Felons finding new purpose in life at Family of Faith Community Church

Felons finding new purpose in life at Family of Faith Community Church

Charles Bell, or Charlie as he’s known to his friends at Family of Faith Community Church, was not someone you would have wanted to meet prior to his final arrest

He’s also known as ‘old school’, the name given to a two year operation that brought down his drug empire almost six years ago. The bust was considered one of Spokane’s largest drug busts, and led to dozens of arrests made across the Spokane region, Walla Walla, Tri-Cities and Northern Oregon. He spent five years in federal prison for his involvement.

“I didn’t care about my own family members,” said Bell. “It was all about the money and the game that I was involved in.”

These days Bell is singing a different tune. After his release, he spent three years in the R.O.A.R program under the guidance of Pastor Danny Green at Family Faith Community Church.

R.O.A.R stands for Reaching Out Advocating Recovery. The program provides homes for recovering addicts and former drug dealers and provides structure and recovery through prayer and faith.

Bell is now a leader in one of the homes, helping and guiding others as they attempt to get their lives back on track.

“Our goal is to clean up the city of Spokane, one addict at a time,” said Green.

The program has helped hundreds and many go on to be productive members of society. Its a strict program however, Green runs random drug tests at all the houses, a failure means you’re out of the program.

R.O.A.R has earned the approval of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich who headed the Operation Old School task force.

“It’s really easy arresting people,” he says. “Its easy taking to jail. Its hard keeping them back out of jail.”

He points to Nik Ehli as more evidence of success. Ehli has eight felonies and used to work for “old school” back before the bust.

His life of crime led to a broken family and separation from his son. Following his stint as a participant in the S.O.A.R program, he became a pastor and is spreading his message, attempting to keep people on the straight and narrow path.

“There is a lot more pride in doing things the right way,” he says, “then doing them the wrong way.”

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says the program is a success because people are given the help they need in a long-term supportive environment.

“You can sit and keep people down,” he says, “or you can try and give them a hand up. S.O.A.R is a hand up, not a hand out.”

The R.O.A.R program is holding a Walk for Recovery event on Sept. 16 and invites anyone interested in learning more, participating or that wants to turn their lives around and join the R.O.A.R program to come out.