After just over a year in existence, the Wauseon chapter of a healing ministry continues to grow as it offers a safe haven for those seeking comfort and support.
Celebrate Recovery, a faith-based 12-step program for those with physical and emotional addictions and issues, has so far attracted about 25 individuals to its Thursday evening meetings at Crossroads Evangelical Church in Wauseon. It opened in late January of 2015.
Local ministry leader Stephanie Deatrick said there is no problem too large or too small for the group to accept.
“We say it’s for any hurt, habit or hang-up,” she said. “We really focus on the love of healing through Jesus. The program is absolutely Christ-centered.”
Participants have shared their problems with troubled marriages, drug and pornography addiction, physical, emotional and substance abuse, anger, financial problems, abandonment issues, and depression, among others. Individual issues are discussed without judgment in a large group setting and in small gender-specific groups.
“We find out the root of why we do what we do,” Deatrick said. Co-dependency, which she describes as the need to “fix” people, to be loved, and to count on others opinions, is explored.
“When we come out of co-dependency, we understand that we are valuable because God loves us. That it’s not our job to change anyone else. They have to surrender,” she said.
The weekly 6-10 p.m. Celebrate Recovery sessions stress confidentiality and anonymity. Deatrick said they provide a safe environment where participants can develop supportive friendships. However, the program also insists on accountability.
“You have to walk in humility to get through this,” she said. “It helps people walk in God’s eyes. Every one of us is either in recovery or denial.”
In addition to working through the 12-step program, participants commit to eight recovery principles from the Book of Matthew in the Bible. The steps and principles are covered through four guides, which include a bible at a $35 cost. The purchases are not required to attend.
The evening begins with a fellowship dinner, then moves to a large group event that opens with worship. Teaching and testimony follow, along with recital of the Serenity Prayer and the reading of the eight principles. Participants then break into separate groups for men and women to keep the discussions “a safe place for everyone,” Deatrick said.
During a fourth step the groups undergo what she calls a “moral inventory,” in which participants look at the harm done to them and which they’ve done to others, and their resentment of certain people. They also consider amends they need to make to others, and their need to forgive or ask for forgiveness.
The evening concludes with fellowship over dessert, a time used to discuss what has transpired.
“In general, people come, and they get excited about what they see. We’re in a place where a lot of people are growing,” Deatrick said.
The program also offers a step study program of the guides on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m.
The next Celebrate Recovery program begins at the church April 5.
It was begun at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., in 1991. Since then, it has been established at over 27,000 churches globally, and has made its way into prison systems. And it’s accepted by the court system as a 12-step program.
Deatrick became involved after leaving a nearly 25-year abusive marriage to an alcoholic. She heard of Celebrate Recovery while taking Christian counseling classes at a church where she was leading a group of women and a prayer team.
“I didn’t understand the program until I got into it, but it was life-changing for me. I was a very broken person,” she said.
Her current husband, Kent, also attended. They married in 2012, and served a Celebrate Recovery program in Adrian, Mich., for a year.
Since the Wauseon program debuted people from both Ohio and Michigan have attended, some referred by counselors.
Sue Dennis-Long has attended Celebrate Recovery with her husband for nearly a year. She said the program has helped her by reaping all the benefits of sharing her feelings.
“You eventually find peace and comfort and learning to deal with whatever hurts or ugly bad habits you have. Meanwhile, you gain friends that are like your family,” she said.
Dennis-Long said participants attend “to share, not be fixed, but you end up being fixed. The people don’t want to fix you, they just want to share and understand. I was at the very bottom of my feelings, but you slowly grow out of it.”
“Everyone’s afraid when you walk into something new and different, (but) it’s an unknown thing to a lot of people that would really benefit. I keep going to reap all the benefits of sharing.”
Tyler Quillet, Crossroad’s campus pastor, said Celebrate Recovery is just a self-help program.
“If you are trusting yourself to get better or to heal, you’re going to fail,” he said. “Celebrate Recovery is saying, ‘I don’t have what it takes to overcome this, but Jesus does, and I’m going to trust Him with it.’”
Quillet said it’s enjoyable “to see how God is changing the hearts of people who are attending CR, and placing their trust in Jesus Christ.”
Deatrick said attendees will feel the full force of support the program offers.
“Whoever comes, we’re just going to love on them,” she said. “We want them to feel welcome, to feel safe, to have a reason to come back. We do not cram God down anybody’s throat. I don’t force it on anybody. We make this available to everyone, but they have to want it.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.