Reserve minister follows in Rick Warren’s ‘Purpose Driven’ footsteps

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Editor and Publisher

RESERVE — Darren Burlison looks back on his life and knows what the outcome might have been.

Burlison was like all too many teenagers, falling into alcohol and drug use by a very young age, and following with small crimes that had him locked up in a juvenile detention center for many of his teenage years.

“I was so miserable, and the result of my lifestyle would have been tragic if I hadn’t changed,” Burlison, now 39, said.

Today Burlison is a changed man in most every way possible.

He is in leadership at Reserve Christian Church, and now wants to utilize his experience to help others, with the church beginning a program this Friday night, Nov. 7, called “Celebrate Recovery.”

Not only was Burlison heading for a disastrous life, but the woman he married when he was 23, was right along with him.

For both, the change came when a friend—a former druggie—invited them to a service at Reserve Christian Church.

“We listened to the sermon, and both went up front to get saved that first day,” Burlison remembers. “We were so miserable that we didn’t fight anything that offered hope for us.”

Now the local church wants to offer that help to others in the region, through the “Celebrate Recovery” program, which was begun by nationally-acclaimed pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California. Warren had a national best-seller with “The Purpose Driven Life.”

“Celebrate Recovery” is a 12-step program that is for every kind of “hurt, habit or hang-up,” according to Burlison.

He said that the program is great since it isn’t just for drug addicts or alcoholics, but offers help to anyone who has a problem they cannot overcome on their own.

“This isn’t just for chemical dependency issues,” he explained. “It can cover over eating, divorce, sexual abuse, suicide, co-dependency. There are so many people hurting out there with problems they can’t overcome, but this program is really amazing in that it will give you the help you need.”

The first night of the program will be this Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Reserve Church, at the corner of Airline Highway and Central Avenue. There will be a one hour group meeting, then small group meetings will be held from 8 to 9 p.m. Afterwards there will be a coffeehouse ministry for those who want to stay.

Burlison said that “Celebrate Recovery” is different from similar 12-step programs such as AA since “this doesn’t dwell on the past, and we don’t have a vague reference to God, such as AA uses.

“People need God to take control of their lives, and this program puts Jesus Christ as your higher power. People who come to our program and have serious problems will find that they are looking forward to their future very quickly, and now they will do it with real hope for things to get better,” he said.

Burlison was a classic example of a young man who was raised in a Catholic home, but still got involved in a lot of things that he shouldn’t.

“I had some Christian influences when I was young, but I still started with drugs and alcohol by the age of 12. I never had a dad at home, and by the age of 15, I was in so much trouble that the state took custody of me and put me in a juvenile home,” he said.

He stayed in the Hammond Juvenile Center after being arrested for vandalism, then he was moved to the Lafayette Juvenile and Young Adults Center, where he lived for two years before being released at the age of 18.

“The only thing that center did for me was to make me more street smart when I got out,” he remarked. “There was nothing that really rehabilitated me to overcome my problems.”

He stayed clean for 18 months after getting out of the juvenile center, but then returned to his old ways and was heavily involved with drugs and alcohol as he grew older.

“I was married a year and I was so miserable,” he recalled. “I was suicidal, depressed, and didn’t have anything to live for.”

But that’s when a friend, who formerly was on drugs, invited him to church.

“My friend had gotten saved and gotten off the drugs, so I figured I might as well try,” he said. “My wife and I went together, and we both went up front and got saved. Within several months all the drug use had ended.”

Today, he is still married, and has operated his own company—DS Plastering for the past 12 years—while he and his wife have three children.

“She’s even a stay-at-home mom now,” he said with a big smile. “Life finally got right for the two of us, and now I want to give other people the same hope that I’ve found.”

Anyone wanting more information can call Burlison at 504-915-9037, or call the church at 536-4506.