It celebrated its fourth anniversary this month and has the support of several local churches. But to many the Ohio Mission Bible Training Center that currently houses 22 residents at its Rocky Fork Lake area facility is an unknown entity.
“We are an eight to 10-month Christian discipleship training center program,” said Jeff Liscik, an Ohio MBTC public relations coordinator, who lives at the facility on McCoppin Mill Road. “Let’s not confuse that with a rehabilitation program, because that’s not what we are. What we are is a house full of people seeking God for answers to their problems. And we use the Bible as our basis.”
The local center is one of 19 mission centers operated by Mission Teens all across the nation. Residents spend about five and a half hours a day in Bible study while dealing with various types of addition to drugs and alcohol, emotional issues and “anything else that we seek Jesus for the answer,” Liscik said.
The centers are operated completely by their residents and each resident is treated as a member of a family. New residents are treated as younger family members, and as they are there longer, they are asked to take on more responsibility while having less restrictions. Graduates of the program can move on to come a trainee counselor and even an assistant or resident director, but they all live and work at a center. No one receives a salary, and the program depends of the generosity of local churches and organizations for support.
Among the many local churches that support the Ohio Mission Bible Training Center is the Hillsboro Nazarene Church pastored by Tom Zile.
He said his church has a donation spot where members donate items they know the center needs. He said that from time to time the church’s missionary society visits the center and fixes a meal for all the residents, and that on an upcoming Sunday evening the Bible Training Center is going present the service at the church.
“I was on the local ministerial association forever and some people questioned the (Bible Training Center) when it first came to town, but we’ve had people be part of it and we feel good about the program they run,” Zile said. “One, it’s very Bible based, and the other thing is that it breaks people away from their peers that help feed into their situation. Mainly, I like it because of the spiritual aspect, and that it’s longterm care. Everything I’ve seen so far I’ve been very impressed with.”
While a few local residents have been through the program – one current resident is from Greenfield – the vast majority of residents come from around the state and elsewhere. Liscik is from New Jersey and other residents are from Indiana and Michigan.
The program receives no government funding and is free to its residents. The only thing they are required to provide financially is a bus ticket back to where they came from for when they graduate or decide to leave the program, and the gas money to transport them to a bus station.
Other local churches that support the program, according to Liscik, include the Southside Praise and Worship Center, Hillsboro Church of Christ, Emmanuel Christian Church in Greenfield, Carpenter’s House of Prayer, New Beginnings Church in Sugar Tree Ridge, Sinking Spring Community Church, Leesburg United Methodist Church, Leesburg Church of Christ and Leesburg Friends Church, among others.
Being admitted to a center usually comes as a last chance before death or prison, Liscik said, and anyone interested must complete an application and blood work process. Residents, both men and women, must also be willing to reach out to God.
“I’ve been through three rehab centers and in and out of AA for 20-plus years,” Liscik said. “The only thing that worked was Jesus.”
A typical day at the centers nationwide goes like this: 7 a.m. wakeup, 7:30 a.m. exercise, 8 a.m. breakfast, 8:30 a.m. chores, 9 a.m. devotions, 9:40 a.m. Bible class, 10:40 a.m. Bible class, 11:40 a.m. reading/counseling, 12:45 p.m. lunch, 1:30 p.m. roll call/work projects, 3:30 p.m. free time/showers, 6 p.m. dinner, 6:30 p.m. chores, 7:30 p.m. devotions, 9 p.m. snacks, 10:30 p.m. lights out.
Weekends are more free, but there is still a two-hour Bible study on Saturday and moring and evening services on Sunday.
“We call it Bible boot camp,” Liscik said, “We don’t get in your face and yell, we get in your face and pray. I’m not going to say it’s all godly and rosy all day, because we’re all human.”
Since 1969, more than 21,000 individuals have entered mission centers. In an annual review, the centers said they hear from about 65 percent of their graduates and of those, around 87 percent are doing well, a Mission Teens pamphlet says.
Liscik, also an assistant resident director, said the local program needs monthly support and that its Wednesday evening devotions are open to the public.
For more information, call the local facility at 937-509-0373 or the New Jersey home office 856-782-7771.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.