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Burned but not broken

Photo submitted
The men of Freedom Farm Ministries bow their heads in prayer after a fire destroyed Restoration House on June 14.

Originally published: Jun. 27, 2013
Last modified: Jun. 27, 2013

Adam Orr

Pastor Nevin Alwine heard the fire before he saw it.

Alwine didn’t know the cabin behind his own was on fire June 14 until he heard the pop, pop, pop of exploding propane tanks.

Alwine immediately called 911, and the Creston, Pond Mountain and Warrensville Volunteer Fire Departments rushed to the isolated scene — but by then the home was fully engulfed in flames and on its way to becoming a total loss.

The home, located at 1114 Rock Creek Road in Creston, destroyed Restoration House owned by Freedom Farm Ministries, a Boone-based Christian drug and alcohol recovery center, according to Ashe County Fire Marshal Bob Davis.

“We were blessed that no one was at the house besides a small dog,” Freedom Farm Ministries’ Rita Collie said. “All of the men staying there had left and gone to a prayer meeting in Boone — so that was a blessing. I don’t know how we would have dealt if someone had gotten hurt.”

Davis said the exact cause of the blaze, which likely started in the kitchen, would be difficult to determine.

“When it’s totally gone like that, you go on what the first responder on the scene reports,” Davis said. “By the time first responders got there, it’d pretty well burned but we think it started in the kitchen area.”

And the men who lived there lost everything, according to Collie, including clothing, personal items, two guitars and the small dog they all loved.

“Yet they are standing strong and praising God, knowing he keeps His promises,” Collie said.

Now, the ministry is searching for a way forward despite the blaze.
Since 2006, FFM has offered Christian rehabilitation services for men seeking to break free from the, “bondage of alcohol and drug addiction,” according to Collie.

The program offers three stages, including a Christian rehabilitation center for men in need of a safe place while waiting for an opening in FFM’s recovery program, an isolated 40 day drug and alcohol recovery program, and a continuing restoration program that Collie said provides needed structure to transition back into the world.

“Restoration House was our second stage,” Collie said. “The 40 day and night portion of our program. No smoking, TV, radio or distractions, and the guys are pretty isolated, but it’s a perfect opportunity to try to find God, a place where lives can be changed. It’s fairly intense, but the gorgeous side of a mountain is the perfect place for it.”

Fortunately, Collie said a home owned by herself and husband Robbie would host the men while the ministry figures out its next move.

“We were very blessed that my husband and I own a house,” Collie said. “It’s in Boone, but in a remote little area like Restoration House was. So we really didn’t take a break from the program and the guys are still right on track.”

Soon, the men will move into the third stage of their journey, according to Collie, at FFM’s Discipleship Living Center in Boone a six to eight month structured program designed to help them back into society.

“They need structure, jobs, a bank account,” Collie said. “It’s a transition program we monitor carefully, and we help them create the exit plan they need.”

But Collie said the program will continue — and she would appreciate community support as it seeks a long-term replacement for Restoration House.

“This problem just isn’t going away,” Collie said. “We get 60 or so calls per day, and probably that many emails, from people interested in the program. The need is there.

“God will rebuild. He may use you,” Collie said. “Please listen to the Holy Spirit. If He says, ‘help,’ help. If he doesn’t speak to you, please pray for others.”
For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.