Nearly 15 years after quitting smoking, Jim Moreland is leading a class to help other Christians look beyond themselves to find a spiritual solution to their smoking problem.

t didn’t take much to leave Jim Moreland short of breath.

“I could barely walk 100 yards down to the barn and back without getting winded,” he said.

Moreland had smoked for nearly 40 years. He has tried to stop, once quitting for three months.

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His addiction to cigarettes made him feel powerless. “This is going to kill me,” he would think.

But Moreland began to believe that maybe there was a power that could help him quit.

In February 2000, “I gave my life to Christ,” Moreland said. Soon after, drinking, anger and rough language vanished, he said. “There was a lot of stuff the Lord took away quickly.”

But the smoking remained.

It bothered him that as he was telling people about his new-found faith, “I was still addicted.”

In early July, Moreland sat down with that day’s half-pack of cigarettes. He smoked them, one after the other. “Before I put the last one down, I said a prayer.”

It would be his last cigarette.

“I just knew Christ had done that in my life,” he said. “There was no other explanation.”

Nearly 15 years after quitting for good, Moreland leads a class to help other Christians look beyond themselves to find a spiritual solution to their smoking problem.

Rising from Ashes meets on Monday evenings at Brandywine Community Church in Greenfield. The class grew out of Moreland’s involvement in two other ministries — the Celebrate Recovery 12-step program and classes in counseling. He thought about principles from each that helped people move forward past their struggles, and he used those to write a workbook for Rising from Ashes. The seven-week course was first offered last January and is back this year.

“I just really felt called by the Lord to begin working on this,” he said. “It’s based on the power of Christ living in us to give us the power to quit.”

As Moreland had, most in the class have tried to quit in the past.

Dale Johnson, one of the students in this year’s group, quit for as long as a month 15 years ago after a heart attack. It’s been one of several failed attempts to quit during his 55 years of smoking.

“I just need to quit,” he said. “The Lord put it on me that I need to quit.”

Johnson said he was surprised to learn through the class that smoking causes cataracts. His doctor noticed the start of one in his right eye. He’s not sure it’s smoking related, but with no family history of cataracts, Johnson wonders.

Annette Gustin, a former smoker who serves as one of the small-group leaders for Rising from Ashes, said most who take the class are surprised to learn about the wide-reaching physical effects of smoking. At a recent class, Dr. Lori Hurst visited to discuss smoking’s effects on the body.

“Everybody was thinking the same thing I was thinking, that it just affects your lungs,” Gustin said. “I think they got a lot of good information from Dr. Hurst and what she provided.”

The classes combine information about pursuing a healthy lifestyle — Moreland and Gustin both said they gained weight when they quit smoking — with group discussion, Bible studies, verses to memorize, and the support and accountability of the group.

“If they wanted to light up, they can always call me,” Gustin said of the women in her small group.

Brandee Bastin, who leads the Hancock County Tobacco Free Coalition, said experts recommend a combination of support and nicotine-replacement therapy, such as a patch or gum, for those quitting smoking. She’s seen 500 to 600 people go through Hancock Regional Hospital’s four-week Commit to Quit smoking cessation classes in the 12 years she’s worked at the hospital.

But she noted the best way to quit smoking is unique to each individual. Anyone uncomfortable in group settings, for example, might be drawn to the Indiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), which offers free, confidential one-on-one coaching over the phone.

Those who draw support from a group, though, can benefit from the classes at the hospital, from a class the hospital offers to a church or other group, or from another program such as Rising from Ashes.

“We’re always happy to hear about any program helping people quit,” Bastin said.

Moreland remembers the strong pull to smoke, so strong that, once, even when he had severe pneumonia in one lung, “I still woke up and smoked on one occasion.”

He said he believes if he hadn’t quit in 2000, he would be dead or in convalescent care by now. He hopes Rising from Ashes will help others break free and stop smoking.

“It’s a battle for their life,” he said. “I pray God is going to do this miracle in their lives that he did in mine.”

Find a class

The first two Rising from Ashes programs started in January, with organizers hoping to help smokers who’ve made New Year’s resolutions to quit. But after the harsh winter of early 2014 and a frigid first meeting in 2015, program leaders are looking at offering the next course at a different time of year, perhaps as early as March.

Cost is $20 for materials, but scholarships are available.

To find out more about joining the next class, contact Jim Moreland at 765-565-6589 or jameshmoreland@aol.com.

Pull Quote

“I just really felt called by the Lord to begin working on this. It’s based on the power of Christ living in us to give us the power to quit.”

Jim Moreland, on creating the stop-smoking program Rising from Ashes

Author photo
Anne Smith is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at asmith@greenfieldreporter.com