U-Turn for Christ concert and fundraiser Sunday

KAPA‘A — Addicted to the drugs he was dealing, Alex Young knew he hit rock bottom when he wound up in the hospital with a series of life-threatening illnesses.

“When I was beat down 11 years ago, my mother passed away, and that hit the pinnacle of my frustration,” Young said. “I gave up and just started abusing the drugs I was dealing. God delivered me from that with a series of illnesses — congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, pulmonary edema. God sent my family to stand by family, even when I didn’t want to live anymore. They were sharing the scriptures and sharing the word with me while I was invalid.”

Knowing he wanted to live a sober life, Young started attending church. After a backslide into addiction, he enlisted in U-Turn for Christ.

“When I was in a space of sobriety, I realized I was in need of help,” he said. “I had a hunger to live, and I knew that hunger was from the Lord.”

Today, Young is the pastor and director of the Kaua‘i location of U-Turn for Christ, a Christian-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. He opened the doors to the Kaua‘i “ranch” in July of 2006 where he serves the director and pastor.

The nonprofit organization is hosting its Third Annual Concert and Fundraiser 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Aloha Beach Resort in Kapa‘a.

Grammy-nominated and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Amy Hanaiali‘i headlines the Sunday fundraiser. She will be backed by the Michael Ruff All Star Band. Hawaiian singer Malani Bilyeu also performs. The guest speaker is Pastor Roy Yamamoto, the director of the Prison Ministries Program for New Hope Christian Fellowship in O‘ahu.

A $65 ticket includes a lu‘au-style buffet dinner, and all of the money raised will be funneled back into the Christian-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

While U-Turn for Christ is a Christian-based, the organization’s services is open to people of all religious beliefs.

“You don’t have to be Christian to come through the program,” Young said, who was raised Catholic. “I didn’t realize the power of Jesus into after this ministry. I am a living proof.”

The non-profit organization helps men over the age of 18 conquer addiction with two stages. The first is a 60 day stay on the “ranch,” and requires absolute sobriety. The second part of the program is a six-month commitment that phases the men into society, according to U-Turn for Christ’s website

“I have such a heart for kids who go,” said Michael Ruff, one of the organizers and performers of Sunday’s event. “What they do is so harmful to them and hurtful to their families. They’re really brave to me. Most people live their lives and hide their vices and problems, and these guys are like, ‘I really need to change.’”

While Young said he knows the ministry isn’t for everyone, he urges friends and family members to look outside their family if a relative needs help.

 “Most of the men coming through are bitter, beaten and battered,” Young said. “It’s a support they would feel that would help them to press on. An encouraging word, a smile, a thank you for hard work — that’s what I want the people to see. That’s what changes lives and that’s what keeps them from moving forward.”

Tickets are $65 per person. For more information about Sunday’s fundraiser call 652-8698 or 651-3998. Visit www.uturnforchristkauai.com for more information about U-Turn for Christ.

• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

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