2015, Issue 6 - November/December
November/December 2015


Mistaken Identity
 Recently, I read that a group of Johns Hopkins’ graduate students were once asked to research and predict the future of 200 boys ages 12 to 16 who were growing up in a poverty stricken area of their city. From the information they gathered and based on expected outcomes, they determined that 90 percent of these boys would spend some time in jail. 

Twenty-five years later, another group of students were asked to do a follow-up study. They went back to the same area. Some of the boys—by then men—were still there, a few had died, some had moved away, but they got in touch with 180 of the original 200. They found that only four of the group had ever been sent to jail.

Why, with their critical developmental years in a breeding place for crime, did these men have such a good record? They discovered that in 75 percent of the cases, they received the same answer. There was this woman who was our teacher.

They located this teacher and asked how it was that she had such a remarkable influence on these men when they were teens. Could she provide them with any reason why they remembered her? “No, I really couldn’t.” And then thinking back over the years, she mused more to herself than to the students who were questioning her: “I really loved those boys.” 

Service learning and volunteering are love in action. You will notice the positive benefits of such activity as exemplified and described by Jesus in Doctors Hopkin’s and McBrides’s feature article “Jesus Strategy for Preventing Addictions” in this issue of the Journey to Life.

Ray Nelson, MDiv, MSPH

12 STEPS to Recovery —  STEP #11
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” I know what prayer is. I pray every day over my food, for God to help me with various tasks, for my friends and family, etc. But what does it mean to meditate? And how does prayer and meditation “improve our conscious contact with God...?” 

Webster’s Dictionary defines meditation as: “the act or process of spending time in quiet thought.” According to Ellen White in “Steps to Christ,” we can see God and seek to know Him better through meditation on the lessons He shows us in nature. “God would have His children appreciate His works and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which He has adorned our earthly home.” (Steps to Christ, p. 58 [84-86]). I love going outside to observe nature. I was taught from the time I was small that this was God’s “Second Book.” When I find myself in need of reflection and seeking solution for problems, visiting with God in the things He has created are what I have discovered to be just what I need. This is especially so in sitting beside bodies of water. I cannot verify this, but I’ve been told that water releases the brain’s endorphins (“Happy hormones”). I believe it as many a quiet time for me beside a creek, stream, lake, river or ocean has revived my soul in a way I cannot explain. Certainly, the Creator, has chosen to bless me during these activities.

We are also to spend time in God’s word, the Bible. This, God’s “First Book,” should be a daily activity to better acquaint us with Him. Step Eleven calls us to strengthen our relationship with God “as we [understand] Him....” How can we do this? We can read about what He has done in the lives of others. What better way than by reading His book? “Here we have in clearer lines the revelation of His character, of His dealings with men, and the great work of redemption.” (Steps to Christ, p. 60 [87-88]). 

Suzanne W.


Hi my name is Paul. When I was younger my family and friends knew me as a religious zealot. I was angry and some would say addicted to power and control. As a Christian, I now realize how powerless I am to control even my own actions. (“I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I hate doing.” Romans 7:14). 

Before becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, I was Saul – a religaholic and persecutor of the Christians. As a well-educated Pharisee and Roman citizen with a knowledge of the Jewish laws and traditions, I was overly concerned about strict adherence to the letter of the law. I believed that if the law could be perfectly kept – the Messiah would then come and deliver us from the iron rule of Rome in the affairs of my people. Naturally, this brought me into conflict with the early Christians who were preaching salvation by faith in Christ rather than following all the laws and practices of the Jews. I was outraged at the growth and influence of this movement that was rapidly spreading throughout the world. I joined with the religious leaders who were doing what we considered necessary to stop the spread of Christianity.

While on a mission to seek out and arrest any who were followers of the Way (the name often used by early Christians), I was struck by a light and a voice asked me why I was persecuting him. When I asked who he was, the voice said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1-3)

That day I began to see how wrong I had been and from that time followed Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. My mission became “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.” (Romans 15:20).

Paul ‚Äč



Addiction and the Family

You have to agree, it would be wonderful if we could identify a strategy that would ensure our kids grow up protected from engaging in high-risk behaviors.

With a substantial proportion of youth across the world engaging in high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, violence, and engaging in sexual activity at a young age, it’s essential that we address and work to correct this problem for their sake.

While communities everywhere struggle with this, there is a solution. Amazingly, it is found not in modern textbooks but in the teachings of Jesus. As the Creator of humankind, He knows the solution.

His Strategy
Jesus didn’t just give subtle, broad suggestions on how we should behave. He gave a direct description of what we need to do embedded in this description of true Christian living: “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ”
(Matthew 25:34–40).

In this passage, Jesus reveals that His people (the “righteous”) ‘serve’ others by meeting their needs, as if we were meeting the needs of Christ Himself. Responding to Jesus’ assurance that He has a kingdom prepared for us, He calls us to show caring compassion and give assistance to people in need.

But this instruction from Jesus isn’t just about how we should behave, it also provides us with the key for protecting our kids from high-risk behaviors. And in a word, it’s this: Service.

This isn’t just about financially supporting projects that aid others. We are called to serve others together with our youth.

Service activities may be defined as the assistance we give for the benefit of those living in our local community. God’s imperative is to feed, clothe and protect those in need. We can safely expand on this to say that we should support, visit, aid, help and comfort others who are in a position of need for any reason.

To help you find a way you might serve, pray this simple prayer: “Lord, please give me the vision and insight to identify Your children in need and opportunities to serve them. Please open an opportunity for worthwhile service. Please open a door.”

High-Risk Behaviors
But what is the connection between service and high-risk behaviors?

Our research, confirmed by others, overwhelmingly shows that when young people get involved in service, it changes their lives. As a result of service, youth are much more likely to engage in healthy, pro-social behaviors.

In the Harvard Education Letter, Senator John Glenn, chairman of the National Commission on Service Learning, identified the fact that more than 80 per cent of schools with active service-learning programs (service that is part of the school curriculum) report that the majority of participating students improve their exam and test results, that drop-out rates declined and that the percentage going on to university increased.

Moreover, in an article “Effective approaches in reducing adolescent unprotected sex, pregnancy and childbearing” in the Journal of Sex Research, researcher Douglas Kirby reported that service-learning programs among youth are also effective in reducing adolescent pregnancy and early childbearing.

So by following Jesus’ Matthew 25 directive, whether religious or not, youth in our world benefit directly.

Over the past year, we have been examining the relationships between community service and substance use, something that is rarely explored or reported on. Following is a sample of what we’ve found.
  • According to researchers Peter Scales and Peter Benson in Indicators of Positive Youth Development: Prosocial Orientation and Community Service, community service by youth was related to less problem alcohol use, use of illicit drugs, use of tobacco, gambling, anti-social behavior, violence, school problems and sexual behavior risk.
  • In examining data collected as a part of state studies on youth risk behaviors supported by the Centers for Disease Control in the US, we consistently found that students who engaged in one or more hours of community service each week were less likely to have ever tried cigarettes, been involved in binge drinking or used marijuana in the previous 30 days (or entire life), used cocaine in previous 30 days (or entire life), ever had sexual intercourse in their life, used a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription and they were less likely to have received D’s or F’s in the preceding 12 months. These findings are profound and show the potential benefit of working with youngsters to engage in helping activities for other people. And they apply not only to Christian youth but to youth in general. 
  • In studies conducted at Andrews University, a Christian institution in the US, there was a consistent inverse correlation between engaging in community service and substance use. Students who engaged in community service at least 10 hours per week were half as likely to drink alcohol as students who did not engage in service. Students consistently reported that community service made them realize the needs of others and they found fulfilment in meeting those needs, moving them beyond a self focus.
Developing Relationships
A very special benefit that emerges from service is the development of relationships. Being helpful to others allows one the opportunity to develop a relationship with those being served.

Our research has demonstrated that excellent relationships lead to effective communication and positive behaviors. Forming a great relationship enhances the believability of what one has to say and the impact of what one says, making it easier for you to communicate with your child. A study we conducted among Caribbean adolescents confirmed this link between relationships, effective communication and risk reduction. When parents had an excellent relationship with their children, and when these same parents talked plainly and transparently with their kids about sex and drugs, their children were at lower risk for engaging in high-risk behaviors, compared to youth who did not rate their relationship with their parents as excellent.

When Jesus gave His advice some 2000 years ago, He gave us a wonderful strategy on how we can raise well-adjusted children who are less prone to making risky lifestyle choices. And now we have research to prove it. (As if we needed it.) 

How to Get Young People Involved In Service

Discuss and Plan

Have local leaders discuss service programs with youth—get them involved in looking for opportunities and developing their own program. this way, they own it. You might try it as a family unit with your own children. identify ways they can get involved in service, how they might fund raise and how the family can help

Join Them
Go with them to perform the service. Simply sending immature young people out alone to serve isn’t a good strategy. According to a study published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, it may even lead to the high-risk behavior you’re hoping to avoid. experiencing the service with your children also gives an opportunity for developing a more trusting relationship, as we know from research that when kids have a trusting relationship with a key adult, there is a lower risk of them getting involved in dangerous behaviors

After an episode of service is over, reflect on the activity. talk about the experience. give your child an opportunity to think about what they’ve learned and the impact serving had on them.

Gary Hopkins, MD, DrPH and Duane McBride, PhD
Institute for Prevention of Addictions


Lake Union

Judy Sailor, Member, Benton Harbor Fairplain (Michigan) Seventh-day Adventist Church and Dr. David Sedlacek, Andrews University Seminary Professor with the Temperance / Addiction Recovery Exhibit at the Benton Harbor, October 4, 2015 Health Fair. .


Recovery related news, pictures (protect anonymity of individuals in meetings) and upcoming recovery and awareness events can be sent for future newsletters. Please send these to Ray Nelson, Journey to Life Editor – adventistrecovery@gmail.com and/or Katia Reinert, Adventist Recovery Ministries Director – recovery@nad.adventist.org

It has been my privilege to serve as the ARMin director for NAD over the past 5 years. I have been deeply blessed to meet many people with a powerful story of healing from their brokenness as they found in Christ the meaning, peace and strength in their Journey to wholeness. I have learned much and been inspired by leaders passionate to see others find the same joy and meaning that they found. 

Many of you know that I have transitioned from NAD to the General Conference Health Ministries department since November 15, 2015. A new director has been nominated and is currently prayerfully considering this call. More information will be available at the next newsletter issue.

I can only praise God for all He has done through this ministry and through each of you, who have invested your passion, your stories, prayers, and resources to help others find healing and freedom from habits that hurt. 

I pray and trust He will continue to use each of us His ministry of healing until we see Him face to face very soon.. 

Katia Reinert, PhD, RN, CRNP, FNP-BC, PHCNS-BC, FCN
Director, Adventist Health Ministries 
Adventist Recovery Ministries (ARMin)
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists