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FIRST-PERSON: Having the desire to make a change

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Recently a proposed mentor for a struggling young man with a history of alcohol addiction laid the truth on the line to the potential participant in HIS Way, the new church-centered drug treatment and support program unveiled earlier this year.

“You’re going to have to make some hard decisions,” the encourager, who himself had previously tasted of the lingering, bitter fruits of drug abuse, informed the young man who we had suggested as a possible participant in a HIS Way program newly fostered by a coastal town church. This mentor, whose life had been changed permanently when he trusted in Jesus as Savior and surrendered to his Master’s leadership, told the rebellious addict about many excuses he heard from customers in his former life as a bartender.

“You sound just like those drunks,” the mentor explained. “There are no acceptable excuses for relapsing into the past that you once claimed you had forsaken,” he continued, refusing to sympathize with the flimsy reasons expressed by the one who had recently slipped back to his old habits, in spite of successfully graduating from a Christian treatment facility.

“We’re here to help you, but only if you are willing to pay the price demanded by the program … a full surrender to your appointed mentor as God’s spokesman in your life, and more important, a full surrender to the will of God! You have my telephone number. Call me when you choose His way instead of your way!”

No addict has ever been blessed by so many family members and friends who have consistently offered help and encouragement. Yet he has not yet willed sobriety and the better road of life with Jesus enough to make the hard choices necessary to accomplish this noble dream. And all this love and encouragement will not avail, unless he finally makes the right choices. God gave us this right to make choices … good or bad.

Those who serve the Lord in Christ-centered treatment centers, like the two in western North Carolina we often recommend, are no strangers to the excuses, lies and deceptive maneuvers utilized by those involved in the early process of recovery. Some, still bucking the reality of their sad personal situations, will cry to family members in daily telephone calls about the terrible conditions of the place to which they have been assigned, the bad treatment extended by those in charge, the poor lodging and the lousy food, and will beg tearfully to be allowed to return home, promising that their past misdeeds will be no more. If these excuses don’t work, they will often take the final step, threatening to commit suicide if their loved ones don’t relent to their pitiful pleas.

For most, permanent recovery is not instantaneous, and the road is bumpy and difficult.

The reason so many drug addicts do not achieve wellness is that they are not willing to pay the price. Many are accustomed to loved ones who bail them out of every bit of trouble time and time again, and when they are finally confronted with the truth that they must grow up and discard the childish ways of the past, they will fight with all the weapons at their disposal. But once they overcome this tendency to find an easy way out, the hope for recovery and a better way of life becomes a reality.

HIS Way demands the difficult decisions required for victory over drug abuse and the attainment, by the grace of God, of the position of a loved and valued member of the body of believers that we call the church. It is a process through which the participant achieves total sobriety forever and is “discipled” by a godly mentor who helps the individual grow into a dedicated servant of God, who hopefully will one day become “God’s spokesman” to some struggling addict who is seeking a better life.

This program, however, can remain successful only if the trained mentors and the church which they represent are serious about reaching out to broken people, offering them the hope of the better way provided only by Jesus. It is the call of our Lord for us to love our brothers just as He has loved us, and HIS Way directs us along this path of service.
Ted Stone and Philip Barber are Southern Baptist ministers who provide leadership to churches and individuals seeking avenues of hope for those involved in drug abuse. For information about speaking engagements or HIS Way program of treatment and permanent recovery through the local church, contact Ted Stone, Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C. 27702, or telephone 919-477-1581.

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  • Ted Stone and Philip Barber