It had been a while since Martha Pulley’s mom had seen Jimmy Littlemyer.
“That’s not even Jimmy,” she said. “He has this love and joy coming out of him.”
“That’s God,” Pulley replied. “That’s what Jesus is doing.”
Eastland Life Church pastor Brian Anderson first put the 3D Program together 20 years ago to use in youth conferences, emphasizing to those youth that where they want to be in 10 years, their destination, is based on the decisions made and the discipline they put to work now — or Decision + Discipline = Destination.
Around two years ago, Anderson began using 3D as a yearlong study with the congregation. About the same time, Joey Mounce began attending with his family and “an entourage of recovered addicts” he was helping. Mounce is a recovered meth addict. He’ll mark his two-year sober date on Jan. 28.
Not long afterward, Littlemyer began attending Eastland with his girlfriend, who has since become his wife.
“The right people showed up,” Mounce said, and the 3D Life Recovery Program began in September 2020 with just a few. It’s grown to around 30 with new faces being seen weekly.
“When I got the idea, I didn’t think it would be for this. I thought it would be just for youth. But this works for anybody who has habits, hurts or hang ups,” Anderson said.
The 3D Life Recovery Program is based on the Old Testament book of Daniel, specifically Daniel 1:8 (NASB) — “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.”
Anderson said “Daniel was a young man who was carried away by a pagan country and forced to abide by their rules, including eating their diet. In Daniel 1:8, it says he made up his mind that he would not defile himself, so he asked permission from the one who’d be taking care of him. There’s three things in that: He made up his mind is decision; he would not defile himself is destination; but he needed the discipline of asking for help.
“Daniel wasn’t going to be this defiled person. All through the book, he’s having to make decisions and he meets them with disciplines,” Anderson continued. “What it looks like with us now, is ‘I don’t want to use drugs.’ They make the decision for their destination, we provide discipline — coming to group meetings, having a life coach, studying the Bible, prayer.”
From their experiences, Mounce and Littlemyer know very few addicts will come to the 3D Life Recovery Program on their own.
“This is more about reaching a family member or friend who is dealing with someone’s addiction,” Mounce said. “The idea is to get those who are dealing with someone with an addiction and help them learn how to deal with addiction, and then we can get those in our leadership to help the member stuck in addiction.”
Mounce and Littlemyer used methamphetamines.
“Me and Jimmy were getting high about the same time together,” Mounce said. “When I went to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting and seen Jimmy there, we had a connection there right off the bat. In Metropolis, Jimmy, Martha and I know a lot of addicts. A lot of our so-called friends are addicts. When they walk through the door at 3D and they see somebody recovered they ran or got high with, that makes it relatable. It’s so much simpler if you can walk in and know somebody than walking in and not have a clue about anybody and feel judged right off the bat.”
Pulley said that is also a motivator.
“They’ve seen you in your dark spot. For Joey, the transformation blows me away — he’s got a wife, kids, a house. Same with Jimmy — here’s a guy who was running the streets and now he’s got a wife, kids,” she said. “God has blessed all of us so much. I think it’s so important for people to come in and have that desire and see with their own eyes, ‘Here’s a person I used to run with and they don’t think less of me and look at them, they’re doing great.’ ”
But to get to that point took more than themselves.
Littlemyer was a meth addict for five years. He’d been to jail on unrelated charges and decided to stay away from it when he got out, but, “once I was out, there were no resources to help.” He went to Celebrate Recovery classes, but they were shut down.
“I spent five years in it. That’s all I knew. That was my life,” he said. “My girlfriend, who became my wife, absolutely refused me to let me around, but if I was in trouble, I knew I had a place to crash a couple days and then automatically go back. It wasn’t helping me get better. Eventually, it came to a point where she started learning and then she put a stop to it. She put an order of protection on me, which wakes you up.
“I lost everything — no job, no car, no wife, no kids. I abandoned them and didn’t care what was going on because I was so focused on what I was doing. My life was addiction. That was it,” he continued. “There were times when I wanted help, and I’d call and be told it’d be six months until a bed was ready. When you’re ready for help, it’s important to have a place to go to then. In six months, I’m not going to be the same person.”
Instead, he moved out of town, living in a tent “just to get away from everything and commit myself to it. Slowly, I started working myself back into society. If I’d had an opportunity like we’re looking at doing, I’d be further along than I am now.”
Littlemyer said at one point he had 14 blue chips from Celebrate Recovery, “but I had never given my life to Christ and gotten devoted to doing it right. Once you’re connected with the body of Christ and the church and the people who are here, that’s where the transformation happens. That’s where the real progress is made.”
Pulley ran into the same six-month road block when she was ready for sobriety.
“I started crying and said, ‘In six months, I’m going to be dead or in prison,’ ” she said.
“I’ve had ups and downs throughout my life — substance abuse, mental health issues,” but losing custody of her daughter is what made her make the decision to start turning her life around.
“It doesn’t matter how many chips you have. Whether it’s 14 or 400, the one that’s going to count is when you realize ‘I can’t do this,’ ” she said.
Pulley had been attending Celebrate Recovery, “had a couple falls off the wagon” and shortly after, her group disbanded. It was her therapist who recommended the 3D Life Recovery Program.
“I had so much things happening that wasn’t good, but God used it to get me. By the grace of God, I’m able to stay sober in Metropolis. It’s been flooded with meth. … Once I got here, it was awesome because I knew some of the people,” she said.
She’ll mark her 10th month sober on Friday, Jan. 14.
“Once I reached out to God, in less than a year, He has restored my family, I’m building a relationship with Him,” she said. “You can’t just say, ‘I did this,’ because you know in your heart God did this and He used other people who are connected to Him and the love of Christ to reach out and help you in your time of need and to get you connected into staying on track. This program keeps me on track.”
The program can also help keep families and friends on track by learning more.
“When I was in addiction, my kids, my mom, all my siblings suffered,” Mounce said. “I was definitely enabled by my mom taking my kids and letting me run the streets, doing what I wanted to do. As long as my kids had a hot meal and were good, I didn’t care. I’d shove another needle in my arm. It didn’t matter. When I’d go to jail, the cops got to know me real well. They’d say, ‘Joey, get your life together! You used to be a good guy.’ ”
Mounce’s meth use became his lifestyle. When he decided to quit shooting or using an IV, he went to smoking it — that lasted about a day.
It was his daughter’s birthday wish that made him decide to change.
“My kids are 13 and 10. They’ve watched both of their parents going through addiction. They lost their mom and their dad at the same time. They went and lived with my mom. My daughter asked me for her birthday that she wanted her dad back. It broke my heart,” Mounce said. “It done something to me and made me go to rehab.”
While Mounce had sobered up and “withdrew from the lifestyle — gambling, running, freedom, this crazy rut I’d gotten myself into that I didn’t know no different from,” he physically had nowhere to go but where he’d been before rehab.
“I got sober and gave my life to Christ, (but) I was still living in the trailer I was squatting in. There was no electricity, no running water. But I’m sober, I had changed. For 10 days, I lived in this trailer,” he said. “I remember walking down Filmore Street, and I called my mom and said, ‘I don’t think I can live like this another day. I don’t think I can stay sober and live in this life another day.’ Luckily, she put me with my brother-in-law, who let me come to his house. Had I not had that, the 11th day could’ve been the day I fell.”
Through 3D Life Recovery Program, “what we’re trying to do is be somebody’s 11th day. If they have no option, we want to be that option that helps kickstart their life back on track,” Mounce said.
“3D is here because we care about people. We’re not here to get no glory. We want to see people successfully get their life back on track. That’s all we care about. We see failure and it hurts, but it makes you strive harder with the next person,” he continued. “The leaders here want to put our arm around somebody and say, ‘Let me show you the right way how to approach this situation.’ We’ve been through situations we know are possible but seem impossible to the addicted. We want them to know that Jesus Christ has put this on our hearts, and that’s what we’re moving for.”
The program meets every Sunday from 5-8 p.m. at Eastland Life Church, 716 E. Third St., Metropolis. A meal and childcare are provided.
“Just come check us out. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got somebody who can help,” Mounce said.
Meetings include small groups for men and women, each having their own leaders. Mounce and Littlemyer are among the men’s group leaders. Mounce’s wife Cassie, Sara Jennings and Jessica Holt are among the women’s group leaders. Small group discussions are kept within the group.
“I strongly advise the family to come check us out,” Mounce said, emphasizing the group isn’t necessarily about just addiction as grief is another topic that is broached. “We want the addicts to come, but most of the time, the family needs it just as bad, if not worse, because they’re enabling it and usually don’t understand they’re making the situation worse. Say a mother is dealing with a child in addiction, I say she should attend, come and learn about the addiction and make it known she’s dealing with it. We can send a leader to go talk to the addict and tell them what we offer. A big tool we have is praying for them — when you have someone praying for you on a regular basis, that’s a strong defense right there.”
It’s Holt who understands the family side of addiction.
“My life has very much been impacted by alcoholism and addiction, although they weren’t mine,” she said. “I want to coach and encourage people, but it’s helpful for me to attend because it helps to give better empathy and better skills as to not enabling and to be able to speak to other women and get things off your heart and to be with people who care.”
The group celebrates each other’s successes and checks on each other if a couple of weeks have been missed.
“No matter how many times you have to get back up, they’re going to be ready to receive you and lovingly usher you back in and point you back the way you need to be heading,” Pulley said.
“The program we have here is unique,” Littlemyer said. “I think this program is going to hit a targeted need in Metropolis.”
Anderson said the city has gained the nickname “ ‘Meth-tropolis’ and I hate that. We can’t address it by hoping it goes away, I think we have to do something. We’re not good with just leaving things. We’re going to try. We’re passionate about this.”
That passion is leading the church and those involved in 3D to take the program a step further this year with the creation of 3D Life Ministries Inc. and opening a live-in sobriety house.
“I’ve worked a lot with the Massac County Jail. When guys are in there, they’re OK. When they come out, they’re back to doing the same thing,” Anderson said. “We want to do something different, something I think will actually help — provide a place where they can get six to nine months of discipleship, create some new habits, a new way of life.”
Littlemyer said the sobriety house “will be a real big help to the community. When you’re first getting clean, I remember it being overwhelming. You have to change everything about what you’ve been doing for so long. If you have nowhere to go to get your life on track, you’re going straight back your old habits, there’s no escape from it.”
Once the incorporation and the nonprofit are established, the next step will be raising funds to buy the sobriety house location and to staff it.
“The fact they want to do this and our church is driven to do this … it is something that is desperately needed in Metropolis,” Pulley said.
Anderson noted that portion of the ministry “will be a big undertaking. We’ll need help financially and with volunteers. This year, we’re going to see this thing happen, and I think we’re going to be a force to help people. I think Metropolis is worth it.”
And through people like Mounce, Littlemyer and Pulley, “we’ve got people in this circle that show when they have that structure combined with the power of Jesus, their life does change,”Anderson said.
Littlemyer said 3D helped him discover “my underlining condition I was using for. This program helps you figure out what’s causing you to want to cover up your pain. You have to get that out. It’s important that our program doesn’t just deal with chemical addiction or alcoholism. It can deal with any kind of life struggle we have — you see everything from anger, anxiety, general life problems all the way to addiction.”
Mounce noted that of the 100 people who try to get meth recovery, two will succeed.
“There’s 98 who statistically don’t have a chance. That’s a big number,” he said. “We want the other 98 to see there’s good that come from being sober through Jesus Christ.”
“And that they’re not alone,” Pulley added.
“I think it’s important that people see addicts as people that are battling addiction,” Littlemyer said. “That was something I ran into a lot. There’s a lot of times, I felt like a stray dog would receive better treatment from people. … (Addicts are) believing a lie about their life. They just don’t see any help out of it.”
“They’re lost in a lie that’s no good for them,” Pulley added. “It’s amazing to see other people they knew back in the dark ages where God has come in and cleaned house.”
Littlemyer said the whole 3D “process has restored my family relationship. My two oldest daughters are 9 and 10. They remember when I was going through my addiction and seeing all kinds of crazy things about me. It destroyed our relationship. My wife stuck it out with me through all of this after I got better. It’s been a complete transformation.
“That’s been the best thing that’s happened to me is the restoration with my children and my family. I used to be worried they would think that ‘dad failed at this.’ Now they can say, ‘Look at what God’s done in my dad’s life.’ It shows the power of God to them. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to come home after working all day and have my kids run up to me instead of being scared to talk to me. It’s a huge difference,” he continued. “My one year sober date, I came home from work and they made me a card that said, ‘I’m so glad you’re back, Daddy. Please don’t ever go back.’ That’s in plain view every day so I know the effect of what I’m doing is affecting them. That’s what my life’s all about now — my children seeing the successful father they should be seeing instead of what they were focusing on.”
Mounce’s children are “seeing through Jesus Christ that they’re getting both of their parents back — one’s still in the processes, but they understand there’s an end goal of them getting their mother back. For my kids, they’re happy to have their parents back.”
Mounce and Littlemyer said many have commented on the transformation in each of them.
“I’ve run into a lot of old associates at random and they’ve said, ‘Wow! I can’t believe that’s the same person,’ ” Littlemyer said.
Mounce said he went “from homelessness to kids in DCFS, in and out of jail every other weekend, needle junky, thief, to now running my own business, married, have custody of all my kids.”
Littlemyer said while that visible transformation “opens the door for you to be able to talk to them, ‘I understand where you’re at. Come and check this out,’ ” Mounce noted neither wants “people to think I did that. The utmost important part is we’re trying to spread the gospel to help people change their lives. Without a doubt, I’ve tried on my own to get sober so many times, and until I gave my life to Christ, that never happened.”
“I thank God for getting me through what I went through,” Littlemyer said. “If I had not went through this, I know I wouldn’t have given my life to Christ. So, some good has come out of my addiction. I now have a heart to help these people. I know they are people, they just need help. That’s what you’re going to find here is people who have the heart to do that. It’s not us fixing anybody, this church can’t fix anyone, Jesus Christ in the only one can fix your life and help you through the darkest times.”
“He uses us as tools,” Mounce said, continuing the thought. “We’re the wrench in the situation — we can help tighten bolts or help straighten you out. But, ultimately it’s through Jesus Christ. We enjoy helping people getting their lives on track. … We know in our recovery, it’s a long road, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. When we see somebody make a small step forward, we have to encourage and coach that. Jimmy’s famous thing is, ‘One more successful week.’ To be able to tell somebody that and mean it is a big deal.”
“You need someone with a little more experience than you in sobriety to be able to encourage you,” Littlemyer noted. “There’s times you want to throw your hands up and say it’s too much, but as long as someone’s there to tell you, ‘You’re making the right steps. I know it don’t seem like it, but I promise you if you keep going, before you know it, you’ll look back and say, “Wow, look at where I’ve came from.’ ”
And where they’ve come from, Littlemyer said, is something “we don’t have to hide from no more. We can say, ‘Hey, this is what could happen for you.’ ”