Gerald Dunaway used to sit in his darkened office every night, drinking and weeping. He had a drinking problem but did not know where to go for help. At his lowest point, he slept in his office every night and consumed a fifth of Scotch each day.

He would not ask his church in Georgia for help because all he heard Christian leaders tell people struggling with alcoholism was that they needed to be saved. "For me that was not true," Dunaway says. "I had Jesus."

In time Dunaway got sober through the well-known 12-step program that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous. Dunaway decided to take seriously the program's third step of turning his life and will over to the care of God. He aspired to work for the church in an overseas mission, but one organization after another turned him down.

Remembering the faces

Finally, an organization suggested he get a one-year Bible certificate, so Dunaway enrolled at Columbia International University in South Carolina. But he soon realized the overseas mission field was not for him.

Not knowing where God wanted him to minister, he continued his seminary training. During Dunaway's time at Columbia, a professor told him that pastors should minister among people for whom they feel intense care, even being willing to give up life itself to care for them.

Those challenging comments prompted Dunaway to recall the members of his home group.

"I remembered all the faces of those people I had gotten sober with," he says. "It was as though God put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Gerald, this is what it's all about. This is why I let you go through all of that. It's because I need somebody to go to the recovery community.' "

Following up on that conviction, Dunaway and his wife, Delores, planted a recovery ...

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