By Sharon Mager and Shelley Allen, BCM/D Correspondents
COLUMBIA, Md.—As Christmas carols consume the radio stations and Americans consume their weight in holiday cookies, it seems inevitable that nostalgia will soon creep in. For millions of families across the country suffering from addictions, however, the holiday season can be a painful reminder of another year filled with mistakes, regret and defeat.
While numerous secular support programs are available to help addicts overcome their issues, some churches are taking a different approach. Ministries such as Celebrate Recovery, Recovery in Christ, Stauros and Reformers Unanimous are all focused on reaching out to addicts and helping them find true freedom in Jesus Christ.
Celebrate Recovery is one of the most well known Christian support groups with over 40 groups in Maryland and Delaware.
John Baker, founder of Saddleback Church’s “Celebrate Recovery” program, committed his life to Jesus as a child, but later struggled as an alcoholic. His life spiraled downwards and his wife left him. In desperation, he began attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. He attended church while visiting with his children—Saddleback Church. It was there Baker recommitted his life and was reconciled with his wife. He found it difficult, however, when he needed to share his struggles with church members. They often felt uncomfortable. He didn’t want to go back to a program that acknowledged a “higher power.” It was then that God gave Baker a vision for Celebrate Recovery (CR), a godly environment where people could work together to recover not only from addictions, but from any of life’s hurts or hang-ups.
Since CR began 20 years ago, 10,000 churches have helped 500,000 individuals complete the program. It’s a 12-step approach based on biblical principles. Eight recovery principles are based on the Beatitudes.
Many BCM/D churches offer the program. For detailed information about Celebrate Recovery, including John Baker’s full testimony, or to find a group near you, see http://www.celebraterecovery.com.
Recovery in Christ
Another successful local ministry is Glen Burnie Church’s Recovery in Christ. The group meets every Sunday evening to listen to founder and leader, Foty Namo passionately direct them through material designed to “break the chains of addiction.”
“It’s a very demanding course,” Namo explains, “but with love.”
Namo uses a tweaked 12-step approach that strongly emphasizes the need for Jesus and he leans heavily on positive reinforcement and accountability. A large part of the program’s success is Namo’s strong connection and his tenacity with his students.
He began working with addicts while doing prison ministry at Ordnance and Jennifer Road Detention Centers and at Jessup Correctional Institution.
“I wanted to go to Hawaii, Haiti, Jamaica, The Virgin Islands, anywhere to be a missionary…then the Lord said, ‘Really?’…and He sent me to prison,” Namo laughed.
He claims an 80 percent recovery rate. “Those who come to my class don’t go back to prison,” Namo said with a twinkle in his eye. “I will never give up on anyone who is part of this program no matter what it takes,” he said. Christ does not give up on people, Namo explained and it is He, Christ, who is working through the program.
For more information, contact Namo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stauros Ministries is an addiction ministry that focuses primarily on one-on-one mentoring and support for both addicts and their loved ones. John Burghauser, a member of Calvary Church, Bel Air, is the only full-time pastoral worker in America. His wife, Peggy, works as his administrative assistant.
Stauros Ministries is a sister of the United Kingdom group, The Stauros Foundation. It differs from many recovery programs by proclaiming that those who God has set free are free indeed and no longer need to claim the title of an addict.
“It’s really exciting,” Burghauser said, stressing that Stauros isn’t really interested in having more meetings or even getting the name out there, but is focused on keeping that simple person-to-person foundation, educating volunteers, keeping clients protected and becoming a resource for churches.
Stauros also has a band now comprised of former addicts and friends of Stauros. “It’s a great forum for them to use the gifts they have,” Burghauser said. The band travels to different churches presenting concerts with testimonies. They’ve even released a CD, “He Has Set Me Free.”
Stauros is Greek for “the cross” and the philosophy of Stauros is that all the needs and sin in today’s society can be healed at the Cross of Jesus. For information about Stauros see http://www.staurosministries.com, or to speak with Baughauser or to schedule a presentation or have the band perform, call (443) 791-1599 or email email@example.com.
Reformers Unanimous (RU)
First Church, Dundalk hosts a Reformers Unanimous (RU) Group, designed for addicts of all kinds—whether they struggle with alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating disorders, gambling or other strongholds. RU Director Larry Smith, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Church, said the group is Bible-based and Christ-centered.
“Real freedom isn’t something we can achieve by our own power,” Smith said. “When you turn your life over to Christ, you find the real freedom through Him.”
Smith said there are three main parts to the meetings: a testimony and prayer time; a support group session when women and men meet separately; and a teaching lesson, hearing from God’s Word. Participants earn rewards through Bible reading and memorization.
“Through the meditation of God’s Word, hearts are changed,” he explained. “We believe that temptations lose their power the closer you are to the Lord.”
For more information about RU, or to find a program near you, see the website, http://www.reformu.com. For information about the group at FBC Dundalk, call (410) 282-4256.