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Men find freedom from their addictions through Denton Freedom House ministry

Men find freedom from their addictions through Denton Freedom House ministry

Men find freedom from their addictions through Denton Freedom House ministry
September 13
09:00 2018

Former drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless men fill the open room. Two rows of white tables face toward windows overlooking a green field. A bulletin board hangs on the left side of the room with pictures of different men and a Bible verse that reads, “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.”

It is almost 7 p.m. at the Denton Freedom House and the men are about to start their core group discussions. Some of them carry Bibles in their tattooed arms, others sit quietly in the wooden chairs. Mike Duke, a division manager at the house, sits down at the front of the room.

“Who wants to pray?” he asks.

A couple of hands go up, Duke points to one of the men sitting in the front row and the rest of the room bows their heads.

“Amen,” they say.

It is a room of former drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless men. But in this room they are not seen as or defined by their past addictions. Instead, they partake in the mission carried out at the Denton Freedom House.

The house is a nonprofit ministry that offers a free place to live for up to 50 men who have struggled with addiction and homelessness. For those who suffering from high drug and alcohol abuse, the ministry’s mission is to free men from their addictions and to equip them to live purposeful lives once they go back into society.

“There are tons of different people dying from opioid overdoses — just drug overdoses in general,” said Chad Eskew, Denton Freedom House Director of Development and Growth. “I mean, it’s rising. I guess the world calls it rehabilitation [but] we call it transformation. It’s an immense need and it’s necessary for our community.”

A board full of pictures inside the building. The Denton Freedom House was started in 2004 by Jeremy and Karen Adams. Jacob Ostermann

The beginning of change

The ministry began in 2004 on Fry Street when the founders Jeremy and Karen Adams started to bring men off the streets into their own home. They ended up helping 11 men until the city told them to find a bigger space or shut down the ministry.

The church the Adams went to at the time, Denton Bible Church, wanted to help them continue to build the ministry.

“Denton Bible Church had a property that we’re currently on and they sold the property to us for ten dollars,” Eskew said. “Back in 2006, they moved roughly eleven men and their family into that home and it’s grown since then.”

Today, the Denton Freedom House team has helped about 1,500 men. Eskew said about 80 percent of the team who volunteers at the house is made up of men who went through the program at one point in time, including himself.

Eskew came through the house four years ago. At the time, he could not see a life without drugs and alcohol being a part of it. He was addicted to meth, heroin and was a two-time felon.

“After [becoming a Christian] in jail, I got out a couple months later and really needed a place to go and build my relationship with the Lord and have direction and purpose,” Eskew said. “So that’s where the Freedom House came in.”

Now as Director of Development and Growth, he gets to help men experience the same transformation he had in his own life.

The process the men go through at the Freedom House is broken up into phases. The first phase lasts about six months, in which during this phase the men do not have access to a phone, car or television. They spend their time following a daily routine, having Biblical class time and learning job skills.

One of the places where the men work regularly during the program is Zera Coffee Company in Denton.

“We’re a nonprofit coffee shop,” Zera’s general manager Dustin Sharpe said. “ We’re volunteer-run primarily by men going through the Denton Freedom House program. All of the proceeds go back into the Denton Freedom House, so we kind of look at it as seed money for the house.”

Zera is one of the organizations that was created to support the ministry and equip the men going through it. The goal is for the men to leave the house with job training and skills to help them in the future.

“We’re actually developing ways to measure it better, to turn it into a work program so that a man can leave with basically an in-house certification that says they’ve gone through all this training and then would be able to leave with management training in the end,” Sharpe said.

Once a man in the house completes the first phase, he can transition to phase two which lasts four months. They are still on the Denton Freedom House property but are given more freedom while they are slowly transitioned back into society. Beyond that, they are given the option to go to phase three and live in a Denton house with up to seven other men.

“Seeing them two months later or a month later after they got ‘born again,’ countenance completely changed and they’re walking in freedom — that’s the most encouraging that anybody can witness,” division manager Heath Iglehart said.

A man reads from his Bible during Bible study at the Denton Freedom House. Jacob Ostermann

Restoring lives in the community to give back

Twenty-five-year-old Mitchell Williams is one of the men whose life has been transformed through the Denton Freedom House.

One year ago, he was a self-proclaimed atheist and had been addicted to heroin and methamphetamine. His life was turned around after he met a recent graduate of the Freedom House and heard his testimony.

“When I looked at him I was like, ‘How have you gone through everything that I’ve gone through, probably ten times worse, but you’re like this, what’s that?’” Williams said. “He told me about how he came to the house and that’s where he completely gave himself to Christ and living like that, the next day everything was different. And that’s just what happened to me exactly.”

A couple weeks after that conversation, Williams moved into the house in September 2017. During his time there he read the Bible for the first time, learned how to serve others in the community and experienced freedom from the addiction that had controlled his life for many years.

“It’s very hard and there’s a lot of discipline into it,” Williams said. “But because of the hope that I have in Him and I know the work that He’s doing inside of me, I enjoyed every single minute of being there.”

One year later, Williams is one of the many stories to walk out of the house changed. His testimony of change is the reason the Denton Freedom House exists.

“We want the men transformed and then we want to train and equip them to go back into the community and actually to be able to give back,” Eskew said. “We want the men to be fathers, we want them to be sons, we want them to be husbands which is usually something they’ve never been.”

Featured Image: Mike Duke, the Division Director for the Denton Freedom House, speaks to a group during a Bible study. The staff at the house estimates they have helped over 1,500 men over 14 years of ministry. Jacob Ostermann

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Rachel Linch

Rachel Linch

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