If you have been keeping up with our ministry here at all you will know that Celebrate Recovery not only has a very special place in our hearts, but is also one of our main goals here: to establish and develop leaders for a fully functioning and effective CR ministry with City of Refuge Church. This month we took another big step towards accomplishing that goal!
For the past year we have been developing leaders while leading our separate groups. Missy had been having a group for women only on Saturday afternoons while I have been leading the men Friday nights. When we first got here 2 years ago (where has the time gone???), the church had a men’s ministry to serve the local drunks by bringing them in, feeding them, and giving them a bible lesson. The lessons were loosely based upon the CR principles as they were adapted from Celebrate Recovery years ago when a missionary translated them for the church to use. Now Celebrate recovery has the program translated into Spanish and we have been introducing the full curriculum to the church and community over the course of the year.
At first we just started the women’s part of the ministry separate because of timing in the weekly schedule for the women and their unease at sitting in a crowd with drunk men while trying to learn a lesson. The culture and situation by God’s guidance dictated that we should first keep the men and women separated to create a safe environment for the women to come and share their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. We had always intended on making it a combined lesson just like it is in the United States. We continued to seek God’s guidance on when to do that and the time presented itself towards the end of December.
We had various meetings with the women leaders, the pastor, and the men leaders and we decided, albeit some reluctantly, that we should try combining the two lessons into one big night for the whole family. Dinner is provided, the kids have their own lesson, the adolescents already had their Friday night bible study, and the men no longer had to be “rounded up” to come in from the streets and enjoy a hot meal. The men have been coming in less and less drunk and more hungry for God’s truth to shine in their lives.
The first night we opened CR up for the whole family we counted over 65 people! This was amazing because combined the men and women separate we may have counted about 30 on a good week. God is good and we are glad that we listened to His guidance! Now we will be having some of the leaders begin to teach the main lesson on Friday nights so they get comfortable learning and teaching the lessons before we visit the U.S. this spring and they are left to run it all on their own! Please continue to pray for God’s provision and development of the leaders and this ministry.
We already see God producing fruit in families through this ministry being combined. One couple who has been talking about separating sought counsel from the pastor after the Lord touched the husband’s heart to rededicate his life to Jesus and seek forgiveness from his family after this past week’s lesson. We praise Jesus for how He continues to move in the program and we are so grateful to get to be a part of what He is doing here in our community!