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Celebrating and Supporting Recovery
by Anna Sherod, Kingdom Workers' Field Manager
Maggie walked into the Parish Hall behind her parents. Her parents smelled like cheap alcohol and her mother slumped in her wheel chair, bruises marring her arms and face. Volunteer ministry leaders from the Whiteriver Lutheran Celebrate Recovery spoke with each of them. They cried cathartically, spoke of domestic abuse, homelessness, and desperation. The volunteers shared the gospel, food, and hugs.
That night, after worship, as dessert was served, little Maggie darted around to the kitchen. She was hungry, but she wasn’t looking to take food, she was hoping to help serve it. The kitchen ladies paused, not sure if this filthy homeless girl should be allowed inside, until someone gave her a simple job to do. She passed out plates and took one for herself last. Her mother cried again at the sight of Maggie helping. “Thank you” she mouthed. More tears as she fiercely hugged the volunteer who had handed Maggie the plates. “Thank you for letting her help.”
Later in the summer, tiny Maggie attended a music program at the East Fork Lutheran school, hosted by Kingdom Worker volunteers, hitching a ride with one of the CR volunteers. She went home singing about Jesus. At the end of the week, her parents agreed to come to church to watch her sing.
Three months after that first night, Maggie’s parents walked(!) from their trailer(!) into the same Celebrate Recovery program, sober and smiling. Physical therapy had gotten Maggie’s mother out of the wheelchair. They had a roof over their heads. God granted them the strength for sobriety one day at a time, renewing their familial relationships and transforming their lives. This is just one family’s story: Average attendance at CR is around fifty, and new attendees add their stories each week.
Kingdom Workers has the privilege to partner with and learn alongside programs like Celebrate Recovery on the White Mountain Apache reservation. From grant seeking to organizational assistance, much of our support for Lutheran Celebrate Recovery has been behind the scenes. But the program has molded our view of the local community profoundly. Every person that volunteers at or attends CR has been broken, shamed, and completely unlovable at some point in their life. Now, they are unashamed to talk about their struggles because they are secure in grace. We pray that this bold honesty and this confidence in the power of the gospel to transform lives would permeate our work.
Seven years ago, the leader of this CR group was a drug abuser and angry alcoholic. This winter, our brother in the ministry, Jimmy Cassadore, will share his history at the Christian Leadership Experience and how your congregation can start a ministry to those with “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.”
Don’t we all have histories? Don’t we all have hurts, hang-ups, and sinful habits? Praise God that we are redeemed to serve him joyfully, and to look upon each person we meet with more than compassion – with the recognition that we are all in desperate need of and equally loved by our Jesus.
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