Lieutenant Stanley Weems

Lieutenant Stanley Weems, assistant administrator and chaplain at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Paterson, N.J., talks about helping beneficiaries forgive themselves, the importance of being a “living sermon,” and how God brought back his family.

The men at the ARC can forgive everyone—except themselves. This mindset sends many of them back to the streets. But here, time is their friend; they can start over and forgive themselves. I use this example: A husband makes breakfast for his sick wife. But as he takes it up the stairs to her, he trips and it spills. The only thing he can do is start over. But first, he needs to clean up the mess. Never be afraid to start your own process over.

A person going through addiction would rather see you live out your sermon than just talk about it. When I was addicted, that’s what I wanted to see too. After I finished the ARC program in Erie, Pa., I watched a man I had graduated with work his way up to resident manager. One winter day during a blizzard, I saw him walk to The Salvation Army. That’s how deep his connection was to God. He became my role model and we took senior soldier classes together. Being an example is talking the talk and walking the walk.

No matter where God sends me, I will always help people who suffer from addiction. During my summer assignment as a cadet, I served at the Harlem Temple Corps in New York. While there, I saw just as many souls addicted and in need of God as I see in the ARC today. The corps didn’t house them, but it still fed, helped, and provided spiritual guidance for them. Every corps can help with the fight against addiction because we all see those hurting people every day. They come to our soup kitchens and canteens to be helped, and to help.

When I met Qwantyonia at the Paterson, N.J., Corps (church), I knew that it was only a matter of time until she heard the call to serve. Today, she’s my wife and enrolled in the College for Officer Training (CFOT) to be an officer. Living with her at CFOT brings back a lot of memories of my time as a cadet. But this time, I’m there as a supportive husband. Now free from my addiction, God has given me a new family and even brought back the family I had lost. I’m part of my children’s lives again. Before The Salvation Army, I did not have that opportunity. It’s amazing what God can do.

One of the programs I do with beneficiaries is “Guardrails.” We talk about something in their life that saves them from falling over the edge, such as a number to call or a support group. Another program, “Purpose Driven,” reminds them that the purpose of everything they do is to give God Glory. Don’t get clean to impress your corps officer; do it to surrender to God and accept His plan for you.

interview by Hugo Bravo

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