Celebrate Recovery offers safe environment to work through life’s hangups

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hurts, habits and hang-ups are a part of everyone’s life. Substance abuse problems, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, gambling addiction, pornography addiction, self-injury, codependence, shopping addictions, anger, physical, emotional and sexual abuse — these are all painful experiences that can have profound negative impacts on a person’s life.

These issues can work a person over, physically, emotionally and spiritually, but the Washington chapter of Celebrate Recovery is sharing a powerful message of hope: a person’s problems do not define them.

“One of the foundations (of Celebrate Recovery) is a born-again experience,” group organizer Bubba Burns said. “If you’re born-again, your problems do not define you. That’s not who you are. That’s one of the basic foundations of Celebrate Recovery.”

A Christ-centered support group that meets weekly at Harvest Church, Celebrate Recovery’s Burns and his wife, Monica, were both driving forces in establishing CR in Washington five years ago.

In the time since, Burns says he has seen many success stories of people who have become a part of the group. One story in particular involved a man and his wife who were addicted to opiates. After attending CR with the Port Health rehabilitation program, the man accepted Christ into his life and completely turned his family around.

“He has a saying that is so powerful. He says, ‘What I do is I think about making the next right choice,’” Burns said. “So many people get overwhelmed with what is going to happen six months from now, but it’s a day-to-day program. When people get under pressure, they can lose their identity and go back to those things. But you’ve got to take it one step at a time and one choice at a time.”

BREAKING BREAD: Each meeting is preceded by a meal and time of fellowship. As the evening progresses, participants meet in a large group for testimonies and teachings before breaking off into small groups for confidential discussions. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

During a typical meeting, participants gather for a meal beforehand, enjoying a time of fellowship. Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m., usually with a larger group meeting, during which the group shares celebrations, testimonies and teachings. As the evening progresses, participants break off into smaller groups to discuss their week. In these smaller groups, rules of strict confidence help build trust.

“The small groups are strictly confidential,” Burns said. “Whatever is said in that small group does not go out of that group. People need a safe place to talk about their struggles and what they’re going through.”

Originally founded at a church in California, Celebrate Recovery groups are now a part of more than 29,000 churches worldwide. At the core of the program, Celebrate Recovery is based on the traditional 12-step of Alcoholics Anonymous.

WORLDWIDE IMPACT: Originally founded at Saddleback Church in California, Celebrate Recovery now has chapters in 29,000 churches worldwide. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

With a committed team of volunteers, Celebrate Recovery is alive and growing in Washington. With weekly meetings, the group has become a tight-knit support system for its members, all of whom know they will have a place to talk about their struggles with people who understand and care for them.

“We feel so connected with each other that we feel like a spiritual family,” Burns said. “We’re truly brothers and sisters, and brothers and sisters live life together… We don’t try to fix each other, we just try to support each other.”

Celebrate Recovery meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday at Harvest Church, located at 2020 W. 15th St. in Washington. Dinner begins at 5:45 p.m. and childcare is provided during the meetings.