A journey through Zion Ridge

Published 05/14 2014 10:45PM

Updated 05/14 2014 10:56PM

Tucked away in the small town of Greenwood, Louisiana, right off of Elysian Fields Road, isolated, quiet and serene, there's a place for men who have lost their way in life.

It's called Zion Ridge.

"Not only is this a place for the guys to get away and learn about The Lord, and learn how to get into recovery, but we're teaching life-living skills out here," says Rev. Henry Martin, Executive Director of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission. 

The 23-acre camp is a men's discipleship training program ran by the rescue mission.

Men from the rescue mission who are looking to start over and make a serious commitment to God come here to focus and find faith.

Up to 26 men can stay on the property for a full year, for free, while they focus and dedicate their lives to God. 

The facility was decades in the making.

"Zion Ridge has actually been in my prayers and vision for the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission for 25 years," says Rev. Martin.

"When I started working with the rescue mission, I saw that it was too easy for a guy who was weak, just getting started, it was just too easy for him to walk outside the mission door and turn a corner and be in trouble," says Jim Brackman, Director of Zion Ridge.

Three dormitories on the property house up to 26 men. 

They work for half the day, go through discipleship classes for three hours, and they have homework.

Work includes raising 50 to 60 chickens and maintaining a two-acre garden.

The growth of their crops, represents the growth of their spirit.

"As he showed me areas in my heart, and in my life that need to be changed, I'm able to go by myself, just me and God, and pray and ask God to allow his holy spirit to change those areas and replace it with something else," says Andre Okray.

Okray says he needed a stronger bond with God, and he knew just where to come.

Others experienced a moment when their life came to a screeching hault.

"I never stopped talking to God, but I was trying to do it on my own power,” says Tyrus Hampton. “And I had stopped relying on the holy spirit, and that's what I know kept me clean for them 17 years."

Frank worked for Exxon in south Louisiana.

He had a family, nice home, nice car and was financially stable, but after his brother was killed and his fiance died, Tyrus started back drinking: something he gave up for 17 years.

Frank lost everything.

But listen to the story of Frank Cheek.

"I'd got caught up in drugs and alcohol, and depression,” says Frank. “I lost ...I thought all hope was gone, and I went to a casino and climbed to the top of the parking garage and jumped."

Frank tried to kill himself by jumping off the DiamondJacks Casino parking garage in June 2013.

"I broke my back in four places, both legs, bones came out of my shin, and my bones went through the bottom of my feet, and that's not counting ligament damage and all that," says Frank.

He had to learn how to walk again and how to live again. Frank says his survival is his testimony.

"Gives me hope, gives me something to drive for, gives me a reason to continue to live, and maybe one day I'll be able to bring the word out and keep people from doing what I've done," says Frank.

The men of Zion Ridge have gone from hurt to healed, from desperate to fulfilled, from feeling like they're at the end, to starting all over again.

That healing and recovery is just what you can find at Zion Ridge.

The rescue mission is hoping to add cabins to the property to house more residents.

After that, they're hoping to build an auditorium and a cafeteria.

Plus, they're working on possibly creating a Zion Ridge for women.

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