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SWU graduate, husband, help addicts find hope

SWU graduate, husband, help addicts find hope

    08.21.19 | Alumni by Ed Welch

    Southern Wesleyan University graduate Terri Fowler, right, and her husband, Rev. Terry Fowler, are co-directors of The Good Samaritan Colony, a faith-based community for men caught up in substance abuse.

    The Good Samaritan Colony is a faith-based community for men caught up in substance abuse.

    Located in Ruby, a small community in rural Chesterfield County, the colony reopened early this year following renovations and restructuring. 

    God used the Fowlers’ life experiences to lead them to The Good Samaritan Colony, where they help men recover through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    Terry spent more than 30 years serving various Baptist churches, and he also ministered 14 years at Home with a Heart, a facility in Liberty housing men recovering from substance abuse. An unforgettable moment occurred at Home with a Heart when Terry got a hug from the six-year-old daughter of a man who graduated from their program. She said to him “Thank you for giving me my daddy back!”

    God was also using Terri’s experiences to prepare her for The Good Samaritan Colony. Suffering from intractable migraines, she was unable to find a medication that would help until she was prescribed a narcotic drug.

    “Long story short, I became addicted,” Terri said. “I thought it was going to be the end of my marriage and the end of my husband’s ministry. Our church members knew, but they needed to hear it from me.”

    Terri recounted how a young woman came to the church who had an alcohol addiction and was recently released from a detox unit. She sat down with the woman and shared what was on her heart.

    Terri recalled, “She turned to me and tears were streaming down her face. She said ‘I came here tonight thinking no one was going to understand me. I’m an alcoholic, and I came here to this church expecting no one would understand where I’m at, what I’m dealing with or stuff that I’m going through. You stood up there and you said what you did, and you’re the pastor’s wife.’”

    That was when Terri realized God could use her personal experience to help others.

    While at a training camp for her mission board, Terri learned about The Good Samaritan Colony from another pastor’s wife and told her about Terry’s experience at Home with a Heart.

    Interested in becoming The Good Samaritan Colony’s director, Terry sent his resumé, interviewed with them, and was offered the job.

    Supported by donations, The Good Samaritan Colony offers a residential program free of charge to men. The colony currently has eight residents who hold various jobs ranging from cleaning to grounds maintenance. The colony also established a cabinet shop where men are train in cabinetmaking skills, helping them secure good jobs after graduation. A portion of the proceeds from the cabinet shop supports the colony’s operation, and graduates working there receive a check upon graduation, helping them financially as they transition back into the community.

    Coming to SWU

    Terri had met her husband while both were attending another Christian college, and when they were married, she decided not to go back to school until he entered seminary. Terri learned about SWU from members of her church who were taking classes there. She felt that God was opening doors for her to go back to college, but by that time she was 40 and her educational plans had already been on hold for several years.

    Admittedly scared to re-enter college after such a long time, Terri recalled meeting with her advisor at SWU, Dr. Nancy Mann, who recognized her misgivings.

    She wasn’t ready for Mann’s reply, “You listen to me. I was 42 years old when I came back to this school to finish my bachelor’s degree. I went on to Clemson and I got my master’s and then on to the University of Georgia and got my Ph.D. If I can do it, you can do it.”

    “Dr. Mann was my advisor and one of my professors, but she also became a mentor and a friend. My husband and I have been in Dr. (Steve) Hayduk’s home. His wife Elizabeth started taking classes at that time. They were a tremendous blessing to us, particularly to me,” Terri said, noting that her two years at Southern Wesleyan were confidence-building.

    Terri graduated with her psychology degree in 2004. A couple of years later, her daughter also enrolled at Southern Wesleyan, receiving her degree in early childhood and elementary education.

    Terri began working at the S.C. Department of Mental Health. She also earned her master’s degree from Clemson University. She later became an addictions counselor for the Phoenix Center in Greenville.

    What’s next for The Good Samaritan Colony

    Future plans for The Good Samaritan Colony include restoring capacity from eight men back to 16, establishing a metalworking shop and adding a Celebrate Recovery program. With the help of a local welding shop, the colony plans to train residents to create metal art that can be sold and generate additional funds.

    “We’ve been blessed. It’s always going to be a learning curve but at the same point we’re glad God led us here,” Terri said.

    The Fowlers are available to speak to churches about Good Samaritan Colony. For details, call (843) 634-6848, visit their website gscolony.org or their Facebook Page, “The Good Samaritan Colony.”

    Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.

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