By Rich Brown
The acronym FREED on the front page of the Overcomers Outreach Guidebook means a lot to Bob Farrar.
The Joplin man has not only been helped by Overcomers Outreach, which reaches out to people with addictions, compulsive behaviors or co-dependencies, but he has been responsible for starting a chapter in Joplin.
The letters in FREED stand for: Fellowship in recovery, Reconciliation to God and His family, Education about chemicals and addiction, Edification through faith in Christ and Dedicated service to others.
"The first thing we do when people come to meetings is stress that this is a two-way street," said Farrar, 70, a California native who moved to Joplin 10 years ago and started a local OO chapter. "We tell them they gotta apply that higher power. Some then want to go to church and some don't. It is preferable that we go to church.
"That's how I found it ... being so much easier to go to church and finding Jesus Christ as my personal savior. We don't stress what church, just say go to the church of your choice."
The group holds one-hour sessions at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at First Baptist Church, 633 S. Pearl Ave. And although Farrar attends First Baptist, he emphasizes there is no particular denomination associated with OO.
"Just because we meet at a Baptist church doesn't mean it's Baptist organized," he said. "It is nondenominational. It's a Christ-centered nonprofit corporation dedicated to reaching out to people with problems of addiction, compulsion and co-dependency within the church of all denominations."
There are other areas beside alcohol and drugs under the OO umbrella, Farrar said.
"People are being helped with compulsive behavior, lying and gambling," he said. "We have sex addicts, and it is for all kinds of compulsions and addictions. Of course, we use some of the Alcoholics Anonymous material with it, such as the 12 steps of AA. All you have to do with the 12 steps is replace the word alcohol with your own addiction. It works."
Farrar, a recovering alcoholic himself, said that recovery is a lifetime process.
"You go one day at a time to recover," he said. "You can't look into the future and say, 'I want to be sober for 30 years.' It doesn't work that way. You have to stay right where you are today. If I didn't have the spiritual foundation, I would be miserable and I would probably be out there drinking again.
"My first eight years of recovery from alcoholism I had a miserable time. I kinda got white-knuckled sobriety that first eight years. But, then, I found Christ and it got a lot easier."
Farrar said he joined the program to get help and then started helping others.
"That's the way it works," said Farrar, who served as a counselor with Ozark Center before retiring in Joplin. "That's what it is all about."
Retired minister Jim Lidberg assists Farrar.
"He is kind of like a co-leader for us," Farrar said. "We do not pick only one person to lead. We pass the leadership around to everybody in the group. There is no president or anything like that. It is a participatory group. We discuss, read and study Bible verses. And we have the 12 steps of AA the same way and have Bible verses that apply to those steps."
Using alcohol or drugs as an example, Farrar said there is an important link necessary with Overcomers Outreach.
"The purpose of the program is to be a bridge between the churches and AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous)," he said. "A person coming from AA or NA can come to Overcomers Outreach and bridge to a church through that."
OO has helped people understand the importance of finding a church to give them support, Farrar said, even though there are some people already in churches who have developed problems.
"We have seen a lot of people come and go," he said. "It is virtually impossible to try this without God's help. An addiction is an addiction and that is the way we look at it."
Information on the all-volunteer organization may be obtained by calling Farrar at 624-5773 or (417) 291-0699. The local and state directory of meeting times, places and leaders, may be obtained online at www.overcomersoutreach.org/Missouri.
By Rich Brown
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