2013, Issue 5 - September/October

A Recovering Community of Faith

In the Journey to Wholeness group which I attend, we recently reflected on our experience together as we meet from week to week. Someone commented that our group is like a small church community. As we are vulnerable and transparent with one another about our hurts, habits and hang-ups, we experience the safety of the group and find healing. In the now famous Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, one finding was that telling a person’s story in a safe environment gives the equivalent of a year’s worth of benefit in protecting against harmful physical and emotional behaviors and self-destructive emotions. We watch each other grow as we let go of the lie that we can manage our own lives.

In our group, we worked through the first three steps in the first Journey to Wholeness workbook. However, we decided that we wanted to work through these steps again. We did not think that we were ready to move on. We are currently working on Step 2 “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We are finding that this step is foundational to the healing journey. We are coming to know that what we believe about God in our heads is not what we believe in our hearts. In Romans 10:10, we learn “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness.” Integrating head knowledge with heart knowledge is one of the greatest tasks on the journey of faith. As we talk together about the many ways that the enemy has used to erode or destroy our faith, we encourage and support one another with the reality of a God who truly can be trusted and who is willing to demonstrate again today his personal love and care for his broken and hurting children.

One of the things we have found to be helpful is that we pray for one another. Not only do we do the Serenity Prayer as a part of our opening and the Lord’s Prayer at the closing, but we often pray for specific concerns that arise during the meeting. This draws us closer to one another. This is an example of the type of support that JoAnn Palmer writes about in her feature article in this edition of Journey to Life. I pray that you will enjoy and be blessed as you read

David Sedlacek, PhD, LCSW, CFLE
Professor of Family Ministry and Discipleship
Andrews University

12 STEPS to Recovery —  STEP #10 
With the first nine Steps behind us, we are seemingly prepared to live a sober, honest and God loving life, keeping in emotional balance and living a life of good purpose under all conditions. 

I recall after the first 30 days of sobriety, wondering how I was going to function without my little pill box. You see, I had given up alcohol and turned to narcotics because alcohol made me throw up; pills did not. But, now I had learned to trust in God (my higher power) and to live my life one day at a time. 

I have gotten in the habit of taking personal inventory of my day. Every night, upon retiring, I go over the day’s events, recalling the people I had interacted with, places I had been and things I had done. I find it vitally important to analyze the minutest detail (this is called self-appraisal) lest I deceive myself and not want to admit any wrongs I had done. You see, this could easily lead you to your first drink or pill. We addicts are known for deceiving ourselves. I can’t emphasize enough how important the 4th & 5th steps are. To me, they are a cleansing.

Now that we have come to terms with the past, we can face tomorrow’s challenges. AA advises us that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we react in a negative manner, we are in the wrong also. We are not skilled enough to separate justified from unjustified anger. Life is full of ups and downs. It is how we react to them that is important in this new way of life. Self-restraint is of the utmost importance. We must train ourselves to step back and think before acting out. It would do us well to become more tolerant of others as well as ourselves. As a fairly new or “baby” Christian, as I like to refer to myself as being, I like to say that I would like to be more like Jesus. He is our best example.

So, as painful as it so often is to admit to another person that we have done them an injustice and therefore need to apologize to him or her, the good feeling one gets afterwards is second to none. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should further injure them in any way. An example would be if you have cheated with someone else’s spouse, you need not admit this to them and make matters even worse. Pray to God for forgiveness. It works.            

Evie S

Dethroned by Sin: My Nebuchadnezzar Experience (Part 2)

At one time, car alarms, when set off, brought heightened attention and concern to those within earshot. Now days, when a car alarm goes off, it is commonplace to see individuals carry on their usual business as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on. King Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated this same type of desensitization and hard-heartedness to the divine alarms given to him. His heart was shut off from the influence of God by years of sinful habits. This is the most terrible place in which one can be. “Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself…not only making you less inclined to yield , but less capable of yielding , to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit” (Steps to Christ, E.G. White, pg. 33). The consequences of his continued and persistent choice to cherish sin resulted in a loss of his kingship for seven years, a loss of his sanity, and even a loss of his humanity. Do you notice a common theme? There is always loss when sin is embraced. King Nebuchadnezzar was no longer an honored tree, but a humbled stump. I may have not been ruler of a vast empire, as Nebuchadnezzar was, but I lost my kingdom as well. All the good things God gave me were swept away in a tsunami of sinful consequences. My loss I estimate of no less severity to that of King Nebuchadnezzar’s. I cannot even put into words the pain I have felt, the pain that I have caused, and the shame that precedes me like a badge, because I refused to relinquish my sinful conduct. Don’t miss the point: “Sin can be indulged in only at the peril of infinite loss” (Steps to Christ, E.G. White, pg. 33). More than earthly loss, clinging to sin yields the greatest loss of all – the exclusion from heaven and an eternally-severed relationship with our Savior, who loves you immeasurably. This is the severest lose-lose situation imaginable. Learn from my grand mistakes and those of Nebuchadnezzar – do not continue in a life of sin unless you are prepared for devastating loss.         

Jesse Hoffmeyer



Support Systems and Recovery

Much has been written about the importance of an appropriate support system in the recovery process. But, what does support look like? How much is too much? When does support itself become an addiction or is that even possible? How do you tell the difference between support and enabling?

When I speak of support I am speaking of resources that are available to a person who has made the conscious choice to turn from his or her addiction and to institute a lifestyle change that is not subject to the power of addictive substances, behaviors or emotional states. Support can be in the form of organized treatment facilities, unstructured meetings, groups and or individual therapy sessions, as well as family, friends, neighbors, church members and colleagues. Any person or group of persons who touch the lives of the addict can be included in his support system.

So how does support happen and who determines the appropriateness of the support? Addiction may begin as a response to stress, defeat, emotional upheaval, a traumatic event, or the inability to manage some area of our lives. We are seeking comfort and escape from the pains of life. But the very nature of addiction is that it takes control over us, demands satisfaction, and keeps us in bondage, irrespective of what the side effects might be if we dare withdraw from usage or participation. And we are helpless outside of God’s grace and professional intervention to do anything other than give in to the addiction. So just making the decision (no matter how sincere we are) is not going to be enough. Professional intervention will often include varying forms of support. Support in the recovery process takes on different meanings depending on the level of commitment and a person’s preparedness for change.

Active addiction in families disrupts the harmony that was intended by God by destroying family bonds, causing marital discord and damaging other relationships. God is calling for healing and restoration of these precious families and since addiction is a family disease the recovery process in its most effective state must also include family support. The definition of family though is no longer limited to biological relatives but must now incorporate friends, coworkers and others who are willing to make the commitment to engage in the lifelong process of support necessary in the recovery experience. Addiction isolates and devalues us and we are inundated with a sense of shame, guilt, and low self worth. During the recovery process we have the opportunity through interaction with family, (I have already indicated who family includes) to reclaim those intimate, personal, nurturing, heartwarming interactions that build up, restore and uplift. 

 A support system includes those who love you, claim you, hug you, and encourage you even when you do not feel huggable or lovable. Supportive friends are those who don’t judge or ridicule or condemn though you may feel you deserve all of the above. They are also those who confront inappropriate behavior, speak the truth about their experience of you, and call you into accountability when you stray from the decision you have made. Where will you find this kind of support? You will find it in 12 step programs, churches, homes of friends, in your own home, therapy groups, at work and in other places where “family” resides. 

A person can never have too much support. However, addicts can become too dependent and begin to minimize the importance of support or discount those who are offering it. You will know if it has taken the place of your addiction if you find yourself unable to think or function without someone else or something else governing your every decision. If the thought of them not being available sends you into withdrawal then you might want to take a look at your response and the level of their involvement in your recovery process. Those with a tendency to addiction can also become overly dependent on their support group. A healthy support system is designed to connect us with God, but we can also develop an unhealthy relationship with Him. God supports us to become mature, differentiated individuals who can ultimately freely choose to depend upon God from a position of wholeness rather than weakness. This is healthy dependence. Healthy support knows when to let go. God know when to let go and when to hold us up in loving support with a wisdom that surpasses that of any human being.                      

Joanne Palmer

Certified Substance Abuse Professional


Best Practices Webinar
On September 17, 2013 the NAD Ministerial Department hosted an excellent free webinar entitled “Victory Over Sexual Addictions from Pew to Pulpit - Helping Members and Pastors Overcome.” The webinar was well attended and positive feedback reinforced the need to continue to provide effective resources in this area. The webinar is available for download on the NAD Ministerial Website at the Best Practices link.



Trenton, GA
Several people attended the Adventist Recovery Ministries (ARMin) Awareness Sabbath held at the New England SDA Church in Trenton, GA, on June 22, 2013. Brother Steve from Spartanburg joined Frank Sanchez as they lead the Sabbath School class, relating the 12 recovery principles to the Bible. The Holy Spirit was seen in action with many attendees coming back for the afternoon seminar. As a result there is an interest in starting an ARMin group in the church.

Spartanburg, SC 
A group of 105 attendees and pastors from SC, NC and GA attended the workshop sponsored by ARMin, Spartanburg SDA, FAVOR, Spartanburg Regional Hospital and Pavillon Recovery Center. The presenters explored the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the addiction problem. Family and adolescent recovery were addressed and the Holy Spirit used the presentations and testimonies to bless all who attended, reports Frank Sanchez - Southern Union ARMin coordinator..


I would like to share with you a great blessing ARMin has received from God.

This year we had the goal of launching the Unhooked series so that thousands of people could be exposed to the Christ centered approach to Recovery. 

By God’s grace Unhooked started to air on Hope Channel in April and God spoke to many.  But it does not stop there. Unhooked is now compiled into a  DVD-set that is financially accessible for anyone to purchase and use in conjunction with the ARMin 12 step weekly meetings throughout the NAD and beyond. 

The entire 26 episodes is available in a set with 8 DVDs for only $39.99!  These DVD sets will be available starting October 15 on the Health Ministries or AdventSource online stores!

As people purchase this DVD-set, any profit will be used in its entirety to produce and expand resources for ARMin. Many requested for a Spanish and French version. That is out next goal! Here is how you can help:
  1. Pray for the people who will be exposed to the content of this series and refer your loved ones to watch it.
  2. Start a 12-step ARMin group in your church, home, school or neighborhood.
  3. Use the DVD in your 12 step meeting or gift it to someone.
  4. Attend the official ARMin training so you can be exposed to important tips to start, maintain and expand the recovery ministry in your church. (check training opportunities on the sidebar or website).

We thank you deeply and ask God to lead you as you choose to use your experience to give back!  

Katia Reinert, PhDc, CRNP, FCN
Health / ARMin Director
North American Division