Faith & Family

All the praise and glory goes to God

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Mike Barres

Last year was a great year at Men’s Challenge of the Smokies. In our ministry/program approach, we believe that a relationship with the Lord and discipleship in His Word (the Bible) is essential for overcoming the stronghold of addiction.

In fact, in order to be effective, Men’s Challenge of the Smokies is a faith-based, 12-month residential addiction recovery program. We minister hope, help, and healing through God’s love here. Our discipleship program includes classes, counseling, recreation, vocational training (wood shop, auto shop, maintenance, and construction), hiking, volunteer work, men’s choir, guitar lessons, chapel, and church attendance. Our men also work three afternoons a week at our Thrift Store (at 4812 US-441, near Sylva).

That said, some highlights from 2023 are that we had 15 graduates, the most ever; that makes 65 total who have graduated our one-year program. We also had 16 baptisms, the most ever, and that makes a total of 70 since we have been open (2016).

MANY BAPTISMS take place annually among the residents at Men’s Challenge of the Smokies.

We also have joined in prayer for those in addiction. This faithfully takes place at the Macon County courthouse on the first Friday of every month at 6 p.m. This prayer time is led by Carol Bates, who is a person who had a heart to start this prayer time and we join in.

Every month we feature a testimony of a man’s tenacity journey in battling and overcoming addiction in our monthly newsletter. Each testimony is heartfelt, and sharing often helps others who are working through their own strongholds. These testimonies talk about hitting rock bottom. Some were in jail, while others may have been homeless on the streets. Other stories express a hospital stay after an overdose (some were brought back to life after that overdose). Many describe how they now have peace, hope, joy, and a sense of purpose. They are careful to give God all the praise and glory and thanks.

It is such an amazing thing to watch, as God begins to work, after the men come into the program. At first many are angry, distant, depressed, or hopeless. Over the weeks and months they are here, we get to see their eyes brighten and their smile returns. We get to see their attitude and temperament change, especially after they surrender to the Lord.

Addiction recovery in Christ involves a change of heart, attitude, temperament, destiny, purpose, and identity. It is a change from the inside out.

Romans 12:2 in the Bible talks about being transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is important to think differently. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Discipleship in God’s Word, learning how to do life His way, is critical. Our men also talk about having a peace that they have never had before. The Bible talks about a peace that passes all understanding that guards our heart and our mind. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

In order to truly see for yourself and understand fully the dramatic impact that Christ has on men’s lives, the public is always invited to attend the very meaningful graduations that takes place regularly. Men’s Challenge of the Smokies will have its next graduation on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. at our center at 336 Living Hope Way, Franklin, in the auditorium. We always have refreshments and a reception afterwards, in order for attendees to meet residents.

MEN’S CHALLENGE auditorium is ready for another graduation. The public is always invited.

It means a lot to our graduates and the men in our program when people come to support and encourage them.

The bottom line is that at Men’s Challenge of the Smokies we believe that the success of a changed life is due to the Jesus Factor and is based on the scripture in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

To learn more about Men’s Challenge of the Smokies program, call (828) 524-2157 or go to  You can also have a look at our Facebook page: Men’s Challenge of the Smokies. 

God bless.

Mike Barres is the executive director of the Men’s Challenge of the Smokies. Mike and his wife, Betty, have been involved in pastoring and ministry for several decades.