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Hillsborough Faith Leaders Coalition

Updated: May 8, 2019


Panel Discussion with (Left to Right) Keith Jacobs, Dr. Qazi, Pastor Benny Fernandez, Pastor George, Pastor Doug Walker, Imam Hassan

In October of 2018, Dr. Joe Bohn and the USF College of Public Health invited Pastor George to speak at an opioid forum to educate doctors and health care professionals about the opioid crisis. We thought this would be your typical, share, shake and move along; but God seems to have other plans. Out of this forum formed a "grass-roots" coalition of faith leaders, doctors, health care professionals, college professors and law enforcement from around Tampa Bay. The mission of this coalition is to educate and empower faith leaders and their communities to engage the Opioid Crisis with love, acceptance and compassion. From this grass-roots coalition we have seen some really cool things.


Timothy Initiative recently co-hosted a opioid forum with for the Muslim community, as requested by Imam Hassan and his wife Mona. These two have been apart of this movement since its inception, contributing great dialog and bringing a unique perspective to the table. At one meetings they voiced how most muslims tend to stay away from conversations about substance use and see drugs as taboo. So instead of running from the issue they invited their community to engage with it instead. We had speakers from the Department of Justice, Gary White from Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance and a panel of both Christian and Muslim faith leaders sharing lived experiences.


Hassan told us that this event really opened the door for them, inspiring a small group of people to meet and discuss this issue on a regular basis. "He said, the seed of change has been planted now we have to water it." He is looking forward to the next forum to discuss more with his community. Outside of the muslim community there are other coalitions popping up in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. To learn more about this movement check out: FBOCF.org.


I (Christian) have had the privilege to attend these planning sessions with Pastor George; I can't express how exhilarating it is to sit with such passionate leaders, dedicating their time toward something so close to our hearts. Christ is empowering these leaders to turn the tide of history by challenging the way we view drug addiction in America.


Special thanks to Kristen Ahlberg and the Underground Network for helping us plan this event and allowing us to use their theatre!




Dr. Bohn + Imam Hassan Group photo of the team! Dr. Bohn w/ USF students



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Timothy Initiative Ministries

PO Box 280002

Tampa FL 33682



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