The Rock

Sheriff Joe Berlin speaks at The Rock as the church began a massive new recovery program headed up by Brother James Drury, below, of Hattiesburg. (Photos by Jack Hammett)


Local church launches new recovery program


On a chilly winter night, first-responder vehicles could be seen lighting up The Rock Church parking lot on Highway 15 South in the Myrick Community — but they were there to help extinguish fires of the internal variety.

Celebrate Recovery, The Rock’s massive new recovery program, kicked off with elected officials and first-responders taking the stage to warn of how dangerous addiction is for Jones County. Speakers included Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin, Lt. Doug Dickerson of the Laurel Police Department  and Jones County Drug Court coordinator Consuelo Walley, among others. The program is set to cast a wide net, organizing small groups whose focus will range from chemical addiction to racial injustice trauma.

Leading the program is Brother James Drury, who says the 12 steps are only a tool — if not used properly, they’re useless.

“It’s not just drugs and alcohol,” he said. “It’s a bad day at work. Divorce. It’s just for life. And we’re here to help, do our part, encourage and uplift. But we put Christ at the center of it.”

Drury and his family started a program in Petal, but they eventually felt called to Jones County.

“Or rather South Mississippi,” he said. “It goes beyond Jones County. When the walls come down, the people go up. That’s our theme.”

Pastor Jerry Rowley Jr. said the Lord sent the Drury family their way, and that recovery is “their passion, their training and their background.”

“We’ve wanted to do this, but honestly, we didn’t have the understanding to do it,” he said. “The only thing worse than not having a recovery program is having one and not knowing what you’re doing. … Good things are happening here. We’re excited. It’ll take all hands on deck.”

Berlin told the crowd that almost all serious crimes committed in Jones County — robbery, murder and theft — are drug-related.

“In just the last couple of days, we’ve taken $9,000 worth of meth off the street,” he said in late January. “It’s a never-ending process. It’s never just going to go away. … I don’t care how many laws you put on it, the cartels are going to find a way to get it here.”

The threat addiction poses to Jones County will only get worse, Berlin said.

“Until these folks want to make a decision to get help, they will never get it,” he said. “Not until they focus their lives on God. My job is to put you in jail, not get you off dope. I can only plant a seed.”

Dickerson noted that he and other lawmen are responding to drug-related calls every day.

“Stealing, neglecting their child, Satan is pushing it,” he said. “It’s every single day. It is a battlefield.”

Walley, the Jones County lawyer whose drug court has made great strides in implementing evidence-based practices to be state-compliant, said that if you’d told her 1997 she’d be working in recovery, she wouldn’t have believed you. She’s been working in recovery for 10 years now and was appointed by Judge Dal Williamson in 2018 to lead drug court.

Walley commended The Rock church officials for taking time to plan their recovery program instead of having it “thrown together.”

“Tons of people have the heart in them to do this, but they aren’t always the right people to do it,” Walley said. “I like that y’all took your time and planned this out. Things have to be done in order. The drug court is here to offer you any help you need, but be prepared for the road.”

Walley said the road will be long — and not every addict entering recovery will be a success story.

“Before they care about what you know, they have to know that you care,” she said.


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