Vilvens signs with Mount St. Joseph SBAAC awards girls tennis all-stars Layman inducted into Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame SBAAC hands out awards to First Team girls’ soccer all-stars John D Marks Fourteen indicted by Brown County Grand Jury Commissioners donate to task force Voters return Worley to the bench Georgetown Police Department welcomes new officers Ruby A Ratliff Donna J Moore Stella M Glasscock Ellen L Gelter Alverda T Guillermin Justin N Beach EHS dedicates ‘Kiser Court’ SBAAC awards First Team football all-stars, winning teams Sizer earns SBAAC American Division Volleyball Player of Year honors for 3rd straight year Broncos to host Blue Jays for OHSAA ‘Jimmy Young’ Foundation Game, Nov. 17 Vern W Kidd Jr Brown County Election Results – 2017 Michael D Hines Raymond W Napier Leslie E Boyle Gary L Barber Meth makes a comeback The bomber crash of 1944 4-H holds ‘shootout’ with BCSO County jobless rate falls Russell K Wolfer SHAC recognizes volleyball all-stars SHAC cross country all-stars take home awards Eastern girls finish runner-up in SHAC golf standings Week 10 football roundup Kathleen J Bright Sister Marjean Clement Veterans Service Office Moves G’town FFA has great fair Bald Eagles spotted 2017 Celebration of Lights being planned Eight indicted by grand jury Carlos L Beck Georgetown XC teams qualify for regional championship meet Warriors advance to Div. II Regional Meet Lady Rockets reach end to successful volleyball season Week nine football roundup Lady Warriors regional bound Amy J Caudill Bertha Lindsey Bobby S Conley Body found in ditch, investigation underway Former Aberdeen Fiscal Officer pleads guilty Keeping kids safe on the school bus Mary E Hahn Gary R Cornette Week 8 football roundup Notable soccer season reaches end for G-Men Lady Broncos are SBAAC American Division XC champs SHAC XC title goes to Lady Warriors Arthur Smith Eugene M Jennings Jr Billy R Kilgore Sr Carol D Roberts Thelma L Gray Sheriff Ellis meets President Trump Quarter Auction to pay for fire engine restoration Upcoming Quarter Raffle, Oct. 14 to benefit PRC Man found dead in ditch Rev Alvin B Woodruff Jackson L Russell Lady Broncos bring home 11th SBAAC American Division title in 12 years Lady Rockets wrap up regular season Warriors rally for win Broncos make it two in a row Helen L Whalen Veterans saluted at the Brown County Fair Fayetteville cancels school after threat Tommy J Stamper Sue Day Broncos move closer to SBAAC American Division title Lady G-Men working hard, showing improvement Sports complex soon to open in Mt. Orab Week 6 football roundup H Ray Warnock Jennings faces multiple sex offenses Georgetown nears water system completion Bible Baptist Barbeque brings big crowd Linda Taylor Rene Sizemore-Dahlheimer Eugene Snider Eric Workman Gregory Terry Edith M Moore Eileen Womacks Michael C Jennings Janice K Brunner Cheer squads compete at ‘Little State Fair’ Truck, tractor pulls draw a crowd at Brown County Fair Week 5 football roundup Lady Broncos rise to 11-6 with win over Batavia

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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2016 News Democrat