Drug rehabilitation center seeks to open in Poinsett County

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Tribune News Staff

Drug addiction and its consequences is an epidemic sweeping the nation, reaching people of all classes, races and economic status. An organization is hoping to open its doors in Poinsett County to offer hope for the county and its citizens.

God's New Life Ranch is a non-profit, non-denominational organization that seeks to provide a place for people with histories of drug, alcohol and emotional problems. The ranch offers a place for troubled people of all backgrounds to set up residence and begin the healing process.

Residents experience five and a half hours of Bible study throughout the day. They receive instruction and counseling from individuals who have already completed the program and have been successfully rehabilitated. There are currently more than 10 New Life Ranches operating throughout the United States.

Edward Fortson of Trumann is the man behind the vision of opening a New Life Ranch in Poinsett County. He and his wife, Macil, have dedicated their lives to helping others. They have opened their hearts and homes to those in need. There are no ordinary days in their household. Ed can be found going from courts to jails to people's homes or on the telephone for hours on end working with anyone who really wants to change his or her life.

Fortson is also working these days to see his vision become reality in Trumann. After recently obtaining an estimate for the cost of his dream, Fortson is setting out across the county speaking at churches and other organizations to raise the $90,000 needed to fulfill his vision. The needed funds would be used to build three buildings: a women's dorm, a men's dorm and a commons area with a cafeteria.

In addition to monetary donations, Fortson also needs the help of local farmers to dig out a fish pond on the property.

While residents of the facility are receiving counseling, they will also spend a small percentage of their time cooking, cleaning and performing necessary minor maintenance on the building. "It will be just like a home to them," Fortson said. "They will take care of it themselves."

Fortson said his endeavor is completely faith based. "I know the money is out there," he said. "We are just trusting in God."

According to literature about the center, its purpose will be to provide hope for the hopeless by directing people to the Lord Jesus Christ. The center also hopes to help residents find love and a purpose for their lives as well as to make them disciples as the Bible directs.

"We want to show people there is a way to combat these problems with God in control," Fortson said.

David McNeil, a graduate of the program, will be volunteering his time at the center when it opens in Poinsett County. He believes staffing the center with volunteers who have experienced drug and alcohol addictions adds to the success of the program.

"People can relate to those who have been through what they themselves have been through," McNeil said. "They see God at work and realize that hope and change is within their reach."

Fortson and McNeil will be visiting Central Baptist Church in Marked Tree at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12. Residents are invited to come hear first hand testimonies of how the program has helped change lives.

For more information about God's New Life Ranch or to arrange a speaker at a church or organization, contact Edward Fortson at (870) 483-7548.

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