WARNER ROBINS -- Chris Lones can't hide enthusiasm for Second Baptist Church's One Way Freedom From Addictions and Strongholds program or the freedom and hope it offers in Christ.
He said it's because he knows that freedom and hope firsthand.
"For 23 years I was addicted to everything imaginable," he said. "I came up through foster care and lived in six different homes and went to six different schools. I was addicted to everything from smoking to pills to things you shoot in your arm. I was like that for 18 of my 27 years of marriage. I felt more at home being high than being straight."
But Lones, who started One Way at the church in 2014, said Jesus dramatically delivered him from drugs and their traumatic effect on his life and family. He said eight years ago he was found with drugs at his workplace and was clearly headed to jail.
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But God intervened.
"They had me," he said. "I was going to jail. I was strip searched and they were bringing the handcuffs. But then, an officer said stop. He told me he was a Christian and God told him not to arrest me. He didn't even give me a warning. Well, I was blown away. I couldn't deny God's love and work in my life any longer. I credit it to my wife, Sheila, who prayed for me for years and years and never gave up. God answered her prayers."
Lones said instead of going to jail he got right with God.
"I was free from prison and God was telling Shelia to stick with me still," he said. "He told her he would take care of everything. I got free from drugs and into God's word with a passion. I've stayed there."
One Way meets at 7 p.m. Friday in the church's spacious auditorium lobby. Lones said it started originally with about 50, mostly church members, and now 120 regularly attend, mostly non-church members.
He said meetings consist of 30 minutes in prayer and testimony, an hour in small groups and 30 minutes of group Bible teaching. There's no registration and no cost. Though participants can start and end when they like, he said a series of Reformers Unanimous workbooks and materials could easily take three years to complete. There's a fee for workbooks but the church provides them free for those who struggle to pay.
"We're called Addictions and Strongholds and that strongholds part is important," Lones said. "It's not just for addicts, it's for everyone. When it started, I thought most people would list alcohol or drug addiction as their problem but they didn't. The top three things were anxiety, depression and anger. That's still true. We do deal with addictions from alcohol to drugs to porn to gambling, but One Way is for any life problem -- any stronghold that separates someone from God and other people in their lives. Things like eating disorders, cutting, marriage problems and anxiety, depression and anger. You name it. I believe One Way is the best discipleship program around and I think anyone can benefit from it. Atheists have come."
After Friday's official time, One Way eats.
"It's not just a hot dog," Lones said. "The church's Life Groups bring home-cooked meals for everyone every week and many can take a plate home for later. That shows one of the most beautiful things about One Way and Second Baptist: the way our pastor, Jim Perdue, has embraced the people who come and how the whole congregation has followed his heart. It's got to where we don't consider One Way a program, it's a family where folks aren't judged. Where one sin isn't any worse than another or one sin any less harmful than another. They all damage us and those around us. People here are loved and accepted and embraced. We sit around the table together and eat, talk and fellowship just like a family should."
Lones said people with weight problems get help and compassion from drug addicts. People with depression pray for and encourage people who abuse alcohol. It's a mix, he said, segregated only by gender in small groups.
Lones said One Way can guide people toward other service providers and professional help if needed. He said One Way partners with community agencies such as Phoenix House and that the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia canceled its traditional Friday chapel so 28 can come from there to One Way each week. Second Baptists provides transportation to and from Macon for them as well as from two other locations. They offer rides to Sunday services as well.
Lones said One Way has just become an official Georgia Station of Hope, providing help and life transformation for released prison inmates.
"There's such a need," he said. "There are so many broken and hurting people but God has answers for each one. I'm proof. And the thing is, it's not for 'someone else' with a 'worse problem than me.' It's for everyone, the whole family, we all need support. We care for children Friday nights, too, and the children love it. We're so blessed to have retired teachers and others who really care for the children along with the adult small group leaders who facilitate on Fridays and -- I really mean this -- love people and are involved with them through the week. It's really living life together."
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: Second Baptist Church, 2504 Moody Road, Warner Robins.
Phone: (478) 923-7101
Leadership: Chris Lones
Meetings: 7 p.m. Friday