Recovery: A Life-Long Journey
For people struggling with drugs or alcohol, the path to recovery is a life-long journey. Whether they just started out, or have been sober for years, every day can be a struggle. But The Salvation Army is here help to all those who need our support.
As you’ll see in Brody and Loren’s stories, love is the one thing that keeps them on the right path.
March 2020 will always be remembered as the start of a frightening and exhausting pandemic. For Brody Harris, it also marked the beginning of a different journey, one that took him from a life consumed by addiction to one of freedom and hope. While the path forward wasn’t easy, Brody is here today to testify that it was worth every step.
Brody’s story started in high school, where peer pressure and the desire to fit in led to abusing pain killers, alcohol, and party drugs. After twenty years of addiction, Brody was unable to hold a job or stay in a relationship. He had lied to and stolen from his family so many times that the shame and self-hatred was becoming unbearable.
“I didn’t believe in myself,” Brody recalled. “I didn’t love myself, but my family never gave up on me.” That love spurred him to take the first step toward recovery. He turned to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center for help and spent the next five months working through an intensive program designed to equip Brody with the physical, emotional, and psychological skills he would need to leave his old ways behind.
A brief relapse in the fall of 2020 only strengthened Brody’s determination to succeed. After fifty days away from the Harbor Light Center, he was humbled and grateful when he was welcomed back with open arms. “I don’t feel judged here,” Brody explained. “There’s always someone I can talk to. I know that I can reach out and there’s always someone to listen.”
Today Brody is using his newfound sobriety to help others battling addiction. He credits the caring staff and holistic program at the Harbor Light Center for equipping him for this task, even while a pandemic raged outside.
“My favorite part of the program is making sure we’re set up mentally and spiritually for the next opportunity to help somebody,” Brody said. “What that might look like is tolerance, being patient, because there might be a time when someone needs to come to you. It’s just humbling yourself and realizing God can use us in any way he sees fit. It’s just taking me out of myself and I just love that.”
Brody’s battle over the past year is just one of many that took place in the challenging conditions of a pandemic. Thanks to the support of donors like you, the Harbor Light Center was able to continue its important work and give people like Brody a chance to find hope in a new and better life.
Loren Dean Harper is a singer, actor, dancer, and playwright. He has directed several national theatrical tours, including Wicked Ways and A Good Man is Hard to Find. A winner of NBC’s show Dance Grand Prix in 1986, Harper has worked in the arts and entertainment for decades.
However, Harper’s life did not always look this way – he credits God working in his life through The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light and Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) addiction recovery programs. As a young man touring and acting in plays, Loren began using drugs, not realizing where it would lead him.
“I did not know much about drugs; I was just having fun. But it ended up destroying my career at the time, and within a few years I was homeless,” recalls Harper.
Born and raised in Detroit, Harper eventually decided he was done living on the street and entered the Detroit ARC. Despite being in the program, he struggled to stop using.
“I had nowhere to go, and I knew that I could stay in a Salvation Army bed instead of the streets. My surrender to the process of recovery came later,” says Harper.
Harper relapsed in the months after his stint with the ARC and was again homeless. He then entered the Detroit Harbor Light Center, his motivation similar to his entrance to the ARC. At the Harbor Light, Harper exercised his artistic gifts again by joining the choir.
“I loved The Salvation Army because of the choir. I tried to stay clean after completing Harbor Light, but I relapsed again.”
Falling into drug use once more, Harper moved to New York for several years, putting his considerable talents to use by singing in the subway, fueling his addiction with his earnings. He returned to Michigan because of the passing of his mother and brother, and entered the Detroit ARC for a second time.
“That was my low point,” remembers Harper. “I was in the ARC again, and from the outside, I seemed fine. I had been in there for a little while and was leading prayer and Bible study – but I was secretly using, too. And then the director had me dropped, and it came back dirty. I was exposed. That made me want to change. I had never been so embarrassed, never felt like such a hypocrite. People were disappointed in me. It was the first time I realized how my using hurt other people. And this was the turning point for me; I surrendered to God and have never used again.”
Harper has been clean for 13 years. He worked as the ARC’s choir director and then the performing arts director (“A position that The Salvation Army created especially for me – only God could do that!” says Harper). He could feel God strengthen and bless him through his process of recovery. After spiritually surrendering, God began to restore Loren’s career in entertainment. His first venture was a play called Spare Change, which grew from first being performed in a Salvation Army sanctuary to the auditorium of the Detroit Music Hall. Harper also had a leading role in the nationally distributed movie “Blessed and Cursed”. He continued his work in the ARC as well, and reconnected with his father, his last immediate family member still living.
“My dad never gave me a key to his house,” says Harper. “And I was never in a position in my life to deserve a key. But after I had been almost 10 years clean, I was visiting with my dad one day, and he said, ‘Loren, you’re doing good. I think I want to give you a key.’ I was undone; I could not believe it. It was God’s way of showing me I was on the right path. When he was on his deathbed, my dad said to me, ‘Take care of the house.’ He handed me his legacy and trusted me with it. That trust was priceless. It keeps me clean today, knowing that he believed in me.”
Today, Loren is currently working on a TV script while also working as a counselor at the Elmhurst Treatment Center in Detroit. He has been a Salvation Army soldier since 2005 and is a Bible study leader.
“The Salvation Army gave to me when I had nothing. Through them, God blessed me double for my trouble: now that I’m in a position to give to others, and I feel doubly blessed.”
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