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Reaching for Recovery

Jimmy and Yvonne Oakes lead nonresidential efforts for the addicted.

Over 41 million people in the United States struggle with diagnosed addiction; however, 90% of these men and women will not, or cannot, enter a residential recovery program.

“There are 38 million people that are not adequately seeking treatment,” says Jimmy Oakes, who with his wife, Yvonne, is a U.S. missionary with Adult & Teen Challenge. “We need resources to help them.”

“Not everyone is ready to start their journey to recovery at the same time,” Yvonne says.

Over the past two years, Jimmy and Yvonne have been working with Ready Now Recovery, a program designed to reach individuals who will not go into an Adult & Teen Challenge residential program.

Prior to their work with Ready Now Recovery, the couple served as missionary associates with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Arkansas for eight years and ministered in Athens, Greece, for two years. They also spent time with Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch in Arkansas as missionary associates for eight years before joining the Adult & Teen Challenge national office in 2020.

Growing up in a home with addiction present, Yvonne’s passion for helping families with similar experiences started young. At 17, God radically invaded her life, and she accepted Christ as her Savior.

“I know there is hope out of that life,” Yvonne says. “I want to help place that hope within reach for others.”

While Adult & Teen Challenge originally offered only residential programs, more people struggling with life-altering addictions now can be reached. Ready Now Recovery, Adult & Teen Challenge’s small group and support group ministry, launched in June 2021.

Everything Ready Now Recovery does has a biblical basis. The program equips group leaders, called facilitators, with the training and resources needed to run a support group for individuals dealing with addiction and their family members. They also provide referrals to residential Adult & Teen Challenge facilities.

Currently, there are 67 active Ready Now Recovery groups in the U.S. This includes virtual groups that allow people to be involved no matter where they are. While most group facilitators are volunteers, they all must undergo at least 25 hours of instruction plus annual training before being eligible to lead a group. Additionally, the Oakeses believe that it is important for facilitators to help meet multiple needs of people in their group, not just their addictions. They encourage facilitators to be aware of local resources and volunteer in their community once a month. This allows facilitators to meet individuals in need and to help them in practical ways.

While most people say mentorship is helpful, a majority do not know how to successfully mentor others, according to the Oakeses. Ready Now Recovery’s training helps group facilitators learn feasible ways to walk alongside others. The program also works to equip churches, in partnership with local Adult & Teen Challenge programs, to know how to best minister to those struggling in their neighborhoods.

“A lot of people who become facilitators are recovered addicts or have addicted family members,” Jimmy says. For instance, after one young man graduated from a residential Adult & Teen Challenge program, he went to college and became a student leader at his school’s Chi Alpha group. His mother, seeing the affect Adult & Teen Challenge had on her son, has become a facilitator for a support group for parents.

Shortly after launching Ready Now Recovery, Jimmy and Yvonne heard the testimony of a group in Arkansas doing work in local jails.

“They are having revivals in the middle of these jails and reaching people in ways we never could,” Yvonne says. “Through the training and equipping of others, we are reaching so many more people.”

The Oakeses are hoping to continue expansion of Ready Now Recovery. They are working with Chaplaincy Ministries to get Ready Now Recovery groups accessible to military personnel.

Samara Smyer

Samara Smyer works as communications and content strategist for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. She graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.