Thirty-six people from New York, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada gathered at Bible Baptist Church, Kokomo, Ind., for the annual Almond Tree Ministry training weekend on Oct. 21 and 22.
Attendees represented correctional facilities, group homes, and church-sponsored programs for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Almond Tree is a Bible-based program that leads addicts to freedom in Christ. It also includes Life Skills material on anger resolution, parenting, and finances—areas in which addicts often need extra help.
One highlight of the training was hearing about the ministry of Pastor Robert Gaillard, who was led to Christ while incarcerated on drug-related charges. “After I was saved,” he told the attendees, “I followed Chaplain Green around, watching and learning how he shared the gospel with other inmates, and I purposed to share the gospel with every inmate that came into the pod. And over the next several months, to the best of my knowledge, I did.”
Since his release, he has been active as a jail chaplain, graduated from Bible college, pastors Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Indianapolis, and continues to advocate the Almond Tree program. “Unless the Scriptures guide our lives and thinking, some other beliefs will,” he says. “Do we realize how much of our knowledge and understanding of addictions comes from the secular world? We toss around terms like ‘treatment,’ ‘recovery,’ and ‘disease,’implying that the problem is biological. But is that Biblical? Are addictions just a biological problem? How does that stack up against our theology?”
Participants also heard from three GARBC chaplains. Chaplain Pam Russell, author of the Almond Tree Ministry curriculum, was an instructor. She created the material while ministering to female inmates in the Howard County Criminal Justice Center in Indiana. Director of Almond Tree Ministry, Pam is endorsed by the GARBC as a lay chaplain for women’s ministries. Also participating were John Murdoch, director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries, and Randy Teachout, who volunteers his time to serve with Almond Tree Ministry.