From meth to ministry: Arkansas church planter shares testimony of God’s grace

Shane Fore baptizes a new believer at the Main Street campus of Maple Grove Baptist Church.

TRUMANN, Ark. (BP) – During a recent drive home, Arkansas church planter Shane Fore began reflecting on God’s grace in saving him from a life of drugs and addiction, sending him into a life of ministry. 

Fore was a methamphetamine dealer and his marriage on the brink of divorce until a radical encounter with God changed his heart and life. 

“I’m driving and in front of me I see a blue water tower,” Fore said. “I remember a time 14 or 15 years ago I disappeared to go cook methamphetamine and I had been done for weeks. 

“I was walking back to my mom’s house and everything that I owned fit in a Walmart bag and I could see this water tower. That was my life 15 years ago. I was 35-years-old and I was homeless. 

“Today I’m driving home, and God planted a church through us … hundreds of people have to faith in Christ through our ministry. We have a thriving Celebrate Recovery ministry, jail ministry, food pantry and homeless shelter. And I’m looking at this same water tower. Same water tower and same guy, and an encounter with Jesus Christ changed all of that.” 

Fore now serves as the executive director for Stepping Stone Sanctuary, a homeless shelter in Trumann, Ark., and helps lead the Celebrate Recovery ministry at the Main Street campus of Maple Grove Baptist Church. 

“In my addiction, it was a source of pride for me to be with somebody the first time they got high or the first time they got drunk,” Fore said. 

“I got so convicted about that after I came to Christ. When God pointed that out to me, I was so brokenhearted and I just began to ask ‘God how can I undo it? How can I help? How can I change that?’” 

Fore slowly began to see the value of addiction recovery groups. 

“Recovery groups help you unpack reasons for addiction and respond to live in healthy ways,” he said. 

“It gives us an opportunity to get involved with people’s lives when they are at their lowest. If you’re there for somebody when things are bad, they don’t forget that. It’s a really good time to share Jesus with people because they’re looking for something to hold on to.” 

Fore helped plant the Main Street Campus at Maple Grove several years ago and soon established it’s Celebrate Recovery ministry. He became the executive director of a homeless shelter in Trumann early last year. 

In a community which Fore said is experiencing the tangible effects of alcohol and drug addiction, Maple Grove’s CR ministry has seen many conversions and baptisms. He has also assisted several other local churches in starting their own CR programs. 

Despite this fruitful ministry, the road of church planting and recovery ministry was not easy for Shane and his wife April. 

Shane and April would frequently take turns living with their parents, while their relationship hung by a thread. 

One particular night after a fight, the couple separated in a way that seemed permanent. Shane’s mother insisted he join her in attending a local Baptist church’s production of a play which presented the Gospel. 

Fore had attended church before and knew about Jesus, but that night was different. 

“I don’t know how many times I walked the aisle and prayed with a preacher, but never had a plan to stop sinning,” Fore said. 

“I realized my problem was not a list of sins, but a sin nature. I knew I needed a change in my life, and anything God had to offer was better than my life.” 

Shane describes practically begging his wife to attend the next showing of the play, where she would also surrender to Christ. 

He said the two of them didn’t know everything about Christianity, but they knew this meant God wanted them to stay together and not get divorced. 

After the couple was saved, they joined a local church and began studying the Bible often with other believers. 

Fore said he soon felt a call toward church planting. He was sent to Trumann with support from their home church and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ARBS). 

During their first year, they experienced the challenges of church planting as they dealt with financial struggles and feeling isolated in a new community. 

“The first year was so hard, and we were trying everything that I knew to do,” Fore said. “I’m working my tail off to get our church started, and I don’t have anything. 

“I got out in the backyard one Sunday morning and I’m angry praying. I’m stomping around my backyard. I’m praying ‘God you called me to ministry, you called me to church planting, you provided for us to move to Trumann. Now we’re here and nothing is going on. I tried everything that I know to plant a church, and if you want to plant a church … you’re just going to have to plant it yourself because I’m all out of ideas.’ 

“God had been waiting a year to hear me say that,” Fore said.   

About a week later, he got a call from an acquaintance named Jim Duffel, the senior pastor of Maple Grove Baptist Church. The pastor knew about the Fores’ desire to plant a church, and he wanted them to help plant a new campus of Maple Grove. 

Duffel was familiar with the couple’s story and wanted the campus to focus specifically on reaching addicts and other troubled people in the community. 

Fore said without the support of ABSC, he would have never made it to this moment of answered prayer. 

“The year that we spent waiting for God to move was the darkest year that I’ve ever had as a Christian,” Fore said. “Not one time did I get a negative phone call, or conversation from the state convention. It was always ‘Hey, we’re praying for you. What can we do for you? How are you doing mentally and emotionally?’ 

“They were the reason that I didn’t quit. Without the church-planting team for the Arkansas Baptist Convention, I would not have a church.” 

Seeing that water tower in his hometown reminds Fore not only of where he’s been, but of where God is leading him. 

“From a homeless meth addict to executive director of a homeless shelter and church planter. What a God,” he said. 

“Who would take a chance on a homeless meth addict? God took a chance on a guy like me and gave me a seat at the table.” 

This article was originally published by Baptist Press. It was written by Timothy Cockes.  

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