NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Ted Stone is pressing forward in his campaign against alcohol and drug abuse in visits to the Southern Baptist Convention’s six seminaries and in coauthoring two new books.
Stone, a Southern Baptist minister from Durham, N.C., and former drug addict, is urging the seminaries to incorporate coursework about how to counter substance abuse through a Christian focus in at least one required course in all seminarians’ respective fields of study.
Stone’s new books, each at 96 pages and penned with his associate Philip Barber, are titled “Hope for the One Who Hurts” for individuals battling alcohol and drug abuse and “Hope for the One Who Cares” for their loved ones.
Southern Baptists, as the nation’s largest evangelical body, “ought to be in the front lines” of the battle against alcohol and drugs, Stone told Baptist Press.
To underscore his convictions, Stone had walked across America three times — regularly speaking in churches and before civic groups — and he was instrumental in the creation of an SBC Drug Abuse Task Force during the convention’s 1998 annual meeting in Salt Lake City.
The task force, composed of the heads of the SBC’s various entities, is chaired by Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources.
While commending the seminaries’ efforts to date, Stone said he is urging further seminary coursework emphasis on drug abuse “so that all the students will have exposure to the problem and ways of addressing the problem. Too many have been going out unprepared for what they’re going to meet in the field in terms of substance abuse.”
Additionally, Stone said he is urging the SBC seminaries to conduct area-wide conferences to assist ministers and laypeople in dealing with the problem in their communities, and to initiate or expand ministries to people with substance abuse problems to help seminary students gain practical experience.
New prisons and tougher drug laws, Stone said, will “only provide temporary relief” to the problem. “When we go about changing the hearts of men, then we can hope for permanent relief from the problem.”
Recovery as popularized by most secular professionals is faulty; it need not be a lifelong struggle, Stone said. “We need to substitute something stronger than the addiction in the lives of those who are hurting,” he said. A “deep and abiding faith and trust in our Lord” is the hope “for permanent recovery.”
“We believe there is hope for permanent recovery,” he maintained. “I am recovered forever by the grace of God.”
The new books by Stone and his associate Barber will be available at LifeWay Christian Stores across the country. Orders also can be placed through Stone House Publications, P.O. Box 3084, Brentwood, TN 37024-3084. Each book costs $8.95, with $3 shipping and handling per order.
Stone is seeking to visit the SBC seminaries prior to the SBC’s June 12-13 annual meeting in New Orleans, having recently visited, for example, with a group of administration and faculty members at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
NOBTS and other seminaries offer specialized classes in addictions for their counseling and social work students, and at least one professor at the meeting with Stone has incorporated a study on drug awareness into his pastoral ministries class.
“For the addict, finding a Christ-centered program is difficult,” Stone said. “Finding one that works is another problem. We’ve got to offer a drug awareness curriculum for every student. Every minister will meet up with it.”
His passion for the problem, he said, comes not only out of his former addiction experience, but also from the hopelessness that awaits those who seek help from self-reliant programs, which try to help people kick the habit through sheer will.
“If you can put something stronger — and that’s faith in Jesus Christ — in place of the addiction, people have a real chance of recovering,” he said in New Orleans. “The reason so many others fail is because the programs don’t have anything stronger than the addiction to offer the addict.”
Stone said one of the many false assumptions about former addicts is that they are always “recovering” and never fully recover from a drug addiction. He said he has spoken in conferences where psychological professionals have actually walked out on him after he asserted that drug addicts can be cured.
“I believe we make a mistake referring to an individual who hasn’t been an addict for 20 years as ‘recovering,'” Stone said. “I used to be a drug addict. I went through a period of recovery. I am now recovered forever by the grace of God. I believe there’s hope. There has to be.”
Stone commended NOBTS President Chuck Kelly and Vice President for Business Affairs Clay Corvin for their efforts in reaching out to recovering addicts in the New Orleans by hiring a number of them, mostly for the seminary’s maintenance staff.
“I think that’s a way of the seminary putting into practice what’s being taught in the classroom,” Stone noted.
Stone has been on the anti-substance abuse warpath for nearly 25 years. Previously he had been a pastor and then a businessman, becoming addicted to amphetamines during the 1970s, which led him to rob a store, for which he served a four-year prison term.
(BP) file photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: TACKLING DRUG ABUSE, HOPE FOR THE HURTING, HOPE FOR THE CARING.