When Shawn Minton was arrested, he thought his life was over.
“I remember telling the police officer he’d ruined my life,” Shawn said. “He told me ‘I believe in success stories. You may not believe this now, but your life is not over. I believe one day I’ll get a good report from you.'”
The police officer was right.
The Depths of Addiction
In Shawn’s early 20s, addiction became a rollercoaster he couldn’t escape.
“I started drinking, and then I guess I did every drug you could think of,” he said. “I was a productive addict. You wouldn’t have been able to look at me and just know I was on drugs.”
Though he dabbled in many drugs, hydrocodone became a destructive force. “That’s the one thing that absolutely destroyed my life,” he said.
When Shawn was eventually incarcerated for possession, he spent much of his free time praying and journaling.
“One day it hit me that I needed to forgive people who’d wronged me,” he said. “I started to pray for them every day.”
The more time he spent developing his relationship with God, the more peace he found.
“My time in jail was a turning point,” he said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s what made me ready to change.”
The Turning Point
A month before Shawn’s release, his parents told him about Restoration of Hope.
“I was furious,” he said. “I didn’t want to go. In my mind, I’d been locked up. I was picturing that I still wouldn’t have any freedom, and I wanted to be free.”
Later that day, Shawn’s parents called back and offered to get him an apartment, a phone, and a car to help him get back on his feet. The next morning, as Shawn was reading his Bible and journaling, he knew what he had to do.
“As clearly as I’m talking to you now, out of nowhere, I knew it in my heart,” he said. “I just heard, ‘Don’t take that apartment. Go to Restoration of Hope.’ I knew that if I went out and got that apartment, it wouldn’t be long before I’d get high. As much as you think you’re ready when you get out, you’re going into a war. To assume you aren’t going to be tempted is foolish.”
ROH offers a highly structured environment for the formerly incarcerated like Shawn. They rise early and keep a strict schedule of work, Bible study, and worship. And at first, it was tough for Shawn.
“I tried to leave a couple of times,” he said. “I walked off twice. I came back the same night, but I was battling with myself. I wanted to be free, and I wanted my stuff. Graciously, Danny let me come back.”
Leaving came with consequences—he had to do extra chores while wearing a neon vest that showed you were in trouble.
“It absolutely infuriated me, made me feel weak and embarrassed,” Shawn said. “It absolutely changed me.”
Along with the vest, Shawn also had to spend hours writing out scriptures.
“I did it for five days, stewing the entire time,” he said. “And I can remember the night it changed. I just remember thinking, ‘I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t have to feel this way.’ I decided to let it go, and all the anger was gone. I still had to wear the vest, but I walked around with a smile on my face. I didn’t need approval; I was wanting peace inside.”
Once Shawn stopped counting how many days he had left at ROH, the days began to pass quickly. The housing, food, clothing, counseling, and support ROH provided gave Shawn the foundation he needed to rebuild his life.
“When I really started to grow was when I threw the calendar out the door,” he said. “I wasn’t going to have an exit plan until I was ready.”
That exit plan hatched when Shawn’s mentor John Carnes connected him with a job opportunity at Cooper Tire. Today, Shawn has a strong relationship with his children, a supervisor role at Cooper Tire, and is engaged to his fiancee Savannah. When he has free time, he returns to ROH weekly to minister the other men.
His mother, Jeannie Peninger, said she’s proud of Shawn’s progress.
“He has changed his life unbelievably,” she said. “Watching him struggle with addiction was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He came back to being himself with the help of the men of Restoration of Hope. It’s just been a phenomenal thing to not have to worry about him anymore.”
Remember the police officer from the beginning of the story? The one who Shawn thought had ruined his life?
One day Shawn and his ROH housemates were at Church on the Rock giving a presentation about their ministry and selling watermelons.
“Right in front of me, I saw a guy that looked familiar,” Shawn said. “It was the cop that had arrested me. As soon as he realized who I was, he said he and his partner wouldn’t have believed I was the same person they arrested that night. He grabbed me and gave me a huge hug.”
Do you know a man struggling with reentry, homelessness, or addiction in the Texarkana area?