Jacksonville College

SBTC DR volunteers aid fire victims at Madisonville’s House of Hope

November 15th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

MADISONVILLE  Adkins resident Deanna Real, trained in disaster relief, longed to serve, but a recurring autoimmune disease often prevented her from deploying with the SBTC DR team from Salem-Sayers Baptist Church.

“I was frustrated,” Real told the TEXAN.

All that changed Saturday morning, Nov. 9, when Real, healthy for the first time in months, said yes as Connie and Ronnie Roark asked her to help staff the SBTC DR Quick Response kitchen unit heading that afternoon to Madisonville to assist fire victims.

Real, the Roarks and Paul Bricker of Adkins packed quickly and drove 200 miles northeast, setting up the kitchen after dark and beginning to serve meals the following morning, Sunday. A shower/laundry unit from the Top O’ Texas Baptist Association also arrived manned by Richard Crosswhite.

The DR units were deployed at the request of Joshua Crutchfield, pastor of First Baptist Madisonville, which housed the volunteers. Crutchfield phoned SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice for assistance after the nearby House of Hope, a residential rehab facility, caught fire in the early hours of Nov. 9.

Real didn’t realize she would be serving men recovering from substance abuse until she and other volunteers pulled onto the rehab center’s grounds.

“God knew my heart,” Real said, explaining that her oldest son had been a drug addict for 12 years. While her son has been “clean” for 14 months, Real’s experience with addiction gave her empathy for the residents of House of Hope.

“God’s timing is perfect. I got healthy at the right time. He sent me where he wanted me to be,” Real said, calling the short deployment a “blessing” as the men prayed for the volunteers and vice versa.

“For someone in their situation to pray for me? Wow!” Real said.

The DR crew prepared meals and did laundry for 43 residents for three days before returning to their homes.

They also keep the coffee pot brewing, upon Real’s recommendation. She knew how much caffeine helps recovering addicts.

“After the fire, it was pure chaos. When the QR and shower trailers arrived, we offered them stability and structure. They clung to that,” Connie Roark said.

The blessings were mutual as volunteers and victims ministered to one another.

“The men loved [the volunteers] and they loved the men,” Brad Brock, House of Hope director, said. “We hated to see them leave.”

Shared testimonies and praise occurred. Real spoke to the group about her son’s troubles.

Bricker found the story of Bobby compelling. About to graduate from the highly structured 12-month House of Hope program, Bobby explained that he had been in and out of prison from age 17 to 35 and had lost custody of his children.

“Bobby’s mom and dad never ever told him they loved him,” Bricker said. “It broke my heart.”

But Bobby’s story was also one of victory, obedience and God’s provision as he “pointed to Jesus in everything,” Bricker said.

“We’ve been better, but we’re better than we would have been without you guys,” Brock told the TEXAN about the DR assistance.

House of Hope also benefited from the generosity of citizens from Madisonville and surrounding communities who flocked to FBC Madisonville with donated mattresses, clothing, kitchen supplies, food and other necessities to help the rehab center get back on its feet.

Brock founded House of Hope a dozen years ago, after battling substance abuse and addiction that began in his college days and continued for 17 years, until his salvation.

He was “radically saved and delivered,” realizing the only victory from drug addiction came from the cross of Jesus Christ.

Brock said he had “ruined” his name and his family’s name in Madisonville, but God told him to bloom where he was planted and minister to men fighting the same demons he once fought.

The facility that burned, nicknamed the Valley, once housed an elementary school. Madisonville ISD sold the defunct property to House of Hope for $101, and in 2009 the first residents occupied it.

Before the fire, the old school building’s gym housed a chapel, now ruined. Dorms, a kitchen, bathrooms, laundry facilities, cafeteria and weight room were among the areas destroyed.

The men left behind possessions as they fled the building in the middle of that Saturday night.

A second building acquired later by House of Hope and known as the Hill, once reserved for men in the second half of their rehab program, now houses all residents.

The daily schedule is strict: Bible study, work, worship. Area pastors often speak in chapel. Community members teach classes.

“It’s a Christian boot camp,” Brock said of the ministry that is supported by local churches, including FBC Madisonville, home to some board members and volunteers.

Residents pay nothing but are tested regularly for nicotine, alcohol and drugs, and dismissed for violations.

They hear about House of Hope through word of mouth or from pastors. Judges send men to House of Hope for a second chance.

“When you arrive, be a blessing,” Stice always tells DR volunteers.

In Madisonville, they were. And they were also blessed.

Crutchfield called the short deployment a great opportunity for his church to witness disaster relief up close.

“[It’s good] just to be able to let them know that the Cooperative Program makes ministries like this possible,” Crutchfield said.

For more information on House of Hope, visit houseofhopemadisonville.org.