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FIRST-PERSON: More of the hurting find hope

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–The plane was late in arriving at the Charlotte airport, but we soon spotted Matthew, the 20-year-old from Las Vegas who had traveled to North Carolina seeking a special dose of hope for the drug problem that had clouded his life the past few years. He would soon be in the mountain treatment center where he expected to make a change in the direction of his life.

He talked of his past, how he started with a joint or two of marijuana and soon began using such dangerous and highly addictive drugs as methamphetamine. Matthew also talked of his family and their longstanding concerns about his dilemma. He spoke admiringly of his younger 18-year-old brother who was almost like his hero, a young man who seemed to have life together. The young man joked about our southern accents and said that he wanted to acquire a southern drawl before he returned home to celebrate his recovery. He was optimistic about his future, and rightfully so!

We were soon at the Christ-centered treatment center near Lenoir, N.C., and Matthew eagerly surveyed his new home, smiling approvingly at the tiny white chapel. We had to interrupt an evening class. Bryan, a veteran after spending 35 days at the facility, who is now assigned work duty at the front desk, hurried to the office to assist the newcomer.

Bryan was no stranger to us. We also had recommended that he come to the Christian rehab center, and his progress had been phenomenal after a scary beginning. He was on the right road, and we had already asked him to be an encourager to Matthew.
Jay, another young man whom we had encouraged to come to the mountains, was soon in the office, smiling about the welcome changes in his life. He recently had accepted Jesus as his Savior, and his every word was a testimony to the workings of the Master in his life. Jay had struggled long with an alcohol problem that had been destructive in the lives of his two brothers. He has become rooted in the study of the Holy Bible day and night.

“It’s so simple,” he exclaimed, “and all the time I was trying to figure out the solution and failing every time. I know now that I’ve got to keep my eyes on Jesus. It would be so easy to keep falling if I kept thinking about alcohol and the past.” But now he had found hope, and he was reading his Bible constantly for direction.

Bryant, another young man whom we had directed to this place, bounced up on the porch with a smile and sparkling eyes that told of the turnaround in his life. He, too, was on the road to permanent recovery.

Later that night we left the place of hope and headed home, celebrating inwardly the living hope available to the hurting in treatment facilities that emphasize Jesus as the only permanent answer to the drug problem.

We, too, remembered that all four of these young men were blessed by family members who didn’t give up on them in spite of the frustrations of their dark years of serious dependencies and all the terrifying consequences. We called Jay’s mother to inform her that her once-wayward son was now showing hope for eventual permanent recovery. Her uncontrolled joy was evident in every word of the conversation. For years she had been afraid to hope after so many broken promises.

We were privileged to speak at two Jacksonville, Fla., churches recently where God is on His throne and Jesus is very much alive. A young lady came forward after the end of the morning worship service and reflected on her own bumpy road to recovery.

“I became a Christian when I was 12,” she said, “but I turned away from the Lord. Now I’ve been clean for over a year. I’m so happy. I’ve been trying to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous recovery support group, but I’m so tired of all the war stories and depressing conversations. I’m looking for something more and that’s why I’m here at this church this morning. I read the newspaper that you were speaking and wanted to hear what you had to say. Your statement about permanent recovery thrilled me. I’m not a drug addict anymore, and I want to move on with my life!” We reminded her that the best place to find encouragement is with a fellowship of believers, and she promised to return to the church and become involved in service for the Lord.

We talked later with Ron Rowe, the director of missions for the Jacksonville Baptist Association, who along with his wife, was our host for the weekend. He expressed deep interest in the Christ-centered support groups that we advocate for the local church, where empowerment and inspiration could be found for those on the road to recovery after attending Christ-centered primary treatment programs. Dr. Rowe promised to pursue this very important new ministry with the churches of his association, and we promised whatever backup help we could deliver.

It’s like Jay said, “It’s so simple!” Jesus if the final answer to the drug problem and every problem on this earth. And he has discovered the sufficiency of the Scriptures in dealing with every step along the way of recovery. Sadly, society often tries to make the solution so intricate. There is no snake oil, no magic potion. He is our one and only hope!
The authors of this monthly column share their ministry in church pulpits and through articles and books. For further information or advice, you may contact them through Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, NC 27702, or you may call (919) 477-1581.

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  • Ted G. Stone & Philip D. Barber