1020 9th Street.

This is where the road ends, their yesterdays all spent and the feeling for tomorrows, too.

They come here from meth, cocaine, addictions that don’t pass. Each day heartbreak, desperation, need are all housed in a surrender of circumstances.

They could be called a lost people, an unwanted people, some forgotten to family, some forgotten to themselves. They are from the streets and prisons, people once independent now dependent on so many unknown, unseen things.

And yet, it’s here, in the dark brick of Lincoln Plaza, near the corner of 9th Street and 11th Avenue, that these people find a second chance at — what some might call — life’s last chance.

The building towers across the street from Hope Mexican restaurant and belongs to L.A.M. Ministries, Loved-ones Against Meth. The ministry has dubbed the former apartment building, leased last December, a “sober living center,” a place marked for fresh starts, for sanctuary, for recovery and reflection.

The third floor serves as a men’s living area. The second and first floors are sober living apartments

Inside, an unlikely shepherd has taken them in, one by one. He listens to their stories, tales of homelessness, of rejection by family, of long drug abuse, time in prison. There are so many stories, many of them, he says, are similar, many of them so much like his own.

“I don’t know when I first started using but I was young and I wanted to be accepted by my peers,” said Justin Davenport, the ministry’s pastor. “I started drinking, I started smoking weed, started with cocaine and then it just progressed to methamphetamine, and from there, it was an everyday thing.”

Davenport sits over his glass desk in his office, sifting through his memory. He pulls and tugs through a past life that led him here: meth addiction for four years, cocaine for seven, two prison sentences, in and out of halfway houses. The recollection takes him back to the moment when life, as he knew it, stopped and left him in a 4- by 8-foot cell.

“It all ended in a high-speed chase in Loveland,” Davenport said. “That’s when I ran from the cops and that’s where it all started.”

It was 2004, just before Christmas. He’d borrowed a friend’s car and police pulled him over. The car had been flagged for a drive-by shooting and there was a warrant for his arrest for breaking probation. Fear rushed upward into a weave of intoxication. His thoughts were already heavy with the alcohol he’d drunk before, and the drugs he’d injected into his system.

“I fled,” he said.

He describes the chase as a wild one, darting through Loveland’s back streets, careening around corners, making straight shots down boulevards. The chase ebbed and flowed until he found himself in a residential neighborhood with the car coasting, slowing, halting in a dull roll.

“The car stopped for some reason,” he said. “I don’t know if it just died or something happened to it or the engine blew, but all of a sudden there wasn’t any juice, any power, any anything.”

Davenport jumped out before the car stopped. He sprinted against the sirens. And then again, everything stopped.

“I hit the only patch of ice within a hundred feet and I fell. And before I knew it, the cops had their guns drawn, and there it was,” he said.

Next came handcuffs and prison. A hail of court dates. Each turning page to another. And in the end, he’d serve a sentence at Larimer County Jail until 2005. His wife, Donita Davenport, went through the process with him, with their two children Clara, now 8, and Joseph, now 7.

 

“The two most important words I ever said was ‘I surrender,’ ” Davenport said. “I needed to surrender everything to become something.”L.A.M. Ministries Sober Living Program

L.A.M. Ministries, Loved-ones Against Meth, was founded in 2005 by Justin and Donita Davenport and offers a Bible-based rehabilitation program, called the L.A.M. Sober Living Program, to those suffering from multiple substance abuse addictions. Requirements for clients intending to apply are below for the programs, which last from six months to a year. More information can be found by calling the ministry at (970) 978-4016 or by visiting the ministry at 1020 9th St., in Greeley.

Requirements for the House of Rest Program

  1. »Be sober for 10 days immediately before entrance
  2. »Be at least 18 years of age or older
  3. »Be motivated to stay sober and follow programs and rules
  4. »Be motivated to participate with an individualized program plan
  5. »Not have a violent history
  6. »Submit to the authority of this ministry
  7. »Have not been convicted of a sex offense
  8. »Be willing to have all medication monitored by a medical facility
  9. »Be able to pay rent, $700
  10. »Total move-in cost is $1,400

 

 

Source www.lamministry.org

 


More to life
The walls closed in, withdrawal percolated through his body, and without exits there was only reality. This is when Davenport, for the first time in his life, knew with an absolute certainty he’d hit bottom. The days went, time passed, each moment, he said, underlined and etched with a finality, to what, he did not know. But a type of direction was taking shape.

“It just set in that there’s more to life than this, there just has to be more to life than this,” Davenport said.

His thoughts took a walk back into his childhood. To his mother and to his father, who’d raised him in a Christian home and colored his upbringing in Bible verse and prayer, sermons and church visits. This, he said, became his need and a need that grew. Davenport said he felt he was being called to a kind of service.

Meanwhile, Donita supported and encouraged. She sought out support groups and directed support groups, worked with family and visited him frequently with family.

“She decided there wasn’t too much support out there for a meth addict and so she sought out her own support and developed her own little group of people that would support each other, pray with one another,” Davenport said.

In a clack of dominoes, things did change. And just as his life had spiraled down, so it spiraled upward. He’s not ashamed to credit Jesus, and those who meet him quickly know it. The years that followed after his release propelled him through Bible colleges, fellowship groups and then to the doors of Victory Christian Fellowship of Greeley and Pastor Brian Severin who ordained him a pastor.

“It’s obviously a drastic change from where I was,” Davenport said. “Before the focus was entirely on me: Was I in jail? Was I out of jail? Was I safe? What was going on? Now it’s different. Any parent would be proud of their child and so mine are proud of me.”

Eventually, a gradual desire slowly came to help those like himself, as he was addicted. And so, with the help of supporters and donors, Davenport and Donita established a standalone ministry to help those with addictions at various Greeley churches of different denominations, whoever had a need.

With support, L.A.M. Ministries launched its House of Rest men’s home in 2008, and then a House of Rest women’s home in 2011, both consolidated now within Lincoln Plaza’s three floors.

Davenport said so far they’ve helped more than 500 people.

A growing purpose
Greeley resident David Gates, 55, sits in upholstered chair talking with Donita as she rests at her desk. He’s dressed in a ball cap and jeans and speaks in a wry, and yet, affable way. Like the Davenports, he also has a story, perhaps a bit longer, but all the same, familiar.

“When I first got here it was really a struggle. I wasn’t raised religiously. I hung around a lot of the wrong people and we didn’t have God in our lives,” he said. “So, I came into this program and in the first group I went to I told Pastor Justin he was full of crap — not in that nice of a way — but that he would have to prove to me there was a God.”

Gates said he’ll never forget Davenport’s response.

“He said ‘I won’t prove it to you, God will do it for me.’ And God, well, He has,” Gates said. He says he’s now been clean for more than two-and-a-half years. “I’d been a cocaine and heroin addict for 40 years. And I’ve been through 12 different treatment programs and this is my last chance to live, to have a life at all.”

The ministry’s program is Bible focused and puts its enrolled clients through a Bible program and a mandatory 30 days of no work, primarily, to allow their bodies to recover. From there it goes on six months to a year depending on the clients’ needs. Some, such as Gates, opt to stay longer to serve and teach fellow former and recovering addicts.

“The people I used to run around with are scared of me now because I try to get them into this program,” Gates said with a chuckle. “I want to stop the young people, that’s the people I want to stop. The teenagers, the 20-year-old kids. I don’t want anybody to go through the stuff I went through for 40 years.”

Davenport said the goal is for his clients to return to jobs, education, family and above all, to stay free of the shadows that have followed them, behaviors that have torn them from a healthy life.

Jason Schaeffer, a former client at L.A.M. Ministries, now at Aims Community College in Greeley, and his wife, Sarah, who also struggled with addiction, were desperate when they came to the Davenports. Sarah said she was near the point of giving up. Schaeffer had dropped out of school in sixth grade and fell into drugs. Life had been hard ever since. He was in and out of jail and separating himself from family. When he came to the center, Schaeffer had been turned down by one rehabilitation center after another.

“Nine months ago I never would have looked at you twice, know what I mean? I just wouldn’t have been in a situation like that to meet new people.”

He works at a homeless shelter now at night and is working toward an associate’s degree in applied science during the day. Schaeffer said he hopes to work in a mechanical field in the future.

“I’d just like to have a college education and y’know, work for myself eventually, and own my own business. I just want something. I want structure in my life,” Schaeffer said.

Sarah said she’s just happy he’s a part of her family again.

“My family didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore and they were just fed up. But I held onto my faith in him and I knew that he didn’t have to be like that,” she said.

At Victory Christian Fellowship of Greeley, Severin said he’s known the Davenports for many years and his church has been happy to provide financial and service support where needed for L.A.M. Ministries as it has grown. Yet Severin said the Davenports more than make up for any support given. Not in financial return, but in what they uniquely offer his church and the larger community.

“(The Davenports) just know that until you’ve been down this road, you don’t know how to get out, you’ve never been in it,” Severin said.

The Davenport story, of loss and recovery, is well recited. It goes with them as a constant reference point, not of what’s lost, but what’s possible.

“It seems like all drug addict stories are the same in what they lost, so I can relate,” Davenport said. “But then there’s the refreshing side, that there is hope.”

Gates said for him, this hope adds up to a kind of gratitude, ineffable and irreducible, a gratitude that endures.

“Basically,” he said. “I know I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for them.”

Justin Davenport