Cleveland, Tenn. pastor who overcame addiction is helping thousands to recover
A pastor in Cleveland, Tennessee started a non-profit ministry that's helping thousands of people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.
In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn surprises the founder of Anchor Point Foundation.
In the early 1980's Pastor Russ Coffey says he became severely ill while doing ministry in Florida.
Doctors told him he wouldn't survive.
For the next four months, he was in intensive care and given a constant flow of Morphine.
Pastor Russ says God eventually healed him from the illness, but left the hospital extremely addicted to the pain medication.
He got sober after quitting the drug cold turkey in what was essentially a padded cell in Michigan.
Decades later, he's helped 6,000 others with addiction, including a young man from Cleveland, Tennessee.
It's heartbreaking news, no sister wants to hear.
Leah Hughes discovered her younger brother Adam was battling a drug addiction.
"It's something that no family member wants to watch, and we just kept praying and praying," said Leah.
Leah says her prayers were answered when her family found out about Anchor Point Foundation at Peerless Road Church in Cleveland.
The non-denominational organization provides a strong support system for people struggling with life-controlling issues.
The founder, Pastor Russ Coffey, connected Adam to Teen Challenge, a drug recovery program in Arizona.
"It was a complete 180 transformation when he went into the program," said Leah.
A year later, Adam is sober and now an intern for Teen Challenge.
And tonight, Leah wants to thank the man who helped her brother through his darkest hour.
Hundreds were gathered for the surprise at Peerless Road Church when we walked through the door.
"Russ, on behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm we would like to Pay It Forward for all that you've done for my brother and my family, and all the families here, we appreciate you so much. So 1, 2, 3, 4, $500," surprised Leah.
"What is your mission, your passion? And what message would you like to tell these folks here tonight?" asked Jessica Harthorn.
"Our mission is to touch as many lives as we can, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because Jesus and he alone is the answer to every need," said Pastor Russ.
After the surprise, everyone celebrated with a potluck meal and a big cake, because it was also Pastor Russ and his wife Barbara's 50th wedding anniversary.
Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here!