Men Kicking Bad Habits with the Help of the Mission

Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 in News | 0 comments

Written by Lorna Rodriguez, Pilot staff writer August 02, 2011 11:13 pm

Bryan Lilly started drinking at the age of 5 after his Dad handed him a beer for mowing the lawn. He drank himself into oblivion for 45 years. Until his most recent birthday, he always celebrated with alcohol instead of cake.

All of that changed on June 25, when he moved into the Outreach Gospel Mission’s home.

“I want a life,” Lilly said. “You get tired of being tired.”

Lilly grew tired of living under a bridge for 11 years, and begging for money to buy alcohol.

The Outreach Gospel Mission (OGM) is a free recovery ministry, open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, that helps alcoholics, drug addicts and people trying to put their life back together, OGM Executive Director Michael Olsen said. The program is run by Olsen and about 15 volunteers. The mission is 100 percent donor supported.

“It’s not an alcohol or drug thing,” Olsen said. “ It’s for men that need help. We’re there to help.”

The last time Lilly was in a hospital for drinking, he was given alarming news.

“I went to the hospital, and was told I would die if I didn’t stop drinking,” he said.

Lilly had been vomiting blood, and his blood cell count was dangerously low, he said.

“I just can’t put it in words. The desire to drink went out the window,” Lilly said.

The OGM program lasts up to six months. Men are offered three meals a day and a bed.

“Within six months, the desire is to get healthy, have a clear mind, make decisions, Olsen said. “We do our best to guide them in their future.”

Lilly did just that, after a little more than a month.

Instead of consuming 10-12, 24-ounce cans of Earthquake beer a day, Lilly now  works for the mission.

“You have things to do where you don’t think about drugs and alcohol,” Lilly said.

The program is successful because it self-disciplines, Olsen said.

“We’re small, but I believe we’re effective,” he added.

Olsen also said the program works because are not told what they need, people are asked what they need.

This is what made the difference for Lilly. Lilly has been in multiple treatment and recovery centers, and none of them have worked.

“This one was just different,” Lilly said. “It’s a smaller environment. They tell you God loves you.”

The mission is different than a treatment center because the men teach themselves, Olsen said. The men set their own game plan.

Lilly also likes that there are no bars or windows at the mission. He doesn’t feel restricted; he can walk out any time.

The mission is also different because the Bible is the foundation of the program. It’s used to orient men to a better life than the one they’ve been living

“Through the grace of God I met some wonderful people there, and it was worth staying,” Lilly said. “Everybody relates to everybody; we’re all in the same boat.”

In the last six months, the mission helped 23 people, Olsen said.

Jack Tefertiller is another one of those 23 men.

Tefertiller was about to lose everything worthwhile to him: his wife, children and job as a commercial fisherman.

After 30 years of drinking, he decided it was time to seek help.

“It was time to get sober,” Tefertiller said. “I don’t have the problem. I found the Lord.”

Olsen said the mission has had about a 55-percent success rate in the last six months, which is based on a program-average population of nine.

“People who come through the doors really do want to turn this around, versus, I hope this works,”Olsen said. “They may look a little rough,  but when you peel the onion, you get a whole different outlook on these guys.”

Tefertiller said vomiting at 7 a.m. and feeling lousy each morning grew old.

A friend told him about the mission and he decided to check himself in on July 1.

Each day at the mission, the men wake up at 6 a.m., eat breakfast at 7, do house chores until 8, participate in a Bible study until 9:30, then work until 4 p.m., eat dinner between 4:30 and 5, and are in bed by 10 p.m.

“I haven’t gone 30 days without drinking since I was 15,” Tefertiller said. “When I went there, I was ready to quit drinking. I just needed a place to do it. I quit drinking. I accomplished what I went there to do.”

Tefertiller said he received a lot of support from his family and from his fellow workers at the commercial fishing dock.

“People care about you,” Tefertiller said. “It’s loving. People respect you. Support you.”

In addition to helping the stereotypical single man, Olsen said the mission also helps a lot of families who need food.

In June, the mission handed out enough food for more than 1,400 mouths, Olsen said. OGM is also looking into opening a women’s home, Olsen said.

In the future, Lilly wants to obtain a new driver’s license, maybe buy a car and move back to the Eugene area. Lilly is disabled and has no work plans, he said.

Tefertiller plans to go back to work and take care of his family again.

“Hopefully I can get back to working and having respect from people again,” he said.

Tefertiller left the mission on July 29.

“This is the first mission where somebody wants you to be around,” Lilly said. “People care about us. They don’t want us to drink.”