Grindstone features discussion on ministry to people with addiction
During the latest Grindstone event, Nov. 16, Edwin Colon, pastor of Recovery House of Worship in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Steven Vornea, chief executive officer of Vornea Development Group, discussed the nature of ministering to those who deal with addiction as well as the work being done at the Brooklyn church to offer hope through the Gospel and freedom from guilt and shame. Those who attend Recovery House of Worship represent a variety of backgrounds and experiences of dealing with addiction, or are the family members of someone dealing with addiction. Colon said it is difficult ministry work, but imperative.
Speaking to the evangelistic nature of their ministry, Colon explained how they seek to reach people both within the church walls as well as other support groups outside of the church. “What they do is find people from addictive backgrounds and invite them to a church and replace their 12-step program with a Bible-friendly program. Doing that creates a wonderful discipleship opportunity for your church, but you lose the evangelistic opportunity you have for the church.”
Leading people to Christ, Colon continued, is unique to each individual. He explained that the path to salvation is sudden for some, but a more gradual process for others. When in the context of support groups and 12-step programs, he said, one must have the mindset of a missionary, particularly regarding language and the vernacular, but then address those issues from a biblical perspective.
For example, the term “defects,” Christians call "sin." Similarly, the removal of those defects would be described as sanctification, Colon explained. “We then have a seven-step retreat, and it is in those places that we bridge the gap between their secular understanding of defect, and the biblical understanding of sin and idolatry,” Colon said.
For the more than 21 million Americans currently dealing with addiction, there are many more family, friends and loved ones on the front lines of this issue, Vornea said. He then emphasized the importance of helping these families, offering them support and hope through the Gospel. “This ministry is a real selfless type of ministry, and you see such a need for it,” Vornea said. “Unfortunately, there are so many people affected by this addiction issue.”
Through its partnership and the work of many others, The Recovery Network is working to develop an app that will serve to connect people who suffer from addiction to the help they need and to people who are eager to assist them. They challenged Grindstone attendees who are eager to support this type of ministry to sign up for a newsletter through The Recovery Network’s website. They both shared the importance of being knowledgeable of what is happening in the world of addiction and recovery and keeping it at the front of their minds in prayer.
Colon added that people in New York are like people anywhere else--they all have practical needs and are in need of Christ. “New Yorkers are totally open to the Gospel,” he said. “But they are totally closed to religion that is hypocritical; that proclaims one thing and gives pat answers and does not have any substance.”
The fields are ripe, he concluded, but in great need of laborers for the Gospel. “People are literally looking for a higher power,” Colon said. “We get to say, 'I know the highest power. His name is Jesus.'"