COLUMBIA, S.C. — Men trying to turn away from addiction can find faith, hope and jobs through Reconciliation Ministries in Columbia. Soon, the ministry's mission is growing as the organization plans to expand their furniture thrift store to employ more men in recovery like Mike Leonard Gailliard.
"This store here is a beacon of light, you know, in a dark world," Gailliard told me.
He's been a part of the ministry for the last 15 months. Before that, he was struggling with substance abuse.
"I was broken. I was confused. I was destined to go a different path," Gailliard shared. "I'm happy today. I get to be a part of this ministry. I get to help out. I get to be part of being a disciple and help disciple men. You know it's awesome thing."
Now, Gailliard tells me he’s found hope and happiness through the ministry.
"I'm happy today. I get to be a part of this ministry," he said. "I get to help out. I get to be part of being a disciple and help disciple men. You know, it's awesome thing."
Brian Poirier is the vocational training pastor with Reconciliation. He watches every day as the men in the program turn their life around by selling discounted furniture to Columbia residents.
"The thrift store opportunity gives somebody that wants to stay in community and have accountability the opportunity to work in the ministry," Poirier said. "When people come in here, they see the joy, they see the smiles. They hear the testimonies. They're getting a prayer request or they might get prayed for on the spot by one of our students or our volunteers."
Those two pillars - community and accountability - are crucial, Poirer tells me.
"That way you don't fall backwards in your drug addiction, or get back around the wrong crowd," he explained. "And you just can continue walking out your freedom."
To help spread this message further and employ more men in recovery, the ministry plans to expand the building by tearing down walls and creating a more open space.
"We need to grow because there's so many people out there that are struggling with addiction that we don't just want to give the community opportunity, but we want to give the next soul that wants to find freedom and recovery an opportunity," Poirier shared. "It fulfills your heart. It fulfills your day to day. It's the joy in chaos where you know, it becomes not a job, but it's more of a calling and watching lives get changed, fulfills the purpose in life."
The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of February.
"It’s a blessing to know that we get places like this that don't give up. They don't give up on men’s life," Gailliard explained. "They don't give up. It’s a joy that you got a place like that. I'm proud I'm happy to be a part of it."
The organization is currently accepting donations to help with the renovations.
"The program does not charge men," Poirer shared. "For 15 months it's free, so [daily costs go] to the electric bill, that goes to the water bill, that goes to the van, that goes to the day-to-day operations, that goes to the student needs budget."
"The people in this community are able to come in here, hear a testimony. Put in for a prayer request, but also know that they're going to come and get a piece of furniture that's good quality, and that's affordable and that will last for a long time."