A Christ-Centered Community committed to supporting people with mental health and substance use challenges in their recovery and wellness journeys through:

H ope,
O pportunity,
M ercy, and
E ncouragement

Serving Montgomery County, Illinois & the surrounding area

Recent News & Events

Apply to Intern/Work/Volunteer for Cross Over Ministries!

Please submit completed application (forms updated in October 2023) to Cross Over Ministries, P.O. Box 238, Hillsboro, IL 62049. If you have any questions, you may call us at 217-608-0266. We will return your call on the first day we are back in the office. (Hours are Tues, Weds, and Thurs from 1pm-6pm.)

Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of the Cross Over Ministries’ (COM) team. Serving in this capacity is an experience that will give you the opportunity to grow in your relationship with the Lord and with others. You will be actively involved in helping people with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders discover their own recovery and wellness journey. You will also be contributing to the vision and mission of COM. Our Board will be relying upon you to give us advice regarding specific goals and the actions required to meet them.

We want you to have a clear understanding of the role you will play in shaping our Ministry and the personal commitment of time for training you will need to make if you become an intern/employee. We also want you to know of our commitment to you. That is why you may find it helpful to review our website (www.crossovernfp.com), this application, and our vision and mission statements.

Your application will be kept confidential and on file with our secretary. It will not be used for any other purpose than to identify and evaluate potential interns/employees/volunteers. All new interns/employees are voted on by our current Board Members and approved by a 2/3 majority vote.

We welcome any questions you may have prior to completing this application. We pray that the Lord will lead you as you make this important decision to apply to become a part of the Cross Over Ministries’ team.

In His Hope,

The Board of Cross Over Ministries

A Refuge Of Hope, Haven Home Set To Open

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

four people stand behind two people sitting on a residential porch beside potted plants and wicker furniture.

Above: A long held dream of Cross Over Ministries will come into actuality with the opening of the Haven of Hope Home, a resource for those in the midst of mental health and substance use crisis in Montgomery County. Above are members of the team that spearheaded opening Haven Home, (front, L-R) Dawn Young and Kim Noyes. (back, L-R) Ryan Gnaegy, Amber Kite, Erica Petcher and Bonnie Goodwin.

“I don’t think the community realizes how many people are struggling with mental health and substance use issues in Montgomery County. These are real people with real families and friends that love, pray and grieve for them. People that need a chance to change their lives. That change starts with stability. Our goal is for the Haven of Hope Home to provide a first step into wellness,” said Amber Kite, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) with Cross Over Ministries who has been at the helm of opening the Haven of Hope Home.

A long awaited vision that has finally come to fruition, the Haven of Hope Home aims to address the basic needs (a nice meal, clean clothing, a safe refuge) of some of the most marginalized residents of Montgomery County, those that are in the midst of mental health crisis and/or struggling with substance use, while also addressing the more complex needs of connecting them to resources for detox and treatment.

An outreach of Cross Over Ministries, Haven Home’s vision statement: “a home where people with lived experience are committed to supporting others experiencing a mental health or substance crisis through the biblical principles of compassion, empathy and authenticity,” will serve as a guiding light for both the people that run and the individuals that utilize the outreach. Focused on their mission of “whole person wellness and meeting their guests right where they are,” Haven Home will not require those seeking refuge to be in active recovery when they knock on the door, however guests must take steps to begin participating in a recovery program to continue to utilize services.

“We are people with real lived experience. We understand that not everything is black-and-white; there are no ideals when it comes to recovery,” explained Erica Petcher, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) with Cross Over Ministries, who has been an instrumental part of the Haven Home Team.

“If someone comes in off the street and tells us that they need to detox but has been placed on a waitlist to get into a treatment center and has no safe place to go we will help. Haven Home is a place to give people stability and a safety net while they start their recovery journey.”

Both Petcher and Kite have real lived experience with substance use, as well as first-hand knowledge that hope, stability and a trusted support system are imperative pieces in any successful recovery.

“The first step is always terrifying. Even admitting that you have a problem is terrifying,” said Petcher. “That is why having people with lived experience involved in creating a mission like Haven Home is so important. We have first hand experience what it is like to rebuild your life and all the fear, shame, pain and discouragement that comes with that. We also know what it is like to live in recovery and why it is worth the fight to get there.”

Guests will make their own meals, do their own laundry and contribute to the upkeep of the house and property. They will also be required to participate in a recovery program, based on the recommendation of their personal counselors or physicians. Each element of Haven Home is designed to give the home’s guests stable footing along the early stages of their individual recovery journey.

Working alongside the Montgomery County Mental Health and Drug Courts, those in need can utilize the outreach for things like a hot meal, shower, clean clothing and connections to treatment resources during set hours: Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

After hours those in crisis are encouraged to first contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and if that fails to call the Cross Over number at 217-608-0266 or message the Haven Home profile on Facebook.

“We have been waiting for Haven Home for a long time. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point. A lot of losing faith, and getting faith back and losing faith again,” aaid Kite. “I still can’t believe that it is actually happening.”

“God has guided and provided for us at every step. The community really stepped up to make Haven Home possible. Every item in the house has been furnished by people in the community that felt called to help,” added Petcher. “We are beyond thankful to the community for having faith and believing in our vision.”

The community is invited to celebrate the opening of Haven Home, located at 205 Pleasant Street in Hillsboro, IL this Sunday, July 30, with a home blessing at 6 p.m. and a ribbon cuting at 6:30 p.m.

Those that would like to help the outreach are encouraged to send donations marked “Haven Home” to Cross Over Ministries, P.O. Box 238, Hillsboro, IL 62049. One-time or recurring donations can also be made online at crossovernfp.com. Haven Home is currently most in need of gift cards to local grocery stores and restaurants for those utilizing the home. They are also looking for a washer and dryer, and a few small dressers and plastic hangers.

Father’s Day Weekend Golf Tournament Brings In Funds For Haven

What a beautiful day for golf!!! Thank you to our teams, sponsors, volunteers, and Indian Springs Golf Course for helping us reach our goals!! Cross Over Ministries had 14 teams for our first golfing fundraiser—“Driving Out The Darkness”—June 17th and made over $4,000 which will be used for Haven Home of Hope, our new crisis respite home in Montgomery County which will fully open August 1, 2023. The Haven will provide peer counseling with certified recovery support specialists who have lived experience and can help individuals navigate their journey to wellness and recovery for mental health and substance use disorders.

Cross Over Ministries And Celebrate Recovery Accept Proclamation

Hillsboro Journal-News

group of men and women standing and smiling in court room holding certificates of proclamation.

Members of Cross Over Ministries and Celebrate Recovery attended the Montgomery County Board meeting on May 9 in support of a proclamation for Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Pictured above, County Board Chairman Doug Donaldson presents the proclamation to Dawn Young and Dan Hough.

Students Receive Anti-Bully Message

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

Man in top hat holds playing card while many sitting and kneeling children watch and raise their hands to be chosen to help or guess.

Pictured above, Professor Longhair (Randy Thompson) performs magic tricks while talking to the students at Beckemeyer Elementary School about creating an inclusive and welcoming environment during an anti-bullying program led by Cross Over Ministries on Wednesday, May 3.

The kindergarten through fifth grade students at Beckemeyer Elementary School heard messages on anti-bullying on Wednesday, May 3. Led by Cross Over Ministries, and funded through a grant from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln (CFLL), the hour-long program centered around different forms of bullying and how to take an active stand against bullying.

four teenagers stand and present in front of a group of attentive younger sitting students

Hillsboro High School students Sierra Compton, Morgan Jarrell, Anastasia Thompson, and Ryleigh Van Doren, all peer leaders in the Sources of Strength program, acted out skits for their elementary aged peers. Each of the scenes dealt with situations of bullying, after which the peer leaders asked the elementary students questions designed to make them think about how to have healthy interactions with one another. The high schoolers then spoke about the Sources of Strength program and how it has helped them grow in their own personal lives.

Professor Longhair then took center stage, performing magic tricks and talking to the students about working together and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment at their school.

small group of young boys pet a bridled mini horse held by a woman

Andra Ebert, owner of Heartland Mini Hoofs, talked to the little learners about the important roles her horses play as therapy animals. She spoke about being part of a herd and questioned the students about the many herds they are part of — family, class, grade levels, and school — and the role they all play in protecting and taking care of all of the members of their herd.

Following the anti-bullying program, the students were invited to pet Ebert’s mini-horses and were giving “Stand Up, Speak Out” armbands to remind them of the roles they play in making Beckemeyer an “anti-bully school.”

Through funding from the CFLL, Cross Over Ministries has held anti-bullying programs at all of the grade schools in Montgomery County. In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Cross Over has several awareness events planned including an open house on Tuesday, May 9, from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m., at 102 N. Main St. in Hillsboro.

March 2023 Newsletter: Ready! Reset! Go!!!

Cross Over Ministries has published our first Newsletter of 2023! We have been very busy at COM, with an estimated 3,000 people benefiting from our programs in one way or another in 2002. But the mental health and substance use challenges in Montgomery County are still here. Now we invite you to catch up on the “news” with our renewed vision, our reset resources to establish a HOME that will serve people desiring to live in recovery and wellness, and—most important—how community involvement is critical in moving our mission into reality.

Ready, Reset, Go! A Cross Over Ministries Retreat

COM board, RSP, and interns discussed responsibilities, goals, and opportunities.

Pictured above, Linda Liebscher, Cross Over Ministries president, guides a discussion on goals and opportunities during the non-profit’s retreat event.

Board members, Recovery Support Peers, and interns met at the home of executive director, Linda Liebscher on Friday evening and Saturday morning, February 24-25 for a retreat to get ready, reset and go forward with the vision and mission of Cross Over Ministries.

Friday evening started with a lasagna dinner prepared by Terry Liebscher along with a variety of delicious desserts made by the hosts. Natalie Fuller led worship then offered a devotional based Truth and Love. She encouraged COM members to stand firm on their beliefs and not apologize. The evening concluded with Pastor Jay Martin serving communion to all present.

Following a homemade breakfast on Saturday morning, Vice President Wayne Wedekind and Linda Liebscher led a brief devotion. All members participated in a team building exercise which included painting and decorating a bird house. All members participated in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, along with Short Term and Long Term Goals of the ministry. The team then assigned responsibilities of short term goals and opportunities. Board members were united in moving forward with a mental health recovery home. RSPs announced that the HOME committee finalized naming the recovery home which will be called Haven Home of Hope.

After concluding prayer, everyone left with a fresh sense of commitment and unity for mental health and substance use work in Montgomery County.

Team building exercises included painting and decorating bird houses.

Pictured above, Decorated bird houses, part of COM team building and visualizing a recovery home, if only for small flighted residents this time.

Podcast Intervew: Episode 51: This One’s For Ben

Recovery Uncensored

Amber Kite, a Recovery Support Peer (RSP) with Cross Over Ministries, joins Recovery Uncensored in the studio to talk about everything recovery, but not before she gave a shout-out to her close friend, Ben, who tragically lost his life to suicide recently at the young age of 25. They discuss the importance of checking on our people and letting them know we love them. Remember, you can call 988 if you feel you are in a crisis and need someone to speak with. After her heartfelt memorialization to Ben, Amber takes Recovery Uncensored down a road of active addiction that seemed to grow after a long-time relationship of nearly seven years abruptly ended. Confessing the relationship had become toxic, and she was admittedly co-dependent, she descended into heavy drug use that led to her mother constantly worrying about her and having police contact, resulting in probation and attending Madison County, IL Drug Court under the Honorable Judge Napp; Amber was court-ordered to go to long-term treatment and was admitted to CRC, a long-term recovery home in Irving, Ill. (Montgomery County), a village of only 600. She stayed nearly two years, even during the strictest COVID-19 lockdowns. Today, she celebrates her family, friends, and working in the recovery field, helping others find a new way to live.

Survivors of Suicide Loss Come Together

By Bethany Martin Hillsboro Journal-News

Four women dressed in warm clothes stand outdoors at nighttime on concrete behind red, gold, and green lunch bags lit from within with electric candles, all the bags arranged in the shape of a ribbon twist for a cause.

Members of the Nokomis community braved the frigid temperatures as they gathered for the third International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day luminary ceremony on Saturday evening, Nov. 19, at Shane Cole Park in Nokomis. Over a dozen attendees joined together to offer comfort and support to local residents who grieve the loss of someone they love by suicide. Several luminaries were purchased in memory of those lost to suicide with proceeds benefiting Cross Over Ministries. As the luminaries were lit, everyone gathered around as Lynette Weiss of Cross Over Ministries (above, second to the left) offered a prayer and Jodi Reynolds, far left, read the names. The ceremony also included a Native American rock and feather ritual, which represents the pain of the past and hope for the future. Cross Over Ministries and its volunteers set up with information to help those who may be suffering, and collected donations to help further its mission to provide helpful services, and hot chocolate and cookies were served.

Cross Over Continues To Light Darkness

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

woman in purple tee shirt speaks at wooden podium in front of several male and female adults in purple tee shirts.

Pictured above, Diane Singler, longtime volunteer with Cross Over Ministries, speaks about the loss of her daughter, Miranda Singler, during the non-profit’s “Out of the Darkness” grief support and suicide prevention event.

Strong winds did not deter early morning walkers from participating in Cross Over Ministries “Out of Darkness” sunrise walk, an annual event held to foster grief support and suicide prevention awareness, on Saturday, Nov. 5. The group zipped up their jackets and grabbed complimentary pen lights to take along on the short excursion through downtown Hillsboro before meeting back at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church basement where they warmed up with coffee and refreshments and settled in to hear from the morning’s speakers.

Longtime Cross Over volunteer Diane Singler opened the ceremony with a brief introduction on Cross Over Ministries as well as the local outreach’s grief support group, FROGS (Friends Reaching Out—Grief Support), which is spearheaded by Singler, her husband, Randy, and Becky and Wayne Wedekind, both in honor of the children they lost, Miranda Singler and Andrew Wedekind, and as a way to find healing the midst of their own grief.

Attendees were encouraged to bring photos of their loved ones to share during a candlelight ceremony. After lighting the candles, Becky Wedekind led those present in a moment of silence before Singler spoke about the loss of her daughter to suicide.

“The journey through grief is different for everyone,” Singler opened. “I am going to focus on loss from suicide but loss of the ones we love happens in many forms.”

Singler spoke about mental health issues, caused both from biological imbalances due to genetics as well as trauma and the importance of caring for the brain in the same way that people would care for any of the organs of the body. She went on to speak about the harmful stigmatization of having mental health issues and the stigmas surrounding those who take their own lives, as well as the need for both to end in order for real healing and prevention to occur.

“All grief is painful, but there is a second wave of grief for those who lose a loved one to suicide—both the actual loss and the society’s reaction to the loss—and that is something that needs to be changed. The best way to fight a stigma is to talk about it,” said Singler.

Singler went on to talk about her daughter, how looking back she could see the ways in which she struggled with mental health issues beginning in adolescence. She spoke about her kindness and warmth, as well as her creativity and talent and that despite her success she continued to struggle with her mental health. Singler spoke about learning that her daughter had sought help in many avenues and how important education is for the general population to really understand mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, in order to better embrace and support those struggling with them.

She then spoke about her own ongoing journey with grief and the need for those living in prolonged grief to find community.

“Healing grief requires work,” said Singler. “You cannot hide from your pain. Grief is God’s gift for natural healing, even Jesus wept. In order to heal, you have to allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that come with grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and you need to allow yourself to feel joy. You need to find a community that can understand you, and your particular grief, in whatever form that takes. People who can sit with your pain, and pull you back into the world, little by little, because on your own grief can be isolating.”

Ron Howard, with the Montgomery County Health Department, spoke next. Howard talked about his own experience with grief and the realization that “grief is the price of love” and one that everyone must pay. He shared information on his Grief Support Group, “Mourning to Morning,” which is held each Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Health Department’s Litchfield office.

Theresa Watters, with Beacon Church in Litchfield, shared her own encounters with grief, highlighting a Bible passage that she often turns to for strength, Isaiah 61, and the hope she finds in the thought that God can transform mourning into something new. She invited those in attendance to join her at GriefShare, a support group held at Beacon Church.

Linda Liebscher, president of Cross Over Ministries, spoke about the importance of coming together and sharing in each others grief before Pastor Stefan Munker closed the ceremony with a passage from John 21, in which Jesus appears to his disciples following his resurrection.

“Jesus shows up amidst our grief in the ordinary parts of our lives,” closed Munker. “Look for him and be assured that our loved ones are also present.””

After the ceremony, those in attendance enjoyed fellowship and a breakfast made by volunteers from St. Paul Lutheran’s church. Everyone was invited to take a gift and grief support resources home with them.

three rows of adults stand on the steps of a church, ready to begin walking before breakfast.

Cross Over Shines Light On Overdose

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

Community members gathered at Lincoln Plaza in Hillsboro to share testimonies and remember loved ones lost from drug overdoses on Wednesday, Aug. 31. The educational event was the first Overdose Awareness Day event to be held in Montgomery County and was spearheaded by Cross Over Ministries volunteers Erica Petcher, Amber Kite, and Ryan Gnaegy.

A rapidly growing issue that is often brushed under the rug, International Overdose Awareness Day is a globally recognized event held on August 31 each year to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of drug overdose, as well as acknowledge the grief of those that have lost a family member or friend to a drug overdose. The educational event also helps spread the message that drug overdose is preventable.

“Drug overdose is highly stigmatized and that is a big part of the problem. The stigma surrounding drug use, particularly overdose, prevents people from seeking help in the instance of an overdose. These are deaths that could be prevented,” said Amber Kite, one of the event organizers and a person who has lived experience with both addiction and overdose. “Erica, Ryan and I wanted to hold this event to help bring awareness that the opioid epidemic, and related overdose, is a very real thing that is happening right here in Montgomery County and while most people don’t want to talk about overdose, someone has to be the voice.”

All three of the event organizers have lived experience with addiction and each began volunteering with Cross Over Ministries to help those still caught in its grasp. Kite has been with Cross Over for three years and has been in recovery for four. Petcher has been sober for almost three years and joined the Cross Over team six months ago, and Gnaegy has been sober for a year and a member of Cross Over for an equal amount of time.

“I have first hand experience struggling with addiction,” Petcher explained. “It took a community believing in me for me to get clean. It is important for people, whether they are battling addiction or not, to see people in recovery. To know that recovery is possible and that we all have a part to play in it.

Several other entities joined Cross Over Ministries at the awareness event to share information on locally available resources, including St. Francis Way Clinic, Chestnut Health, The Montgomery County Health Department and Continuing Recovery Center in Irving, as well as the Celebrate Recovery and Recovering Gracefully Narcotics Anonymous support groups.

The awareness event gave those with lived experience a chance to share their testimonies.

“I grew up in a family of addiction,” shared Taylor Leibouitz, the opening speaker for the awareness event. “I started using at age 13, and began using heavy drugs (opioids, heroin, cocaine) with my parents when I was around 15. I was raised in an environment where drug use was modeled and it was the only way I was taught to cope with life. My parents were in and out of recovery but they couldn’t beat their addiction. I found my mother on our kitchen floor after she overdosed. I didn’t know what to do. She survived but was brain dead and died as a result. My father died a year later, due to a medical condition related to his drug use. I felt powerless. I made a plan to intentionally overdose, but I think God saved me for a purpose. My parents couldn’t stay sober but maybe I could. I went to treatment, and then to CRC in Irving. I stayed there for seven months and learned how to live again, how to do everyday things. Once in recovery, I chose to build a new life in Montgomery County. I found God here. I found a home here. Most importantly, I found a recovery community here and because of that I have been sober for five-and-a-half years. I can get on this stage and share about things that are not easy for me to talk about. This is what CRC taught me, how to get out of my default and deal with the things that are uncomfortable instead of trying to numb them away.”

According to the CDC, nearly 92,000 people in the United States died from a drug-related overdose in 2020. Part of the purpose of International Overdose Awareness Day is to provide education on how to prevent overdose-related deaths. At the local event, Marianne Drainer, representing Chestnut Health, led a demonstration on how to administer Narcan for those in attendance. Naloxone (Narcan) can be used to revive a person during an overdose as it is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the effects of other opioids and can quickly restore normal breathing in the midst of an opioid overdose.

Drainer also spoke about the “Good Samaritan Law” which provides legal protection to people, without medical backgrounds, who provide assistance to another person who is in peril. The law umbrellas those using drugs by allowing individuals to call for help and stay with a person who has overdosed without fear of being arrested. It also provides protection to non-medical personnel (who do not have liability insurance) who administer Narcan in the case of an overdose. These protections were implemented in an attempt to decrease the amount of overdose-related deaths that occur because no one calls for help out of fear of repercussion.

“If one person leaves here with an understanding of how to administer Narcan, and that knowledge is used to save someone’s life, it is worth it,” said Kite, who went on to explain that she hopes to see Narcan vending machines, or “Noxy boxes,” installed in Montgomery County to make the free drug more readily accessible to those most likely of administering it.

Cross Over’s Overdose Awareness Day was also a time for families and friends to remember and grieve those they have lost to overdose with a slide show and candle light vigil.

Further information on Cross Over Ministries, as well as their upcoming events and trainings, can be found online at their website.

men and women pictured from behind sit in folding chairs outdoors and pay attention to a man speaking on a stage.

Pictured above, Taylor Leibouitz shares his testimony during the Overdose Awarenss Day event hosted by Cross Over Ministries on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Cross Over Ministries Hosts May QPR Training

Hillsboro Journal-News

group of 13 women sitting at indoor tables, some taking notes, others in small discussion groups.

Pictured above, Gatekeepers-in-training ready to hear from Kate Wedekind and Jodi Reynolds of Cross Over Ministries who conducted QPR training at the Litchfield Community Center in Litchfield on May 28.

Most people wonder, “What can I do to prevent suicide?” “What impact can I have on someone’s life?” QPR facilitators Kate Wedekind and Jodi Reynolds, both suicide-loss survivors themselves, would tell you that “you can educate yourself and offer hope to someone in need.”

Through QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer), a trained individual can identify signs or direct language and actions of someone in high crisis or someone who is having suicidal thoughts. Their training on May 28 at the Litchfield Community Center touched the lives of the 18 “Gatekeepers” and will equip them with the skills they need to offer hope and support to one who is struggling. Gatekeepers can include anyone who is strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide (e.g., parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, caseworkers, police officers).

Cross Over Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit that works for our local communities to offer support, programs, and resources to help those in need. Their programs range from Recovery Support Peer Specialists to Strengthening the Family.

For more information about their mission and what they have available, visit their website. Funding comes from donors, grants, and fundraising.

The QPR session and the materials they were able to provide to the public for free were all thanks to the grant received from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.

They will continue to offer this training to the public and welcome inquiries about doing small group training at any local civic organizations, schools, and places of business.

three cookies in cut out shapes of purple hearts with semi-colon icing and purple and teal cause ribbons.

Pictured above, Sweet snacks were provided for the QPR Training by Erin Harris of Litchfield, IL. Find her business, Erin’s Cookie Creations, on Facebook.

Grant Funds Anti-Bully School Events

adults and children stand on school gym floor while other people stand in school bleachers woman speaks into microphone in school gym while two school boys hold miniature horses by bridles

Thanks to a generous grant from Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln (CFLL), Cross Over Ministries hosted five (5) anti-bully events at various elementary schools in Montgomery County in 2022. The events included magic tricks by Professor Longhair, Heartland Mini Hoofs, “Just Say Whoa to Bullying”, school cheers, discussions about what bullying is and what bullying is not, and a chance for the students to interact with the animals.

Pictured are the students at Raymond Elementary School, Oliver and Jasper (the mini-horses), and Professor Longhair and Princess Leah (May the “4th” be with you) since the event was hosted on May 4th. The students received “Band Together Against Bullying” bracelets and committed to initialing a poster that stated, “Kind, Kind, Kind Is Cool! Raymond Is A No Bully School!”

Three cheers for CFLL for making all of these events possible!

man in tall red hat, woman in white dress, woman in striped sweater, woman in black shirt, brown mini horse in purple harness and white mini horse in yellow harness

Let’s Taco ’Bout Mental Health At May Walk

By Mary Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

children and adults in black and white tee shirts follow a woman dressed in taco costume down a city sidewalk.

Nearly 50 supporters laced up their tennis shoes for this year’s Cross Over Ministries Mental Health Awareness Walk on Saturday, May 21. The rain held off just long enough for walkers to make the path from the Montgomery County Farm Bureau office to the Hillsboro Veterans Memorial and back. This year’s theme was “Let’s Taco ’Bout Mental Health,” and leading the walk was Lynette Weiss of Cross Over Ministries in her taco costume. After the walk, participants met back downtown for tacos and guest speakers who shared their stories of recovery.

Cross Over Welcomes Carron To The Board

Hillsboro Journal-News

Jennifer Carron, a Montgomery County resident and a graduate of Hillsboro High School class of 2004, has joined Cross Over Ministries’ team as a board member.

Carron has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and she has worked in law, corrections, and probation. Currently, she is a Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC) coordinator for the Macoupin/Montgomery Recovery Council.

“Jen not only brings a wealth of knowledge to share with Cross Over, but a passion for supporting people in their mental health and substance use recovery and wellness journeys,” according to Cross Over board secretary Dawn Young. “We are blessed to have her join our team. We welcome Jen and look forward to building our relationship with her. God continues to bring us people committed to our vision and mission.”

“I am looking forward to working with our community and bringing my personal experience and professional knowledge to help grow opportunities, bring awareness, and reduce stigma towards people with mental health and substance use disorders,” Carron said about the opportunity to be a member of the Cross Over board. “I am a wife, mother, daughter, and sister; and multiple people in my life have experienced mental health or substance use challenges.”

Cross Over Ministries serves Montgomery County and surrounding areas. It is located in Hillsboro, Illinois. For more information about Cross Over and the programs they offer, visit their website, www.crossovernfp.com or their Facebook page. You may also call them at 217-608-0266.

FROGS for Spring: Second Edition of COM’s Grief Support Newsletter

Cross Over Ministries has published our second issue of our new grief support newsletter called FROGS (Friends Reaching Out—Grief Support)! Look inside for ways to seek hope, forgiveness, and channel loss into purpose; embrace the ups and downs of grieving; and find community in others with shared experience.

Light Shines In Darkness At Cross Over Summit

By Mary (Galer) Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

eight amateur actors in costume stand in a line on stage while pews of seated audience watch in attention to a female speaker.

Pictured above, Linda Liebscher of Cross Over Ministries welcomes about 125 to the first-ever mental health summit, Conquering the Mind, held Saturday, March 12, at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church. Behind Liebscher are actors from the musical, “The Master’s Peace,” which was previewed to open the summit.

“I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how to live,” drug overdose survivor Sam Anthony Lucania told the crowd of about 125 at the first-ever mental health summit, Conquering the Mind, held Saturday, March 12, at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church.

Organized by the non-profit group, Cross Over Ministries, the five-hour event was focused on sharing stories of survival and recovery and bringing healing to Montgomery County.

Dawn Young of Cross Over Ministries welcomed everyone to the summit and opened in prayer, before a preview of the musical, “The Master’s Peace,” written by Linda Liebscher of Cross Over Ministries. Many of the performers in the musical have gone through the recovery process and are sharing their story with others.

Before the musical began, Cross Over Ministries volunteers shared statistics that 17 lives were lost in Montgomery County in 2021 to suicide or drug overdose.

Liebscher shared her vision in creating a Christ-centered living room in Montgomery County, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for those facing a mental health crisis. She recognized Marti Coderko for helping to create quilts that will be on the beds in the living room, and offered those present a chance to donate to the program in honor or in memory of someone.

“This is just the beginning, and we’re going to need all of you to make it happen,” Liebscher said.

The summit featured three nationwide speakers, Sam Anthony Lucania, Andy Raines and Sam Eaton, who all shared their story of survival to the group in powerful ways.

In addition to their remarks, local Recovery Support Peers shared five-minute personal testimony throughout the day about their own journey to recovery.

Several other organizations joined Cross Over Ministries in helping to present the summit, including St. Francis Way Clinic, Montgomery County Health Department, Eden’s Glory and Lincoln Land Community College. All had booths set up during the breaks, and there were counselors on hand throughout the summit for anyone who wanted to talk.

Following the presentation of the mental health summit, Cross Over Ministries is planning an event on Thursday, April 7, beginning at 6 p.m. at their home, located at 102 N. Main Street in Hillsboro, just above the Montgomery County Farm Bureau office. The event will focus on making the living room a reality in Montgomery County.

For more information, visit www.crossovernfp.com/index.html

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

young bald man with beard and microphone presents on stage while pews of seated audience watch in attention.

Pictured above, The first of three guest speakers at the Mental Health Summit, Sam Anthony Lucania, shared his story of surviving a drug overdose and finding purpose in life through recovery.

New Program Will Focus On Strengthening Families

For the past two years, Hillsboro Area Hospital has embarked on a mission to bring mental health programming to local children and families, including the Sources of Strength and the Blues Program.

Hillsboro Area Hospital is now pleased to announce a third program will be coming that can reach the county at large called the Strengthening Families Program. Existing and new programming will be supported by the COVID-19 School Wellness Initiative (Illinois) grant awarded through the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation and the Hillsboro Area Health Foundation.

The Strengthening Families Program is a series of group classes for parents and youth between seven to 17 years old that focuses on reducing behavioral, emotional, academic, and social struggles in youth by increasing family resilience, strengthening family relationships, and supporting parenting skills.

Participating families will be asked to engage in 14 weekly sessions. During the weekly sessions, families in the program will have a meal provided for them. In addition, families can take advantage of services to watch little ones so that parents can participate in the program with their older children.

This new resource program is evidence-based, has been tested in both urban and rural communities and is already running in over 35 countries. Support from the community is essential for programs like Strengthening Families to be successful. Bringing this program to Montgomery County would not be possible without collaboration with Cross Over Ministries, which is providing the space and trainers. SIU School of Medicine will also continue to provide support.

For further information about this program contact Lynette Weiss at 217-608-0266. More details may be found online at their dedicated website page.

Cross Over Committed To Conquering

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

two mid aged women sit on comfortable cozy sofa amidst pillows, books, and a green plant.

Pictured above, Cross Over board members Linda Liebscher and Dawn Young sit in the ministries’ “Living Room,” a safe, inviting place for those in the midst of a mental health crisis. Among the many programs Cross Over Ministries offers, the outreach is gearing up to host a mental health summit on Saturday, March 12.

“Conquering The Mind” is the focus of Cross Over Ministries’ upcoming mental health summit, set for Saturday, March 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Free Methodist Church of Hillsboro.

“I was listening to an interview given by Mandisa Lynn Hundley (a Christian recording artist) where she shared her personal testimony on how she struggles with severe depression, and I just had it laid on my heart that there are so many people in Montgomery County who need to hear others speak openly about their own trials,” said Dawn Young, board secretary and organizer of the upcoming summit. “To me this is not an educational summit in the traditional sense. You aren’t going to learn about specific techniques or practices to manage mental health or substance use challenges. ‘Conquering The Mind’ is really about giving people hope and letting them know that they aren’t alone.”

Centered around Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us,” the summit will feature three main speakers, Sam Anthony Lucania, owner and founder of Sam Anthony Speaks, Sam Eaton, executive director and lead communicator at Recklessly Alive and Andy Raines, an artist with Passion Painter Ministry, who will share their personal experiences with mental health and substance use.

Lucania, a professional speaker, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach in long term recovery from substance use disorder, will share his experiences with drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior, as well as his recovery journey. Eaton is a teacher, author, speaker and the founder of Recklessly Alive, a suicide prevention organization. A suicide survivor himself, Eaton is passionate about helping people tell a better story with their lives. Known as the “passion painter,” Raines will speak about how he uses his unique talent to overcome labels and drug addiction. In addition to speaking at the upcoming summit, Lucania and Eaton plan to share their stories at each of the four high schools in Montgomery County, as well as Carlinville High School.

The summit will also feature the personal testimonies of some of Cross Over Ministries’ Recovery Support Peers. Attendees will be treated to drinks, snacks and lunch, as well as the chance to win attendance prizes. They will also get a sneak peek at “The Master’s Peace,” a musical written by Linda Liebscher, board president of Cross Over Ministries, that examines the meaning of forgiveness, reconciliation, radical change, hope, and grace.

“I don’t know any other way to say it other than that the musical was ‘given to me’ by the Lord, because I have no musical ability whatsoever,” Liebscher said with a self-deprecating laugh. “There were so many people who came alongside me to help put the songs to music because they felt that it is something that really needs to be heard. The majority of the performers are people who are in recovery. The real emphasis is on allowing the community to see that recovery is possible and that they, as community members, can be the ones to help people along the way. People with substance abuse and mental health conditions are in dire need of a community that will surround and love them right where they are at. This doesn’t mean that your life has to be dedicated to eradicating these challenges. It can be as simple as reaching out to someone who is struggling or offering a job to someone in recovery.”

While Cross Over Ministries is acting as facilitator of the summit, several other organizations, including St. Francis Way Clinic, Montgomery County Health Department, Eden’s Glory, and Lincoln Land Community College will set up booths during the event to talk about the many resources that they provide.

“Our mission is always focused on whole-person wellness—helping people heal all areas of their lives—and that is not something we can do alone,” stated Liebscher. “Cross Over is not a one-stop-shop by any matter, which is why we are beyond grateful to partner with so many organizations and businesses within the county.”

Community collaboration and outreach are always at the forefront of the non-profit organization’s goals, which are to not only provide resources for those in the midst of a mental health or substance use crisis but to change the “face” of what is commonly presented as a person who is struggling with any of these issues and help tear down the stigmas surrounding those with mental illnesses.

“Like many small, rural communities we have a lot of negative connotations surrounding mental health and substance use, especially around the individuals who struggle. The lack of knowledge regarding mental health and people with mental illnesses is huge and because of that there are many, many people in our community that suffer alone because they are afraid of being labeled. The brain is an organ in the body, and like any other organ it requires care when under attack,” Young said.

In addition to collaborating with local resources, Cross Over Ministries offers a variety of programs out of their “home,— on the second floor of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau building in Hillsboro. They host the “Winners Circle” a program for people who are involved with the justice system; training Recovery Support Peers; the Living Room, a non-clinical Christ centered intervention program for people in the midst of a behavioral, emotional, or mental health crisis; bible studies; a suicide survivors support group; Al-Anon meetings (from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings), Narcotics Anonymous meetings (on Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m.); Divorce Care; and Second Saturday art programs; as well as providing emergency funding for housing and food.

Cross Over Ministries hopes to offer more suicide prevention and trauma informed care trainings to the community later this year. The educational training sessions center around making community members more aware of what they can do to help reduce the stigma around substance use and mental illness. They are also partnering with Hillsboro Area Hospital to offer an evidence-based program geared towards strengthening families.

“In my opinion one of the greatest things that Cross Over Ministries offers is equipping people who have lived experiences of substance use and mental illness to go out into the community and share their stories of hope while living a purpose-filled life, whatever that looks like to them,” Liebscher concluded. “Our goal is to build a recovery program to heal and embrace those living in the darkness of mental health and substance use, that will be replicated by communities throughout the country. We need leaders, organizations, law enforcement and members of the community from all walks of life to come alongside, because together is the only way we can prevail.”

Those interested may register for the upcoming Conquering The Mind Summit online at www.crossovernfp.com/2022summit.html or by calling 217-608-0266.

Cross Over Ministries Discusses QPR Training

Hillsboro Journal-News

woman holds microphone and speaks from podium in front of large presentation screen.

On Monday, Jan. 3, Cross Over Ministries board member Kate Wedekind, pictured above, presented on QPR training to teachers at Litchfield High School. QPR stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer,” three simple steps that can help prevent suicide. QPR training helps teach people how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to get help. For more information about Cross Over Ministries, visit www.crossovernfp.com or follow them on Facebook.