Barbara Richards: Helping women overcome addiction for two decades
This month marks 20 years since Barbara Richards has been helping drug addicts kick their habit through her work with Adult and Teen Challenge Jamaica in Ocho Rios, St Ann, where she is director of the women and children division.
Over those years, she has witnessed the lives of both males and females transformed from being on the edge to a place where they can once again live a normal life.
While her husband, Anthony Richards, is executive director of Adult and Teen Challenge Jamaica, Barbara remains in charge of the women and children section and has seen real results from their work.
“There is one man, he came from the ghettos of Kingston, the war zones of Kingston, he was on crack cocaine, all of it and he came to us; today, he’s leading a Teen Challenge in the USA and also he’s a pastor,” Richards related to Flair.
There was a woman working with an airline in Turks and Caicos who developed a problem and was referred to Adult and Teen Challenge. She came to Jamaica, got herself restored and went back to her job, Richards tells us.
It’s her calling to help others, she believes, and explains, “First of all, what I do, it’s ministry, that’s a calling from the Lord. God called me to do what I’m doing. I migrated to England and while I was there I was still praying for Jamaican women and the Lord said to me, ‘You’re praying for them and they’re not here, they’re back in Jamaica, go back home.’ That’s how I got my call.”
So, she came back home.
“Within a month I saw Anthony on the television talking about Teen Challenge Jamaica and I went there, volunteered for a year and then met and married Anthony and the rest was history. It was a definite calling from the Lord. So, I would describe my work as my life’s work. I won’t do anything else until I die, basically.”
It’s been a challenging two decades as more and more persons fall victim to drug use and abuse, including women.
“We don’t expect them to be angels coming off the streets and so they take a lot of baggage with them; we have to be patient; we have to ask the grace of God each day in our lives to be able to deal with them and so it’s the character of Christ in us that ministers to them, and our dependence on the Holy Spirit. So, it is definitely challenging but with the help of God we have made headways; we have made differences in people’s lives with the help of God. We’ve seen the results of it, and that’s what keeps us going, it’s the reward of seeing people’s lives being restored.”