Churches join call to fight substance abuse

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — A prayer seed that was planted by Huntington, West Virginia, Mayor Steve Williams has taken root.

And on Sunday at 11:05 a.m., the power of prayer is expected to be on full display throughout the Tri-State area encompassing parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Williams met a few weeks ago with a small group of local pastors, as well as Mission Tri-State, to discuss substance abuse-related issues and show them a video about something that can be done.

That video, where he asks all Tri-State churches to join in prayer at one specific time, went viral. Churches throughout the Tri-State and even the nation took notice.

"Join all the other churches, ministers and congregations in the Tri-State for one day, in one service, (to lift) our voices up for the healing of our community," said Williams in the video.

Johnny Riley, the chaplain at King’s Daughters Medical Center, was in the meeting when Williams asked about the special prayer.

"I think it’s a good thing," he said. "We have more than a drug problem (in the area) we have a spiritual problem. I think we have to fight it spiritually."

Requests have been sent out to churches through northeastern Kentucky, asking them to be part of the prayer service.

"I know a lot of churches and pastors know about it and a lot of them will be participating," Riley said.

The drug problem in the Tri-State has reached epidemic proportions in Huntington, West Virginia; Portsmouth, Ohio and even Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky. Nobody is immune to it, Riley said.

It also has a trickle-down effect on the area communities. "What affects Huntington is going to affect us and vice versa," Riley said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 die from prescription drug overdoses every day. In West Virginia, substance abuse is a leading cause of death, crime and an overall low sense of morale. In West Virginia, 96 to 143 painkillers are prescribed for every 100 people. The CDC reports that West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose deaths per capita.

In Kentucky, Boyd County Circuit Judge George Davis III knows all too well how drug abuse affects more than the user. He said "95 percent or better of the criminal cases are drug-related in some way.

"It has some connection to it," he said. "Breaking into someone’s home to obtain drugs, out driving around on highways impaired. It’s all related. The hidden victims are the children. You have so many drug-addicted babies being born now. You used to hear about these things in far-reaching communities like Detroit and New York. Now, some days at the hospital as many as half the babies (born) have some type of drug issue."

Davis heaped praise on Williams for taking action.

"He’s following the model that our founding fathers laid centuries ago," he said. "Before our Constitution could be ratified there was great fervent prayer. Before any great undertaking in the history of this country there has been prayer. I commend the mayor for what he’s doing."

This Sunday, or "OneSunday," is an invitation for people of all faiths to come together to pray for one common goal: to alleviate substance abuse issues in our community. Pray in the congregation of your church, in the comfort of your own home or anywhere you are.


Information from: The Independent,


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