Bryan Tuggle said he knew his life as a cocaine and meth addict had reached a sinister climax when he stole money from his 5-year-old son.
"I broke into my little boy's treasure box and stole his money so I could buy drugs," Tuggle said with tears in his eyes. "My plan was to get high and kill myself."
Tuggle was about to end his life, he said, when God intervened and gave him the will to live as a Christian. The experience was so profound Tuggle decided to help other addicts through the power of God's salvation, he said.
Tuggle started the John 3:16 Ministries on 32 acres next to a lake outside of Charlotte in Inde-pendence County. The purpose of the ministry is to help drug and alcohol addicts overcome their addictions through prayer and hard work, he said. Individuals in the program live, work and pray according to a strict regimen created by Tuggle.
The program has the capacity to hold eight to 10 men at a time. Graduation from the ministry takes six months, but in special cases recovering addicts are permitted to stay longer. Participants range in age from 18 to 62.
"The premise of our program is to retrain the minds of these men, and the only way you can do that is to put God and His word into their every thought and every motion," he said. "There are five things we teach at the John 3:16 ministries: study God's word, pray, go to church, have fellowship with other Christians and work," he said.
A typical day at the ministry begins at 6 a.m. with a two-hour Bible study. The Bible study is mandatory -- if anyone is tardy more than three times, he is dropped from the program. After Bible study, the men work on the ministry grounds until 4 p.m., clearing pasture land, maintaining the buildings, mending fences, cooking and landscaping.
When their work is completed the men shower, eat dinner and prepare for specialized classes or church, depending on the day. Participants cannot leave the ministry grounds without permission from Tuggle or his wife, Beverly.
Tuggle said every face at the mission represents a story that begins with heartache but ends in redemption through the Lord.
"My 19-year-old son was shot dead in the fall of 2003, while shooting skeets at the Cushman shooting range. At the time I was real messed up on meth, but before he died I promised him I'd get better, and that's what I'm doing," said 47-year-old John Smith (not his actual name).
Smith, who's been a part of the program for three months, said he's been addicted to drugs and alcohol for most of his life. He said methamphetamines are "sent straight from hell to deceive and manipulate people." Smith said his addiction to methamphetamine was so great he went for 21 days without sleep on one binge.
Steve Jones (not his actual name), 24, a former methamphetamine addict, said he is grateful for the love and discipline he's encountered at the ministries. Jones said he started snorting meth when he was 15. He said he managed to graduate from high school and start college, but had to drop out because his addiction took over his life.
"I never really knew my dad, my brother committed suicide at age 19, and my mom died when I was a teen-ager. The only person I had was my sister, and most people in the world gave up on me, but Bryan didn't. He showed me the path to salvation," Jones said.
Tuggle said he can identify with the men in his program because he knows the paranoia and fear that drug addiction can cause. "I remember waking up from a real bad high and I found a sore on my arm. I was convinced the government placed a tracking device in my arm and for years I picked at that sore trying to find the chip," he said.
Tuggle said anyone can become addicted to drugs and alcohol. He said he was brought up in a Christian home where his mother played the piano at church and his dad was a deacon. "My brother and sister grew up to be Christian people and I chose a different path," he said.
Tuggle said he doesn't like to dwell on the past. "God saved me and put it into my heart to bring others to him. It's ironic that the son I stole money from is 15 now and helps me to minister to the Lord's people here. God forgave me and didn't give up on me. Neither did my son," he said.
Tuggle said his ministry serves an area that includes Fulton, Sharp and Izard counties. For information about the program contact Tuggle at (870) 799--2525.