Footprints, Inc. Appoints New Executive Director

Bro. Wayne White founded Footprints, Inc. 2001. He passed away in 2012.

I’ve recently brought my three passions – education, addiction recovery and digital inclusion – all together in one special place of service right here in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.

On February 18, 2017, I was appointed to serve as the new executive director of Footprints, Inc. My first project is creating an inner city recovery community center on Troost Avenue that will have counseling, support groups and classes. It will also have a computer center teaching PC and job skills. We’ll be bringing digital life skills, GED classes and other employment oriented training to formerly homeless vets and people who are just beginning the journey of recovery from addiction. This is something very close to my heart since digital inclusion really matters when it helps people who have been struggling gain confidence and self esteem on their way back into the workforce.

Footprints, Inc. was founded by my good friend Wayne White in 2001. He was a Viet Nam veteran himself who overcame addiction. Caring for his military brothers who lost their way was his inspiration to establish our VA funded short-term residence for homeless veterans. His passion and dedication has left a lasting imprint on this city.

I had previously served on the board of Footprints, Inc. for several years. When Wayne succumbed to the effects of exposure to Agent Orange in 2012, I was asked to serve as board chairman to manage the organization through that difficult time. Thanks to being so familiar with things, I have truly hit the ground running – getting things going in a way that I never could have while serving in a volunteer capacity. Long range plans include additional residences for both men and women in early recovery and a permanent facility where veterans can stay after they leave our Heroes Home Gate shelter.

When I returned to Kansas City after serving with HUD in Washington, D.C., I had several interviews but none of them seemed to quite fit. I shared this with my wife and she simply said, “I think you already know what God wants you to do!” So, here I am off on another thrilling adventure in capacity building for a nonprofit with a ton of potential that is meeting incredibly important needs in KC’s inner city.

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Once an Alcoholic, Always an Alcoholic?

What about those who say, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic? Doesn’t that deny God’s ability to change a person?” I have been asked this question often as I have conducted workshops with rescue mission workers and people from other Christian groups.  Usually, though, it prompted by a failure to distinguish between the spiritual issue called “drunkenness” and the therapeutic/medical condition called “alcoholism.” Anyone working to bring real healing and lasing change to addicts and alcoholics, must have this issue clearly resolved in their own minds.

Here are a few issues to consider:

A. Release from compulsion is a reality Those who react negatively to this phrase usually interpret it to mean that an addicted individual is condemned to live under the constant danger of slipping into drunkenness against his own will.  This, of course, would be a definite denial of God’s power to change the addict and empower him to live a victorious life.  The truth is that many believers do testify of an experience where the power of the Spirit of God actually lifted  the compulsive desire to use alcohol and drugs from them.  Some others, though, do struggle with re-occurring bouts of intense temptation to use again.  In some cases, this actually has a physiological basis which has been called “post-acute withdrawal syndrome.”  If we are mindful of this, it can actually comfort someone struggling and help them through these times, instead of making them feel guilty.  Additionally, after an experience of salvation, the newly reborn addict still needs special support to assist him to contend with all the lingering consequences of a life of bondage to addictive substances.

B. The physical dimension of addiction – When God delivers an addict from the compulsion to drink, he is no longer a “drunkard” in the spiritual sense.  Yet, he is  still a recovering alcoholic or addict in the therapeutic sense.  What separates the “heavy drinker” from the addict is the lack of ability to stop using alcohol once drinking has started.  I often tell people,  “It’s not how much you drink, or how often you drink; it’s what happens to you once you start – you just can’t stop, even when you want to!”  On a physiological level, anyone who has become an addict will always be “sensitized” to alcohol and/or drugs.  Even very limited use of the “drug of choice” can “activate” the chemical mechanisms of addiction leading to compulsive use and behavior.  Total abstinence, therefore, is a must.  This physical aspect of addiction will remain with the recovering person until he is glorified by the Lord and receives his new body.  With the acknowledgment of this fact, the recovering person will be all the more diligent to abstain from drinking or casual drug use.  He or she recognizes the dire consequences of even “moderate” alcohol or drug use.  If the recovering addict remains abstinent, this physical consequence of addiction will not otherwise effect his life and Christian walk.

C. Overcoming the “fall-out” of addiction A life of addiction results in destructive attitudes, distorted emotions, and warped patterns of thinking.  These do not simply disappear when an addict experiences spiritual rebirth.  Calling a person a  “recovering” addict or alcoholic also implies that he or she is actively overcoming the lingering problems of an addicted lifestyle through involvement in a definite program of personal growth.  Some of the deep-seated attitudes that keep an addict locked in his addiction include; pride and grandiosity, rebellion against authority, dishonesty, manipulation, blame-shifting, resentments, procrastination, etc.  While these “character defects” are common problems with practically all addicts, unless they are “hit head-on” they will lead to defeat.


— Michael Liimatta is the former Director of Education for Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, where he served for 17 years.  For more of his writing and audio workshops online go to the Guideto Effective Rescue Mission Recovery Programs.


Secular Recovery Principles in Christian Programs

How can we properly use ideas, principles, and techniques from the secular treatment community in rescue mission recovery programs?

A. Stay true to the scriptures – Anything we use in rescue ministry — whether in the area of fund-raising, business practices, or rehabilitation — must be subjected to the light of the Word of God.  Therefore, we must throw out any principles or philosophies that contradict God’s Word!  Christian counselors must reject any philosophy or approach that lifts from a sinner his sense of responsibility for his own actions and his need for repentance and brokenness at the Cross of Christ. The Bible is perfectly clear on the fact that real, lasting change can only occur when an individual can experience true repentance — which implies a sense of personal accountability for his actions and their consequences.

B. Be discerning A creationist scientist will reach a set of conclusions on a certain geological formation that is very different from those of his evolutionist counterpart.  In a similar fashion, while dealing with factual data, conclusions reached by non-Christian researchers or counselors often reflect a godless “world-view.”  Despite this dilemma, we must not reject the whole body of factual knowledge about addiction and successful treatment approaches that is accessible and useful to us as Christian counselors.

C. Use what you can and discard the rest – Certainly, some of the ideas that are coming out of the secular treatment world do contradict the scriptures (especially on the topics of morality and spirituality).  Yet, many of the successful methods they use to establish addicts in a life of sobriety have their origins in the Word of God!  In a very real sense, they have re-discovered some deep spiritual principles that have been almost lost to the modern Western Church.  Some of these are: the power of accountable relationships, the healing nature of deep and intimate sharing between believers, the indisputable connection between rigorous honesty and true spirituality, and the principle of comforting others through sharing how the Lord brought us through similar situations (2 Corinthians. 1:3-7).  While secular and atheistic people may see these principles in a totally different light, we ought to be able to discern, with the Holy Spirit’s help, what aspects of this field of knowledge we can integrate into our mission programs without compromising on revealed truth.



Rescue Magazine Summer 1993