When help for recovery is denied to felons, the drug and alcohol addicted, people under house arrest, gamblers, liars, or those with mental illnesses, many times even family members will not let them live in their homes because of their poor choices and the tribulations they have brought to others and themselves. And in this mix are victims of others’ choices, and also the wonderful servants of our nation—our veterans who find their lives diminishing over trauma from that very service. So we open our doors.
First and foremost is leading them in the shelter of daily bible study. Bible study is the “happy hour” of the day, providing the tools for recovery, which in turn helps them strive for a healthier life and instilling good moral values.
The saying “the first step is always the hardest” is true. Everyone who comes to this retreat has completed Step 1 of the 12 step program. (Step 1: Each one admitted that he was and is powerless over their poor choices, compulsive behavior and good old sin, and that their lives had become unmanageable).
Residency at AROH’s mountaintop retreat is voluntary. Everyone that is here ’wants’ to be here. The Bible studies slowly changes their hearts and the stinking thinking. They search the Scriptures, and they allow Scripture to search them and to sit in judgment upon their own character and conduct. No one knows what their future holds, but they learn to hope, to walk by faith and they learn to trust.
Using God’s truth over their choices, and with their confidence growing that God loves and forgives them, shows them that He uses every hardship to mold their character and accomplish a plan that remains perfect despite their inability to comprehend it at the time. We are blessed to witness a ray of hope grow in them in trusting the Lord to lead them in the purpose that God created for them and accepting that they do not need to thrash themselves to any further extent merely to accept the Lord’s gift of forgiveness.
Upon reflection of forty years of giving a hand up, we have learned that the more primitive way of life seems to encourage and strengthen honest standards and ethics. The “back to the basics” attitude helps produce gratitude. A basic lifestyle promotes individuals to distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’.
The retreat has no running water or indoor plumbing. We carry water from a spring, and have the luxury of outhouses. (Very wonderful, especially in the winter!). Most laundry is hand-washed. Lighting is mainly oil lamps and propane lanterns. We use wood heat, (which includes the work involved!), and limited power. Trips to town are limited to priorities—grocery shopping, medical appointments, and legal matters. (This is to eliminate the temptation of being close to the access of drugs, alcohol, and influences that may have a negative impact on their recovery.)
Each person is required to contribute 4 hours of work, 5 days per week. This is to allow them to give back. Being active each day also helps to encourage good work ethics while helping to fight against moods of depression and anxiety. 4 hours per day still allows adequate time for individuals to focus on recovery as day by day they learn to trust God’s purpose for them, in recovery of their own free will.
This provides a common trait among the people here. They all have the same goal of transforming day by day into comprehensive healing and full recovery.
It takes patience and perseverance at times as we witness the miraculous power of God. Hurting people hurt others, so we strive to react to them with love, accountability and grace. We give them more than a few chances. As an example, let’s say a person has been a drunk for 20 years, and they decided to clean up their life. So they stay sober for a month for the first time in years, but then they drink again. We give them a 2nd chance. If they stay sober for six months and fail, then come back and they do not lie to us, we give them a 3rd chance. After that we give them the choice of going to our Helmville Retreat for a year (no charge). Of the individuals who stay for a year, 90% of them so far are staying clean and doing well. Some of these individuals were in and out of A Ray of Hope over a five year period. It takes more than thirty days to reverse a wrecked life full of poor choices,
We work to let you know what the ministry is doing through our Newsletter.
As you read the letters from our guests, please accept it as your personal thank you for standing with us with your time, prayers and donations allowing us to do what we love to do in seeing people understand God’s love and purpose for them.
What God has done for Me?
A letter from a former Helmville Retreat resident
What has God done for me? That’s a good question to ask oneself, when you’re feeling down, mad or downright angry with someone or something. It’s always easy to blame someone else or something instead of looking at our part that we played in the problem, and that’s when you need to ask the question ‘what has God done for me?’ Well I’m going to try to answer the question with some of the things I have learned over the past year here at the Ray of Hope Helmville Retreat.
What has God done for me? Well I can say for certain that God has open my eyes to the love he has not only for me but for others and sometimes I think that people don’t realize just how much love God really has for them, as it’s said in Psalm 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” The thing one has to realize with God’s love is that he always has loved you and he always will, as it’s also is in Psalm 139:1-18 “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous –how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up you are still with me!” God loves you so much that there is no where you can go without God’s love being there. He loves you from day one and for eternity.
Another thing God has done for me is to set me free of demons that have been haunting me for years and to be free from them is an awesome feeling and I mean wow I haven’t been this happy in years. It took me a long time to let go of a lot things and I mean a lot, but when I let go and let God wow, he show me how to use my testimony to help others who are having the same problems as I did. And to change one heart at a time, and do things God’s way instead of my way or man/worlds way. And trying to live up to other people’s and the world expectations and standards just makes a person feel like there are a failure, that they don’t measure up to things, a person starts giving excuses about how they don’t measure up and their a failure, which in turn makes them depressed, not feeling satisfied with the way there life is going, complaining about things, blaming others for their problems, so it begs the question ‘how’s that working out for you?’ So if you give up trying to live by other peoples and the world’s expectations and standards and start living God’s way, don’t you think that you would have more happiness and joy in life like God intended for you to begin with, then the other way, wouldn't you be more stress free, than the other way, wouldn't you have to worry less about things, then the other way, wouldn't you be able to help others with your testimony on what God has done for you, then the other way, I can tell you personally that God’s ways are so much better than the other way; a person starts to take better care of themselves by eating healthier and enjoying life with friends and family in a way that is unlike any other, you start laughing more and also start smiling more. You will be praising God and having a good time, doing things his ways than the other way. For example I get up every morning make my bed and saying “praise the lord, hallelujah. thank you sweet Jesus” and man does the day go smooth for me wow, just by praising his name when I get up.
God has done so many things for me in my life it’s totally awesome. I’m so grateful for everyone I have met and the help I have received here at the Ray of Hope Helmville Retreat, there have just been so many people that have help me overcome so much in my life. Thank you doesn't seem sufficient for everything done for me on giving me a hand up not a hand out.
I have learned so much the one thing that I’ve really taken to heart is “I have great worth apart from my performance, because Christ gave his life for me therefore he impart great value to me. I’m deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ.”
As Bob Christensen says “DON’T BE CRAPPY, BE HAPPY!”
God Bless everyone,
Brandon S. Pelton