What is termed a “spiritual boot camp for men with drug and alcohol addiction” in northeast Arkansas now has a new residential home for men from DeSoto County and the area.
What is called John 3:16 Ministries is based on the well-known Bible verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The ministry operates from its location at Charlotte, Arkansas, which is near Batesville in the northeast part of the state. It has been helping men find the cure for their addictions through Jesus Christ since 2003.
The camp sits on 200 acres in the rolling foothills of the Ozark Mountains just outside of Charlotte.
The property was originally called “Camp Steer,” a rehabilitation camp for wounded Vietnam veterans. It was acquired by the ministry in 2003, which was when John 3:16 Ministries started, and has continued to grow since then.
The men who come must be age 21 and older and must be physically able to perform labor and tasks.
Those who come as residents must reach out to the ministry and show they are ready to make a change in their lives, according to Randy Hammonds with the program. They must be honest and sincere about seeking help to be free from their addictions, but in turn seek to be bonded to Christ.
“During the six-month to a year program, men come here to find a new life that is Jesus Christ,” Hammonds said. “When that happens, your addictions tend to go away. It doesn’t cost the men a thing to come here. We’re supported strictly by churches and businesses. We serve all over, from northern Louisiana to southern Missouri and everywhere in the middle.”
Hammonds, whose hometown is Jackson, Tennessee, himself is a graduate of the program in 2009.
The DeSoto County Faith House was recently opened as a new home for those men who come to John 3:16 Ministries from DeSoto County and the nearby area. Many people from the county who supported its construction came to the home last weekend to thankfully pray for the new building.
Each man who comes to John 3:16 Ministries goes through a program that includes Bible teaching and work outside the campus.
“All we actually ask of the men who come here is to be willing and thankful,” Hammonds said.
Every day at the camp has a routine that features service and study.
“We have breakfast every morning at six o’clock,” Hammonds said. “From 6:30 to 7:30 we have a Bible study that’s done by either the Director of Ministry Bryan Tuggle or one of the other instructors, of which are 32 of us. After that, everybody goes out and serves somewhere during the day.”
Hammonds said some of the places the men go to are a laundry service at a local medical center, a body shop on campus where old donated cars are fixed up and then auctioned off at fundraiser events or a mechanic shop to keep more than 50 campus vehicles running.
“We have a carpenter ministry where we are building on a continual basis around the camp,” Hammonds said.
The message to the men about Christ is ever-present, but never forced on them.
“We never beat them over the head with a Bible,” Hammonds explained. “We’re just going to say, ‘Come, follow Me.’”
Both Hammonds and Tuggle credit DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco with making the DeSoto County Faith House happen. It is now one of several homes on the campus, each one with the name of an area that helped sponsor and support the mission.
“Sheriff Rasco approached Bryan (Tuggle) and asked about what it would take to build a DeSoto County House,” said Hammonds. “It takes one person to make a difference and that person is Sheriff Bill Rasco. He said, ‘We can raise the money.’”
Each room in the home cost about $8,000 to build and the DeSoto County Faith House has 12 rooms for the men to stay, a common area, bathroom and shower rooms.
The ministry itself builds the home from the ground up. Most of the other homes on the campus represent areas in Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Hammonds added Rasco has a more personal connection with John 3:16 Ministries.
“We had a graduate two years ago by the name of Drew Moore, and it was Sheriff Rasco who brought Moore up to us,” Hammonds said. “It was Drew Moore’s granddad who actually led Sheriff Rasco to the Lord many years ago. That’s how the connection with us kind of happened. When Sheriff Rasco came up for Moore’s graduation, that’s when the whole thing came full circle.”
For more information on John 3:16 Ministries, visit john316thecure.com.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.