Donnell Dunaway says that in 2009, when he began calling rehabilitation centers to seek help, he had reached the “gates of hell” with his addictions.
“When I called The Salvation Army, they ‘sold’ me recovery of my life and of my relationship with God,” he says.
“It wasn’t a decision after that. It was, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow.’ ”
In July 2009, Dunaway, a 38–year–old native of Akron, Ohio, who spent seven years in the military, walked into the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in downtown Cleveland. He told God, “I feel like it’s over,” but he quickly found a familiarity that kept him going.
“I’m so used to being in the military and having structure,” he says. “With The Salvation Army and the ARC, that’s the way they did it. I was in a comfort zone.”
Dunaway also found something else. Despite being a licensed minister, Dunaway says he never had a personal relationship with Christ and had kept his cocaine addiction private while obtaining his license.
Dunaway says he “started taking some suggestions from people who had been there and have a great relationship with God.”
“I was able to honestly inventory myself and then to admit my wrongs, make amends, and then become all right with myself and who I was and where God was trying to take me,” he says.
“The biggest factor about the ARC is that it’s faith–based,” he says. “It’s about Jesus Christ. Nothing else. That really was what I call an on–time moment for God in my life. Everyone … talked about a relationship with God.
“When I got there, I knew I had to make this count. I didn’t say that this might be my last opportunity, but I knew I had to make this one count. I knew that I didn’t come across Cleveland ARC by happenstance.”
Dunaway soon landed a job as sorting room supervisor at the ARC. He began attending the Hough Corps in Cleveland, where he became a senior soldier. He also helps with the canteen ministry.
“This is a wonderful ride,” he says. “It’s the best time of my life right now.”
Earlier this year, Dunaway attended the Candidates Seminar and Railton Preview Weekend and wants to be an ARC officer. He believes that, with his past, he could help counsel people struggling with substance abuse.
“I have that experience and I’ll never, ever, forget it,” he says. “I thank God every day that He brought me out. That allows me to bond with a sick and suffering addict.
“It’s because of the Salvation Army’s philosophy of service—that’s what keeps me. I know that every day that I get up, I have to ask God, “How can I best serve Thee?’ ”
- Robert Mitchell, Good News!