‘When I met Christ’
Although Larry says “Seeds were planted” in him each time he graduated from the program, he “continued to struggle.” He had tried Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) programs, but something was missing. When in December 2012 he entered the ARC program for the fourth time, he finally found that missing piece.
“It wasn’t until I met Christ that everything changed,” Larry says.
Within a week, Larry met Captain Daryl Calhoun. Lt. Colonel Timothy Raines, the former ARC commander, also encouraged Larry.
This time, Larry responded to an altar call.
“I just broke down and cried,” he says. “I said, ‘No more, Father. I’m going to do what You tell me to do. I’m going to do this.’
“I was tired of using. I knew [change] was going to happen this time because I wanted something greater than the things of this world. I prayed, ‘Father, I just want to be obedient to Your Word and to what You want me to do.’ I knew that, this time, it was going to make a big difference.”
Last year, the man who grew up in a blue–collar home, surrounded by alcohol and abuse, graduated from the ARC program. He is now attending Erie Community College, and is on track to receive his associate’s degree in addiction counseling.
In January, this 55–year–old hopes to attend the University of Buffalo and to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“I’m just one of the many people whose life changed through many opportunities extended to me by The Salvation Army,” Larry says. “I just took them up on it this time.
“The Army gave me everything that I needed. They nourished me and they brought me along. But, they take no credit for that. Instead, they give it all to Christ.”
Larry, who attends church at the Buffalo ARC, said he has found the tools he needs to succeed through the encouragement of Envoy Bryden Swires, the ARC administrator, as well as Major James Klemowski, a retired officer and chaplain.
“I read the Word and apply it. I fellowship with other Christians and I talk to my mentors. I never did that before.”
Swires says, “We’re proud of Larry and all he has accomplished through his relationship with God.”
Larry says he no longer smokes, curses, or engages in other dangerous behaviors. His focus now is to help people, whether as a student on campus or as a soup kitchen or shelter volunteer. When extra suits became available through donations, Larry helped procure some for the men at the Buffalo ARC. And as he seeks his degree, he interns with the Center for Employment Opportunity.
“I’m a mentor,” he says. “To the best of my ability, I do what Jesus did and give to other people what Christ gave to me.”
by Robert Mitchell