Religion feature: Outreach program aims to help people on road to recovery

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Pastor Melissa Watkins delivers a sermon and prayer at the Celebrate Recovery program at Faith Christian Family Church on Tuesday night.

Benna Sayyed

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a continuing series on outreach programs of area churches.

Penny Hendren decided to change her life after being addicted to methamphetamine for six years and numerous stays in jail.

When a friend in Clovis told her about the Celebrate Recovery program at Faith Christian Family Church, Hendren dropped her old life in Tucumcari and came to Clovis to start anew. Celebrate Recovery has helped her take the first steps to recovery.

“I was depressed, and I felt like I was going to end up killing myself if I didn’t quit,” said Hendren, 33, a mother of four.

“It took me three weeks to get here and I finally came.”

Celebrate Recovery is an international Christian organization committed to assisting people with problems with anger, grief, drugs, alcohol, marriage or divorce.

The church’s chapter was started nine years ago by pastors Steve and Melissa Watkins of Faith Christian Family Church, who realized they were powerless in helping their two sons shake their drug problem. After hearing about the program, the Watkins received training and started Celebrate Recovery in Clovis to help their sons recover.

“There are a lot of people who are without hope. This program and what we do gives people hope,” said Melissa Watkins, a diagnostician for Clovis schools. Watkins said the program at her church strives to help attendees restore their lives and encourages them to make progress.

Once doors open on Tuesday nights attendees participate in praise and worship, receive teaching or testimony from a pastor, pray, and break into groups that focus on fixing a life problem. The church provides child care and a hot meal to attendees.

When the program started nine years ago less than 30 people attended. Watkins said her congregation three weeks ago had 330 attendees, its highest yet.

“We’ve had people come up over and over and over again and say, ‘Thank you so much for doing this; I look forward so much to Tuesday nights. It’s the highlight of my week. It’s what keeps me going.’”

Hendren has attended Celebrate Recovery for 10 weeks. Toward the end of her methamphetamine addiction she used the drug every day. She now goes to church every day, with Tuesday nights being the highlight of her week. Hendren, who said she lost her oldest son to foster care a year ago because of her drug problem, is interviewing for full-time employment in Clovis.

“I’m so happy. I’ve never been this happy in my life. I’ve been clean 71 days and I’m getting my son back in May,” Hendren said.

Brian Raulie, 22, has attended Celebrate Recovery on and off since 2007 after Clovis High School mandated that he spend 25 days in the program following a failed drug test for varsity football.

“I was one of the main players that helped out the team. Not being able to play in any of the games was hard,” said Raulie, who continued attending Tuesday nights at Faith Christian Family Church because he saw a positive change in his life.

“It’s changed my thought processes,” Raulie said.

“It’s helped me with my relationships. It’s helped me in my work. It’s helped my overall sense of being. It’s something that’s real. They tell you what’s real. They’re not going to lie to you.”