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Through life’s pitfalls, Hughey celebrates recovery

Mickey Starling: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Tim Hughey grew up in Madison and believed his life was just fine. Exposure to alcohol, marijuana and pornography was common for a kid growing up in the sixties. Though never pressured to drink, Hughey had the seeds planted that would later grow into a destructive pattern that unraveled much of his life.

Although Hughey was not raised in church, his grandparents were Christians and they read the Bible to him, praying for him often. This was much needed for a kid growing up in the sixties, when drugs, alcohol and sex were rapidly becoming the norms for teen activities. All of these things affected Hughey at an early age. Yet, one night, Hughey's thoughts turned to eternity and he asked a friend he was hanging out with an important question. "What do you think happens when we die?" asked Hughey. The discussion didn't last very long, but the thought never left his mind and it created a hunger to find the answer.

Fortunately, he lived close to Rev. Elbert Tyner, a pastor with a kind heart and a listening ear. Tyner, who pastored Madison First Baptist Church, soon introduced Hughey to Dave Landers, the music and youth minister for Madison First Baptist Church. Landers became a mentor for Hughey, who became a Christian at the age of 17.

As a young Christian, Hughey experienced numerous setbacks, as his former lifestyle and habits continued to beckon him into what became a downward spiral. Hughey's struggles continued until he was set up by some friends to go out with Joni Hammond, also of Madison.

Though Hughey had been hurt by numerous past relationships with women, he found Hammond to be honest and trustworthy. After only six months of dating, the couple wed in 1978 and agreed to establish a Christian home for their family.

At the time, the Hugheys were attending Grace Presbyterian Church, in Madison. The church provided several opportunities to get involved in mission trips and the couple started taking advantage of them. At one point, the whole family spent three months in Haiti doing mission work. Eventually, Tim went to Columbia Bible College, in Columbia, S.C., in order to receive further missionary training.

After college, Hughey was required to spend two months in Brazil as an intern, teaching English. While he successfully resisted the urge to drink, issues with pornography resurfaced. Similar to his problems with alcohol, Hughey reasoned that everything would return to normal when his environment changed, but it didn't. His private battle with both addictions continued.

Hughey was certain that doing mission work in Kazakhstan would quell his weaknesses. The family departed for Kazakhstan in 1991. That assumption quickly changed when he discovered that the government issued each family a monthly allotment of Vodka for drinking, medicinal purposes and cleaning. The drinking part is what again hooked Hughey into another bout with alcohol.

Leaving Kazakhstan in 1993, due to the collapse of the country's economy, the Hugheys returned to Madison, only to soon become frustrated with church and so began a 20-year departure from the church scene.

Fortunately, God never quits on us, which Hughey began to see in 2017, as his oldest daughter gave her life to Christ while attending services at Dowling Park Church of God, in Dowling Park. As a new Christian, Christina brought plenty of questions to Hughey, who found that God used those very questions to bring him around. "It's time to quit wandering," announced Hughey to his wife, who was more than ready for that.

The Hugheys decided to visit Fellowship Baptist Church and, to their surprise, no one seemed to notice or care that they had not been attending church for quite a while. "We were scared to death," said Hughey, who quickly set about surrendering his addictions, though the alcohol required more time than other areas.

While seeking help from friends with addiction issues, Hughey was directed to Celebrate Recovery, which was meeting at Corinth Baptist Church, in Hamilton County. The program encourages participants to be themselves and discuss their issues when they feel comfortable to do so. Hughey stuck with it, eventually experiencing the freedom he had long sought.

Tim and Joni have since received training for leadership in Celebrate Recovery and have started meetings at Fellowship Baptist Church, which meets every Tuesday night, at 6 p.m. "This isn't a Fellowship [Baptist Church] thing," said Hughey. "It's for everyone and I would like to see more churches doing this. We are seeing God really ministering to people in need."

Celebrate Recovery is a 27-year-old ministry that seeks to help people who struggle with addictions, unforgiveness or any issue that may have enslaved them. The organization is now active in over 37,000 churches.

If you would like more information about this ministry, contact Hughey at (850) 464-1156 and leave a message. You can also email them at cr.fellowshipofmadison@gmail.com.

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