top of page





The Jericho Project, NFP has been down the Jericho Road since 1999. Our residents at the Jericho House upon leaving us scatter across the country – from Florida to California. Some stay close to home.  Tom came by yesterday afternoon.  I hadn’t seen him for several years, even though he was just blocks away.  He had stayed with us a long time – more than five years. His appearance absolutely startled me. He was literally ‘skin & bones’, his eyes heavy and blood-shot, his half shaven face blotchy and red. He had a hard time looking me in the eye, and then it all came tumbling out. He had relapsed – a hard relapse. Research says that if you start using again, it can take only two or three days to get back to that same level you were when you quit. What went wrong for Tom??? Life! Unresolved conflicts from his past, an unhealthy relationship whose sole common bond was drinking, no real support community….save alcohol,…. and Jesus at the back door of his life.  Jesus is still there for Tom, knocking at that door. That’s all it took….a few knocks from the love of Jesus that allowed Tom to reach out. Addiction is a disease that is terminal. It only stops when you die.  It’s patient, too. It will wait while you seek treatment, find a sober home, do your AA meetings. Then when your guard is down, it is that ‘Roaring Lion’ Paul talks about in Ephesians. I thank God that Tom knocked on my door yesterday! We’re both just ‘doing today’. Please pray for Tom!  Go to our web-page Make a donation. Tom needs to get back up on the Jericho Road.   



















February 2018

In 2004 when the Jericho House was only a year old, we received Tim into our midst. He was between jobs, homeless, and in recovery. Tim was a like-able guy who loved to build wooden model ships, who loved his young 18 month old son. He would bring him to the Jericho House every week-end or so. Often at those times I'd join in on the fun on the living room floor. Tim found a job, saved his money, and found an apartment. I visited him there and couldn't help but notice his collection of ships he had built on the fireplace mantel. Then, suddenly on a cold winter night, Tim was killed in a car accident. On duty as a Police Chaplain, I had to go and share the tragic news with his mother. As the years went by, I'd glance at those ships he had built and left at the Jericho House, then started to wonder if his son might want them. I tried to find family members but didn't have much luck. Then, this past week, I walked into a classroom in a school district where I am a substitute teacher. As I called the roll, there was Tim's last name. It's not a common last name, and so I asked the 12th grade young man if he knew Tim. Somewhat quiet and shy, his head immediately dropped to his chest. He said, 'That was a long time ago." I looked again and immediately saw the family resemblance. I told him about the ships. I think he was too dumb-struck with some stranger bringing news of his deceased father that all he could say was, "No, I don't need them". In that moment, the 'motto' of the Jericho Project was before me, 'Reconciliation with God, with Self, with FAMILY, with the Community'. Isn't God amazing!!?? Some 14 years later, God is still working out His reconciliation with a young man who will know from a stranger that his father loved him, played with him, cherished him. Often times, God just shows up!! And when He does, love happens, healing happens.


4 November 2017


Mary – not her real name – is the ‘Grandma of 7th Street’. She always comes early to the Emmanuel Soup Kitchen, accompanied by several of her adopted ‘grandkids’ from the streets.  They always seem to be ‘ragged & dirty’. Since January, we’ve served over 2800 Saturday lunches.  Mary has this ‘gift’ to pick out those who need her the most.  She overheard me talking about Willow Creek Church and their ‘Care Center’ yesterday – a place where the impoverished can receive clothing, medical & dental care, food, and even car repairs. Mary asked me hesitantly if I could get two of her ‘grandkids’ clothing.  I nonchalantly nodded.  I am asked such questions often.  She then kicked in to ‘Grandma’ mode. “Do you want their sizes?” ‘Yes, that would help’. ‘Can I borrow a pen?” ‘Yes’. ‘Do you have some paper?’ ‘Yes’. Fifteen minutes later all her questions were answered, and I was given a list. Now on to ‘pick up’ details.  Another fifteen minutes.  She shared that these two men – both alcoholics – lived under a railroad bridge, hidden from view, affording some protection and shelter from the violence of the streets. I knew the place.  It struck me that Mary is on a mission. At some point Jesus intersected her path. She shares her faith not so much in words, but in action. She rescues as well as the Rockford Rescue Mission does – not so much in numbers, but then who’s counting? There is a gentleness about her, a warm engaging smile, and when her time with you is done, she makes sure you hear a ‘God Bless You’.  Mary just lives,  “Let your light shine so others may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven”. There are lots of Angels on the Jericho Road!  Mary is one of them!


May 19, 2014


New Residents come to the Jericho House through a network of interventions.  Over the years, we’ve learned the wisdom of the ‘intervention’ Steps of the 12-Step program – the first three:  1) We admitted…… 2) Came to believe…… and 3) Made a decision…. Back in the ‘80’s & 90’s interventions filled treatment centers with new ‘patients’.  We called them ‘hospitals’ then, given the AMA’s decision to categorize addictions as a “disease”.  An intervention was a gathering of immediate and extended family members, close friends, and sometimes even an employer.  It was a “surprise encounter” for the one afflicted with addiction.  The goal was to get the loved one into immediate care.  Anyone who has experienced it or been a target of it will tell you it is or can be a huge wake-up call.  Research and statistics suggest that this method of confrontation does not have much of a positive track record. Many who agreed to enter treatment never completed it.  Less than 5% found lasting sobriety. The insurance companies and state-sponsored programs stopped funding treatment, because the ‘hospital’ system continued to promote ‘interventions’ such that individuals were accumulating multiple stays.  Our own research suggests that many of the homeless had had 25 – 50 “Detox” visits to area ‘treatment centers’. 

It all came to a screeching halt.  If you have private insurance, you can easily access treatment facilities. If you don’t, there are very few options.  The Salvation Army and most Rescue Missions still have recovery programs.  They are generally long-term from six months to a year.  Through their decades-long work, they have realized that addictions is not “cured” in 30 days of treatment.  Our resident pool over the past 12 years reflects that 90% of our residents grew up in dysfunctional families.  Most had had their first experimental use of drugs/alcohol as young as 8 years of age.  Sobriety is a life-style just as much as intoxication.  Both have a ‘skill set’ that is learned and practiced until it becomes a routine.  When the routine is interrupted, the damage inflicted can take a long time to ‘un-learn’ or ‘repair’. 

The most effective ‘treatment centers and/or programs’ are not a sea-side or mountain-top resort. There is enough science out there to safely say that there is no cure. The most effective, cheapest, models of recovery are found in dusty Church basements, store-fronts, or vacant down-town buildings that are rented out to “The 12-Step Community”.  The 12-Step program is based on the participant’s willingness to admit, to come to believe, and to make a decision.  “Do I want to get better or not?”, am I ‘sick & tired of being sick and tired or not? Can I admit to myself that I can’t do this by myself or not?  The 12-Step program is a ‘mentor’-based program.  Everyone has or should have a ‘mentor’ or ‘sponsor’ in the program. These sponsors are ‘on-call’ to those new to recovery for support, counsel, and accountability. The good Sponsors know what 2:00a.m. looks like for their ‘sponsees’.  Recovery in the 12-Step community is ‘free’. Yes, there is a ‘pass the basket’ time. Most will throw in a ‘buck’ to help cover the monthly rent of the space.  However, if you don’t have a buck, you pass the basket on, and you keep coming back.  The “12 Traditions” suggest “no dues” for recovery. In most mid-sized communities, there are enough 12-Step meetings to attend in an 18 hour period of time, such that one could be in “treatment’ all day.  For some in the early-going of recovery, that frequency is needed. For others “90 meetings in 90” days is a pre-requisite for success.

When it’s all said and done, we have to want what a new life offers in and of Christ. Jesus told us Himself that the path is not easy.  Few even find that path.  For most addiction and substance abuse is a life-long war.  The counter to that – total surrender to addiction – is also difficult and leads to isolation, abandonment, poverty, and death.  There is ‘a way’.  There is ‘truth’. And there is ‘life’.  The fact is that we all surrender to something.

When it’s all said and done, we have to want what a new life offers in and of Christ. Jesus told us Himself that the path is not easy. Few even find that path. For most addiction and substance abuse is a life-long war. The counter to that – total surrender to addiction – is also difficult and leads to isolation, abandonment, poverty, and death. There is ‘a way’. There is ‘truth’. And there is ‘life’. The fact is that we all surrender to something.




December 8, 2013





Regret.  Shame.  Embarrassment.  “Don’t you think you drank too much last night?”  Doubt.  “Whoa, you were really out of it”.  These are the words & feelings of very early-on recovery.  All of them together plant that “seed” that gives a fleeting thought of, “Maybe.  Perhaps.  I can’t remember what I did”.  We will hear them again.  And again. And again.  Consequences have not set in yet.  No D. U. I.’s.  No, “You’re fired.”, No, “Why don’t you take the day off and take care of yourself.”  Self-examination sets in.  But in the early going, getting “plastered” is a right of passage. Society accepts it.  Taverns & Bars – well, that’s what they’re there for.  Ever seen a brightly-lit bar??It’s dark, very dark. Even there it is appropriate to “hide”.


We go to our friends, our buddies, a trusted colleague asking the question, “Do you think I drank too much???”  More often than not we are simply seeking affirmation that we really are okay. “No harm, no foul” is all we’re looking for.  Sometimes we last a couple of weeks until the wounds of self experience a little bit of healing.  Sometimes, we follow the advice of a friend and have a “Bloody Mary” for breakfast. It does seem to take the edge off. We feel a little better, and really!  That’s all we’re looking for.  Until the next time, and the next, and the next. 


Approaching recovery is like running into a brick wall.  It’s not very pleasant at all.  It’s painful, humiliating, and embarrassing. How do we crash a loved-one, a friend, a colleague into a brick wall??  Recovery most often starts with self. I believe it to be the work of the Holy Spirit.  He needs us whole. The real problem is we never do hear much preaching – if any – on the subject. In ten years, I’ve never heard a sermon on addiction. Many churches “forbid” drinking.  Therefore its no better nor worse than telling a lie.  Confess it!  Forget it!. No alcoholic, no drunk, needs to be told they are an alcoholic.  While we may say – half-heartedly – “you have a problem”, most already know.  We’re just very good at hiding – hiding our feelings, our shame, our embarrassment.  If someone you know suffers – name the name!  Affirm their efforts!  Of course love them!  But hold their feet to the fire & name the name.  To be continued.  


11 October 2013






The use/abuse of alcohol goes back for centuries.  It’s mentioned in the language of the ancient Egyptians.  It didn’t take mankind long to figure out that the grains they learned to grow & harvest had multiple uses!  So too, the fruits abundant since Adam & Eve!  In our own history, few of us comprehend – to this day – how huge alcohol has played in our culture, our politics, and as a social issue that went on for more than a century.  You need to know this.  Your favorite “Micro-Brew” is nothing new!


Here’s the reality.  How many times have you heard, “There are two kinds of drunks:  mad drunks & teddy-bear drunks”.  That is all explained in terms of how alcohol – the chemical – reacts with your body.  Of course we know about the .08 blood alcohol limit.  Did you know that there is a major movement on-going to lower that limit even further to .06?  The reason for this is not political.  It’s not related to the number of traffic fatalities, alcohol-induced crime, or “drunk and disorderly” arrests. It is directly proportional to what we as scientists, geneticists, and researchers have learned about this alcohol molecule.


What most people don’t get is the question of “high”. The Kingston Trio sang a very popular folk-song back in the 60’s about “Scotch & Soda, jigger of gin, my, oh my, do I feel high”. That lyric set off a fire-storm of “Whoa, it’s okay to get drunk!”  It was the “high” that attracted us – an altered conscious, a feeling that ‘everything goes’.  BUT, then how do you explain that alcohol is actually a depressant??  Think about it.  You go through an evening, afternoon, whoa! Morning.  You feel liberated – free!!  Who can knock that??  But actually if you keep it up – long enough – you’ll die. 


Alcohol acts on the frontal lobe of the brain.  It numbs up – rather nicely – all the checks and balances God intended for us. So, when intoxicated, you would no more think about doing what you do than the “man in the moon”!  That’s because the molecule alcohol numbs up (depresses) your rational thinking – in fact – any of your rational thinking.  So under the influence, you do things you’d never dream of doing -------sober.  Think on this!!  Because this is only the beginning of this discussion!!


Sept 17, 2013     ADDICTIONS -- #1 in a series


Alcoholics Anonymous through its research of 12-Step participants suggests that 10% of the population have an addiction.  Further, the life of one addict can effect the lives of 40 other people.  This means that 10% of the population of every community, every organization, every Church, every civic organization suffers.  Thus, in a medium sized Church 10% of 200 members means that 20 suffer from addictions.  Those 20 affect the lives of 40 people each, meaning that your Church is not large enough to cope with their influence.  That’s a frightening analysis. 


WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?  There are numerous causes.  The largest single factor is genetics. If you or someone you love suffers from addiction, look back into your family tree.  Odds are that you’ll hear family whisper about a grandfather, an uncle, a cousin might have “had a drinking problem”.   Some populations are predispositioned to addictions, cf.  the Irish, Native Americans – but not the Germans nor the French. Researchers have in the past 20 years done significant brain research and have discovered that there is a segment of the population that has a genetic defect in the hippocampus area of the brain.  This is the part of the brain that governs “autonomic responses”. It also contains the “craving” center.  For example, you don’t want to have to think about your heart beating!  It just does!  You get hungry. You impulsively eat. You need oxygen. Not only do you breathe, but you breathe faster if more oxygen is required.  You don’t have to jog up a hill, saying to yourself, “Breath 2, 3, 4, Breathe, 2, 3, 4.”  In this crave part of the hippocampus lies the defective gene that is triggered by an addictive substance. That substance might be alcohol, drugs, nicotine, food.  The first time that you “try it – you’ll like it”, your brain is off to the races.  Your own will-power, your determination, your stalwart faith in God, none of these references of character can turn off that switch. 


TOLERANCE & ITS EFFECTS:  Those of us who suffer from addiction usually started slowly.  Let’s face it, that first cigarette I ever smoked literally made me vomit.  But I was determined. I slowly increased the first cigarette to two, then four, then half a pack up to two packs a day before I quit --- 20 years after I had smoked my first.  Tolerance means you must/can use more and more of an addictive substance to reach the psychological needs you may have, for example self-worth, self-esteem, the affirmation of belonging to a group of others who indulge the same substance you do.  The longer you use, the more and more substance you need to consume. One or two drinks is never, ever enough.  Tolerance seems to increase and decrease with age.  Thus, many of those who are sixty years of age and older discover that they can no longer drink 3 martinis before dinner as they used to without becoming critically intoxicated. 


MORE NEXT TIME!  Questions?  Contact us!






Sept 2, 2013 Our Prodigal Brothers……..


Our residents identify with the story Jesus told in Luke 15: 24ff of the Prodigal son. Like the prodigal son, our homeless residents are invited home. The wayward son came home to,dare I say a dysfunctional family. His father obviously missed him.  His brother resented all the fuss that was made over his return. We don't know how this all settled out with this family.  But it was a family.


We work among the homeless.  We learned early on that most of the homeless have no clue as to what a family is.  Most come from dysfunctional families. Sadly most learned their addictions, the practice of "self-medication", and the behaviors that supported them in their 'family of origin'. When they come "home" we find ourselves obviously identifying and sharing the basics of food, shelter, and clothing.


It's the "family" part that's difficult.  In the beginning they often isolate to their rooms ---we have a one man - one room policy. They seem to enjoy its security. They don't like to "go out" except for work and Church.  Church seems to bewilder them. Old behaviors and feelings creep in.  They don't feel "at home, "accepted", "loved". 


The Prodigal Son had a place to come home.  The homeless most often don't. The good news of the Prodigal Son is his father knew the verse, "Raise a child up in the way he shall go and he shall be a blessing to you in your old age." Fortunately for this father, this son ended up in a peg pen. He had squandered all his parents had given him. He came to his senses.  He came home.


The first tentative steps are to bond with one of their fellow residents. They seem genuinely surprised by those strangers at Church who reach out to them.  Our homeless will eventually try coming home again. Many won't receive the welcome this son received except at the Jericho House where the lessons of “Reconciliation with God, with self, with family, and with the community” are learned.

bottom of page