Pastor camps outside to raise awareness about heroin
COLUMBUS , Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- As heroin abuse continues to be a problem in Ohio, a Columbus pastor is using a unique way to raise awareness by staying outside day and night.
Bishop Jerry Pierce is taking his message of heroin abuse to the street.
"People are dying man. We need to give a message that life can change."
The east side pastor is going to extremes to share a message of hope. During the day, he sits by a fire. At night, he sleeps in a tent outside his church.
When it comes to heroin, Pierce knows the grip it can have. He became addicted while in the Army. The road to getting clean was long.
"I went through that 20-year cycle: in-and-out of jail, in-and-out of treatment. I never thought I'd be able to get off of drugs, but finally I did. So I'm able to share that hope,” said Pierce.
The pastor said his story helped him connect with people struggling with heroin.
"I know the struggle. I know what it feels like,” said Kevin Moore.
Pierce’s elaborate anti-heroin display caught Moore’s eyes. Moore has been off heroin for three weeks.
“I've been on-and-off of it for the past four years, so it's been a hard journey."
A journey more people are finding hard to escape. Recent information from the CDC showed a nearly 20 percent increase in overdoses between 2014 and 2015.
"Heroin addicts, if somebody [overdoses], they want to know where that drug came from. And they go look for that. So now, I'm seeing they're getting younger. It's not unusual to see somebody 17 years old strung out on heroin,” said Pierce.
Bishop Pierce said as long as he's outside, he'll connect anyone that needs help with the right resources.
"We have to be able to bring that hope and be able to touch people that don't have a voice."
Pierce plans on staying outside for a week bringing his message of hope.