Greg Schmalhofer knows a man who robbed a bank to support his addiction. Now in recovery, with God in his life, Schmalhofer says that man recently went to the same bank for a car loan.
Schmalhofer has been involved in Discovery Recovery, a ministry for people who have struggled or are struggling with alcohol or drug addictions, for about 15 years.
The ministry meets at Grace Baptist Church of Lancaster, 1899 Marietta Ave., at 7 p.m. Thursdays. Before COVID-19, about 125 faith-based people attended; now, about 70 attend.
To reach more people, Schmalhofer, of East Hempfield Township, recently wrote a book, “The Hope Recovery Devotional: There is Always Hope with God,” which was released last month. It is available through online retailers including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Walmart and Aerio.
“There’s a strong bond in Discovery Recovery,” he said. “It’s a very warm, caring group. Their desire is for everyone to help each other.
“We are humbled and blessed to be a part of it,” he said, speaking for himself and his wife, Brenda, who also serves the ministry.
Each day in the 100-day devotional includes a scripture passage, an inspirational message, a brief prayer and space for readers to write their thoughts.
It features the 12 keys of faith-based recovery, which Schmalhofer created, and includes the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. While the 12 steps urge people to seek help from a higher power, or “the God of our understanding,” the keys are based on Christianity.
The first key is “There is a God in heaven”; the second, “There is always hope with God”; the 12th, “Continue to trust God no matter what.”
Serving the ministry
Schmalhofer began as a volunteer with the ministry at Grace, where he has worshipped for more than 30 years. From 2014 to 2019, he served in a staff position as director of the ministry.
Brenda Schmalhofer has always worked alongside her husband with Discovery Recovery, but more so since she retired in 2016 after many years as a licensed practical nurse at Lancaster General Hospital.
She mentored a few women for a short time and provided meals to recovery houses in Lancaster, including Christmas breakfasts, then meals on a rolling basis periodically throughout the year.
The ministry also previously hosted big suppers.
“It was another way to let them know we love them because some of them have lost everything – family connections and friendships,” she says.
Discovery Recovery began at Grace when some men of the congregation went to White Deer Run, a men’s residential treatment center at 53 N. West End Ave., to share their spirituality and welcome them to the church.
The late Rev. Walter Heidecker, a pastor at Grace who began serving there in 2000, was the founding pastor of Discovery Recovery.
“Discovery Recovery is really a big part of the church,” Schmalhofer said. “It has been wonderful. They’ve been very welcoming and helped it be as successful as it is.”
Schmalhofer also works with a group called Grace and Hope, which meets at Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Road, at 7 p.m. Tuesdays; and with the recovery advocacy group the RASE Project, 131 E. Orange St., at 1 p.m. Wednesdays.
Delivering messages of hope
Schmalhofer retired in 2013 after 27 years as an information technology systems manager at Millersville University. But he has always been involved in the church and was later drawn to ministry.
In 2016, he received a master’s degree in theological studies online from Liberty University. In April, he is on track to receive a master’s degree in Christian ministry, also from Liberty.
“Then, I’m wide open to what the Lord has for me,” he said.
Looking back, he reminisced about what he says God has accomplished so far through the ministry.
“I love going to White Deer Run,” he said. “I love to deliver messages of hope because so many people come unsure that they can be forgiven. We share that God wants to forgive them.”
People from White Deer Run, Water Street Rescue Mission and Gate House also go to Discovery Recovery at Grace, he says.
“Many come eager to hear there is hope,” Schmalhofer said. “Their past lives do not dictate what their future looks like. With God in their lives, they can have full and abundant lives.”