Journalism that Sparked Change and Gave Hope – Feature Writing

I met Bill McLemore when I was invited, as a young reporter, to speak at a Lions Club breakfast. I was surprised by the large crowd that filled the room at the back of the local restaurant. Someone introduced me to Bill, a big, bald man whose arms were sleeved with tattoos. I learned Bill had an incredible story — a “from a life of crime to the pulpit” story. He was a recovering meth addict, but not just any meth addict. He had turned his wife, Leann, and step children onto the drug. His quote about teaching his children how to cook meth is haunting: “My concept was ‘What kind of dad would I be if I let my kids do bad drugs?’”

After a life of crime and a few stints in jail, Bill found Jesus. Then his wife found Jesus. Then the kids. But damage had been done and there was a long road to recovery. I met Bill and his wife when they were fighting out of the pit and building a ministry. Ironically (or, I think it was a God thing), the story, which was considered a “Sunday centerpiece,” kept getting pushed back each week. The Sunday it finally ran was Easter Sunday. And the response was incredible. At that time, no one really knew how to respond to the meth epidemic. When mothers of meth addicts read the story about Bill, his redemption and the ministry, they reached out to Bill begging him for help. He offered what he could — a ministry, a meeting of people battling the same demons, who gathered to study the Bible, support and pray for each other.