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Stuart Heights RU staff helps rehabilitate addicts

Stuart Heights Baptist Church’s North Chattanooga campus hosts a new Reformers Unanimous group on Friday nights.

Chapter Director Ron Hawks said everyone has parasympathetic habits that are life-dominating and need to be addressed biblically.

“The goal is to help addicted people overcome their habits,” said prayer counseling coordinator Sonia Harris, of Middle Valley. “We don’t just pray with people, we show them how to overcome and put off old habits by changing their heart through the direction of the word of God.”

Reformers Unanimous was birthed out of the church’s overwhelming response to its free prayer and counseling ministry.

RU is based on a personal relationship with Jesus, said Harris. The group uses the Strong Hold Study Course, which utilizes scripture memorization. She said the lessons and scripture help people overcome life-dominating habits ranging from food to sex to alcohol or drug addictions.

“It gets to a point where your addiction dominates you,” said Hawks, adding that RU is not like Alcoholic Anonymous where people stand up, state their name and say their habit. “People are responsible for their own actions. Some people are functional alcoholics or drug users. We try to help them make a habit change.”

He said the Bible talks about how people that refuse to change their habits will have trouble in life.

Both Hawks and Harris have made life-changing decisions in their own lives that help them assist others in making a change.

“I’ve been on my own since I was 12,” said Hawks. “My parents were convicted alcoholics confirmed by doctors. I went into the military at 17 as a volunteer. I served in the Marine Corps for six years. I have post-traumatic stress disorder. In my 20s I had alcohol addiction trouble. I overcame it with sheer willpower.”

Hawks said he also struggled with smoking cigarettes, but when his son developed severe allergies at only age 6 months, he threw his cigarette pack in the trash can and never smoked again.

“We would never tell an RU person to quit their medication,” Hawks noted. “We would consult with a medical professional. If a person has PTSD or is bipolar, we would never tell them to quit their medicine.”

Harris said she too had to overcome a past issue on her own.

“I was exposed to pornography as a child and had to work through it up to my 30s,” she said. “When I got saved I had the power to overcome the images in my mind and those images don’t appear anymore.”

Hawks said 10 workers and five guests typically turn out for a local RU Friday night meeting.

“There is a big need and people want help,” Harris said. “They don’t know where to go for permanent change. We can help them.”

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