Men's Breakfast, January 14, 2017

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, January 14th with Ernie and Jocelyn Hutchings, pastors of Freedom House Church.  They brought almost twenty additional guests, many of them residents of their addiction rehabilitation ministry. 

Ernie grew up in a middle class family but turned to drugs in his youth.  He became a user of most illegal drugs but mostly amphetamines.  He also sold drugs and became involved in organized crime and had gone to jail.  He decided that this was no way to live and accepted Jesus as a way to turn his life around.  In the process he set up a rehabilitation ministry to help other addicts. 

He first started a church in Surfside for his ministry.  When the church outgrew this location they moved to the former Windswept restaurant.  There they had the addiction recovery program and a soup kitchen.  The restaurant was eventually foreclosed so they had to move.  They took over the Velasco Baptist Church.  The southern Baptist Association would not give them the church because deed restrictions required that it be used by Southern Baptists or sold.  The Association demanded $100,000 for the building.  Ernie agreed even though he had no money to pay for it and no bank would loan him the money.  After several months, just before he was to be evicted, a man offered him a loan on good terms because he supported the church’s program.  The church later borrowed another $20,000 to buy an adjacent lot.  The church has paid off most of the loan well before it is due. 

The church has several ministries to the community.  It has a soup kitchen which feeds anyone who needs it.  It has a clothing store which provides free clothing to those in need.  The most important ministry is to recovering addicts.   This is a ninety-day residential program.  The focus of the program is to make Jesus so central to their lives that they no longer need drugs or alcohol.  Graduates can transition to a short term residence for men who are looking for work.  After this they are on their own but still have the support of the church.

Reverend Jesse Rivet of The Rock Church then brought up the fact that there is no comparable program for women addicts.  The women’s shelter is for women fleeing an abusive relationship, not addiction.  A program like that of the Freedom House Church is needed for women. 

The Freedom House Church has a sanctuary seating 300 which is usually about three fourths full.  Ernie has removed the wall between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall so more people can worship in hopes for future growth. 

The people had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be February 11th with Santos Aluiso, president of the Longshoreman’s Union, as featured guest.