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FIRST-PERSON: Tear-stained prayer lists

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–A neatly attired, middle-aged churchgoer had carefully written the names of 11 family members, neighbors and friends on a folded piece of paper. At the bottom of the page he had penned the words, “youth of the church.”

“I would appreciate your prayers for these,” he stated, meticulously describing the various needs of those listed, all of whom had drug problems. “Our young people face temptations to become involved in the sad world of drug abuse every day,” he continued, “and they need our constant prayers.”

This concerned Christian was not the only church member who requested prayer for a loved one this recent Sunday morning. Everywhere we travel with our messages of truth and hope, there are lines of concerned individuals who wait for an opportunity to share the pain felt by their loved ones and by them, the significant others. They are desperately searching for answers, still clinging to often-battered hope for a miracle.

Those who seek our prayerful intervention are sometimes at the end of their ropes, having attempted without apparent success time and time again to rescue hurting people from their addictions. They have tried every rescue tool known to them, and they have seriously begun to wonder if the future is hopeless for these trapped individuals. They have heard professionals again and again remind the public that addiction to alcohol or some other behavior-altering substance is “forever,” and that there is no hope for permanent recovery.

These hurting family members and friends listen carefully to our presentation, especially to the revolutionary proclamation that we are no longer drug addicts and that others are not doomed to wear the sad name tags, “alcoholic” or “drug addict,” the rest of their days on this earth. “We are recovered forever by the grace of God,” we announce, “and that same hope can belong to you or anyone you love!”

During the invitation time, we ask hurting persons seeking miracles for their loved ones to join us at the front of the auditorium on bended knees in prayers for miracles in the lives of those who have gone astray. But we always remind the audience that God expects us to be a part of these miracles, and we should promise our Lord to be an active part of the solution of any tragic situation.

That long search for a miracle may require a willingness to present the plan of salvation to the ones for whom we pray. Or the miracle may require that we step down into the mud into which our family member or friend has fallen, and help rescue him or her from certain disaster. It may require that the church fellowship provide a Christ-centered support group for the recovering individual. It is not enough to talk the talk; we must also walk the walk.

If we pray, believing, God rewards our faithfulness, in his own way and his own time. For some, the miracle will come instantly; for others it will seem that the road to sobriety is quite bumpy and long in distance and time. But the eventual miracle of recovery, whether it occurs overnight or in the distant future, is forever blessed for the hurting ones and for those who care.

The prayer lists for those hurting with drug problems grows longer every day. Their names appear on tear-stained fragments of paper offered to us as we minister across the country. Thank God that there are those who care about them. We must depend on our Lord for the miracles that change hearts of men and women. But we should be willing to be an active part of these miracles. It is his commandment.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores. On the morning of Feb. 2, Stone will be speaking at Providence Baptist Church in Oxford, N.C., while Barber delivers the morning message at Mt. Harmony Baptist Church in Rougemont, N.C. They will be speaking in tandem that evening at Pleasant Hills Baptist Church in Elkin, N.C.

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  • Ted Stone & Philip Barber