Pastor, former addict start podcast to bring awareness to addiction, resources

Oct. 25—A pastor and an area man who has previously struggled with drug addiction for many years have teamed up for a podcast that they hope will be a resource — not only for those battling addiction, but also their friends and family, and the community as a whole.

The podcast is titled "Community and Addiction" and is posted through Albert Lea Assembly of God (ALAG) on YouTube.

Jabar Morarend, who said he has been clean from drugs since 2016, has been out of prison since July 2020, is no longer on parole and has attended meetings as he continues to work on his sobriety.

He estimated about eight months ago, he approached Ryan Quigley, his pastor at Assembly of God Church, with an idea.

"The reason I approached him was because I have not been very good to the community," Morarend said. "I wanted a way to give back."

He said he decided he was going to put himself and his experiences out there for others to learn from, and his hope is that others will think that if he can rise above his addictions, maybe they can, too.

At first he proposed getting up and speaking to the congregation, but then Quigley brought up doing it on video. And the idea grew from there.

Morarend said the community has a tendency to be in denial about the prevalence of drug addiction even though it affects everyone.

"We have to stop denying it," he said.

With that need for open communication, the two men are exploring various topics during the segments and speaking with people in a variety of lengths of recovery, as well as family members of those in recovery and other professionals.

"We've tried to keep it as real as we possibly could," Morarend said.

They hope to bring different perspectives as they talk about issues such as how to reach family members with addiction, how to approach an intervention, how to get started in the recovery process and what to do if an addict relapses, among others.

"I hope that people's eyes are open to how much is really going on," Quigley said. He also hopes that if someone is in the midst of addiction, they will be inspired to get treated, and that families will feel lifted and have a better understanding of how to approach their loved ones.

Quigley said he started an online class during the COVID-19 pandemic to fill a discipleship need, and this is an attempt at another tool online, though this time it is not set up as a class. He thought about some of the other churches that are working on ways to address the issue and said they wanted to do something a little different.

"How can we reach beyond our local reach and allow a larger conversation to take place?" Quigley said.

Morarend said he hopes the exposure about the issue will make a difference and said if its helps even one person, it has been a success.

"If we don't have a discussion about it, how can we change anything?" he said, noting he has a lot of fear for the addicts using today. "There's been a lot of deaths."

So far, the duo has published nine sessions online.

"Our hope is to have other people join us in our discussion," he said.

If people have comments about the podcast or want to share their own personal stories about the issue, they should call the Albert Lea Assembly of God office at 507-373-7989.