Event will highlight what Christ is doing with recovery ministry


Brian Hicks struggled with stress from a busy work schedule as a veterinarian, financial strain and marriage problems that led him to alcohol and eventually The River, a Christian addiction recovery ministry downtown that is transforming lives through the love of Christ.

“It consumed me, and the more addicted I got, the further I strayed away from Christ,” Hicks said. “I went to treatment and while I was there Barry (Walker, the executive director) reached out to my wife and she became a part of The River, too.”

The River, located in downtown Philadelphia on the north side of the Square, is hosting The Gospel Through Recovery, an event next month where participants will share stories of beating addiction through Christ.

The ministry was begun in October 2017 by Walker, his wife and two retired teachers.

Walker has his own story of overcoming alcohol addiction and has been sober for seven years, investing himself in the lives of those struggling with the demon of addiction and pointing them to the saving grace of Jesus.

“This area is inundated with drugs and alcohol, and people who have been with us have died because of that,” Walker said. “We want to have other people give testimonials and tell their stories about how God has delivered them from their addictions.”

Walker has been known to drive people to Meridian and check them into rehab and followup.

Hicks said The River experience saved his marriage and set him on the path of coping with and overcoming his addiction.

“I started getting my life turned around when I began attending classes at The River, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

Alan Davis, office manager at a local body shop, has been battling drug addiction since he was a teenager and tried to end his life three years ago by overdosing on medicine.

“Things were hazy after that, but I remember waking up in jail the next day and realized it was a miracle by the grace of God that I was still alive,” Davis said. “It was then that I found Jesus Christ.”

Davis recalled that with the help of Walker and The River, he got out of jail and went to rehab for three months. He was then offered a position to play music at The River.

“When I got out of jail, I had no job or anything, but Barry gave me the means to work here,” he said. “I cleaned up here and it gave me the confidence to go from wanting to kill myself to getting back in the world and making a difference.”

Businessman Jeff Shepherd who owns a logging operation also struggled with alcohol addiction and juggled many other things along with it.

“No matter how much I drank Saturday night, I had to put the mask on and go to church since I was a deacon…so I could please everybody,” Shepherd said. “But I was miserable inside.”

Shepherd knew that his life had become unmanageable, so he began to more earnestly follow Christ through The River.

“He brought me and my wife here to The River, and together we have grown day by day,” he said. “I can share whatever I want here, and we’re all a big family here.”

The Gospel Through Recovery event will feature more testimonial of how the Lord has transformed lives. The event will be on Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. in DeWeese Park.

If you are struggling with addiction and need help or have any questions about addiction or recovery options, call Barry Walker confidentially at 601-917-1212.

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