Today I am writing something a little different. Last night we completed the Celebrating Life in Recovery program at the Wimbish Road Church in Macon, Georgia. We were blessed, and I wanted to share those blessing with you, read on!
As the final meeting drew to a close, I felt a sense of loss but also one of exultation. Over 14 weeks the group before me had taken a journey together. Sharing, caring as we were being led by the Holy Spirit. It was a journey of healing for some, of growth for others. But for all it was a time of discovery. We had just experienced a program which showed us we all have junk in our lives and no matter how terrible or ugly it might be, we have a Savior who wants to take it all. He wants to free us. We all had just shared, Celebrating Life in Recovery.
My loss came from knowing that our group would no longer meet every Tuesday night. But my exultation came from the look and voice of peace and joy I saw and heard as we shared this last night together. We had been changed and we knew it. And as I passed out the certificates of completion it was again the feeling of the Holy Spirit being there and filling the room with warmth that allowed me to cry just a little but smile through the tears.
Celebrating Life in Recovery is a 14-week recovery program. But unlike most it is not directed specifically at addictions but addresses the broader issues of life we normally would not consider when we are speaking of recovery. Its basis is in that all of us are sinners and because of that we have something in our lives that is keeping us from a closer and more intimate walk with Jesus. Something that keeps us from feeling comfortable walking around in our own skin and holds us back from all God wants for us. Being structured as a 12-step program it follows in the basics of this familiar format although unlike others that offer this it is totally Bible based. But there is so much more to it.
You see, Celebrating Life in Recovery the program is also based on a television show of the same name. This long running show on the Three Angels Broadcasting Network is hosted by my friend, Cheri Peters. Cheri who experienced every kind of abuse from the time she was born, including parental abuse. She was abandoned to the streets of Los Angeles as a youth. There drugs led to a lifestyle of crime and degradation. So much so that she found herself on the verge of suicide then a miracle occurred, she heard the voice of God saying He loved her. After that her life changed, no not in an instant. But she was led on a journey sharing what God was doing in her life. Lots of miracles, too many to write here. But because of them she began a ministry to the lost, hence first the television program where guest share amazing testimonies and from it came this recovery program rooted in God’s love for us and based on one of the greatest Christian books of all time, Steps to Christ.
The 12-step, the Bible based program and the shared videos alone make this a solid route to recovery. But there is one more feature which is truly the heart of the program, small group discussions. Each week the participants meet first together to learn about healthy lifestyles and watch a video which demonstrates the lesson from that week’s program. Then they break into smaller fellowship groups to discuss and share what each has on their heart. Within a few weeks bonds start to form and the discussion, led by a group leader, becomes the center of the Holy Spirit’s life changing work. No counsellor needed or wanted just people sharing can and does begin the healing process!
There is still more to the program, in its understanding that all true recovery means a healthy body and along with that a healthy mind. Instructions in health, along with a healthy snack are shared. Even a vegetarian cookbook is given to each participant to help with their changing life. Complete rebuilding of the body and spirit, that is the program’s goal.
Being a supporter of Cheri’s ministry for years, first financially and in recent years a leader in the program, it was my prayer when I moved to the Wimbish Road SDA Church in Macon, Georgia this year, that it would see the awesome benefits of supporting and promoting this program. I was blessed that all embraced it. We had our first meeting August 15th with 24 participants, a mix of community and church members. When we finished last night, we had an amazing 26 who completed the program. God has been good to us here in Macon.
During our graduation ceremony last night, after we enjoyed a fellowship meal together, each of our group leaders shared their insights to the life changing benefits of the program. But the highlight testimony came from one of our community participants who shared that she was able to see how she had been hanging on to her sins, how they had been ruling her life and through the program she had found the strength to start letting go. It touched us all and brought tears to my eyes. I saw that the Holy Spirit had truly done His wonders over the past 14 weeks.
In Macon we are already looking forward to sharing this program again. If after reading this you think you, your church or organization can benefit from Celebrating Life in Recovery check out Cheri’s website, truestep.org or you can contact me at my blog address, my-lostandfound.net. My prayers are that you will experience what we who have spent these last 14 Tuesdays together now know: “Our God is crazy about us!” We can truly celebrate, “How cool is that!”
Just a caveat here. True Step Ministries runs on faith. The work that Cheri, Brad, and the whole ministry do is one that most of the Christian world would like to sweep under the rug. But it is truly the work Jesus said He came to do. The work of Luke 19:10, “…I have come to seek and save the lost.” If anything I wrote today has touched you, visit truestep.org and donate to one of the hardest working, worthy ministries you will find. As one of the lost now found, I thank God for what it has done in my life. Think about it then give from your heart. You won’t regret it!
Blessings from Macon Georgia, John