In August my congregation launched Celebrate Recovery, which is a ministry aimed at helping people heal from the hurts, habits, and hangups that are keeping them from living the life they want to live and the life that God created them to live. The official description of CR reads like this: “Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program with foundations firmly established in Biblical truth. The 12 Steps with accompanying Scriptures and the 8 Principles based on the Beatitudes offer participants a clear path of salvation and discipleship; bringing hope, freedom, sobriety, healing, and the opportunity to give back one day at a time through our one and only true Higher Power, Jesus Christ. The 12 Steps and the 8 Principles work seamlessly together, tying historical recovery to timeless Biblical teaching.”
Since starting this ministry I’ve learned a great deal about CR and I’ve learned even more from CR. Here are 6 things I’m learning:
- People want to experience healing. The response from our community and congregation has been a witness to this fact. We live in a such a broken world that a deep hunger for wholeness has been created that matches the deep wounds that our depraved world inflicts upon us. People are catching on to the fact that anything tied to this world is in the process of dying or decaying and they are looking for a truth that lasts and is life-giving rather than soul-sucking. And that’s what CR offers because it is built on the eternal truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- People need a safe place to share their hurts. The thing I’ve heard more than anything else from CR participants is, “Thank you for creating a place where I can share my struggles without being judged, dismissed, or discouraged.” First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” CR provides a safe place to experience this promise.
- I have such admiration for people who are on the journey of recovery. It takes great courage for a person to admit that he or she has a problem that needs to be confronted, and it takes great discipline to stay on the path to recovery. Every time I’m around our CR folks I am encouraged and uplifted because they are authentic and joyful. They know they have a long way to go but they are excited to be on the journey, and from them I have learned that the best way to reach a goal is to focus on the journey and work the process.
- The healing Christ offers is real. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I love that phrase, “And such were some of you…” It speaks to how Jesus accepts all who come to him, no matter what’s in our past. It also speaks to how Jesus makes it possible to leave harmful behaviors behind. And in CR I have seen and am seeing this kind of healing firsthand!
- Love of neighbor is inspiring. The volunteers and participants in our CR ministry are sincerely practicing Jesus’s mandate to love our neighbor, and it is inspiring to witness. There’s no judgment, there’s no cynicism, there’s no exploitation – there’s just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread,” to quote an old adage. This kind of love – the love of Christ – is what creates the atmosphere for healing to occur.
- I am so privileged to be a small part of this ministry. I am blessed to be part of CR, and I am being ministered to by the Spirit of God while I seek to minister to others through this effort. This ministry is reminding me of the power of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation – and this keeps me spiritually fired up. So, thank you to all of our CR folks for letting me tag along on this wonderful journey.
If you are a member at Alameda, I want to encourage you to get involved in this ministry. We have different ways and commitment levels of serving. When you get involved you will discover, as I have, that you are the one being served and blessed by God for being part of CR.