Worship can be considered a form of celebration; that is celebrating who God is and how we can be connected to eternal life with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But then life gets in the way and can darken our ability to celebrate, and thus worship. As human beings, we become burdened with stresses and anxieties. Life events take place, such as death and divorce, those things that can “hit us smack in the face,” and we respond through so-called “comforts,” such as drugs, alcohol, or go into deep depression.
There are successful and proven programs that can help people get through those times, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA. But there is a program that helps people get through those “messes,” find a supportive community, and also help provide the eternal solution, that of a stronger faith in Jesus Christ.
It is called Celebrate Recovery, or CR. It is sort of a Christ-centered 12-step program, according to CR Northwest Mississippi State Representative Stacy Dodd.
Area leaders of Celebrate Recovery in North Mississippi and the Memphis metro area gathered last Saturday at CrossPointe Church in Olive Branch for what was called a “P8 Rally.”
“It is based on the Beatitudes of Jesus,” Dodd said. “It’s a place where people come for all hurts, habits and hangups, not just drugs and alcohol, but for grief, divorce, depression, gambling and pornography. Any kind of addiction, any kind of struggle in life, Celebrate Recovery is designed to help people heal through a redemptive community, through the power of togetherness and just through love.”
Celebrate Recovery can resemble the AA 12-step program, but it stresses eight principles. Saturday’s rally celebrated Principle 8, hence the name, P8 Rally.
“A P8 Rally is based on Principle 8, ‘Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words,’” Dodd said.
The origins of Celebrate Recovery date back to 1991 and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California. Founder John Baker presented Warren the vision for Celebrate Recovery, with Warren’s response being, “Great, John - go do it!”
According to its website information, the Celebrate Recovery program is now being used in 35,000 churches nationwide and more than five million people have completed the program.
Celebrate Recovery is growing in Northwest Mississippi and in DeSoto County, Dodd said.
“In DeSoto County right now, we have six Celebrate Recovery groups,” Dodd pointed out. “I’m responsible for 18 counties in Northwest Mississippi. We’ve seen more than 20 launched in the past two years and they’re popping up everywhere. We have new churches starting Celebrate Recovery almost every month in Northwest Mississippi.”
One such location for a Celebrate Recovery program in DeSoto County is at CrossPointe Church of Olive Branch and Hernando. Pastor Doug Bell said he has seen the victories the program provides.
“From a personal level, I grew up in an alcoholic family with lots of hurts, habits and hangups, which is the motto of Celebrate Recovery,” said Bell. “I know a lot of people are skittish of church. You can grow away from your childhood faith and religion, but no one ever grows away from those hurts, habits and hangups. We all share that as a common factor.”
Dodd explained Celebrate Recovery is not a solo act; people gather together at each meeting to share, get support and learn. There are likely many moments of joy and laughter. There are also likely moments of tearful confession, almost to the point of sorrow.
But Dodd said those “hurts, habits and hangups,” as Celebrate Recovery points out, are not healed alone. They are best addressed together.
“Celebrate Recovery is needed so people don’t stay at home in isolation and try to heal on their own,” said Dodd. “They’re never going to heal in isolation, so they need a place of belonging. They need to find a place where they can come and share, because when we share, we heal.”
“We believe that you confess to God for forgiveness of sins, but that it is helpful to confess to one another to be healed and know that you’re not going through things alone,” Bell added. “There are people who will love you just like you are.”
Part of Dodd’s duties with Celebrate Recovery is to reach out and welcome other churches to start similar programs in their church. While Celebrate Recovery is Bible-based, it is not only for believers. It is a program Dodd said he has personally benefited from.
“I’ve been going to Celebrate Recovery for about 10 years,” said Dodd. “I started leading a small group, step study group, and an open share group. I became a ministry leader and then a state representative.”
To learn where a Celebrate Recovery ministry is located and for more information on what it is, go to celebraterecovery.com.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.