TRAINING IN AFRICA
By Dave Stave
Observer Staff Writer
A La Grande woman was given a lift out of her addiction to methamphetamine six years ago by Good Samaritan Ministries in La Grande.
Now Julie Achleithner, who has received counselor training from Good Samaritan, wants to help other addicted people get a similar lift.
To help her prepare to assist others, Achleithner will be traveling to Uranga, Kenya in East Africa this September with a small group from Pendleton's Good Samaritan Ministries.
The group, including Terry and Cindy Womack, Linda Wolfe and Achleithner, will be attending GSM's Africa Continental Training Program.
Many people will be coming from throughout Africa for the conference, Achleithner said.
She is looking forward to the instruction she'll receive from Charles Onyongo on how to help others who have addiction problems.
Doing it right in Africa
Onyongo is "one of the great leaders" in Africa, Achleithner said. "He is continental director of the GSM addictions program. They have a very successful addictions program that is creative, experiential and personal," she said.
Achleithner also expects to be inspired by the Africans she meets at the conference.
"I am going to experience their faith," she said. "They look to God for their very existence, but we in America for the most part don't need to. We have cupboards full of food, refrigerators and freezers with food; we have cars and roads to drive them on.
"None of these things are bad, but do they put distance between us and God, or draw us closer to him? I want my faith in God to grow through this trip."
Good Samaritan Ministries does not have an office or an active addictions-treatment program in La Grande at this time, but Achleithner is facilitating a Boundaries class which meets Monday evenings at the New Life Center behind Shop'n Kart.
The eight-week video class, which teaches people when to say yes, when to say no and how to gain control of their lives, started Monday. The program, from 6 to 7 p.m., is open to everyone at no cost.
Achleithner said she was helped by Good Samaritan Ministries in 1997, when she moved from Klamath Falls to La Grande to live with her father, Ralph Schisler.
Before her move, Achleithner had been addicted to methamphetamine for 4 years.
"I went to jail. I lost my home, my spouse and family," she said.
But the counsel and training she received from Good Samaritan got her back on her feet.
"The Lord provided the answers through Good Samaritan Ministries," she said. "I was helped out to show others that they can make it out (of addiction) if they want to."
Good Samaritan Ministries is a nonprofit international Christian counseling and training organization founded in 1979 by Bettie Mitchell. The international headquarters is in Beaverton.
GSM has centers in several states and in 29 other countries. Centers are found in Pendleton, Weston-Athena, Milton-Freewater, Walla Walla, Hermiston, Waitsburg, Wash., and the Tri-Cities.
"The ministry is not a church, but a servant of the church, respecting the differences and celebrating our unity in loving and serving God," Achleithner said.
To help raise the $3,000 she needs for her trip to Kenya, an African-style auction will be held at the 10 a.m. July 13 service at the Faith Center in Island City.
Two cottonwood bark picture frames, made by her father, will be sold. One of the frames will have a picture of Jesus and the woman at the well. The other will have a scenic picture.
In the unique auction, money will not only be collected from the highest bidder, but from others making bids.
The funds raised, Achleithner said, will not only assist her with her trip expenses but also will help the family she'll be staying with in Africa.