Upon the start up in developing our Faith Partners ministry there was an all important initial phase where we tried to create support and consensus for the new project by dialoging with congregants. Much discussion centered on the extent of the problem and what we, as a church, could do about it. Sometimes difficult and complex, and often straight forward and innocuous, questions always spurred discussion. Here are a few of those most frequently encountered.
What part should the church play in dealing with issues of alcoholism and addiction?
My knowledge of Scripture is imperfect, but I do know that Mark’s Gospel, verse 12:32 talks of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” This is also shared in Matthew’s Gospel, verse 22:39-40, where it says that “on these two Commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Clearly, I should treat those in my community who have succumbed to addictive disorders as I would treat a family member…or even myself. Further, Psalm 41:2-4 says “the Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.” I would think that we all have responsibility for assertively restoring those suffering for addictive disorders to full health.
Who would want to try to tackle difficult addiction and alcoholism issues for others?
For some, it involves an expression of gratitude as much as compassion, for there is much to be thankful for in their own personal recovery. Besides, none would be here without SECOND CHANCES.” Those who are deeply involved with their addiction and alcoholism are barely living. In recovery, we see them thrive.
What role does education play?
Education is an important component in breaking the stigma of addiction and substance abuse. It is far too easy to be scared or ashamed of anything that you don’t understand. Creating any ministry program should always include an educational aspect, not just to impart information but to open a dialog as well.
What role does our faith conviction play?
Of course, faith convictions vary, not just interdenominationally, but within the same denomination. Its really quite personal. For me, the answer lay in exploring the divine power present in the Christ. From my reading of Scripture, I gleaned that Jesus was inviting the world to allow the essence of God to be born in them. Where some saw the Gospel message as something to be literalized, I felt convinced that it was meant to be lived. At one time, I even suggested that how could one worship the great “I am,” except be having the courage to be the self God created each of us to be. Each of us – even in our addiction and alcoholism – is called so deeply into life, into love, and into being that he or she can say with Christ-like integrity, I AM!
Isn’t there a stigma associated with alcoholism? What message(s) will you convey?
You will know a new freedom– Not weighed down by the shackles of secrets, anyone can feel a relief lifted off their shoulders as they come to terms with who they really are.
You can be honest with yourself and others– It’s exhausting trying to be something we’re not. Being true to ourselves means living our truth.
You will gain inner peace– Admissions of familiarity with alcohol and substance abuse issues iis one more secret that can’t keep anyone sick anymore once its released.
If not us, then who?- It’s easy to sit around and say, ok great idea, I’m sure someone will do it. Sometimes we have to come out of our comfort zone and take action to make a change. Just assuming someone else wil do it doesn’t make an impact. Why not you? Why not now?
You will inspire others– You could literally save a life. By sharing with others who are suffering, you may inspire a change in them. We can help plant the seeds of change.
We are all entrusted with the responsibility to do whatever we can to stop the shaming and live in the light.