Life has been hard, challenging, disappointing. Situations have left you with an ache in your soul. You find that alcohol or pills or meth or heroin makes this ache go away. A lie, because when the high is gone, the emptiness is back and you are once again facing all that you are trying to forget. So you use again. And again, trying to maintain the comfort and peace that you desperately need. Before you know it, you are trapped in a vicious cycle and you can’t stop. You disappoint your family, you do things that don’t make sense, your life begins to slip away. Our world tells us that a person that struggles with substance abuse is not to blame and they have a disease, they cannot change, this is who they are and who they will always be. They might be able to be sober, but they are forever identified as an alcoholic, addict or in recovery. Their struggle has now defined who they are. Bondage begins with a lie and this lie is sending 142 people, literally to their deaths every day. This statistic hit home for me recently. In a four-month period, four members of my family and extended family died due to drug overdose. This reality sucker-punched me in a way that I cannot describe.
The drug problem in our country has been on a disturbing climb and each year the number of people addicted increases. In 2015 more than 50,000 people in the US died from overdose deaths. Drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country. When President Nixon began the war on drugs in 1971, he stated drugs were “public enemy number one” and ramped up a harsh crack down. Over the past 45 years the government’s stand against drugs has softened and today our government classifies addiction under mental illness and the latest buzz out of Washington DC is that addiction is not a moral failing. Bondage begins with a lie. As a nation, we have embraced this lie. The well-intentioned sentiment has only resulted in more people addicted and more people dying. The government is calling the opioid problem a crisis and they are looking for answers for freedom. With death rates rising, and the answer for change uncertain, the emphasis now is to simply keep people from dying. Let me tell you about some of the latest things that are either being initiated or considered.
Currently, Narcan is being prescribed to anyone who is a known opiate user. Narcan can be safely administered to anyone suspected of overdosing on opiates and it will cause the effects of the drugs to stop. The law was actually changed allowing anyone, if they have a friend or loved one who is an addict, to request of their own doctor (and the insurance company will pay) for a prescription for Narcan.
Something being considered, which is actually being done in Canada is safe consumption sites where people can go, shoot up under the observation of a nurse so they won’t die. Can you imagine this? What kind of existence is this? What will our world look like in 10 years if we do not stop the madness of this thinking?
Bondage begins with a lie. We, as a nation and even as the church, have bought into the lie that addiction is a disease and that people will always be addicts. While this thinking certainly softens the blow for addicts and family members, the reality is, this thinking keeps people hopeless and bound. The truth is that addiction is NOT who people are, it is what they struggle with. Bondage begins with a lie, but freedom begins with truth.
Redeemed2Repeat is different than any other recovery program you will find. Redeemed2Repeat shines the light of truth to the lies that hold people captive. We expose the lies and bring hope. Redeemed2Repeat is bringing hope and truth by telling people that they CAN change. They CAN be free. Not through any checklist of things to do, but by interacting with the Savior who died to secure their freedom and cleanse them of all their sins.
But it doesn’t stop there. This journey of change takes a lifetime. Getting sober is just the beginning. When someone gets sober, they face a world that they have so desperately tried to avoid. Everything is big, overwhelming and terrifying. In their addiction, people stop maturing so the simplest tasks can be impossible in their mind. They have believed and told so many lies that truth is foreign. When they get sober, they are thrown back into the world and told, “go conquer it!” Newly sober people do not know how to tackle the mess of their past, have no confidence to even walk into a business and ask for a job. What about hurt family members? How do you even begin to tackle that? Everyone around them seems to have it together and they are afraid to crawl out of bed and face this gigantic mess in front of them. Surviving is all they can do, so conquering seems impossible. No wonder 50-90% of people relapse. The emphasis of our culture is on prevention and treatment, but there is little available for transitioning back into society. THIS is where Redeemed2Repeat stands out. Not only do we help people understand that they can be truly free from their addiction, we help them with all the things they are facing. They need an advocate, an advisor, a counselor and a cheerleader. We have people that we are continuing to walk with three years later. The wreckage takes time to sort through and in God’s kindness, He doesn’t throw it at us all at once. Its a journey. This is what we do. We walk together. We encourage. We teach, we fellowship, we bring them into the local church where their lives will continue to be changed.
I told you about the government’s answer to addiction and after 45 years, it is evident that this answer is not working. I can confidently tell you that after three short years, since the start of Redeemed2Repeat, Jesus is the answer for true and lasting change.
What does this actually look like? How do we help people find comfort and peace? How do we help people in the very real, terrifying moments of life? Let me tell you about Sarah. She was so wrecked by anxiety that she could not work and was vomiting. She felt that there was something very wrong with her. As we talked, we recognized that her thoughts were out of control and her fear was so great that she was having a very real, physical response. For three hours we worked together to combat anxiety, to take control of her thoughts, change her thinking and to hold on to God with everything she had. Together we read through Lamentations 3, focusing on verses 19-23, over and over and over. We put on gospel-centered worship music to help focus her thinking. It was a brutal, three-hour battle. But as Sarah fought to hold on to truth, to change her thinking from the circumstances she was facing, and instead to remember the steadfast love of the Lord toward her and His promises for her, a beautiful thing happened. As her mind settled onto truth, her physical body became peaceful. The next two weeks, Sarah fought hard, using scripture to focus her thoughts. The fight for truth resulted in a new understanding of God’s love for her. Two weeks later she sent me this text, “God has really been helping me today. It’s just amazing when you realize that God actually really cares. He REALLY loves me! I mean I thought I knew that but now I KNOW it!” God changed Sarah’s heart as she desperately cried out and fought to hold on to truth and combat the lies. Her battle with anxiety will come and go, but she now has the tools to fight and does not need to escape through substances.
Brad came to Redeemed2Repeat straight out of rehab. Our team was working with him to settle into a sober living house and get a job. After almost two weeks of not finding a job and seeing a lack of effort to find one, we began to dig a little deeper into why. As first glance you might think that Brad just didn’t want to work and was unmotivated. The reality was that it had been so long since he worked that he was afraid to fail. He didn’t think he had anything to offer and didn’t know how to even walk in the door to ask for a job. We helped Brad to see the situation differently, to remember that God has his path already planned. The past no longer defines him. He can trust God to supply what he needs as he faces the monumental task of job searching. We helped Brad be ready to face a potential boss, how to present himself and how to have the courage to walk into a business. A few short days later, he had a job and is loving it!
Both Sarah and Brad need the church. They need help seeing that anxiety and fear and insecurity are not because of their addiction, they are part of being human. When people in the local church are equipped and understand the colossal obstacles that people who struggle with addiction face, we can help them connect to a Savior who can radically change their life. Redeemed2Repeat helps people understand that we are all the same and we all fight to believe truth.
When someone gets sober their problem doesn’t go away because the problem is not sobriety. The pain, the struggle, the destruction, all of it still there. The problem is they have an emptiness that must be filled and if not filled, it will again be filled with substances. Redeemed2Repeat brings the good news to people that only Jesus Christ can fill the void in them and give them the power to live a new life; one that is not only sober, but free. At Redeemed2Repeat, sobriety isn’t the goal, it is the result of a changed heart. Only the cross gives people the ability to look at their sinful past and the wrongs done against them and move forward in life, complete and new.
Culture tells us that people are not able to change, that they are always addicts or recovering addicts. Scripture tells us that through Christ we have been given a new nature, one that is free. Redeemed2Repeat helps people walk in this freedom, grow in their knowledge of God and thrive in the community of their local church.
Bondage begins with a lie. Freedom and hope for change begins with truth. In John 14, Jesus says that He is the way, the truth, and the life. In John 8, He says that those who know Him, will know the truth and the truth will set them free. He goes on to promise that whoever the Son sets free is free indeed. Bondage begins with a lie, but freedom begins with the truth. Truth begins and ends with Jesus. Redeemed2Repeat, brings truth, hope and lasting freedom.
Liz Beck – Founder & President, Redeemed2Repeat