Faith Based Recovery
New Heart Place
Clean and Sober
In 1935, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith launched a recovery movement that has defined the standard of success and recovery methodology for more than eighty (80) years. “Work the program, go to meetings, 90 meetings and in 90 days” have become a set of iconic mantras defining the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. Influenced by the Oxford Group, an Episcopalian small group discipleship program founded by Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith shaped the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous around biblical principles that has served as a template for recovery efforts throughout the world.
Yet, as valuable as “clean and sober” is and as laudable as a lifestyle of sobriety is in a culture filled with access to all manners of addiction, is “clean and sober” the best the Church of Jesus Christ can offer those seeking lasting freedom from a lifestyle of addiction?
The promise of the Father to the addicts of our generation is bold and succinct: “I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you.” (Ezekiel 36:26 | TLB). No longer is life lived with the self-talk and identity of “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Suddenly – miraculously – life can be lived as a “new creation in Christ;” an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ.
Law Enforcement and the Judicial System
In July of 1973, President Richard Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as “a single unified command to combat ‘an all-out global war on the drug menace.’ At its outset, the DEA had 1,470 Special Agents and a budget of less than $75 million. Today, the DEA has nearly 5,000 Special Agents and a budget of $2.02 billion” (DEA Website).
As much as the American public may value and admire the high-risk efforts of the DEA and its ability to bring to justice drug “kingpins, pushers, and users,” the National Institute of Justice reports that 77% of drug offenders incarcerated on drug charges re-offend following their release.
Something is missing. Apparently, our best punitive efforts are not enough to “combat the drug menace.” We need something more.
“The first Drug Court was in Miami-Dade County, Florida in 1989. Tired of the same faces and the same cases repeatedly appearing before the court, a visionary group of justice professionals decided that the system as it existed was broken and there had to be a better way.
They found a solution by combining drug treatment with the structure and authority of the judge. Working as a team, they were able to effect lasting change in the lifestyle and behavior of Drug
Court participants: The Miami-Dade Drug Court sparked a national revolution that has forever changed our justice system. Ten years after the first Drug Court was founded, 492 Drug Courts existed. By June 30, 2012 2,734 Drug Courts were operating in every U.S. state and territory.” (National Association of Drug Court Professionals Website)
The result of the drug court effort was felony re-arrest decreased from 40% to 12% in one county and from 50% to 35% in another county (National Institute of Justice).
According to the National Institute of Justice, the success of the drug court system is dependent upon proper assessment and treatment of the drug offender, the role an individual judge assumes in the process and the interactions an individual drug offender has with that judge, as well as resources, trends, and staff.
But, can the Church of Jesus in the 21st century responsibly rely on the judicial system to rescue from loss the countless thousands of sons and daughters, moms and dads, whose futures are being stolen through one of the enemy’s most effective strategies in modern history?
“In 2012, Colorado and Washington state became the first states to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Since then, nine more states and Washington, DC, have followed — although Vermont and DC, while allowing marijuana possession and growing, have continued to bar sales for recreational purposes.” Many addiction professionals believe to be a “gateway drug” into deeper addictions. According to the Washington Post, “Fatal overdoses from opiate medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have quadrupled since 1999, accounting for an estimated 16,651 deaths in 2010.”
The Church simply cannot look to our state legislatures to be the remedy for the horrific loss of life, wholesale destruction of marriages and families, and the annihilation of the soul of those we love.
We are faith-people. We are those who are passionate about the power of the Holy Spirit to give a “new heart with new and right desires, and to put a new spirit” in those held in the grip of addiction.
Since the late 1800’s a variety of Christian ministries have responded to the call of God to reach and disciple the broken and hurting. While many ministries have arisen in the last century to meet the specialized needs and issues of the broken and hurting (e.g. Pure Life Ministries, Pure Desire, Freedom in Christ Ministries, XXXChurch), three have established themselves as icons in the healing and recovery genre of ministry:
Founded in 1853 by William Booth in England, the Salvation Army focused on reaching and discipling those the “high church” had cast aside. The passion of William Booth was to “win the lost multitudes of England to Christ.” He began his ministry walking the streets of London to preach the Gospel to “the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.”
“Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.
Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth’s first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.
In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.”
Lieutenant Eliza Shirley had left England to join her parents, who had migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America, in Philadelphia. The Salvationists were received enthusiastically.” (Salvation Army Website)
Today, “the Army” is known for its ubiquitous little red buckets throughout the Christmas Season and the memory of its street outreach teams. We honor their leadership in demonstrating the passion and commitment needed to reach and disciple the broken and hurting: those too often ignored by conventional local church ministry.
Union Gospel Mission
The history of the Union Gospel traces its roots back to Jerry McAuley, a converted Sing Sing Prison excon who opened a rescue mission in New York City in October of 1872. By 1902, the vision of “Rescue Mission Movement” had inspired a group of churches in the Twin Cities of Minnesota to open St. Paul’s Mission. The movement grew and the International Union of Gospel Missions (later known as the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions) was incorporated in 1913.
In April of 1932, Paul MacFarlane of the St. Paul Mission traveled to Seattle to meet with a group of pastors concerned about the city’s destitute population. Later that year, five area churches formed a “union” for the expressed purpose of establishing a Rescue Mission in Seattle.
Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission opened on August 21, 1932. The mission’s first year budget was $1500 from which rent, utilities, supplies and their first Director’s salary was paid. Under the leadership of Francis Peterson, the mission’s first director, UGM Seattle fed 18,000 men in its first year of ministry.
Today, UGM Seattle feeds over 900,000 hungry men and women, offers recovery and rehabilitation programs for the addicted, provides shelter for homeless men and women, as well as a wide array of programs and services designed to reach and disciple the broken and hurting.
Director Jeff Lilley has organized his staff around programs that not only respond to the core objectives of the mission (hunger, homelessness, poverty, high-risk youth, and addiction), but has taken bold new steps in unifying and mobilizing the churches of the Puget Sound Region through initiatives like “Light Up the City” and “Red Ring.”
“After seeing an article in Life magazine about a murder by teenage gangs, David Wilkerson heard God speak, ‘Go to New York City and help those boys.’”
That was 1958. Pastor David Wilkerson did go to New York to help “those boys.” Pastor Wilkerson conducted a series of evangelistic rallies in Brooklyn. On the last night of that series of rallies, dozens of gang members came forward to accept Christ as their Savior, including Nicky Cruz and Israel Narvaez from the Mau Maus. Nicky was the hardest to believe, David Wilkerson later related. The next morning, they traded their weapons for Bibles.
By December of 1960, Pastor Wilkerson sensed from the Holy Spirit it was time to develop a residential discipleship program for addicts who desperately needed the intensive care and safe environment away from their addiction-driven lifestyles. The first Teen Challenge home at 416 Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn was purchased and the Teen Challenge residential ministry began.
By 1963, two coffeehouses had been established in Greenwich Village, and residential Teen Challenge programs in Brooklyn and Chicago. In addition, the Teen Challenge Training Center (“the Farm”) had been developed in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania and an additional residential Teen Challenge had opened in Dallas, Texas. In 1964, a Teen Challenge residential program opened in San Francisco. The first Teen Challenge for women opened in 1967 in Garrison, New York.
From its simple beginnings, Teen Challenge has grown to over 200 locations in the US and over 1000 around the world. The explosive growth of Teen Challenge continues to be a true move of God.
Today, anyone responding to the call of God to reach and disciple the broken and hurting owes a debt of gratitude to the pioneers of this unique genre of Christian ministry. The passion and devotion of the men and women who relentlessly pursued and offered Christ-centered ministry to those too often unwelcome in traditional church settings is an inspiration to New Heart Ministry leaders today.
New Heart Ministry
Church by the Side of the Road was located on what was then known as SeaTac Strip, a four-mile stretch of Pacific Highway that was the “location of choice” for several topless dancing clubs, numerous bars and young women who offered “sexual entertainment” to the many who would cruise the strip looking for “a date.” Among those men was Gary Ridgeway, the infamous Green River Killer, responsible for taking the lives of 45-70 of the very young women who, in all likelihood, had offered themselves to the “johns” from the front lawn of the church.
In September of 1984, Pastor Ron Brooks, then senior pastor of Church by the Side of the Road, had just completed reading “Is That Really You, God,” when the Holy Spirit gave him a vision of intercessors walking down SeaTac Strip worshiping and calling on the name of the Lord for the broken and hurting. The intercessors were followed by those who were leading to Christ those who had been trapped too long in a lifestyle controlled by the enemy. Then, the scene in the vision changed to a room filled with those who had been brought to Christ off of SeaTac Strip. They were standing with their hands lifted heavenward worshiping their Savior.
On a Sunday evening in 1985, Pastor Ron shared his vision for the broken and hurting and the sense that not only was he and his wife, Janette, called to that population, but that he felt the Father had called the church to a mission to the broken and hurting as well. While he was speaking, Pastor Ron noticed the back row of the sanctuary full with what he later knew to be bikers and exotic dancers from Tacoma. Sensing the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Ron gave the invitation to receive Christ as Savior. To his amazement, the whole row of bikers and exotic dancers came forward, stood in a circle, held hands with Pastor Ron, and prayed the “sinner’s prayer.” That was the beginning of what came to be known as Prodigals Ministry.
By 1986, nine (9) other churches had joined a “Prodigals Network.” That year, the first Prodigals Retreat was held at Camp of the Cascades in Yelm and with it came the realization of the vision in 1984. Over 100 broken and hurting stood in the camp Chapel with their hands in the air worshiping their amazing God who had found them and called them home.
In 1993, Pastor Ron and Janette accepted the call to join the pastoral staff at Westgate Chapel. Having been one of the ten churches of the Prodigal Network, Westgate seemed like a logical place to pick up and expand the vision of ministry to the broken and hurting that had begun nine years earlier. But, the Father was “doing a new thing.”
In 1997, Pastor Ron opened the New Heart Relationship Series: a year-long curriculum that welcomed the broken and hurting of not only the community, but the Westgate Family as well. The Spirit of God graciously healed broken lives and restored shattered relationships.
New Heart Healing and Recovery opened in 2002 with a vision to reach and disciple the broken and hurting of Westgate Chapel as well as the greater South Snohomish-North King County community.
Westgate Chapel took possession of a 6,600 square foot, three-level home on five acres in December of 2005. New Heart Place, a residential discipleship and recovery home for adult men, began its ministry in July of 2006.
On June 30, 2021, Westgate Chapel signed final papers completing the purchase of a 5700 square foot home on a seven-a-half acre parcel in Snohomish County. An extensive remodeling project was initiated on August 13, 2021. The New Heart Place Women’s Residential Discipleship and Recovery Home will open its doors for ministry in early 2022.
“Clean and Sober is Amazing, but a New Heart is Supernatural”
Anyone who has achieved any measure of sobriety deserves our respect and admiration. Living life clean and sober after years of debilitating addiction is truly amazing.
Yet, as amazing as any sobriety is, faith-based recovery is dependent not on a program but the supernatural power of God to give a man or woman a “new heart with new and right desires, and a new spirit” (rf Ezekiel 36:26 TLB).
The focus in faith-based recovery is simply not clean and sober, but a supernatural, intimate relationship with the Living God; a God who is able to heal and restore, to give back wasted years, and to bring sustainable freedom from addiction. In faith-based recovery, clean and sober is not the goal, but the by-product of knowing God personally, intimately, supernaturally.
Would you like more information about the new heart place men’s home or women’s home?
Are you ready?
Are you ready to make the decision for long-term residential healing and discipleship?
Can we pray?
Can we pray for you right now? We would welcome the opportunity to pray with you as you wrestle with your decision to pursue sustainable freedom from the controls of addiction.
“‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord.”
“‘I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,’ says the Lord, ‘And I will heal them.'”
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his (Jesus) wounds you have been healed.“
1 Peter 2:24
“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”
“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.“
“I will give you a new heart-I will give you new and right desires-and put a new spirit within you“