At the height of his alcoholism, Clyde Hensley would pray, “God, don’t wake me up in the morning.” He didn't want to be a burden on anyone, including himself.
Growing up in Akron, OH, Hensley had a pretty normal childhood. He had nice parents, worked at a Harley Davidson dealership, and played in a couple of bands. After falling in with the wrong crowd of friends, he eventually developed a severe dependence on alcohol.
“I was lost. I couldn't see anything beyond the material, tangible things. I lacked spiritual faith,” he said.
He was lost but then found by God’s grace.
Pastor John Soza of The Salvation Army discovered Hensley passed out on a set of railroad tracks after a bout of heavy drinking. Just seconds before a train barreled through, Soza pulled Hensley off of the tracks and to his feet.
“[Soza] asked me my name and I told him. He said, ‘ I've been searching for you! A friend of yours told me to look for you and that you were in bad shape.’”
Over time, Pastor Soza developed a friendship with Hensley by visiting him with food and clothing, praying with him, and encouraging him to look into trying The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). Eventually Hensley realized he needed help and checked himself into the program.
The rest is history. Hensley went through ARC program successfully, which consists of counseling, spiritual direction, work therapy, leisure activities, and nourishment. He eventually found housing and work.
“I don’t think I would have recovered without the spiritual aspect [of the program],” he said. “You can go to other places for detox or pray to a doorknob, but you’re not going to find what you need to change. It has to come down to accepting Christ.”
Although he eventually got his old job back at the motorcycle dealership, Hensley’s true passion is music. In addition to signing with a Christian record label and releasing his first album “From the Tent to The Tabernacle,” he makes a point to perform at the ARC on Thursday nights and with the worship band in church on Sundays.
He also volunteers his time by mentoring the men at the ARC.
“I try to always have an open ear and heart. If any of them need to talk, they know I’m there…and that I’ve been there.”
Hensley’s favorite Bible verse is Philippians 3:13-15: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
“There’s a spiritual ease and comfort that’s come over me. Every day is a chance. Whatever you’ve done in the past, you can’t beat yourself up. God forgave us, so we should be able to forgive ourselves and each other.
“Now every day I pray that through my actions and faith, and through my music, that I’ll be able to help somebody, somehow.”
To learn more about The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers, visit www.SATRUCK.org.