COLUMBUS, Ohio — Of more than 80 organizations on the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, Faith Ministries is one of only two churches so far to join.
“Anytime you need a substance to solve a problem, you got a problem,” said Dr. C. Dexter Wise III, pastor of Faith Ministries Church in northeast Columbus.
The alliance is a coalition of business, education, nonprofit, civic and government organizations committed to raising awareness and preventing the misuse and abuse of opioids and other substances.
”There's typically a problem behind the problem that precipitates your use of substances. And what substances do is they give you a quick fix to dull the problem or deny the problem. But then, when you get finished from the high or whatever, you still got the problem,” said Dr. Wise.
He says that’s where the church comes in. Churches can help people deal with the problems that play a part in leading them to substance abuse in the first place.
“That's really the business I'm in. Have people turn to the Savior instead of to the substance. And I think if we can get that message out to people, then I think we will feel that we can stay in our lane, do our thing, and then when necessary and when convenient, partner with professionals and get the job done together,” he said.
“Addiction is painful. It’s painful to everybody around the addict,” said Chad Jester, president of the Nationwide Foundation.
Jester knows first hand the pain associated with a loved one who falls victim to substance abuse. That’s why spreading the message of the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance and its Denial Ohio campaign is a cause close to his heart.
He believes getting churches involved is just one more way to bring the message to the community.
“We really wanted to focus on the future and focus on young people,” said Jester. “We want to make sure that our young people are hearing the message from us as adults who care for them and love them and talk about substances of all types and not just opioids.”
Dr. Wise is preparing to take the message a step further. He’s planning to put together videos and teaching materials, preaching resources and other tools to give to other pastors and churches so they can use it as a model.
The response has been good at Faith Ministries.
“People are thankful that we’re talking about it. They’re thankful that we’re connecting it to scripture," said Dr. Wise. "They’re thankful that we’re giving them positive solutions to deal with it and they’re thankful this is a part of our entire spiritual experience and not something that’s divorced from the rest of their spirituality."