Kari Rutman, a former alcohol abuser and opioid overdose survivor, recently opened Risen Recovery, a sober house in Farmington, Minnesota, for women transitioning from addiction treatment to independent living.
Residents in the home must attend counseling, addiction recovery meetings, and participate in an evangelical church. Rutman, who attends Southland City Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in nearby Rosemount, lost her mother and a brother to drug overdoses. She is on a mission to help addicted women find hope and freedom in Christ.
“I struggled with addiction for many years,” explains Rutman, 34, who also lost her possessions and children due to her addictions. After spending time in jail and completing a mandated treatment program, Rutman got clean and sober.
“There’s a difference between sobriety and recovery,” says Rutman. “Although I was sober, I was still broken, depressed, and wanted to die. Even when I eliminated the chemicals, there was a huge void. Jesus was the answer.”
Although sobriety means an individual is no longer taking chemicals to feed the addiction, the underlying issues haven’t been resolved. Recovery addresses the root of the problem. Through her own journey, Rutman has discovered that Jesus is the only source of lasting recovery.
According to Rutman, Risen Recovery grew from a message her pastor, C.J. Johnson, preached one Sunday. While doing devotions, Johnson came across Acts 2:17.
“God is saying the Church is supposed to be filled with visionaries and dreamers,” says Johnson, 34.
The notion of supporting visionaries and dreamers led Southland City Church to sponsor an out-of-the-box idea. Johnson challenged congregants to form a team, create a proposal detailing their vision, and then submit it to church leaders for review for an opportunity to receive $10,000 in seed money to fund their dream. The church would then select five teams to receive $10,000 each to put toward their vision.
Rutman submitted a proposal, sharing her dream for Risen Recovery, a sober house that would allow women to gain the skills they needed to succeed in life, while allowing them to spend time with their children — something she had been unable to do — as they transition to independent living.
The church approved the proposal and Risen Recovery started its journey to becoming a reality.
Shortly after, other pieces began to fall into place. A donor put down a large deposit toward the purchase of a home, located just a few miles away from Southland City Church. With the encouragement and mentoring provided by church leaders, Rutman formed a nonprofit and staffed the sober house with volunteers who take care of everything from accounting to lawn care.
Kay M. Beckman, 60, who helps manage the house, is one of the volunteers. Beckman, who formerly abused alcohol, finished seven different treatment programs that didn’t stop her from addiction. A turnaround came only when she began studying the Bible and surrendered her life to Jesus.
“It really was a miraculous healing,” Beckman says. “I woke up one day and God had completely taken away my desire to drink. I had been through a crushing time in my life, and I realized God wanted to use it to further His message and bring broken people to himself.”
Jessica A. Blaschko, 35, also volunteers and helps oversee the daily management of the residents and the house. She is six years into her recovery from prescription pain pills, which she used to dull the pain of an abusive relationship.
“I want to show other women there is light at the end of the tunnel,” says Blaschko. “We can’t do it on our own. We absolutely need Jesus.”
Rutman, along with other volunteers, works hard to forge relationships with community groups and organizations, meeting with officials at prisons, local treatment centers, and even the police department to share their mission. She has since reunited with her children, 17-year-old Alexis and 3-year-old Jack.
Risen Recovery volunteers can provide financial counseling, offer interview skills training, teach parenting skills, and help residents find an apartment. The ministry makes referrals to Adult & Teen Challenge in instances of relapse.
Southland City Church is a source of ongoing financial and spiritual sustenance for Risen Recovery.
“A program like this needs resources and godly peoples to commit time and expertise,” Johnson says.