It is no secret that we are facing an addiction issue in this nation of epic proportions. We have all heard of families and marriages being torn apart by this horrible epidemic. It seems like it won’t ever be conquered, but there is one hope that should be found in Jesus and a place of refuge in Christ’s Church.
In order to gain some more knowledge around the situation, I was able to have a conversation with a good friend of mine who has the opportunity to serve in a position that helps the under resourced and under-cared for population.
My friend Mandy is a Program Manager for the Healthy Homes Program. Her passion is to serve the under resourced and underserved. As a social worker, she sees a large amount of pain and struggle in the lives of those she works with. She was willing to have a phone conversation around addiction and ways the Church can be more involved in creating change and serving those who suffer and those affected by the struggle.
She shared that the state of West Virginia has an alarming rate of children being born addicted. In fact, she told me this information, “1 in 5 children are born addicted to some substance”. If anything should alarm a follower of Jesus, this should set us off.
We have helpless children being affected by this deadly issue plaguing our society. These little ones do not have the ability to speak towards the issue. They can’t verbalize their pain and hurt. You can see it in their faces and posture, but it isn’t until they are older that we see the crippling affects manifest themselves in different ways (i.e. addiction, self harm, anger, etc.) We cannot standby and allow this to continue without speaking up on their behalf.
The Church should be apart of the voice being lifted for the voiceless and children being affected by substance abuse and addiction fit that category.
Here are four ways the Church can be more effective in addressing this epidemic:
- TALK ABOUT IT: Mandy suggested that the Church should “integrate the conversation (on addiction) into everyday life.” We cannot believe that it is only meant to talk about when a tragedy strikes. The Church should not merely speak about those they know are addicted (that’s gossip), but they need to speak about the tragic statistics that plague the communities. When we talk about it regularly, it becomes more real and could possibly move us to action.
- MOVE: One comment Mandy made that caused my ears to perk up a bit was, “The Church needs to be recognized as part of the fabric of the community.” When the Church moves beyond their walls and serves in the community, people recognize the Church as caring for more than just their programs, but the community. The Church should be walking into the lives of the broken, not expecting the broken to come to them, at least not right away. When the Church is doing its job well, then they will be recognized as a place of refuge. People will seek assistance from the body. Move into the lives of the community and become a part of it, not just a building located there.
- PARTNER TOGETHER: We recognize that there are churches that are already attempting to address certain forms of addiction, primarily alcohol.We know that there are groups that do a very good job at serving individuals seeking to get clean and sober. However, Mandy made me think about this strategy and what it could actually be causing with this thought, “It shouldn’t be certain churches because that creates a sense of isolation from the rest of the church family.” Some churches might actually want that to happen, but the Church should never work in isolation. We are in this together. Let us figure out how to support the cause as a team for the glory of God not our individual church name.
- BALANCE THE PEW: Addiction is scary. For many of us, we don’t know what we should say or what to do with an addict. The reality is, Jesus told us…LOVE THEM! Don’t flee the pew when you find an addict sitting next to you. Love those who are broken. Love those who need to hear of the power of Jesus. Figure out how you can support them. Mandy said, “We have to be willing to share the pews” and I could not agree more. Church is for the messy. Open up your hearts, open up your hands, and open up the pews to find some balance in the Church.
Addiction is a heavy topic. This is not going to cure it by any means, but it can assist with creating a healthy dialogue around serving the needs of addicts. There are children being hurt. Unborn children are being affected. Our hearts should break as the creation is broken in such a horrible way.
May we find ourselves discussing the tragic truth of addiction. May we discover new ways to step into the lives of those in need. May we love the children who are the most vulnerable in this and help them fight through the stigma of being an addicts child. May we be a church, as Mandy shares, “that accepts everyone and embraces everyone” for the glory of God to be shown in our community.
Peace and blessings friends.
QUESTION: How can you serve the needs of those who are hurting better?