Huntington community gathers to pray for leaders, addicts

May 3, 2019

HUNTINGTON - Clarence and Tiffany Miller spent more than 20 years wrapped up in addiction, having destroyed relationships with their families and eventually losing custody of their children.

On Thursday, they celebrated 100 days sober with fellow members of Shepherd’s House, a faith-based recovery program in Huntington. They marked the occasion at the National Day of Prayer service held at the Cabell County Courthouse. Members of the recovery program participated in a performance in which they removed physical shackles wrapped around them, set to a contemporary gospel song about breaking chains with Jesus’ help.

The Millers, of Ansted, West Virginia, said they could not have reached their sobriety milestone without the support of the recovery community and relationships they are building with God.

“Not only is it vital to our recovery, it is vital to our marriage and vital to our parenting,” Tiffany Miller said.

T-Anne See, who has organized the prayer rally for the past six years, said she dedicated a portion of the event to offer prayers for those battling drug and alcohol addiction.

The rallies are held on courthouse lawns throughout the nation every year on the first Thursday in May. Participants typically lead group prayers for government leaders, military service members, families and the church community, among others.

See said she had a son who battled addiction for eight years before finally getting clean. He’s been clean for five years and she attributes that to the power of prayer, she said. At the prayer rallies in the past, she saw more recovering addicts showing up and also families who were affected by addiction.

“I’ve added that since I’ve been in charge of it, because I was dealing with that personally and saw such a need for it,” she said. “It just seems right, especially here, because we get such attention for the negative and the drug problem.”

Anthony Stradwick, director of Shepherd’s House, said the faith community holds an important role among Huntington’s recovering addicts and is often among the first place some turn to for help. In his ministry, the Salt of the World Ministries, they teach people to join the army of God, he said. His ministry has worked with more than 1,000 people battling addiction over the years, he said.

“The army is going to be those folks who have gone through the struggles of life, the depression and the addiction, and be able to reach back and help others,” he said. “In recovery the most important thing in the 12-step (program) is giving back what God has given us.”

Thursday’s rally also included prayers for national, state and local government leaders. See said political strife has divided some, but she believes prayer can help people find common ground.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams gave Thursday’s opening remarks and Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Chris Chiles sang the national anthem. Circuit Court Judge Greg Howard led a group prayer for local government leaders.

″(The rally) happens to fall on a day when I’m handling abuse and neglect cases, which are very weighty cases in my opinion,” he said beforehand. “I’m making decisions in families’ lives that are long-lasting decisions, and I would hate to do that without drawing on the power of prayer.”

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.