I was born in Virginia in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I married at 19 and had two beautiful girls. After 13 years though my marriage was over and I moved to Texas where I reared my girls while working full time and attending college. In '02 I married my best friend on the front steps of the state capitol building in Austin...at midnight. I retired in '07 after 35 years of working as a lab tech but, came out of retirement in '11...and thus the greatest journey of all began.
I was approached the fall of '04 by a friend who informed me that Celebrate Recovery was going to be starting at our church and asked if I would like to be involved...uh yes! Jan. '05 was our start up date. I've led five step studies, served as a small group leader, an encourager & training coach and served as the female ministry leader. In '07 I was one of four who was blessed to go to Jaco, Costa Rica to introduce Celebrate Recovery. For years I had wanted to take CR inside the prison walls however circumstances beyond my control kept this at bay. But God cannot be stopped. I was approached spring of '11 by the Warden and Chaplain from a local facility about bringing CR inside. I was privileged spring of '12 by becoming the East Texas CRI State Rep. Since then I have introduced CR to other prisons throughout East Texas. At the unit I call home, there are in any given year, 9,000 inmates rotating through these wired gates. What a CR 101 this is! The women's CR large group runs on Monday evenings, the men's on Wednesday evenings. Over the last two years approximately 800 inmates have gone through LHC's.
After being in CR at Trinity Life for about 6 months I was asked if I'd be interested in going inside the Baltimore County Detention Center teaching the program and I agreed.Little did I know that this is where God wanted me to be after all these years in Ministry in the pulpit. After entering the facility and seeing the inmates I felt comfortable among them and saw their need for the word and knowledge. Shortly thereafter I was approached by Pastor Handel Smith and asked to start up a new group in a Federal facility formally known as Super Max in Baltimore. We Kicked off in June of this year and I've been there every since, at one time it was just me until I was able to obtain some help. I started with 21 detainees and have graduated 3 classes of men totaling close to 50 now that completed Purpose Driven Life and Life’s healing Choices. These courses have been taught 2.5 times and we have now moved to the 12 steps.
Bobby Pepper, who serves as Southeast regional editor for the CRI newsletter, is community news editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, MS. He has been with the Daily Journal 28 years, which includes stints as a sports writer, assistant sports editor and online editor. Pepper first attended Celebrate Recovery in March 2011 and is in recovery from porn addiction, depression, divorce and workaholism. He is co-ministry leader of CR at NorthStar Church in Saltillo, MS. Pepper previously served as assimilation coach and continues to lead the men's step study and small groups. He has led men's step studies for CR groups in Starkville, MS, and in his hometown, Houston, MS, He also attended CR in Tupelo, MS, Pepper is a 1985 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a BA in Journalism. He is single and has two grown children, Phillip and Samantha.
Darlene came to Celebrate Recovery through a friend, and non CR participant, in October 2009, at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, CA. In 2010-11, she served apprentice Assimilation Coach at Capital. At Christmas 2010 she was welcomed to serve with a team of ladies to take a CR Christmas program and bibles to the inmates at the Sacramento County jail women’s facility at Rio Consumnes Correctional Center. At this visit she realized both an area of recovery that needed to be healed and her calling to prison and jail ministry. The visit was catalyst for a letting go of stuffed anger toward her mother for being incarcerated at this facility while Darlene battled cancer.
When asked for assistance in pulling together interest for a ministry team at RCCC, Capital’s CR TEAM was supportive and helped out by housing meetings and purchasing bibles. No matter how hard we tried we could not get in or even considered for clearance. The team of 5 faithful volunteers kept meeting and trying to get inside but constantly ran up against walls. In January 2011, during the One Day Summit held in Sacramento, CA, Darlene met Hector Lozano and asked for 2 minutes to pick his brain on the idea of CR at the county jails. She was privileged to get 45 minutes in a car Hector and Marnie (summit coordinator) to talk prison ministry. It was both a confirmation and the encouragement the team needed to continue moving forward.
I am so excited that I get to be on this amazing journey with such an amazing team. Like everyone here I have a passion for the jail and prison ministry of Celebrate Recovery. I have been so blessed to see lives change through this transforming ministry and I want to share these testimonies to give hope to the hopeless. It is my passion to help get the word out about what God is doing in your life and the lives of those around you. I am hoping we can connect to continue supporting and encouraging one another.
I have 12 years in recovery from chemical addiction and I now an married for the second time with 6 children total, 3 boys and 3 girls. I have been in CR since 2008 serving as CR and CRInside state rep and currently North Central Regional Editor! God has really changed my life. I am a new person and my identity is no longer in my addiction but in Jesus Christ.
From the Editor
I am so amazed at the phenomenal growth we’ve achieved over the last couple of years and in the last year in particular; I’m amazed and grateful. Grateful to all of you for your support of this newsletter and the ministry to which we’ve been called.
When I first came on as editor in 2010, we had just over 2100 visitors and just over 40,000 hits. 2011 saw us double the visitors and triple the hits to 120,000, while 2012 doubled again, both visitors and hits. This year promises to surpass any expectations we’d have had, with 30,000 visitors to our site and close to A MILLION hits, so thank you.
We are proud to introduce our first group of Regional Editors. This is a wonderful and diverse group, with various backgrounds…some more in journalism, some in prison ministry, but all in recovery, and working on recovery. This is a move that Hector and I, as well as others have prayed over, and we believe that God will continue to bless our efforts if we will continue to be faithful in serving “the least of these” in prisons and jails, and their families. Be sure to read their bios, especially for those in your region, and feel free to contact them through this site. They want to hear from you.