Since the launch of Adventist Recovery Ministries (ARMin)1 as an official ministry of the Health Ministries Department of the North American Division, several pleas for help have come to us by those looking for healing and compassionate support. One Adventist wrote: “I’m reaching out for Adventist fellowship among other recovering addicts. I am addicted to painkillers, with a sobriety for eight months. I desperately want to meet other Adventists who have overcome addiction for mutual support.”2
How would your church respond to this plea? Do you have a support group that can provide the “mutual support” this church member is looking for? This person may be a longstanding member of the church who has struggled with addiction for years. Or perhaps it’s a newly baptized member in need of support as he or she continues to grow as a disciple of Christ. In either case, God calls us to minister with love and compassion to people among us, as well as to others in the community. Each Adventist congregation should be known as a center for healing and wholeness.
Adventist Recovery Ministries exists to show people a picture of the compassion of Christ, ministering as He would if He were physically in our midst. Jesus was skilled in bringing hope to those who had no strength to overcome their defects of character, those who were rejected by the proud Pharisees. He not only ministered to their hurts, but also gave them power to overcome sin in their lives. We are called, through Christ, to do likewise.
Luke wrote: “And [Jesus] sent them out to announce and preach the kingdom of God and to bring healing.”3
Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers answered the call, and from the early days they elevated the need for a healing ministry and warned about issues of temperance and prevention of addictions. In more recent years this has been expanded beyond substance abuse prevention to include the process of recovery from any addiction or unhealthy, compulsive behavior. Instead of judging the behaviors of others, churches that have ARMin groups offer a caring and warm environment for people to share their struggles and find compassionate support. Members of the ARMin weekly gatherings hold one another up as they recognize their total dependence on God for victory over the sin that hurts both them and their loved ones.
Through a Christ-centered, 12-step approach, ARMin participants learn helpful steps in the journey to recovery. Having such compassionate support groups is critical as we seek to reach those in urban cities of the world with God’s love. Would you like to be involved in such ministry? Resources have been prepared to facilitate weekly meetings year-round, which include videos such as the Unhooked series,4 as well as the Journey to Wholeness guides.5 Materials are available to all world divisions for translation, and soon churches, schools, and hospitals worldwide can host Adventist Recovery 12-step meetings that will give church members and community friends true glimpses of Christ’s compassionate ministry.
Ellen White observed: “We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent.”6 God’s love and compassion move us to change course and leave behind all habits and behaviors that hurt our relationship with God and our loved ones, as well as harm our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Will you accept the call to represent Christ today, and share His love and compassion with others?