a sober-minded work ethic.” Through hard work and networking, businesses, individuals and even towns have opened their doors for the men to come and work. They were able to buy a lawn mower and they worked on mowing, weeding and any task they could.

Borkholder said that the work keeps the men from “idle time.”

He said they have a full week of accounts already for next season including the town of DeMotte, where they will mow some of the parks. He said he’d like to have a second mower so they can double their workload. “It would be a blessing,” he said.

Andy Collins, executive director of the Elkhart center, which includes the Jasper County center, shared how he was once an addict, set free from drugs through this program over 11 years ago.

“I am passionate about our incredible staff and team, our guys and this program and this community,” he said. “I am passionate about life transformations. I see miracles all the time.”

Program Manager Al Ferrer Jr. spoke about his life and how he came to Jasper County. He was in the program in Florida, and Collins called him a “miracle.” Collins said God called Ferrer from Florida to Indiana. He said he spent years running his “own show and making a mess of it,” before he came to the program and became a disciple of Christ. Collins said the ministry of Teen Challenge is a “discipleship program.”

Ferrer thanked the people for their support of the house and for their donations, including toiletries and toilet paper. He joked they were about out of the toilet paper so donations will be great. He said people come and make meals for the staff and students.

Collins said they appreciate the people who roll up their sleeves and help out. They’ve received vehicle donations, and Ferrer said he had a car donated to him as well. They’ve been in the communities with outreach at the festivals in the county, the fair, Trunk or Treat at a local on Halloween, and they have a program for high school students called, “Stay Sharp” where they share their experiences and talk to them about the danger of drug and alcohol addiction.

“We’ll set up a table in your backyard to talk about how God is working in us,” he said.

Ferrer asked for prayers for strength to persevere to make it through another year.

What’s unique about the Jasper County Recovery House? It’s very quiet. The House is small and personal, Borkholder said.

Collins said the program costs about $500 a month for a student, and it has never had to turn anyone away because they don’t have the money for the program. Through generous donations, they are able to bring them through the program without worry of costs.

The evening included worship songs and prayers. Collins said it is good to have so many different denominations together under one roof “to worship our King.”

There are a variety of ways to get involved with the Recovery House including donating items on their needs list, providing work for the work crews, monthly support, providing a space for the men to share their experiences and how their lives have been changed through faith and/or by providing a meal. People can call Ferrer to schedule a meal at 574-326-6358. Items they need include a garden tiller, new tires for the van, laundry detergent, bath towels, copy paper, cleaning products, food and paper products.

To learn more about the Jasper County Recovery House and the Adult and Teen Challenge Programs, people can call 574-226-0789 or email ncitc.jasper@gmail.com or visit the website, www.indianaatc.org. Donations can be sent to the House at Jasper County Recovery House, PO Box 318, Rensselaer IN 47978. To apply to the Recovery House, visit www.nciteenchallenge.com or call 574-226-0789.