After four weeks of talks by folks running for office, we were pleased to change pace and have Mr. Mike Bonner, director of Friends of Alcoholics, as our speaker this past Saturday at the Walter Scott Coffee Club.
Bonner is a graduate of Provine High School and attended Hinds Jr. College, Delta State University in Cleveland on a tennis scholarship and Mississippi College. He is married and the father of three grown children and grandfather to five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He gave us a brief history of how he got involved in Friends of Alcoholics and how it got started. Bro. Dick Barth came from Pennsylvania in 1958 to start FOA and Bonner began working there under the tutelage of Bro. Barth in 1982. Eleven years later he became director but still relied on Bro. Barth for tough decisions; however, for the past 20 years he has been “on his own” - since Bro. Barth died in 1998. That same year Bonner became ordained to preach. FOA celebrated their 60th anniversary on October 7, 2018.
FOA is a family affair. Bonner’s wife, Jane, is the bookkeeper and his son, Aaron, is assistant director. Friends of Alcoholics is a Christian Rehabilitation Center based in Hinds County. Located on 47 acres of land, it is a Christian, non-profit corporation comprised of dedicated individuals who are interested in helping those who are in bondage to alcohol and/or drugs. It is a corporation controlled by a board of directors, elected annually from the membership. Support for FOA comes from students themselves. There is no charge for any of the services and students are expected to do their share in the work program. Financial support also comes from churches and civic groups as well as interested individuals.
Some things FOA is not: It is not a 12-step program and it does not receive any funds from the government or state. Their philosophy is that alcoholism and drug addiction are the result of man’s sinful nature and can only be controlled by a sound spiritual approach that brings a right relationship with our Lord, through faith in Jesus Christ, to those in bondage to these addictions. They believe that alcoholism and drug addiction are a Christian cancer and the Church has a responsibility to meet those with this addiction at the point of their need.
You might wonder who is eligible for admission. Their brochure states: “Anyone who admits that they have an alcohol or drug problem and will agree to FOA to stay for at least eight weeks will be considered for admission” A student must know the books of the Bible and be able to recite them in the order in which they appear in the Bible in order to graduate and receive a diploma. (Give that a real honest try.)
We found Bonner and his approach to conquering addition most interesting. He is available for speaking engagements to inform people about the ministry at FOA. His contact number is: 601-362-4275.
Please read 1st Corinthians 15:1-6
Walter Redden is a Northsider.