“It puts you on the same page with everybody because every has their issues.”
About 100 people attended the recent seminar, which included the testimonies of several ex-offenders like Yarberry and Chaffin, as well as several people who are still imprisoned.
Peggy Choate, a Fresh Start member who helps coordinate the church's Celebrate Recovery programs, said the Oklahoma Department of Corrections gave several inmates from Hillside Community Corrections Center and Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center, both in Oklahoma City, permission to attend the event.
Inmate Lori Smith told the crowd that she had been a drug addict and was convicted of a robbery committed while she was trying to feed her drug habit. She said she began participating in Celebrate Recovery Inside in 2006 while incarcerated at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
“It was here in Celebrate Recovery and through my surrender to Christ that I found the chance to change,” Smith said.
Chaffin, a member of First Baptist Church of Moore, said she hoped the seminar encouraged other churches to participate in the program. She said a program for Celebrate Recovery Inside participants who are released from prison, Celebrate Recovery Inside Out, also is an important tool for ministries that want to help ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.
“A lot of these people don't have anywhere to go when they get out except where they come from,” she said. “We want them to know they have a church family and people to support them when they get out.”