Praying for restoration
STORY BY NICOLE BURNS
Getting your life back after finding yourself derailed by addiction isn’t something everyone finds, not fully. Samantha Bell of New Beginnings Ministries knows that all too well.
After spending 10 years in college to become a pharmacist, police busted Bell on drug charges just one month after graduation. Despite losing all she’d worked towards in a career, Bell said she found peace and happiness in God and doing His work.
“I asked Him into my heart and that’s when my life went onto a different path and it’s never been the same since,” said Bell. She and her husband operate New Beginnings Restoration Center, a faith-based drug rehabilitation center for men and women in Brewton.
“For the eight years, that’s really what I’ve dedicated my time to, helping people through my situation. I can’t change my past. All I can do is learn from it, grow from it, and help as many people as possible get their life back on track,” Bell said.
It was probably her dedication to helping others that caught the attention of local businessmen. Danny Cottrell reached out with an offer Bell never thought possible.
“He came into my life; he said that he and his wife would like to help me get reestablished as a pharmacist,” said Bell.
Cottrell, owner of Brewton Medical Center Pharmacy, wants to make clear the tough road being traveled.
“ I don’t want anybody to think that she didn’t have problems or that this was easy,” Cottrell said. “As we started going through the process, it’s so rare for somebody to come back from actually having been charged, a lot of folks come back from being hooked on drugs, but not actually being charged.
“I think there were four folks that I talked to at the DEA before I found someone who had ever had dealt with somebody in this situation,” he said. “That’s part of why it took so long.”
The process took about 13 months to gain approval for Bell to begin a six-month internship at Cottrell’s pharmacy.
“For that period of time, it was like a period of testing,” said Bell. “I knew that if the Lord wanted this to happen, he would make a way to work this out. We tried to find people who had been in my same situation and the people with the DEA said they had never really dealt with this before. They said they didn’t know how it works.”
But it was a mission that both felt called to fill, both said.
“When I called the state board and talked to them, their person who did the drug counseling said he had been working with her a couple of years before I ever got involved. He basically said if there’s anybody who deserves a second chance, it’s her,” said Cottrell.
After many months, and even more phone calls, Cottrell got the go-ahead to hire Bell as an intern at his Brewton pharmacy.
“She’s doing very well,” said Cottrell. “We’re trying to work her in gradually. For somebody to come back from being out that long and then go and pass the state boards is quite an accomplishment.”
It is an accomplishment that Bell, herself, only dreamed about, she said.
“For a long time I beat myself up,” said Bell. “I thought, who am I to try to get my life back on track. I’ve made so many mistakes. I’m forever scarred and marred. There’s no hope. But now I can tell people, you might have some struggles, but it’s still possible to overcome. It’s still possible to rebuild your life.”
Bell’s words are not only spoken, but also lived out. God is bringing restoration to her dreams. She began her internship at the Brewton Medical Center Pharmacy in June and will complete her time there around Christmas in which, given she passes the final portion of her state exam, Bell will be eligible for a pharmacist’s license in Alabama.
Now, the hunt is on for a new job, but Bell said she’s confident God already has that in the works too. For now, she’s just thankful for the opportunity she’s been given. Hers is a true story of redemption.
“She’s going to make somebody a good pharmacist one day,” said Cottrell.