The WalkBig Jim, aka, Jim Downs, is on a mission to bring awareness to addiction and addiction recovery. His foundation will donate all proceeds to build Camp Redemption, a recovery program for all types of addiction. He will be leaving Panama City, Florida on February 1, 2017 to walk to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. From there, he will continue his walk for approximately 2800 miles, stopping on the weekends to attend church services and meet with followers along the trail. His message is simple….. HOPE!!! There is life after recovery. Big Jim is a living testament to how God can work in our lives. He has made a 360 turn in his life and he owes it all to God.
The following is Jim’s story and how Big Jim’s Walk came to fruition.
In the month of June 2015, God came knocking at my door, literally. He was relentless. Everyday, in some way, he was knocking at my door, trying to get my attention. A few times he would knock so loudly, that I actually got up off the couch and answered the door, thinking someone was at my door. This went on for a few months. After awhile, I noticed that every time I heard someone knocking at the door, the channel on the TV would have something about God, Church, Jesus, a commercial, a movie, a sermon, something. This also happened when I was listening to the radio. There was always something about GOD. Eventually, he was knocking so loudly, that I gave up and went to church one Wednesday evening. I hadn’t been to church in years, because God and I had a falling out many years ago.I went to a little, community, church and the pastor was my boss, Ms.Greta’s husband. Ms Greta was 82 years, at the time, and she took me to church with her. During the service, when they had the alter call, Ms. Greta grabbed my hand and led me up to the front of the church. The leaders of the church, laid hands on me and prayed for me as I rededicated my life to Jesus.
The next day I was back in the bar drinking till I was wasted. I think this upset God, because a month to the day I went on a bender. I drank from 9AM That’s all I remember. I was told that I drank enough to kill the average man and had done meth and taken pills. Apparently, I WAS OUT THERE!!! Although I do not remember, that evening I went after my girlfriend and her 22 year old daughter, with a baseball bat. Thank God no one was hurt. I don’t remember anything. This was my first black out. I woke up sometime after 4AM the next day, hanging halfway off my front porch steps. I didn’t know where I was or how I got there. I didn’t recognize my own house. My girlfriend heard me and came out to get me and put me to bed… The next day she and her daughter told me everything I did… I couldn’t believe it. I knew right then and there that I needed help. So with their assistance, we found C.A.R.E and I put myself in a detox program. From there, I went directly into the recovery program at the Panama City Rescue Mission.
I entered detox at C.A.R.E October 1, 2015. After they medically cleared me and released me on October 19, 2015, I went directly to the Panama City Rescue Mission, Men’s Recovery Program. I left behind my job as Kitchen Manager at Pier 98, my live in girlfriend and her 22 year old daughter, my truck, my home, everything. One of the toughest, yet most meaningful days of my life.
Adjusting to the program was very difficult… The mission is not a secure, facility. If you want to leave the program, you can pack your things and leave any time. If you truly want recovery, you will stay and learn, and heal. I had no outside support system.I only have my sisters who live in California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. I have a bunch of friends, although everyone is a drinker and likes to party.They have all the love in the world for me and have encouraged me through social media. I love my old friends. When I entered the program, my girlfriend left me a week later. I figured that would happen. I don’t blame her at all for her decision. I was a monster. So I didn’t have any support system, except for the program itself. My case manager, John, eventually became my friend.I consider him one of my true friends. Its gonna be nice to continue our friendship after I leave this program. Mathew, the Chief Operations Officer, is my spiritual teacher. He is the most in-touch,spiritually, connected, man, who has the biggest heart. His desire is to help all people with their needs. He has become a very close friend. I would have to say, NO, more like a brother from another mother! He always has a smile and the most positive advice I need… A GREAT MAN!!!
The Panama City Rescue Mission has a wonderful recovery program. With the great staff and positive energy, it helped me a great deal. A typical day at the Mission….Breakfast is served at 6am. It is your responsibility to get up and eat if you want to eat. The first class is at 7am. The second class is at 8am. Lunch is at Noon and dinner at 4:30PM. Each student is given a job assignment which is called, Work Therapy”. It can range from clerical to production/sales or even delivery and pick up, grounds, maintenance, or kitchen duty. We work until approximately 3:30PM, in most cases. On Monday nights, we have Celebrate Recovery at the Panama City First United Methodist Church. Wednesday we have The Most Excellent Way at the First Baptist Church, and Thursday night is an AA meeting. The morning classes consist of different classes. Monday’s are POWER TO CHOOSE, Tuesday’s are PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE and AA STUDY BOOK, Wednesday’s are BOUNDARIES, and Thursdays are POWER IN PRAYER and GROUP COUNSELING. Friday’s are RELAPSE PREVENTION. All in all, a very structured program, if you want to work it and heal!
Although I can’t remember who I told first about talking to God and walking, I was laughed at and to this day am the but of all the jokes, at the mission. It has become so common that I am used to it and just laugh with them and go along with it. But, what they don’t understand is how GOD came to me and told me to do this. I have no choice about it.I have to walk. He is making it happen, and it is all unfolding before my own eyes. I am being obedient for the first time in my life.
As for the WALK, I just started walking, basically, practicing for the big event, while talking to God. I really haven’t done anything. I feel like GOD has created a special communication HOT LINE between us. I am able to have a conversation with him and do as he tells me. If he tells me to talk, I talk. If he tells me to write something, I write it. He’s in charge. He’s giving me direction. I know it’s hard to believe and even more so for me to explain, GOD is in charge of all this. GOD is simply using me for his big plan, which is my dream of opening a recovery program, unlike any other, Camp Redemption!
Its AMAZING….Big Jim’s Walk has gone world wide now and is followed by people in over 30 countries. I could never have made that happen. Big Jim’s Walk receives over 200 friend requests a day from around the world… I am unknown to most people.I couldn’t make this happen on my own, even if I tried. I have people who are excited and wanting to be a part of this message. The message is of HOPE that the Lord wants me to spread. I’m a man with a broken past and God is directing people to him. This is my spiritual journey, my self discovery. This is His message of HOPE!!! I am His vessel. Through God, I hope to accomplish what He puts in front of me.. I pray that this WALK will be a motivating factor to others who are struggling, seeking answers, seeking help….that there is LIFE after addiction. There is life after recovery… There is LIFE in JESUS CHRIST!!!
Please JOIN ME….as I WALK!
Follow the link below to see Big Jim's One Year Sober Video
Follow the link below to see WHY BIG JIM WALKS video