By Mary O’KEEFE
Sometimes it is just a comfort to know that you are not alone in your struggles. Sometimes it is just important to talk to someone who can relate. And sometimes, when lost on a path, a guiding hand is all that is needed.
For over a decade Crescenta Valley Church has been reaching out to those with addiction and other issues through its Celebrate Recovery program.
“Everything from hurts, habits and hang-ups,” said Scott Alvarez, Celebrate Recovery leader and Missional Purpose leader, of the outreach.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program that was founded by John Baker from the Saddleback Church and incorporates a 12-step program that accompanies Scriptures.
“It is the largest recovery [program] in the world right now,” Alvarez said.
He added that everyone has pain and dealing with it is a process that takes one through his or her emotional, spiritual and relational phases. When most hear the word “recovery” the thought of drugs and alcohol addictions come to mind, but that is not what the majority of those who attend Celebrate Recovery at CV Church are there for. Those who attend program meetings deal with a variety of issues including gambling, sex and other types of addictions, as well as grief.
“And co-dependency. [Some] of our [people] come from families that are dysfunctional – coming out of an alcohol or drug addicted home,” he added.
The challenge is to reach those in need.
“Like in any recovery situation we wait until they want help. Until then there is not a lot you can do,” he said.
Once someone walks into the meeting, though, it is all about building a trusting relationship that is safe for all. At the beginning of each meeting Alvarez welcomes all and shares his story, then others who feel comfortable share theirs.
There is a comfort in finding that others are struggling with similar issues; there is a bonding that occurs among those in attendance. During part of the meeting the 12-step program is explained and practiced. Then those in attendance are split into several groups in accordance with their addiction. It is made clear that what is said during the meetings stays in the meetings.
Celebrate Recovery is a place where people are not preached at or condemned, Alvarez said, but that is not saying that Christ is not part of the recovery process.
Not all of the people that come to Celebrate Recovery are necessarily Christians. They come from all walks of life and all faiths.
“It’s about restoration and reconciliation,” Alvarez said. “We have worship music. We talk about God, we talk about Jesus as our higher power.”
For those with a church background, recovery sometimes appears to be a separate issue; but at the meetings at CV Church the two are easily combined.
And as attendees improve over time they are then encouraged to share their stories with others, thereby helping those outside the church. That is the outreach that Alvarez continues within the church as well as preparing people to be ready when people are sent to them.
“We [often] think of God working mostly inside the church and that outside the church is a mess,” he said.
But that is not how Alvarez views the world. He sees that God is working everywhere, not just inside the church, and people are in need.
“For example, God is at work at [Crescenta Valley High School]. He is sending people there to work to restore and reconcile and that is happening everywhere,” he said, “everywhere we go.”
Celebrate Recovery is on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Crescenta Valley Church, 4001 La Crescenta Ave. The program is free and all are welcome.