I just returned from a nine day Celebrate Recovery mission trip to Northeast Scotland. I was invited by Gordon Cruden, the director of Teen Challenge Sunnybrae. Gordon has been a friend of mine since 1999, and is wanting to start Celebrate Recovery there. We went in order to introduce CR to three churches in Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Aberdeen. We also went to develop relationships and teach CR lessons to the residents of Sunnybrae.
We were off and running our very first day. We were meeting with the pastors of the three largest churches in the region, Ben Richie, Iain Duthie and Neal Cameron. This meeting went positively. The pastors saw the potential that this ministry would have to their congregation and the outreach possibilities it would have to their communities. Gordon asked for a commitment from them to start Celebrate Recovery in their churches by October 1, 2012, and to begin identifying leaders for this ministry.
Starting Monday evening, we began to teach the Sunnybrae residents CR lessons: Denial, Hope, Powerless, Sanity and Turn. Each team member taught one of the lessons, starting by giving their testimonies. Following each lesson, we facilitated small sharing groups. The men had never experienced that, and it was wonderful seeing the healing begin.
Two by two our team members went out on the Teen Challenge Outreach bus daily to various villages. We got to experience talking to the addicts in the villages and listening to them. It was also great to see the beautiful countryside and quaint villages.
Each evening we had different programs for the residents:
- Florida Beach Party (bingo).
- Scottish night, including Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and a Scottish Ceiligh (pronounced "kay-lay").
- On movie night, we challenged the men residents with "Courageous." Many of them resolved to be godly men in their own families.
- On our wrap-up night, we had a "Relapse Prevention" Q & A with the team as the panel. Then, we all wrote down our hurts, hang-ups and habits and burned them at a 15-foot cross.
I was relieved that the men felt comfortable sharing their personal struggles with us women facilitators—God had that planned and that was why we didn't get more men on our team. I was also delighted that the pastors saw the value of the Celebrate Recovery ministry for their congregations and as an outreach for their communities. I am completely overwhelmed by how the Sunnybrae residents embraced our lessons and by watching them bloom from shy, closed and hesitant to outgoing, encouraged and confident. The relationships I started in Scotland 11 years ago are getting deeper. I saw many people that I knew from trips before. Worshiping with them in their churches felt like "home."
This mission trip is not a one-time event. It has been a growing relationship and partnership that has developed over the past 11 years. God has been working in the people and changing the mindset there. They are now open to this kind of ministry. Join me in praying for potential Celebrate Recovery leaders in each church and for the men's continued sobriety after they complete the Teen Challenge Program. Gordon has requested another team to come back next year and has asked about the possibility for their CR leaders to come to us for encouragement and training.