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Rick, a thirty-six-year-old old recovering alcoholic and drug addict, is enthusiastic about the Christ-centered substance-abuse group that is part of the Celebrate Recovery meetings at WBC on Monday nights. Introduced to drugs as a teenager, Rick already had a serious drug problem by the time he was fifteen years old. A DUI conviction at age eighteen eventually led to incarceration, where he was invited to attend a Twelve Step program that pointed him to a “higher power” and a “man named God,” he says, to whom he should pray.
With the help of what he learned in that program, and through praying every day, Rick was able to stay sober for eight years before he went into a year of hard drugs and heavy drinking. Caring family and friends urged him to go to church, which he did, eventually coming to Wheaton Bible Church after repeatedly declining invitations.
Even before he came to faith in Jesus Christ, Rick was drawn to what he found in the church. “The very first time coming to this church,” he says, “I fell in love with it, and I’ve been coming back. It’s an every-Sunday thing for us!” Along with Sundays, Rick started coming to WBC on Saturdays— specifically to the Saturday Men’s Bible Study—where he met Brad Utterback, who led Rick to faith in Jesus Christ.
It was not long after that another friend, one Rick had met at Alcoholics Anonymous, told him about a new Monday-night support group—a Christ-centered support group—starting up at the church.
Talking about his first visit to WBC’s Celebrate Recovery group, Rick said, “They were worshipping and they were singing—all the stuff I love—on a Monday!”
“I fell in love with it, and I’ve been coming back.”
“I just thought, Man—this is perfect! We have the capabilities of recovering and talking to other men and women about staying sober,” he said, “and also letting them know about what Christ has done for us and what He can do for us.”
Rick is seeing how those in the group are growing in their faith. “When you hear these stories—people’s testimonies of what they used to be like, what’s happened, and what it’s like now— and you hear what Christ has done in their lives with their families and their sobriety, it’s just amazing. It really works!”
Like Rick, Kim—who helps lead the codependency group—loves the singing that opens the large-group portion of Celebrate Recovery each Monday night. “Sometimes the words to a song can bring me to tears, as well as begin the healing process in places of hurt and brokenness,” Kim said.
Her own struggles with codependency brought her to the group. She explains, “I have an emotional reliance on my daughter, who is a drug addict. Over time, I’ve learned compulsive behaviors to survive my own emotional pain, which has hindered not only me but also my daughter, by enabling her to carry on her addiction.
“My troubles with feelings of low self-worth and avoidance of other feelings have placed me in a stronghold of fear, doubt, and passivity,” she said.
In the group, Kim has had the opportunity to share her story and the hope she’s found in Jesus. Describing herself as “more joy-filled than ever,” she recently told the group, “I’ve learned how to pray deeper, how to listen to God, and how to get intimately connected to Jesus by reading and studying His Word.
“I am definitely a work in progress,” she adds, “mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But as a follower of Christ, I no longer walk in past regret, shame, guilt, or condemnation.
“Christ has freed me,” she said, quoting Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Based on the belief that Jesus Christ is the true and only “Higher Power,” Celebrate Recovery leads people toward hope and healing as they become more like Christ. Whether they are seeking recovery from substance abuse, codependent relationships, eating disorders, or other areas of struggle, that focus on Jesus Christ is a distinctive of every aspect of the Celebrate Recovery program.
Each Celebrate Recovery meeting begins with a large-group session from 6:30 to 7:00 followed by an hour of issue-specific break-out groups (more being formed as interest indicates), and the Celebrate Recovery Café from 8:00 to 9:00 pm.