DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Testimonies of redemption filled Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Saturday for day two of the ‘Hope Over Heroin’ event.
People gathered say drugs have taken over Ohio and that the impact in the Miami Valley has been devastating.
Jason Johnson knows the crowd’s sentiments all to well; he was both a drug dealer and addict.
“At the age of 12, I started drinking and druggin’,” he admitted. “By the age of 14-years-old, I was a freshman in high school. I began to sell marijuana just to supply my own habit and that spiraled out of control quickly.”
By the time Johnson was 17, he was a crack cocaine dealer and addict.
But as he told the crowd, 5 years ago his life changed in a Montgomery County jail cell.
He found faith, but along the way lost many loved ones
“I’ve had three friends overdose and die and I’ve had to speak at their funerals and preach at their funerals,” Johnson said.
The recovered drug addict says he doesn’t want another person lost to heroin or any drug.
It’s why he and nearly 70 churches joined forces to bring the region the event, one which was also held in several neighboring Ohio counties.
“Over a hundred have died since June in the Miami valley in drug overdoses. And so immediately, everyone is touched by it,” Pastor Pat Murray told 2 NEWS. “Every family, every neighborhood in the Miami valley is touched by this plague, and so we’re here to say Jesus loves you and the power of God is freedom.”
Faith leaders say the event is a big achievement and also speaks to the needs of the community.
Senior Pastor Todd Hoskins believes heroin affects churches more than most think
“So we have the aftermath to deal with. The moms that are hurting. The cousins that are let down. The kids that are without a parent,” explained Hoskins, with the Vandalia Christian Tabernacle Church.
And to end this cycle, Hoskins and many others say it starts with events like ‘Hope Over Heroin’ that offers faith, recovery programs and support to those who need it most.