South Carolina ministry helps rehab, raise new ministers
Four men entered Reconciliation Ministries’ recovery program with the goal of getting clean and sober. God spoke to them as they worked toward sobriety and permanent life change, and after graduation, they went on to receive local minister’s licenses.
“Nobody could ever picture a sober Levi,” said Levi Millington, intake coordinator and program manager of Reconciliation Ministries.
Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Reconciliation Ministries (RM) is a residential recovery and discipleship program that aims to help people suffering from addiction “experience life-changing freedom, hope, healing, and reconciliation to God, themselves, and others.” It is a compassionate ministry center on the South Carolina District.
Millington himself is a graduate of the program. Prior to RM, he had serious drug and alcohol addiction issues. The first time he entered the program, he walked away. Millington had no place to go when he left RM, so he ended up on the streets of Columbia, drinking and getting high. Eventually, he found himself in a soup kitchen in the basement of another church.
“I’m looking around and [thought to myself], ‘There’s no way that this is life. There’s gotta be something more to this,’” Millington said. “When I got down [to RM] and started experiencing peace, love, accountability, and joy, I didn’t know what to do with it because I’d lived in crisis for so long that when I had some peace, I started to manufacture a crisis.”
After returning to RM, God began to transform him.
Millington originally felt a call to be a pastor as a teen, but his choices in life continued to take him farther away from that call. As he continued to live into his identity in Christ, he began to fully accept the call on his life.
Millington has received his local minister’s license and is in the process of working through the course of study. He is one of four others who received their local license this summer, including Jonathan Smalls, men’s program assistant and IT support for RM.
In 2016, Smalls was at the end of his rope. He had been to prison for an armed robbery he had committed, and his issues with drugs continued once he got out. He was living out of a hotel room after a breakup with his partner at the time when he told an online friend he was thinking of ending his life.
“I told him what I was gonna do, and he just begged and pleaded with me not to do it,” Smalls said.
His friend told him to pray. And while Smalls initially thought that praying would do nothing for him, his friend’s persistence paid off.
“In that hotel room, I had alcohol; I had all kinds of things,” Smalls said. “I took all that stuff, and I went to the bathroom, opened the toilet, and flushed everything down. I’m in this hotel room just screaming, crying to God, ‘If you want me to do something with my life, you gotta show me. You gotta let me know.’”
The next day, Smalls was in the hotel parking lot when he felt compelled to tell a nearby man about the things he was struggling with. The man called Reconciliation Ministries and handed Smalls the phone. The next day, he went for an interview to enter the program.
“From that day on, Reconciliation had a hold of me and changed my life,” Smalls said.
Smalls wasn’t a Christian before entering Reconciliation Ministries. However, because of God’s transformative work in his life, Smalls feels called to help others in similar situations find hope and experience transformation.
“It’s knowing God helped change my life and being able to see that happen in other people’s lives,” Smalls said.