Feature story

Catapulted Into Action

Josh & Jill Stearns | Colson Fellows C’18
Addiction and divorce broke a marriage, but God’s redemptive power spurred Josh and Jill Stearns (Colson Fellows C’18) to bring help and restoration to others.
As Christians and small-business owners, we believe we are called to live integrated lives. This means our lives are not just about Sunday mornings, small groups, or living in some kind of “holy huddle.” Our construction payroll company is openly faith-based, with core values built around biblical principles. But our hiring isn’t limited to those who share our faith. Our heart’s desire is to improve the lives of those we serve—because we know what it’s like to experience brokenness and not know where to turn.
During our first marriage (you read that correctly), Jill and I looked like we had everything together on the outside. If anyone asked, “How are you?” our response was, “Everything’s great!” But behind the façade were alcohol addiction and a struggling marriage. We had been together since my senior year of high school. I had quit my drug addiction when Jill confronted me a few years into our relationship, but between getting married and having kids, my drinking became an issue.
Eventually, I couldn’t handle the guilt and shame. I left Jill and our four kids and fell back into my drug addiction. Three months later, Jill and I divorced. In December 2015, I decided I didn’t want to live anymore. I tried to take my own life, but God in His mercy didn’t allow me to succeed. When I woke up, I knew I had to make a change. I admitted myself to rehab, where I encountered God like never before. Although I’d always had head knowledge of God, I now began to understand what it meant to experience Him, commune with Him, and live every moment of my life with Him.
During this time, Jill and I reconciled, and in 2016 our pastor remarried us in a friend’s living room, surrounded by our small group and our kids. Because of God’s work in our lives, Jill and I are passionate about helping people struggling with addiction and marriage issues. We’ve done this for years in church through counseling struggling couples and running addiction recovery programs. But it wasn’t until we went through the Colson Fellows program that we took action to extend this ministry to the sphere of influence God has given us in our business.
We originally joined the Colson Fellows to gain wisdom for parenting, but we had no idea how much more we would gain as well. The program oriented us to the cultural moment we’re living in and gave us a heart to engage that culture. It gave us confidence and courage to speak to our kids without just quoting a Bible verse at them. Now we engage with them through questions: Where is God at work in your life? What are the conclusions of that idea you’re embracing? Where does that concept lead?
The program also further integrated our faith with our work by giving more concrete direction to our long-held desires to serve those struggling with addiction. A huge component of the Colson Fellows training includes creating a three-year strategic plan for taking all the knowledge we’ve gained and using it to help bring restoration to the world around us. Our eyes were opened to how much influence we have on the construction workers that use our payroll platform. This is significant because the construction industry has some of the highest rates of addiction and suicide—things we have experienced firsthand.
In 2023, as a direct result of the Colson Fellows program, we started CP Life Services to bring biblical care to those who work in construction. Employees can talk to a chaplain via phone, video chat, or 24/7 email.
Our long-term goals include providing more services related to addiction recovery, mental health, and physical health, including a database to connect people all over the country with churches in their area that provide recovery programs and counseling. We want to connect people to the nearby churches so that the Church can do what it is called to do.
Before we went through the program, this ministry was just a dream of ours. Though we had dreamt and talked about it for two years, we never had the direction or vision for what that would look like … so we never took action. The Colson Fellows program catapulted us into action. As we move forward in our business and ministry, our heart’s desire is to show a different way of living, where humans flourish. Because we’ve known both brokenness and redemption, our deepest desire is to participate in building a culture that’s attractive to a 
broken world.