"We don't look at the problem - we look at the answer."
- Bethel Fellowship pastor Tom Nomeland
MINNEOTA - Addiction is ruining lives, and a church in Minneota is offering a way out.
"I can name five people right now who are dying from their addiction," said Nomeland.
Wanting to help, Nomeland and church members are starting a new addiction program called Reformers Unanimous. The first meeting is at 7 p.m. Friday at the church on Minnesota Highway 68.
"It is a faith-based program and has been over 80 percent successful," Nomeland said. "There are over 900 chapters in the United States, with more than 40,000 people meeting in these different chapters every Friday night. So we are excited to offer that to any who are looking."
Nomeland said the program is open to anyone who has any type of addiction - it could be drugs, pornography, gambling, eating disorders. It isn't meant to bring people into the church in general or to Bethel, but the parishioners are there to help.
"We have meals together," he said. "It's an introduction to a large family. We love the underdog, the people who are struggling."
Congregant Dale Johnson of Minneota, a former addict himself, will direct the program.
Johnson has been struggling with drugs since he was 13 years old including a particularly rough three-year period when he used meth. He was "in and out of jail" and after a stint at rehab, he kicked meth.
"In treatment, a man said the way I lived my life was nothing but a lie," Johnson said.
He reached out to the people at Bethel but stopped going while living in Wisconsin for five years.
"We never stopped praying for him," Nomeland said.
After returning to Minneota, Johnson still "dabbled in alcohol," he said. A year ago, he had an "alcohol-related accident" that landed him in intensive care for five days. Not only was his body broken - he said a part of him died that day.
"I just surrendered," he said.
Johnson went back to Bethel.
"I walked back to Bethel, and it was like I had never left," Johnson said.
He attended church camp and felt a healing, he said.
"All the failures," he said. "Things started changing in my life."
Johnson said Nomeland "started talking about this R.U. program. Everything I've done, I've failed. This is an opportunity to minister to the addicted."
"Failures can become your assets," Nomeland said.
"I can kind of see the path (addicts) are on," Johnson said. "I know where they're at."
Nomeland and Johnson want to get the word out to as many people as they can that there is a new Christ-centered program in the area with a high success rate.
"In other programs, it's one out of 10 will make it," he said. "In this program it's eight out of 10. When I first heard about the success rate, I thought 'this is ridiculous,' but judges have endorsed it in Rockford, Illinois, where it started and jails let inmates out to attend meetings. A bus picks them up and takes them there. They have a good relationship with the courts. (The courts) are seeing the fruit. They don't want to keep seeing the same people over and over again. America has more people in prison than any other country."
Johnson and Nomeland attended training in Rockford and attended an R.U. meeting there.
"Rockford is a city of about 150,000," he said. "At the meeting, there were 250 people."
Nomeland said at Bethel, there will be a nursery set up for anyone with infants and child care for older kids.
"We have a youth program for kids that runs on Fridays," he said.
"There are a lot of broken families," Nomeland said. "You have to reach the family."
For more information, call Johnson at 507-476-5686.