McLarence “Mac” Robinson left his eight-year-old daughter almost 20 years ago to pursue his crack cocaine addiction.
His path took him from Chicago, IL, to Memphis, TN, and finally to Dallas where he knew no one. Along the way he had stays in 21 different drug rehabilitation facilities. He tried to commit suicide three times. Every time he saw a girl who reminded him of his daughter, he got high. The Men of Nehemiah participate in rigorous physical activity as part of their Bible-base recovery program.
Today Robinson, 53, is sober. He is working on his third year as a student at the World Impact Bible Seminary with plans to open his own ministries to help other men on the street. And he is trying to be a father again, a part of the life of his now 26-year-old daughter. He spent Christmas with her and now texts with her every day. “She is a grown woman. She is healthy and working,” he said with pride.
The reason for the turnaround in Robinson's life is his association with Men of Nehemiah. Named for the Jewish leader who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, the South Dallas recovery program serves homeless and formerly incarcerated men with addictive disorders. To the men in the program, Nehemiah is a metaphor. In addition to rebuilding a wall, he rebuilt lives.
The organization, founded in 2009, provides the men a place to live, substance abuse counseling, life skills training and helps them find a job.
“In three years we have seen God do amazing things” said Louis Harrell, the program founder, who fought his own battles with drugs and rebellion. The Men of Nehemiah is a highly structured recovery program based upon 15 Biblical principles which embrace the 12-step recovery model.
The organization houses and treats about 40 men at a time. In its short history, 30 men have graduated from the year-long program and are employed, Harrell said. The son of an Army colonel and Pentecostal minister, Harell uses military-style training to help the men's recovery and re-orientation of their thinking.
The men in the program are very visible in South Dallas. Dressed in Army fatigues, they march two and three miles a day. They also do community clean-up projects, hold church meetings at grocery stores and sing at any venue that will allow them.
“The Men of Nehemiah are more than talented, enthusiastic entertainers,” said Mike McMahon, chief operating officer for Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty, who watched the group perform at the company’s annual holiday luncheon. “They were inspirational because you saw and felt a passionate commitment to rebuild their own lives, as well as being a reinforcement to others who are rebuilding their lives.”
To learn more about the Men of Nehemiah, call 214-421-6705 or visit themenofnehemiah.org.
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