Eureka! He had found what he was looking for! After searching through the trash pile he had discovered a morsel of candy that still had the wrapper on it and was only partially eaten. In that moment Justin Garner Norwood, Sr., (1981), a fourth generation Phillips County farmer and an honorably discharged National Guard veteran who had served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Jump Start finally came to his senses.

Eureka! He had found what he was looking for! After searching through the trash pile he had discovered a morsel of candy that still had the wrapper on it and was only partially eaten. In that moment Justin Garner Norwood, Sr., (1981), a fourth generation Phillips County farmer and an honorably discharged National Guard veteran who had served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Jump Start finally came to his senses.
Like the wayward son described in Luke’s Gospel it wasn’t until he looked longingly on the refuse pile (which only the pigs ate) did he finally decide to humble himself and ask for help. Help he had needed all along but refused to seek out… Even when he had lost custody of his seven beautiful children to Arkansas, Department of Human Services (due to neglect) even when he lost his job farming for Buron Griffin Farms and even when he became destitute and homeless.

At that moment he humbled himself and got on Facebook and finally reached out and asked for help. Almost immediately, a life-long friend from Wynne, replied and came to his aid. It was at this time he first heard that his cousin’s husband was living at an all men’s drug rehabilitation (JOHN 3:16 Ministries) located in Charlotte, Arkansas.

The following Sunday cousin Amy drove Justin to JOHN 3:16 Ministries where he was interviewed for the first time. Justin left disappointed and dejected as the interviewer had confidently assured him that he had not yet hit the bottom and was still not quite ready to enter their rehab program.

Two weeks later, with renewed determination , Justin made the 3 1/2-hour drive with cousin Amy once again. This time the outcome would be different. He was granted admittance to their six month, faith-based drug rehabilitation program.

Shortly after Justin arrived, he discovered that what he really needed even more than any drug rehabilitation program was a personal relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. Even though he had grown up in the County Line Baptist Church and was fairly familiar with the Bible he had never been born-again by the Spirit of the living God. Shortly after this experience of regeneration – Justin made his confession of faith public and was baptized along with many of the other men in the program.

As part of his rehabilitation Justin wrote a personal letter to his previous employer and apologized for his past behavior and asked for his forgiveness and also thanked him for his previous kindness to him and his family. Much to his surprise, Tracy Griffin wrote him a reply and offered him his old job back as well as a place to live after Justin had successfully completed the program.

However, the last place on Earth that Justin wanted to settle down after he graduated from JOHN 3:16 was Helena, Arkansas and thus he continued to desperately try to make a new life for himself anywhere else. However, since no other doors opened to him but the one working for Mr. Griffin he decided that this must be the Heavenly Father’s plan for him after all.

There are all kind of mitigating factors that end up leading a person into a broken life of drug addiction. For Justin those factors included the severe PTSD he suffers from as a result of serving his country overseas in Iraq (as well as on-going war-related nightmares) and pain from a physical disability incurred while serving in active duty. These and other factors coupled with the stress of raising a family of 9 on a farmer’s salary and working in the fields 50 to 70 hours every week led to a life of medicating the pain of his soul and body with illegal drugs.

Justin’s twin sister, Jennifer Norwood, is a foreign Christian missionary and she along with her husband Robert McDuffie and everyone else who knows him all testify to the dramatic changes that they have witnessed in Justin’s life over the last 11 months. He has successfully passed all his post-rehab, random drug tests, enrolled in two local chapters of Celebrate Recovery and surrounded himself with supportive new friends at the Anchor Mission and a welcoming church family at Faith Outreach.

It was actually Jennifer “Jenn” Norwood who first contacted DHS about her concern for her brother’s children two years ago this mid-summer.

“It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life,” Jenn said. “However, I asked myself the question, ‘If this were anyone else’s children what would I do?’ And then I knew that contacting DHS was absolutely the right thing to do – for the sake of my precious nephews and nieces.”
Shortly thereafter, her brother contacted her and angrily informed her that he would never talk to her again. Now, miraculously, she and her husband have returned to Helena from their most recent mission to Zambia, Africa in order to assist Justin in the reunification process with all of his seven children and getting their family back under the same roof.

Today, Jenn freely testifies, “If I didn’t know for certain that Justin was a changed man, then I would be the first person to tell DHS not to return his children to his custody and care.”

Since their recent arrival in Helena, Jenn has testified on her brother’s behalf at his most recent DHS hearing and has worked almost daily along with her husband to assist Justin in repairing and restoring an old house, which he is renting to own at 419 East Cleburne in Helena.

In addition to their efforts, Wayne King, a local contractor, has volunteered his services. Others in the community who have heard Justin’s testimony have also pitched in with lumber supplies, needed furnishings for the house, volunteer labor and various monetary offerings to be used as needed.

Everyone is extremely hopeful that Justin and his children will all be reunited under one roof within the next month or two, along with their uncle Robert and aunt Jenn, who will be living with them to assist them as they make this major and difficult life-transition.

Robert says, “We read in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32) about how the father of the wayward son expectantly longed for his son to come to his senses and return home. And we also read that when that day finally came that the father threw his son a party and lovingly welcomed him home with a grateful heart.

“As an ordained minister of the “Good News” too many times in the church and community I see an attitude of ‘let’s wait and see how long this lasts’ before the repentant sinner is truly welcome back home. Their attitude is more like the self-righteous brother in the story – revealing they have not yet received the unconditional love of the Father.”

Robert continued, “Justin’s new-lease on life is a cause for the local church and community to throw a party and welcome him home. His story is a huge inspiration to me personally and it should be held up as an inspirational testimony to all those who are struggling with addiction of any kind – from the wounds of a brokenness of spirit and / or body.

“Like most drug addicts, Justin was just a regular guy, an average Joe, who also just happens to be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces veteran Special and a hard-working American farmer. Justin didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hey I think I’ll throw away everything that matters the most to me for drugs.’ – No! He turned to drugs to medicate the pain of the wounded spiritual and physical man. In illicit drugs - Justin found a counterfeit comfort for his pain – because he had yet to surrender his life to the true Comforter – the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to be a part of Justin Norwood’s life-recovery celebration he could definitely use any and all assistance offered and would be most grateful. Please contact his sister Jenn Norwood (McDuffie) at 941-380-8353.