Pastor Erik Hines is on a mission to help people learn how to walk in absolute freedom from addiction and sin.
Pastor Erik Hines, founder and executive director of Spring 2 Life, has expanded his ministry by adding a new campus in Woodbury. (Photo by J. Philleo)
Once a slave to the bondage of addiction himself, Hines found freedom through Jesus Christ in 1998, while he was in a program called First Step Outreach Ministries, which was located on Maple Street in Murfreesboro.
Hines is now the executive director of Spring 2 Life, a faith-based discipleship program similar to First Step, and he has dedicated his life to helping others break the chains of addiction.
Under Hines’ leadership, with the help of Pastor John Butler and others, Spring 2 Life has experienced tremendous growth within the past year, but that growth has not come without opposition.
In the beginning
After accepting Christ, Hines began his ministry as a youth pastor, then continued his ministry as associate pastor, both at Jesus Way of Life church, which was led by Hines’ grandfather, the late Woodrow Medlock.
Following Medlock’s death, Hines took the reins of the church and renamed it Emerge Worship Center about six years ago. A few years thereafter, a member of the congregation died from drug-related causes, and in response, Emerge created a residential addiction recovery ministry called The Wellhouse.
The Wellhouse started out in a small house near the MTSU campus with just four students, but it wasn’t long before Hines recognized that his true mission was to help others learn to recover through Christ.
“I knew that God was calling me to focus solely on the discipleship center,” Hines said last week during an interview at Spring 2 Life’s new property in Woodbury.
After he recognized his calling, the E. Main Street property owned by Emerge Worship Center was given to another church, and Hines began focusing solely on the recovery ministry, changing its name to Spring 2 Life.
Ironically, the Maple Street property that formerly housed the First Step ministry where Hines found Christ was donated to Spring 2 Life, increasing the agency’s student capacity to 22.
It starts in the heart
After acquiring the Maple Street property, Spring 2 Life began to experience unprecedented growth. With the help of former-student-turned-minister John Butler, Hines revamped the ministry’s curriculum and began recruiting the first group of residential students to be housed at the Maple Street property, now dubbed the Hope House, the Phase 1 residence for Spring 2 Life. The original house retained the name The Wellhouse, and became the Phase 2 residence for the Spring 2 Life program.
The ministry’s curriculum is centered on the teaching that once Christ is accepted, a person experiences a change of heart. That change of heart leads to a change of mindset, which in turns leads to a change in behavior.
The traditional approach to recovery teaches “once an addict, always an addict,” and that the best a person can hope for is one more day of sobriety. Hines believes that approach keeps a person in bondage, no matter how many days of sobriety they manage to string together.
Spring 2 Life’s slogan is “learning to love living again.”
“We understand that when people reach a place of recovery in their life, there is a lot of sadness, guilt and regret,” Hines said. “We want to help people to find a passionate joy in their life, and the way we do that is to help them understand their true identity in Jesus Christ.”
Growth and opposition
With the help of a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous, Spring 2 Life recently acquired a property in Woodbury, south of Murfreesboro in Cannon County. The property features a large A-frame house, to be used as a discipleship residence home, and another smaller building to be used as an office.
The addition raises the capacity of Spring 2 Life to 42 students, nearly doubling the organization’s former capacity. That growth, however, has not come without opposition.
A small but vocal group of neighbors has stood up against Spring 2 Life, voicing concerns that the residents would sneak out at night and cause mayhem, that the group would use too much water and dry up their wells, and that the increased traffic on the road would create a safety issue.
Hines says he has taken the concerns seriously and has put measures in place to negate these possibilities.
“There are a handful of Cannon County citizens who are concerned about possible issues,” said Hines, who attended a recent meeting of the Cannon County Commission to address public concerns. “We’re being extremely proactive to address all the issues.”
Hines said they have installed low-flow nozzles for all the water fixtures and have brought in two 250-gallon water tanks, which they will fill with water purchased from the city. Laundry will be done off premises once a week.
They also had their septic tank pumped and were assured it would handle their volume for another year without having to be serviced.
Hines has also installed an alarm system, complete with video cameras that are capable of being monitored from the homes of both pastors. There will also be staff members on duty overnight.
To address the traffic issues, Hines explained that the residents will not have access to their vehicles during their time at the Woodbury property. Spring 2 Life will use a 15-passenger van for transport to and from the property.
Hines said his ministry has not had any of these problems in the past, and hopes Spring 2 Life’s track record will give nearby residents some peace of mind.
“We are a ministry that has been doing the right thing for years, and no problems have arisen,” Hines said. “We’re not coming in here with a bunch of empty promises – we are coming in here with a proven track record.”
Hines also pointed out that despite the fact that there has been opposition, the ministry is supported by many residents as well.
“Several citizens came up to us after the (county commission) meeting, welcoming us to Woodbury, some of whom had been opposing us prior to the meeting,” he said.
For more information on Spring 2 Life, call 615-849-3247, or visit spring2life.net.