Ministry needed in area|Column

Published 8:19 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

J.T. Weaver tried beer for the first time at age 13. Sam Barfield was the same age when she began drinking. Both spent much of their teen years getting drunk or high.
Paul Murphy’s story is similar, but all three have clawed their way back to recovery.
And for all three, their stories of survival have two things in common — Jesus Christ, and Thomas “Bo” Bell.
But Bell would be the first to say that it’s the latter who has had, of course, the most influence on every life changed by New Beginnings Ministries, a new residential substance abuse treatment center that has moved to a small house in Brewton.
Bell himself knows that dark path the residents of his program have traveled. Growing up in Escambia County, he was part of a close-knit family, he told members of the First United Methodist Church youth group recently.
Bell, Weaver, Barfield and Murphy told their stories to the youth group members because they hope that those teenagers will not follow the same path they did.
Weaver said God has changed his life, but it has been a hard road back.
Barfield said her family support — and the counseling she has received from Bell — have been instrumental to her recovery, but she would not have made it without God.
Is there any family that hasn’t seen at least one member follow the road to addiction? None of us is immune from addiction, either as helpless bystanders watching a loved one make destructive decisions or as active participants who choose the wrong path.
New Beginnings is poised to provide an invaluable service for the Brewton area, not only in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction but in its educational outreach services, like the frank talk with students from First United Methodist.
Our community has a drug and alcohol problem. We know that not because statistics tell us that, but because so many of us have seen it. Our community is not alone, but it is certainly not immune.
Bell said his group is ready to wage “war” against alcohol and drugs from their small house in Brewton. We already have some formidable soldiers in that war — including unique partnerships like the drug task force and drug court. A treatment center is another weapon in the fight, and New Beginnings is a welcome partner in the war.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

Email newsletter signup