New Staff Member: Don Steve

                                    John W. & Don S.

God is calling my wife, Leis, and myself on an exciting adventure and a very urgent mission. We have just moved from Toms River, New Jersey to the Pigeon Forge/ Knoxville, Tennessee area. The move is to answer God’s call, through the ministry of Grace Fellowship International, to respond to one of the enemy’s greatest tools of bondage, destruction, and death in our society today—substance addiction.

The need

According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 24 million Americans over the age of 12 used drugs in the month prior to the NIDA survey. Of those 24 million users, 19.6 million were considered to have a substance abuse problem. Addiction can start as early as the age of 8, especially in families were multi-generational drug use is present. Last year over 166,000 deaths occurred due to drug and alcohol abuse (NIDA statistics). The scope and intensity of the death and destruction grows each year. God’s call is to respond with the liberating, healing, life-giving power of the Cross and to move against this dark bondage with the same Spirit-filled truths that have brought freedom, wholeness, and light to many through GFI for decades.

Testimony

God has been preparing me for this ministry since I came to know Christ as a teenager in 1979. I was not reared in a Christian home and was severely depressed my senior year in high school, the year before I met Christ. After placing my faith in Christ as my Savior my depression lifted. Four years later, while attending college, the depression returned (even as a believer) with greater intensity than ever before. I spent nearly two years with severe depression. I was counseled, medicated, and hospitalized twice during that two-year span. Nothing was helping. The medical experts were advising me to undergo Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a common treatment for severe, persistent depression at the time. During my depression, I used to wander through a Christian bookstore near my home for the slight relief the atmosphere gave me. During one of my trips, I saw a book, out of place and facing me on the shelf, entitled Handbook to Happiness. I did not intend to make a purchase; but, God had other plans. God used Dr. Solomon’s book to set me free. Due to the providence of God and the ministry of Dr. Charles Solomon, I found a much more effective treatment than ECT. Dr. Solomon’s Spirituotherapy® was far more effective treatment than ECT because the feeble attempts of man to produce wholeness and freedom are nothing compared to God’s glorious work through Jesus Christ. Praise God, I have been free from depression for thirty-five years.

God continued to prepare me for ministering to those in bondage through those thirty-five depression free years. God led me through relational brokenness, loss, and personal strongholds. All the growth and healing I experienced stemmed from the relevancy of the finished work of Christ to the believer who simply lives by grace through faith. This is essential to Spirituotherapy®. It is the foundation upon which I continue to grow and live victoriously and the foundation upon which I gain an experiential knowledge of Christ.

In 2006, I completed the advanced training curriculum of the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries at Grace Ministries (AELM) in Manassas, VA. Later that year, I was invited on staff of Grace Ministries as a Discipleship Counselor. I completed a master’s degree in Biblical counseling from Luther Rice University in 2013. The counseling department at Luther Rice features and promotes the Exchanged Life model of Biblical counseling pioneered by Dr. Solomon. I have been counseling men and women through ministries associated with AELM for the past 12 years. In addition, I have had two tenures as a pastor in both Virginia and in New Jersey. My wife and I moved from Virginia to New Jersey in 2013 to pastor Grace Christian Church in Freehold, NJ.

My wife, Leis, also completed advanced training in discipleship counseling at Grace Ministries in Manassas. She has a background in, and a passion for, addiction recovery having worked at a county run women’s recovery center in Virginia. God used her mightily in this secular setting after she also completed her Exchanged Life discipleship training at Grace Ministries. Since then, Leis has worked as a counselor at an AELM office and has been a staff counselor at Grace Christian Church.

While living in New Jersey, I was introduced to America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy by Joe and Cherri Freeman, GFI field staff who live near America’s Keswick. Cherri’s great grandfather founded the Colony of Mercy in 1897. Yes, the date is correct. The Colony of Mercy is the oldest addiction recovery ministry in the United States. I was hired as a counseling chaplain at the Colony of Mercy in 2015. I had no idea that God would use my time at The Colony of Mercy to redirect my life calling and ministry passion from the pastorate to addiction recovery ministry. I still love to teach, preach, and share God’s Word; but working with those in addiction, and training others to work with those in addiction, is a new-found passion. It is fascinating to watch the Spirit of God move in the life of those who know, through the addiction struggle, that they need wholesale life change, to watch Him illumine truth, and to watch Jesus bring a freeing faith in the midst of hopelessness! We at GFI intend to watch God do just that by the power of God and the truths that His cross established! I am excited and richly blessed to be taking a position as Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at GFI. I never imagined that I would someday join the ministry that God used to so dramatically set me free from depression in 1983.

Mission

Our mission for GFI Addiction Recovery Ministries is to teach, equip, and train individuals, ministries, and churches that are ministering to those in addiction recovery. In addition to the GFI Recovery Coach Certification track, we are developing opportunities for on-going, consistent training and support for individuals, churches, and ministries ministering to those struggling with addiction. Our vision is to teach and train utilizing the Biblically sound, Cross-focused theology that Spirituotherapy embodies. We also want to enrich those who minister to others by teaching personal helping, coaching, and counseling skills. We want to offer on-going support through critical phases of growth in the ministry process through the use of tele-conferencing technology. An additional goal, accomplished through providing on-going support, is to help identify, teach, and train leaders within the ministries we help who can then train others. Our mission will always be to build upon the rich legacy of ministering to hurting people and the theological veracity that GFI has already established. I can’t think of a better ministry to respond to the plight of addiction and bondage than Grace Fellowship International.

Pray with us. We cannot do this without you! Personally, I am praying for those that God will now call to be part of our ministry team. The only way we can accomplish this mission is together as a ministry body. We need prayer warriors! Leis and I need personal ministry supporters who will engage in this spiritual battle with us and provide the necessary personal funds. We will win by His grace. We will bring light into the darkness of addiction and we will do it together!

-Don Steve

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