New Religious Movement in West Virginia Sets Sights on Drug Epidemic

“There’s a problem underlying our drug epidemic,” says Travis Lowe, pastor at the Crossroads Church in Bluefield, West Virginia. “It’s an epidemic of despair. These kids have never even thought about what they want to be when they grow up.”

The despair among these young people is caused in part by the economic crisis: kids living below the poverty line, children not living with their biological parents, and young people living in homes where no one has a job.

In 2015, West Virginia had the highest rate of deaths from opioid overdoses.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control announced that drug deaths in the United States are rising at a faster rate than ever, and small, rural communities are at the center of it. Add to that the fact that most churches in rural America have also experienced a decline in membership. But some local pastors are helping turn things around in their own communities.

Four years ago, Lowe decided he wanted to help his town, so he created “Teen Shark Tank,” which encourages entrepreneurship and gives teens the skills they need to participate in rebuilding their community.

Steve Branch, the pastor of Destiny Outreach Ministries, has created “Celebrate Recovery” groups – a program to help people with all sorts of addiction problems. “A lot of guys and gals start using in middle school,” he says.

These pastors are encouraging folks to talk openly about addiction and their struggles to help others to cope. Even the congregation’s drummer has struggled with addiction. “The scars from that have become his testimony.”

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Read the full story at NYpost.com.