Kevin Eckiss posed this question to a circle of friends in 2008: “What do you want God to do with the rest of your life?” All answered, but Kevin. When pressed, He said, “I want God to do something so big and outlandish that people will look at it and say ‘that’s God, not Kevin.’”
When he was 24, Kevin renounced agnosticism for a relationship with Jesus Christ. For the next 20 years he was a stalwart Christian. He set emotional, physical and spiritual boundaries to protect his marriage, job, leadership status within the church and himself. But then he learned that personal boundaries can be moved. He made compromises that led to divorce, unemployment, disassociation from his church and living in a crack-house with 7 other cocaine addicts. Repeated attempts to free himself ended in guilt, shame and hopelessness. In utter despair, he called his father. “Son, we’ve been waiting for your call,” was this prodigal’s father’s response.
Through an arduous rehabilitation process, God restored Kevin. He began to teach Celebrate Recovery to inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility, near Greencastle, Indiana. “When I wanted to get back into ministry after my addiction I wanted to pick up where I left off, teaching in the church,” Kevin said. “That didn’t work because I failed to ask God who I am now and what He wants me to do. I can’t say this path is better than the first, but I can say that it glorifies God now.” The roundtable conversation among friends launched Inside Out Recovery, a participative, group based transitional housing facility that provides recovery support services to people with substance abuse and life controlling issues.
In 2010, Kevin raised enough support to purchase a defunct, 60’s-era nursing home in Brazil, Indiana rated for 100 residents at double occupancy. He worked as an engineer by day and remodeler by night while battling health issues related to his past drug abuse. Homeland Security demanded original blueprints, pipe inspections and ADA compliancy. Neighbors began to refer to the former Clay County Health Center as “the convict house,” and one swore, “I will personally see to it that that place never opens!” One worried neighbor asked, “What will they be doing while all the rest of us are at work?” Kevin saw the negative feedback as positive. It helped him structure the program around home-life activities, maintenance, gardening, community service and employment. Weekly attendance at on-site Celebrate Recovery and Authentic Manhood programs, personal bible study and church attendance are manditory.
On May 11, 2011, Kevin appeared before the Common Council of the City of Brazil. He assured the council that this faith-based program “is very structured and disciplined with a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use… [Residents] will be required to complete community service so they can contribute and give back to Brazil.” Applicants listed on violent crimes and sex offender registries are denied.
Kevin and second wife, Susie, live in the renovated section with three program participants. Current capacity is 28. When asked about financial needs Kevin said, “It will take $250,000.00 to complete the renovations. It’s hard to get volunteers and financial support.” Most supporters give furniture donations.
In the meantime, Kevin takes online classes to become a Christian life-coach. “I’ve discovered I have a gift for coaching those in recovery through their struggles. I want to help them map out the next 5 years of their lives,” he said. “There is hope and a future with Christ.” Kevin perseveres through regulatory, opinion, and financial hurdles assured that Inside Out Recovery is God’s big, outlandish plan.