UNION — A local program teaches people how to “break free from life’s hurts, habits and hang-ups.”
Each Friday night, Crestview Baptist Church hosts a Celebrate Recovery meeting. Like other recovery meetings — such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous — Celebrate Recovery includes 12 steps, however, the difference in this group is that it is based on belief in Jesus Christ. Each step is Christ-centered and is accompanied by scripture. For example, Step 6 is, “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” and it is supplemented with James 4:10:
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Church pastor Josh Freeman said he launched the program in February after a friend who had a drinking problems had made numerous trips to rehab.
“I told him, ‘You need a program or you are going to die,’” Freeman said, adding that he took his friend to a Celebrate Recovery meeting in Spartanburg, and they both liked what they saw.
Freeman said the program is for people with all sorts of issues — not just drugs and alcohol. He said those who attend may need help recovering from anger or depression, while others get help coping with the loss of a loved one. Freeman said the meetings are a safe and confidential place for people to come for help.
“We celebrate God’s healing power in our lives through sharing our strengths and hopes with one another and most importantly, through our strengthened relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.
The bulletin from the program reads, “It is our prayer that you open your heart and minds to the peace, serenity and joy that can come from Jesus Christ.”
Meetings consist of dinner, followed by a meeting in the church sanctuary. Friday’s meeting included a personal testimony from Jay Kimbel, who has been sober since August 2010. Kimbel shared stories from various times in his life. Kimbel said his addiction to drugs and alcohol made him like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” costing him a college scholarship and eventually a marriage. Kimbel had become a prominent speaker with Alcoholics Anonymous, but problems in his marriage caused him to turn back to drugs and alcohol, having to start the recovery process all over.
Kimbel explained that his recovery allowed him to become a good father, and he was even able to help his own father get sober. He said he has custody of his children and a positive relationship with his ex-wife, despite the couple’s rocky marriage which ended due to infidelity.
“I decided I would be good to those kids’ mama,” Kimbel said. “It’s my job. My daughter was born on my 33rd birthday, and she’s going to grow up and marry someone who treats her the way she sees me treat her mama.”
Kimbel’s own cautionary tale was one which expressed both hope and warning.
“There’s hope here,” he said. “I didn’t have to be that way; it’s a choice. I could go back to Greenville, pick up a bottle of liquor, and be right back where I was — and I know that. Recovery teaches us who we are.”
As Kimbel closed, he reminded those in attendance that his recovery came through his Saviour.
“When you feel like you’re drowning, remember your lifeguard walks on water,” he said.
Following the large group meeting, those in attendance break into small groups, allowing each person in attendance to share and receive support from fellow group members. Group leader Mike McDade said the purpose of the small groups is to build trust and bonds.
“We believe there is healing in sharing,” McDade said.
Also present in the small group was Brad Morris, a former clerk of court who attributes the loss of his job and time in prison to his drug addiction.
“This is a safe place to be,” Morris said. “I’ve been to other recovery programs. I went to NA for three years before I went to prison — and still go to NA — but I identify with what goes on here more than the other 12-step meetings.”
Morris said people in Union should know that it’s OK to attend Celebrate Recovery.
“Union is such a fishbowl,” he said. “People are scared to come here, but they’re not scared to get high and get arrested. I thought I was ready to die. I thought that would be better than getting sober, but there is a way out. It is OK to come. there are people in Union who can talk with you about it. I know, I’ve been there.”
Celebrate Recovery meets from 6-9:45 p.m. each Friday at Crestview Baptist Church, located at 1100 Furman Fendley Highway, Union. Dinner is provided from 6-6:50 p.m.; everyone meets in a large group from 7-8 p.m.; those in attendance break into small groups to meet from 8-9 p.m.; and “cafe time” is from 9-9:45 p.m. Learn more at www.crestviewcr.webs.com.