Emerge Mission Moment
Chef Greg Shaffer shares his story of transformation
XENIA — The journey that brought Greg and Shayne Shaffer to Arise Café at the Emerge campus was nothing short of miraculous. In fact, Chef Greg recalls, if it hadn’t been for a decision he made many years ago at the Refuge, neither of them would be here today. “I am extremely blessed,” Chef Greg said. “I shouldn’t be where I am today. God definitely has a plan for us and for this place. I don’t know what it is but I do my best to follow it.”
Originally, the Shaffers are from Washington Courthouse, Ohio, where they were born and raised.
“We met in Columbus working at a hotel,” Chef Greg said. “There was a culinary training program at Columbus State. Prior to that, I was a mechanic but didn’t like it. Chef Greg and Shayne met 27 years ago, after his first marriage.
“I’ve pretty much always been a chef,” he said. “When I got out of high school, I made some bad choices and got married early on when I was 18. I was divorced by 21. We met after that.” Chef Greg said part of the reason he drank was because he had hatred and lack of forgiveness, emotions and feelings and things he had never dealt with.
“When I started with drugs and alcohol, it was strictly for fun,” he said. “I was living the college lifestyle at a young age and that’s when I started partying.” Nevertheless, the Shaffers were married in 1998.
“My drinking and drug use soon got out of hand,” he said. “My first family intervention was in 2005. That’s when we moved to Mississippi, where I was able to get away from it for a while. I was making a lot of bad choices at the time, and this was an attempt to get away from it all.”
Down in Southern Mississippi, Chef Greg did a wide variety of work in an attempt to get away from being a chef in addition to kicking his addictions. “I ended up going to rehab twice down there,” he said. “When we came back here in 2010, it was to start a business with my brother in Washington Courthouse. We did that for a while and I started drinking again and we had another family intervention.
Then, in 2013, Chef Greg went to rehab in Knoxville, Tenn., for 5 or 6 months. “I did well for a few months,” he said. “Then, I started losing jobs and stuff.” Soon after, in 2015, Chef Greg said the ‘bottom finally dropped out.”
“I was arrested,” he said. “I was drunk. I spent the weekend in jail. I lost my job, and I had to walk home in February. When I got home, everything was in the garage. I also found divorce papers there.”
Later, he said his judge gave him the option of going to the Refuge or facing his new charges.
“That was in March of 2015,” he said. “That’s when God really started to work on my heart. There were so many tormenting feelings. When I finally surrendered to Christ, I didn’t know if my marriage was going to work or if my kids were going to be there and that’s when I started to have peace. The first three weeks of the Refuge were that way. I was worried. It took many days of praying over and over to put it in God’s hands. It’s hard to accept that, but once I did, there was a huge weight off my shoulders. I hadn’t talked to Shayne for at least two months. I was there for a year, and it was a slow process getting my relationship with my family. I completed it in 2016.”
Today, Chef Greg has four kids, two of which are from his first marriage and two from his marriage with Shayne. They include Jonathan, 34, Courtney, 32, Lee, 22, Samuel, 19. “I rebuilt my relationship with my family,” he said. “We purchased a home. This was the first time in my life that I told God to take me where you want me.”
Shortly after that, he said, he was at One Bistro for almost five years. Then, he said, he and Shayne came here to Arise Café at Emerge to work for Chris Adams and Kip Morris.
“Since leaving the Refuge, I have sought direction from God in all my decisions, including God in my daily life,” he said. “The last drink I had was about eight years ago. We are just following God’s direction at this point. God has a plan for me and for us and this place. I truly believe he brought us here to help and be a blessing to those who come in and utilize what we have. People have been in similar situations so that’s why we’re here. We want to serve good food and be a blessing to people and speak life and truth.”
Throughout it all, Chef Greg said he is extremely blessed that Shayne has stayed with him.
“Shayne has seen it all,” he said. “I am pretty sure everyone on both sides of the family wanted her to leave me. I am so grateful she has stuck by my side throughout all this.”
Shayne said the hardest part of her husband’s addiction was realizing how she enabled it. “As the spouse, you’re always walking on eggshells,” Shayne said. “You don’t know what’s going to start the spiral. There’s also a lot of hiding your head in the sand trying to ignore it. The worst part was realizing that I was enabling it.” The best part, however, she said, was seeing the transformation.
“The best part, honestly, was after the initial family day at the Refuge – I had divorce papers in my hand,” Shayne said. “His dad asked me to wait, to see what God was going to do. When I got to the Refuge his face was different, his spirit was different. It took a lot of work the first couple of years to get the trust back and regain the footing so we could parent and handle things together. Putting God in the middle of it instead of trying to dance around in addiction was a game changer.”
In order to maintain his recovery today, the Shaffers attend Grace Community Church in Washington Courthouse regularly. “We have several men there in a group who came from the Refuge, and I’ve maintained relationships with them,” Greg said. “I’ve also helped mentor people and encourage people and pray for people. We try helping people in any way we can. That’s why we were excited to help open and manage Arise Café. We came to Arise in February. We believe the future is very bright. We are excited about Emerge.”
To follow the progress of Emerge, contact Elaine Bonner at 937.974.6120 or firstname.lastname@example.org