Human Relations Day Special Offering This Sunday
From the United Methodist News Service
Offering Helps Homeless Man Beat Addiction
Pointing to a pretty brick bungalow just blocks from Little Rock’s historic Central High School, the smiling, affable man says proudly, “That’s mine. Twenty years ago, I would never have believed my son and I would be living here. I was homeless, on the streets, on drugs. I bought that home this year. God is good.”
Monte Payne has nothing but positive things to say about Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church, named for the Philander Smith College graduate.
One of the congregation’s greatest strengths is its Hoover Treatment Center, which for 20 years, has provided affordable, accessible and quality substance-abuse treatment. The center is an integral part of Better Community Developers Inc., formed in 1981 as the focal point for the church’s outreach ministries. BCD Inc. is just one of many programs that benefit from the annual Human Relations Day Sunday offering.
Born in Los Angeles 48 years ago, Payne served in both the Air Force and the Army National Guard. His abuse of crack cocaine and alcohol started there. Soon he was living on the streets.
“I was raised in a church,” he said, “but I had no spiritual component. I had issues with God. I was bitter at God. I thought there was no such thing as God ‘cause if there was such thing as God, why would I be homeless when I was raised in such a spiritual home?”
Payne works as a counselor at Will’s House.
Moving to Russellville, Ark., at age 22, he continued battling his demons. He finally wound up at the Hoover Treatment Center in 2004. The only licensed, faith-based provider of its kind in Arkansas, the center provides a structured, 24-hour, intensive residential and outpatient program that addresses the chemical dependency needs of men and women.
“I was really pretty much beat down,” Payne admits. “I was ready to listen. I believed in God but didn’t follow any of his teachings,” he said. “I didn’t try to be honest; I didn’t try to do the right thing. I was ignorant to the fact that I was dying spiritually.”
Payne realized he had to change. “I opened my mind, and I started trying to pray, started trying to meditate and then, most importantly, I started trying to act as if I was righteous, so to speak. I tried not to lie. I tried not to harm folks. I tried to be a good father.”
Today, Payne works full-time as a counselor at Will’s House, also related to Hoover. Will’s House provides supportive housing for men and women in recovery, some of whom have spent time in prison. Payne supplements his income by delivering newspapers at night.
He also leads recovery group meetings at the church. It’s a natural fit. “I’ve been there. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been crack-addicted. I’ve been an absent parent. I’ve had no hope,” he tells the group.
“I know that someone had to love me ’til I could love myself. And that’s what I try to do with the people that come through our doors.”
Payne has custody of his son, Errin, who plays football at Central High. Nurturing the father-son relationship is high on this dad’s list. He wants things to be different for Errin, who will graduate next spring.
Mississippi United Methodist congregations are asked to live into the connection by collecting an offering this Sunday for Human Relations Day. The Mississippi Advance number is 76. Checks can be mailed to The MS Annual Conference office, 320-A Briarwood Drive, Jackson MS 39206.