WESTLAKE — Pastor Paul Grodell of Beyond the Walls Church spoke about his own struggle with addiction until he “gave his heart to the Lord” in 1994, saying the Ohio opioid epidemic is understandably difficult to overcome.
This is why the Church on the Rise of Westlake held a combined service with Beyond the Walls Church of Elyria for a Greater Than Heroin awareness service Wednesday night.
In addition to raising awareness, the event also was raising money to start a local faith-based drug rehab center.
The event was open for community members to listen to the many stories of other people affected by the crisis and also served as a remembrance of people who died to opioid addiction. Several Northeast Ohio mayors — David Gillock of North Ridgeville, Denis Clough of Westlake, Paul Koomar of Bay Village and Pam Bobst of Rocky River — attended to show solidarity in the fight against addiction and to share their stories.
Gillock gave a powerful testimony about how heroin addiction has heavily affected his family.
He spoke about how his eldest daughter fell in love with a man and had children but was unable to care for them because she had become addicted to heroin and was out in the streets. He and his wife raised their grandchildren for nearly 20 years.
The daughter’s former boyfriend died a month ago of an overdose, he said, and his daughter reunited with his family recently. By next February, Gillock said his daughter will be nine years’ sober. Through his experience, Gillock said, he has learned that addiction can affect every part of a community from top to bottom.
“I’m committed, I’m into this and I’ll do whatever I can with these churches to help resolve this situation,” he said.
At the event, Grodell promised to bring hope through bringing people who have overcome addiction, and showing the power of Christ as well as community.
“When you’ve lost loved ones, when you see family members out on the street, living a life of terrible circumstances and dealing with the issues that people deal with in addiction at times it can seem like, ‘Where’s the hope?’ What’s the answer?’ ‘What’s going on here?’” he said.
Church on the Rise Pastor Paul Endrei said the Ohio opioid epidemic has grown so much that it has affected nearly everyone in some way.
“It can happen to anyone, and it does,” he said.
To learn more about the Greater Than Heroin campaign, visit www.greaterthan heroin.com. To learn more about the churches, visit www.beyondthewalls church.com or www.church ontherise.net.
Contact Bruce Walton at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.