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FIRST-PERSON: Our responsibility

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Pastor Rich Jenkins of First Southern Baptist Church in Coffeyville, Kan., called us shortly after reading a Baptist Press article about the anti-drug program HIS Way. His deep concern over the drug problem in his Southeastern Kansas community was obvious, and we had soon settled on a date in November when we could share this ministry with his body of believers and other neighboring churches.

At two nearly capacity worship services they heard us plead for churches and individual Christians who had open hearts for broken people. They were reminded of the example set by Christ, who always reached out to those who were hurting and those who were considered “unlovable.” The warning was clear: If we do not rise to this challenge, their blood will be on our hands! It is our responsibility to offer all who hurt a better life in following Jesus, but we are not responsible for the decisions they may make. This responsibility belongs to each one of these individuals who has gone astray. In the final analysis, we are responsible for our own choices.

As more and more of those attending the morning and evening worship services became comfortable, they opened up and shared often their innermost secrets about themselves and loved ones who had either found permanent recovery through Jesus, or who still struggled with the bondage of addictions.

The Sunday services set the stage for mentor training sessions on Monday. As details of HIS Way were unveiled, the 30 or more concerned Christians peppered us with questions. They learned about the expectations for HIS Way mentors, such as the requirement that mentors not use or sell any form of alcoholic beverages. Another requirement for mentors is that they “be available at all times.”

We explained that each mentor of a drug addict will become God’s spokesman to the participant assigned to him. It is imperative that the mentor totally surrender to the will of God if he is to expect the one assigned to him to submit to his advice, leadership and counsel.

One lady, not planning to be a mentor, attended each of the sessions, seeking encouragement from those whose families had experienced similar drug problems. She quietly expressed her appreciation to me for the event, detailing the periods of shame and guilt she had experienced when the dark days hit her family. She expressed great joy that one part of the HIS Way program recommended a monthly session for the family members of those being mentored and for other families in the community whose loved ones were struggling with the tragedies of substance abuse. She would no longer feel alone, understanding now that many other families were agonizing over similar difficulties.

Pastor Jenkins, upbeat and inspired by the events of the weekend affair, and particularly by the reaction of the church family, shared an e-mail with us just before we boarded the departing plane.

“Bro. Rich,” it read, “thank you that you were instrumental in bringing Ted Stone and his ministry to our church. I feel for the first time that our church will be equipped to help the drug and alcohol abuser, as well as their families. I feel more hope than I have for many years. The first time my son came home drunk, he was only 13. We put him in counseling, and the day after he graduated he went to his first treatment facility. He has been in one at least 4 times since then. He has also been in jail and prison. We have been his only source of support. He has stolen from us, at times cussed us, but yet we love him and will never quit lifting him up to the Lord. I know His way is the answer…. I so wish he could go to one of the Christian treatment facilities Ted introduced us to. Pray for us that HIS will be done.”

The beaming smile on the face of the dedicated minister as he wished us a safe journey told the whole story. “I just know we’ll have this program in place at our church by the first of the year,” he promised. “And it will truly make a difference!” And it will.
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 about the anti-drug HIS Way program, contact Ted Stone, Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C., 27702, or telephone 919-477-1581.

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