Six drug addicts, alcoholics and a former prostitute found a flyer from a recovery church in Toledo. Now they live together in Akron offering shelter and salvation to others.
Pastor Kenneth Ivory said God called him to Akron last year when the leader of the Toledo Restoration Church invited him and his wife, Peggy, to move into a cramped building in Excelsior Street in the Middlebury neighborhood of Akron. The couple met in church and got married after overcoming their separate battles with crack.
Peggy joined the church in 1996 when she and her 3-year-old daughter entered the Toledo Christian Women’s Home, which is run by the Restoration Church of Toledo. Kenneth arrived in 2003 and was ordained ten years ago.
They have traveled to Akron for the past three years on a mission to save others from addiction. Since April last year, they have been living with four churchmen in what is called the Akron Restoration House.
In the morning, the men toss from the metal bunk beds crammed into cramped quarters on the upper floors. They have lunch, study the Bible and pray. Afterwards, they reunite with their “spiritual mom and dad” to discuss their daily plan to feed religion and food to the homeless and drug addicts on the streets.
They shake hands in a circle and ask God for the power to save someone.
Then Pastor Ivory loads them into a used SUV and drives them around town where they solicit donations behind tables set up outside convenience stores. Even if they don’t receive anything, they still distribute a snack and a flyer like the one that saved their lives.
Dorothy Campbell, a local resident who stopped by the Six Corners Deli in Goodyear Heights last week, listened to the men and their mission, then dug deeper into her purse for more change.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said. “We need to help each other more.”
Street preaching spreads the message of addiction recovery
On Thursdays, the group finds a public space to grill and play music. They speak their testimonies into a microphone and feed anyone who stops as they preach the gospel of restoration.
Sundays are for church. Men have time on Monday to have their hair cut or to settle their personal affairs. Some are torn between helping family members back home and serving outsiders in Akron. But they said they always chose God and sobriety.
A few nights a week, they take to the streets in search of drug addicts or people with relatives in need of help.
Back home, six empty bunk beds are ready for any man they meet who is ready to improve and try Jesus Christ. On a sign in the second-floor hallway, bold letters remind the men and their guests of the rules: “Stay, Pray, Obey.”
“We’re trying to get them sober and sober through the power of Jesus Christ,” said Wayne Parsil, one of four men now serving the new faith that saved their lives.
“That’s what we’re doing,” said Parsil, a recovering alcoholic whose heavy drinking began while serving in the US military 40 years ago.
Women plagued by drug addiction are referred to Peggy Ivory, who counsels them and, if they agree, transports them to the same homeless shelter in Toledo where she and her daughter stayed 26 years ago.
The program and how it works
The program takes no government funding, explained Pastor Ivory.
Men have seasonal jobs in music and sports venues. Their income and community donations pay for gas, electricity and rent, which combined can reach nearly $1,500 per month. Ivory said he was desperate for more space so the men on the show didn’t live on top of each other.
A 10% tithe goes to the Toledo Restoration Church, which was once part of the former United Restoration Church network. The focus of the organization outside of Toledo, for now, is Akron.
Men who enter the Akron Restoration House give up their phones for nine months of sobriety and service. Few men stay that long. Most only spend a night or two, the men in the program explained.
After:The BeaconJournal.com app is packed with great features. Here are 5 you need to know
“I don’t have to live like this anymore”
Everyone at Akron Restoration Home grew up outside of Akron. They describe their life before finding God as “messy”.
Parsil, 61, is from Curtice, a township east of Toledo. James Ramirez, 32, is from Mexico. Tony Hudson, 67, moved from Detroit to Chicago before finding the church in Toledo. Leon Goolsby, 45, also came from Detroit.
Ivory was born and raised in Milwaukee. He moved to Philadelphia after serving in the Marine Corps. In the City of Brotherly Love, he spent 25 years “doing nothing but drugs all the time.”
He said he worked as a social worker and clinician at a psychiatric hospital while nurturing his addiction.
“I smoked crack and ran in the streets. And I decided to leave Philadelphia and come to Toledo because my twin sister lived there,” he said. “And that was a way out, a way out of the situation I was in in Philadelphia.
“Once I got to Toledo, I thought I was done. But I got it back for about a year and a half.
While working in nursing homes, Ivory lied to a new employer. He said he was just tired when in fact he had spent the night using drugs. He was fired during orientation.
He thought that was the bottom. Then he found himself stuck and hanging on the streets of Toledo one winter night in 2003.
“I’ll never forget it. I was frozen. I thought I was going to die there. I was trying to use the (pay) phone, and it wouldn’t take a quarter. not to fall,” he said. “And I started crying and I asked God, ‘If you get me out of this, I’m going to serve you for the rest of my life.'”
The Toledo Restoration Church had visited his sister’s house where he was staying. They left a flier at random, but Ivory said he didn’t think much of the organization.
But as day broke on that cold Saturday in 2003, he ran to one of them. And he’s been sober ever since.
After:“These people aren’t going anywhere.” Forbidden homeless tent city returns to East Akron
His wife, whom he met after joining the church, found background on the streets of Detroit.
“I thought I was going to die over there in Detroit in a park called Clark Park. It was just a living nightmare to me. I remember it like it was yesterday,” she said. declared. “It was really bad, and I didn’t know where to go to get help, because I was sick of being sick and tired.”
In 1996, Peggy Ivory entered the Women’s Christian Home in Toledo.
“I met Jesus Christ and have been serving Him ever since,” she said. “It’s much better than before, prostituting yourself there, getting thrown out of cars. I remember the train station, it was just awful. I was raped many times, thrown out of cars, jumped out of cars. But Jesus Christ, he set me free. And I don’t have to live like this anymore.
how to help
To donate to Toledo Restoration Church, visit www.toledorestorationchurch.com. To help Akron Restoration Home, call Pastor Kenneth Ivory at 216-952-6937.
Contact Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.