By Steve Sears
Travis Clark has walked the walk. An Assistant Pastor at First Baptist Church of Caldwell (FBC), he remembers the details of his troubled south Jersey days well.
Clark, who has been working with Reformers Unanimous Addiction recovery program for about ten years and is Director of the program at FBC, discovered the worthwhile organization because he needed help. His mother was an alcoholic, and he attended meetings for her, and he felt he didn’t have any issues.
However, the meetings changed his opinion.
“I went and said, ‘Man, I’ve got a lot of issues,’” recalls the former Cherry Hill resident. “I was a gambler – I was going into Atlantic City at 16 years old, and if you dress nice, they don’t really card you — I was selling drugs and doing sports betting. I was selling some things and making some good money with it. But I really didn’t think I was that bad.”
In addition, Clark’s Dad was also an alcoholic, and his brother was in jail for heroin. His Mom went to rehab, and Clark himself sought help, attending meetings at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, New Jersey. He realized how great the program was and was encouraged to become a member and leader.
RU meetings are held at FBC on Friday evenings from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Clark runs the male group, and his wife, Chaniece, the female group. The group is open to all people, not just Caldwell residents, and addictions aren’t just limited to alcohol, drugs and gambling. “One of the biggest addictions we have right now is overeating,” says Clark. “That’s one a lot of people don’t think about.” Pornography (a big one for men and women) and abuse, whether physical or verbal, are also encountered.
Meetings, coined “Talk, Talk, Talk,” are very comfortable, and on average about fifteen people attend. No attendee is forced to speak, but all are invited to. Each meeting starts off with a 15-minute video from RU founder Steve Curington (a former ten-year drug addict who in the early 1990s almost lost his life in a car wreck) regarding one of the ten principles biblically to fight addiction. A key thing thereafter is testimony time, where rather than focusing on the negative of the addiction in your life, all are encouraged to offer a positive about their week. “Every week I make a very big thing by saying, ‘Listen, we all have problems, but we all have some good things that are going on.’ It can be as little as free parking somewhere. Whatever it is, we need to find the good and praise that,” says Clark. After that, the men and women break into separate groups for discussion, Clark addresses all in attendance, and then he opens it up to others to speak.
Pastor David Bulka weighs in about the program’s worth. “NJ and USA have had addiction problems for ages. From sugar, nicotine, alcohol, opioids, gambling, pornography, and you name it. Addictions many times are hidden in the closet because the addict is too embarrassed. Addictions can destroy the soul of a person, taking down friends and family. God never intended us to be addicts. There is a cure. Jesus Christ cured thousands during HIs earthly ministry, but His death, burial, and resurrection solved the sin problem. The Bible says: ” If any man be in Christ, he is a new Creature ” (2 Cor 5:17). FBC (First Baptist Church of Caldwell) has a ministry called RU that helps people escape addiction. RU is led by Travis Clark. Travis has led this ministry through Bible teaching, prayer, accountability and genuine Care. Many have been helped already.”
“I remember when I first met Travis and Chaniece,” says Felicia, who had been struggling with a food addiction, binging mostly on sugar. “In the past I have stolen food, stole money to buy food, hid the wrapper of the food I ate.” She started her RU program in October 2018. “They encouraged and helped me develop a routine that focused on spirituality by reading God’s Word daily, praying, exercising, eating at certain times, drinking more water, etc. Every week we would also address my progress.”
For more information, Clark can be contacted at (609) 870-3697, or email Tclark8021@yahoo.com. You can also visit the First Baptist Church of Caldwell (259 Bloomfield Avenue) website at www.fbccaldwell.com. The Reformers Unanimous Addiction recovery program site is www.rurecovery.com.