Bobby A Reed Harold L Barger Ralph M Gaither Stranded students rescued by Brown County cooperation 4-H Teen Ambassador Dunning attends SHOT Show Veterans Service Commission invites veterans to seek help with benefits Unemployment rate rises in Brown County Pick a Lollipop, help a dog A season to remember G-Men hit the field for first baseball scrimmage Eastern’s Rigdon, Purdy earn AP SE District Div. III honors New blocking, kicking rules address risk minimization in high school football Judy A Schneider James M Darnell Lawanda R Truesdell Paul E Grisham Arrelous R Rowland Dennis E Stivers David M Daniels Fayetteville man is charged with child porn April 1st Grand Opening for Jacob’s Ladder Resale Boutique in Georgetown Talent Show auditions at Gaslight Theatre Nine indicted by county grand jury Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall visit coming next May to BC Fairgrounds In it to win it! Bronco wrestlers end season on successful note Eastern’s Hopkins finishes 5th in long jump at OATCCC State Indoor Track and Field Meet SBAAC awards academic all-stars, winning teams Marvin D Atkin Beverly S Flatt Jessie M Sanders Leroy Deck Sr Jody A Towler Sherman E Young Kenneth C Burton Varnau’s face second defamation suit Attorney General to visit Georgetown schools Clermont County GOP hosts Wenstrup, DeWine at dinner Fatal car crash in Adams County BC Chamber welcomes new Cricket Wireless store to Mt. Orab Aberdeen Council approves 2017 budget Royce K Zimmerman Lady Warriors advance to Elite 8 SBAAC awards boys basketball all-stars SBAAC girls basketball all-stars take home awards SHAC Winter Sports Awards Banquet set for March 12 Altman claims 170-pound district title Sirkka L Buller Arthur C Schneider Lowell G Neal Virginia M Schirmer Connie S Darling Harold L Purdin Terry E Frye Lucille Schumacher Lady Warriors roll to district finals Broncos take care of business to claim sectional crown G-Men upset MVCA to earn berth sectional finals WBHS JROTC Rifle Team competes at Camp Perry Lady Rockets finish 12-12 Season reaches end for Rockets Eugene D Ring Two indicted on major drug charges Two charged with home invasion Cincinnati airport expanding services, lowering prices in effort to compete Two sentenced in common pleas court Georgetown man hurt in car crash Robert G Miller Linda M Howland Robert E McKinney Mildred J Hodges Farrel L Amiott Patricia Brown Rick L Dye Mary E Nagel Betty Ratliff Broncos claim SBAAC wrestling title Broncos pull ahead for win over G-Men in SBAAC Tourney Ripley boys wrap up regular season with win at Lynchburg Eastern girls are sectional champs Anderson pleads not guilty to battery charge Some county offices to change locations Fayetteville prepares for Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall HealthSource hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Five sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court June Howser Marguerite A Fender Timothy D Harris Jay R Purdy Robin S Godwin Marc A Wachter Chester W Eyre Warriors blast past the G-Men, 61-40 Rockets performing well heading into post-season tournament play Lady Warriors bring home the Gold with perfect 13-0 finish in SHAC Western Brown Junior High wrestling team wraps up successful season Rockets fall victim to ‘Pack’ attack Broncos suffer heartbreaking loss to Mentor Lake Catholic in state quarterfinals Adult Education Center coming to county ‘Senior Playground’ moving forward at Georgetown park

Finding the escape from addiction

The average person might not think a robbery conviction to be the best thing that ever happened to them, but for Barry Francis, it may have, in fact, been the best thing to ever happen to him.

Francis had been a petty criminal and drug addict until his addiction finally caught up with him one day in Huntington, W.Va.

“I placed my finger under my coveralls and walked into the ice house store,” Francis said while placing his finger under his shirt. “I knew I was going to get caught. I didn’t even make it to the end of the block before the police apprehended me. I ended up getting a 10 year sentence in prison.”

Francis, now 64, remembers the time that led up to his lifestyle as an addict during his days in Huntington. He said he grew up in an abusive home and was neglected by his father. From age 12 he began staying away from home as much as he could and, at 17, the drinking started to take over his life.

“I drank some of the nasty stuff, Mad Dog 20/20,” Francis said. “Now it is the nastiest stuff you’ll ever drink in your life but I didn’t care.”

Francis’ drinking led to dead end jobs and hanging in pool halls where he met players to teach him the game and he became a gambler with his pool skills and at 21, his pool hall gambling became poker player and began committing petty theft to survive and feed his gambling habits. After spending 30 days in jail for theft, he returned from the jail to a friends house where they began using drugs intravenously.

“I went to his apartment after the 30 days in jail and at this point I hadn’t progressed into drugs,” Francis said. “My friend said ‘hey I have a new way to get high, it’s called Prelu-2 an amphetamine.’”

Francis said his friend showed him how the drug worked and shot it into his own vein before administering it Francis.

Francis described his friends reaction as an instant high and was skeptical a person could feel the rush of an upper so fast.

“I said there is no way you can get high that fast,” Francis said. “I told him to let me do it and he gave me the shot and it was ‘wow this is something else.’”

Francis said the one time use quickly became a daily addiction to get his fix any way he could and by any means necessary. He said it while at the poker games he became intrigued by one of the players. A terrible card player who would blow through $500 – 1000 he “earned” by being a short change artist. It is a method of confusing store clerks into handing out more change that a person was required by fast talking and deceiving. Francis learned the art and used it to feed his drug habits. He earned any where from $300-700 per day and every day he would use the money and spend it on feeding his drug addiction. He traveled all over the eastern half of the United States short changing folks to feed his habit. Francis spent four years feeding his habit any way he could to get high and speed as best he could.

His habit came to a head way when he decided to rob a store one day in Huntington. When his fast living style finally caught up to him, Francis was faced with spending a decade behind bars for the robbery. But it was during the time in prison is when his life changed for the better.

“After a year and a half I gave my life to Christ” Francis said. “Here I am living this life of drugs infested, criminal infested and thinking one of these days I’m going to get out of here what am I going to do with my life.”

Francis was paroled and discharged from the penal system at 26 years of age.

“At the point my life took a totally different turn,” Francis said. “God has blessed me more than I can tell you. My life started changing and I started going to Bible college.”

Francis earned his bachelor’s degree from Appalachian Bible College and his master’s degree from Cincinnati Christian University. His journey allowed him to meet his wife, get a home, and have a life as a preacher and counselor. He is currently working at the Ripley Assembly of God and served previously as a counselor working with men and children dealing with problems of addiction.

“I would like to make it open that if anyone has an addiction or would like to come and worship (at the church) they are more than free too,” Francis said.

Francis recalled feeling rejected by his father and those feelings leaving a hole in his life. He used the people who entered into his life through the pool halls, poker games, fellow criminals and addicts to fill the void left to complete himself.

“I had all these older men in my life teaching me how to do things in the criminal world and that kind of filled that hole,” Francis said. “We became really really good friends. I used them to become my father figure.”

Now Francis wants to use his life experience as an addict and a counselor to help solve the problem that is the drug epidemic. He has been clean ever since leaving jail at age 26 and thanked the Lord for his blessings. His open invitation to the church is for anyone struggling with addiction and who needs to speak to someone who has been in their shoes to show them there is a life outside of the dark world of drug use and abuse.

“My desire is to let people know I am pastor and I know somewhat what they have been through,” Francis added. “I spent 17 years working in addiction counseling. I have a lot of experience and I feel like I have been able to help a lot of people already but I want to help more. I don’t want to see them waste their life.

By Brian Durham

bdurham@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brian Durham at 937-378-6161 or on Twitter @brianD1738.

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