Faith based services- do they work?

Victor Hightower, the Tucson Gospel Rescue Mission public relations and outreach coordinator, poses next to a trailer used for donations. (Photo by: Ashlee Fenn / Arizona Sonora News)

Bill Souza is a recovering alcoholic, who until going through the Gospel Rescue Mission long term addiction recovery program, wasn’t very religious.

The Tucson Gospel Rescue Mission and other drug and rehabilitation centers in Southern Arizona, have a stigma that comes with being a Christ-centered service and how they are solely a tool for conversion, when their stated goal is to serve individuals in need, regardless of religious views.

Throughout his life, Souza said he held great jobs but would fall into bad habits, where he would end up jobless. His life was full of high highs and low lows and his addiction to alcohol took over. That’s when he found himself at the Gospel Rescue Mission, seeking help.

Victor Hightower, the Tucson Gospel Rescue Mission public relations and outreach coordinator, explained that if a person needs help but doesn’t believe in God, they will still get help.

“God may not even come up, they might just need a place to stay,” Souza said. “That’s how it was for me at first.”

One focus of the Gospel Rescue Mission is to provide help for addiction recovery and life redirection through serving the homeless and needy in a spiritual, physical, and mental wholeness through the power of Jesus Christ, according the Gospel Rescue Mission’s mission statement.

Homelessness in Tucson has been a pervasive problem. According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s annual report for 2016, “the number of unsheltered persons counted Statewide was 3,244.”

Twenty-six percent of the homeless population lives in Pima County that’s why the Gospel Rescue Mission reaches out.

The Gospel Rescue Mission and other gospel based services are free for all people. Those looking for services that are not faith based can expect to pay an average of $1,000 a day for a 60 to 90 day private rebab center, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

The Gospel Rescue Mission provides more than just a place for the homeless to stay. It provides daily meals, a place for people to wash their clothes, donated furniture and clothes to choose from, showers, chapel services, and the option for long term help.

All short-term services are non-exclusive—anyone, despite that person’s beliefs are able to come and go as they please, Hightower said.

Those seeking long-term help for addiction recovery have the option to sleep there if they work with a case manager and go through a bible based workbook.  “There aren’t many empty beds,” Hightower said.

This specific program can be as short as 6 months, but usually an individual is in it for 18 months to two years. Long-term help requires you to spend time everyday studying Christianity.

All employees at the Gospel Rescue Mission are trained and although the long-term programs have rules, all staff members show grace.

“Our staff members understand that mistakes are made and instead of kicking a person out, we help them even more,” Hightower said. You don’t know what a person is going through, we try to be understanding and show humility.”

Those who are in our addiction recovery program know that it’s a bible based program, Hightower said. Regardless of their religious views, we just ask that they keep an open mind.

Ashlee Fenn is a reporter of Arizona Sonora news, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at 


Click here for a Word version of this story and high-resolution photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *