Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps , we tried to carried this message to other addicts and try to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Last lecture I talked about how there are four parts to step 12
1. going through all of the steps
2. having a spiritual awakening
3. carrying the message
4. applying the spiritual principles.
Through the past several lectures we learned about the meaning of having a spiritual awakening, the composition of the 12 steps, and the spiritual flow of the step work. Today I wish to talk about carrying the message.
My dear gilgal community we all learn and go through education in our lives. Family education, schooling, military, social skills, church life. We learn all sorts of things. And sometimes we pick specific topics we want to educate ourselves with, such as cooking, golf, computer. And we are currently learning about addiction and recovery at gilgal. So we can see that life itself is like a continual journey of learning. Even something like using a cell phone we need to learn and study the manual or we will have difficulty using the phone.
On this day and time, living in this society, if we do not properly educate ourselves we experience much discomfort, difficulties, disadvantages, and even complete failure. Until not too long ago car jacking was a pretty common crime. Not too long ago, there was a case in which a car thief got into a brand new Mercedes to try to steal it. But being that this was a brand new vehicle, the thief did not know how to turn on the car. In his struggle he got spotted and arrested by the police. Even a thief was brought down due to failure to educate himself.
That is why most good education systems include some type of on the job training. Let’s say for instance that a certain medical school only required students to read and memorize dozens of books. The graduates would not be fit in any way to take care of patients. There needs to be a period of residency, in which the students learn to apply their knowledge in real life situations. If this training is done lazily, there will be detrimental consequences. I am an anesthesiologist. And every once in a while, I face situations in which the patient is in critical condition. If the patient is in very critical conditions, I make time to go to ICU ahead of time to take a look at the patient. First I get the patient’s chart and review it carefully. Then I can get a good idea of how the patient conditions are. But the actual plan to manage the patient comes to me when I see the patient’s face, the way he is lying there, etc. There are various types of data I take into consideration, but there are these unexplainable vibes and instincts I pick up from the patient. These are things I can only acquire through experience. We learn through many experiences. At gigal, House of Thanks giving, church, other recovery fellowships, bible, audio, video, books, and other people. But if we do not actually apply the information we learn in our lives there is no real use to what we learned. All these knowledge become something to feed our ego, but we do not bear any fruit. In recovery, this ego does not only mean that we will not bear fruit, but it could also mean something like death. The fact is that there are so many people out there who cannot let go of their ego and pride no matter how many times they relapse. And when I see this, I have no choice but to call it a delusion. It is insanity. Please I beg you not to fall into this delusion. Sometimes people never make it back. When we come out of a relapse, we should see that our own plans, ideas, and will were the reasons why we could not stay sober. When we accept this cold hard truth, we can start over from the basics with a humble heart. But somehow the little bit of knowledge, experience, and a whole lot of stubbornness become stumbling blocks for us. Ultimately, we cannot win this battle with knowledge. Instead when we live by spiritual principles, one day at a time, we can be victorious. Now then, how could we see whether our spiritual condition is in good shape or not? We can ask ourselves this question, “Do we see the spiritual principles in our lives? Are we putting in the effort to live by these principles?” And are we seeing the fruits of living this type of life?
But what happens when we start to slack off and fall off from this life style? We stop living by the spiritual principles, even when we see them and are aware of them in our lives. We compromise with the ways of this world. To gain worldly and materialistic things we start to sacrifice some spiritual principles in our lives. Because we are too busy or lazy we skip some of our daily spiritual maintenance. We can see these behaviors relatively easily at Gilgal and HOT. And when our spiritual conditions worsen, we no longer see the spiritual principles at all.
We start skipping church, missing recovery meetings, and stop doing our step work. And we stop keeping in touch with our fellows. Even when we do something illegal we do not feel much regret or resistance. When someone reaches out to help us we say we do not need their help. That we got it under control. The relapse that follows these types of behaviors is not really that surprising. And if there isn’t a relapse, we will probably continue to live just like everyone else in this world.
Let’s take a look at James 1:22
Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!
In here, God tells us to receive the Word and also apply it in our lives as living proof. This is a responsibility that’s been given to us. It would be foolish for us to not take care of this responsibility and expect God to bless us and allow us to be a part of His glory. We would be fooling ourselves if we thought that.
Sometimes we tell ourselves that the best way for us to serve the kingdom of God is to earn a lot of money and give a lot of offering to help those in need. This would be nothing but justifications we’re making for our current behaviors. As addicts, we are experts at lying and tricking ourselves. God wants us, not our money. Step 12 tells us that application will bring much benefits to us and those we help. But if we don’t put in any action, there is no use to anything.
It is written in Philippians 4:9
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When we see terminal addicts and alcoholics, who have basically received the death sentence, come back to life, we see for certain that God exists. And each time we witness this, our faith is renewed and our faith becomes stronger. And when we try to spread God’s message to others, we realize that we are far away from our addiction. And that much closer to God. And what do we receive for doing so? That is happiness, joy, and freedom in our lives. Happy, joyous, and free. We often hear about this in our recovery fellowships.
We must keep in mind that even after we discontinue our addictions, we can always go back to living in a jail cell we build for ourselves. For an example, we could be self centered in our thoughts, fall into self pity, and suffer from depression. Or we could get caught up with the hurts of our past like a butterfly caught in a spider’s web. So if we are still living without gratitude, freedom, and joy even after stopping our addiction, we would be like the Israelites, freed from Egypt, longing to go back to Egypt. That generation ended up dying out in the wilderness. This is something that happens every day. And even today, there are people dying in the wilderness. Those who have been saved by the blood of Christ must leave their mark in this world. And that is to save others’ lives.
We must fight against Satan’s greatest weapon, which is addiction. I hope we can all believe we are special agents who are capable of overcoming this battle. Addiction make people retarded, and demoralize us to the level of an animal. And eventually we die, or go to jail, or get deported, or become mentally ill. Do you believe that we can be recovered from this disease? And do you believe that we can be used to save another from this disease? And are you willing to actually carry it out in action? At first all of us quit in order to not die. And to upgrade the quality of our lives we worked on the steps and to upgrade the quality of our spirituality we studied the Bible and prayed. But the true results of these actions are actualized when we use the tools we learned to help others. The true purpose of our spiritual growth and physical recovery and growth in life is not just for our own sake but for the sake of helping others who need us. And those who have come to know God’s heart are aware of this. When we go through hard times and fall into self pity and start to isolate and feel helpless. When we help another suffering addict we see that our situation start to be resolved. This is the secret. It’s a secret because those who have not tried do not know.
I also want to mention that you do not have to complete the twelve steps in order to carry the message. And we do not necessarily have to be sober for a long time to do so. If we have the heart to do so and we have consulted with a sponsor about how to go about doing so then we can carry the message. If you do not have a sponsor you can always talk to me and I can help you. I want you to pray for an addict that comes to your mind. If you have the heart to help him/her, the next thing to do is to plan and then carry it out into action.
At this time, I’d like to talk about the unlimited success of the founding days of AA which included Christian fellowship and how it had started by one alcoholic passing on the message to the other alcoholic. I will explain more in detail about the process which took place for the message that was started from Ebby and which then was delivered to Dr. Bob.
Everyone, as all of you know, Bill Wilson is one of the founding members of AA. But he was not a special person. Like most of the alcoholics, he was a self-centered, selfish, delusional, and a womanizer, who was also a chain-smoker.
And although his family since his grandfather had all been Christians, he had lived his life without a firm conviction on it. He had believed in higher power, but he had difficulty believing his higher power was God. And he was failing on numerous attempts to quit drinking as a terminal alcoholic.
Ebby had come to meet with him then. Ebby was a childhood friend and naturally also became a drinking buddy. Bill was a terminal alcoholic, but Ebby was even a worse case than Bill. I had lectured before about their meeting, but I will discuss their meeting more in detail today. As we are here to reflect on their past story, we are also here to learn the teachings of God. Because in such stories lies the messages of God. The story begins as Bill opening his apartment door as Ebby was knocking on it.
As he was standing in front me, his eyes and face were glowing and there was something unexplainable about him. What had happened to him? As usual, I had offered him a glass of drink, but he had refused. I was disappointed that he had refused and started worrying that something was wrong with him. He was not the same Ebby that I knew. So I asked, “What happened to you?” And he looked at me straight in the eye and told me, “I’ve got religion.”
He had come to pass on the message to me and asked me whether I was interested in accepting the same idea. I was shocked at that time and I was interested. And I had no choice but to be interested. Because I had lost all hope at that time.
And my friend who was sitting in front of me had told me that God had done for him what had failed to do. The doctors had told him that his own will powers are useless, and that he is an untreatable person and that they were in the process of isolating him from the society. And he admitted that he had failed entirely. Until then, there was nothing different about his story compared to mine. But he was sitting in front of me wonderfully, after coming out of his life which was full of trash and being raised from the dead.
And I wondered whether such power had come from my friend? I was certain that it had not. We did not possess such powers. I became speechless as I had realized what had happened to him. Something had helped a person, my friend Ebby, experience the spiritual miracle. At that moment, my belief of not believing in miracles had changed. Past had been gone and the person who had experienced such miracle was standing in front of me. He himself was an enormous message itself. Not only it seemed like his inside was organized, but he looked like a different person. He looked like a person who had rooted down a firm foundation on a new land.
Following this meeting, Bill had followed Ebby to Calvery Rescue Mission (Oxford Group) in search of getting what Ebby had experienced, but nothing had happened to him. He had kept drinking and was hospitalized at a mental institution with extreme exhaustion. It seems as though Ebby’s message had failed up to this point. But we will look at what happened later to Bill and what they had written about it.
My depression had become unmanageable and I was struggling after hitting the bottom. And even then, I had failed to open up to the belief that there was a power greater than myself. But at one point, such stubborn arrogance had disappeared and found myself yelling like this. “God, if you are there, I need to meet you!! I will do anything.” At that moment, the room became brighter and a mysterious feeling came over me. It felt like I was standing on top of a mountain and I felt the breeze, but it was not the wind but the spiritual wind blowing towards me.
And I came to believe that I was a free person. And the mysterious feeling started disappearing. I had been and came back from the other side. I felt the presence of an amazing power within me and I realized this power was God himself as I had been told by the preachers. An overwhelming amount of tranquility came over me and started thinking that everything would be ok even in the most wrongful situation as long as God is with me.
As he was released from the hospital, Bill Wilson started helping the other addicts. But about six months later, despite such spiritually enlightening experience, a temptation came over him as he was on a business trip to Akron, Ohio. So he started calling the local churches asking to speak and meet the alcoholics. Because he remembered that he had quit drinking when he was helping the other addicts in need. Finally, Bill met Bob Smith who was a doctor specializing in alcohol addiction and realized that although difficult individually, the task of quitting drinking became achievable as they had tried together and this realization took place on the Mother’s Day of the year 1935. And AA was born. And these two people never drank again.
As such, passing on the message to another addict is an important task. Not because that one addict can be saved, but all of the other addicts which he knows can also be saved as well. Who did Bill meet after experiencing the presence of God and as he was trying to help other addict without much success? His meeting with Dr. Bob, who had been exposed to God and his words at an early age but was failing to quit drinking, was God’s will itself.
Bill: Doesn’t know the Bible, but had met God.
Dr. Bob: Knows the Bible well, but had never met God.
God had joined these two together and helped them bear fruits of their work.
Following such history, here are the criteria which the founding members of AA came to realize as the needed conditions for recovery.
1. Trusting God
2. Working with others
3. House cleaning
First, we will take a look at how we should go about helping others.
1. Consistently coming out to meetings. This is first for our benefits, and secondly beneficial to others.
2. Sharing during the participation time.
3. Being of service with a willing and joyous heart.
4. Giving rides to those without transportation
5. Calling others.
These actions help new comers to gain some hope. They play the very important role of creating an attraction for the new comers to come back. In addition, let’s talk about how we can meet new comers and also help them.
Before we start, let’s talk about what type of people we should reach out to.
1.They must be people struggling with the disease of addiction. We are not really fit to deal with people struggling with family problems, financial problems, relationships, mental illness, etc. We are looking for addicts.
2.We want to reach out to addicts who are sincere and willing about recovery.
3.The most ideal addict we can reach out to are addicts seeking help. There are many addicts out there who want to stop using but are only willing to do so on their own terms. In this case we cannot do much but leave them alone. Unfortunately, it is only after they’ve experienced detrimental and heart breaking failure that they will be sincere about seeking help and accepting help from us.
Secondly, now we will learn about the process of meeting new comers.
1. At recovery fellowships
2. After the meeting. Only people who are very interested in recovery will come here.
3. We can be introduced to them through others. Even through the hotline
4. Through church.
5. We c an reach out to addicts we’ve known from our past.
Next, we will learn about the type of attitude we should have when helping others.
Being that we are addicts ourselves, we know how it feels to be doomed for a miserable death then to receive the gift of new hope and life. We can be so enthused about helping others receive this gift, that we can forget about the appropriate mindset and attitude we should have in approaching others. And this can quite often lead to failure. We cannot be offensive or so intrusive. And it’s important not to cling on to those who are unwilling to hear us out. That’s a waste of time. Those people usually have other hidden motives. Quite often they are looking for money or drugs and alcohol. What should we do when we face such people? We must be sure to draw the line so that we do not become a person who is being used by them instead of a recovering addict who wants to help others. For an example, we can treat a hungry suffering addict to a nice warm meal or put some gas in their car. But giving them cash would not be advised. And remember to give them your phone number, letting them know that if they ever need help, they can always call you. If they reach out to you under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or while they are gambling, you should try to delay meeting them to a later time. If you have to meet them, be sure to take another recovering addict with you to the meeting place. If they are sincerely seeking recovery, you should consult with your sponsor and go with a recovering addict who knows what their doing. This would be most ideal.
When we meet them up, we must be sure not to be spiritually prideful and speak condescendingly in a preaching manner. We are not counselors or therapist who are there to treat them. We are nothing but messengers who are there to lead them to a spiritual fellowship and start their recovery program. We do not have the strength to change, heal, or fix someone. That is left up to God. We are simply helping others to connect to God. In addition, when we get in touch with a new comer and start helping them, it is important to reach out to their family as well. Even if the new comer is not really ready to receive help, we can invite the family members to seek help and find recovery. Those family members have lived through much pain and suffering. But many of them are not aware that they are sick and suffering from the disease of addiction as well. And the recovery of the family members ultimately help the actual addict to recover as well. There are many cases in which the family members, who are sick, delay the recovery of the addict.
Next, we pray seeking God’s guidance. Instead of thinking about what we should say, we should seek God for his help. When we do this, God blesses us to be useful in helping others. When we open our mouth we will be able to say the appropriate and right words. Another important thing to remember is that the type of people we will meet are often not likable people. But to not help them because they are not likable would not be the right thing to do. We might not be able to like them as they are right now, but we can love them. Desiring to give our time and care to those is our job. But, as I’ve mentioned before, if they are rejecting our help and not accepting of our suggestions, we have to let them go. There is not much else we can do at this point.
How to carry the conversation
1. If you have never met each other before first give a brief introduction of yourself. If you do know each other, the changes you’ve been through and your transformation become the initial message the new comer sees. That was the case for Ebby. It comes not from just a change in appearance but real inner change.
2. As we continue to talk, we start to get a better idea of the new comer’s current state.
a. Are they accepting of their problem and reality?
b. How desperate and willing are they to recover? God heals those who want to be healed and helps change those who want to be changed. And it is up to each addict to have that willingness. If that is not there, there must be more pain and suffering until this willingness and humility is given to the new comer. So we must wait.
c. We ask if they have had sober time before. And then we find out what means they went through to quit. Finally we let them know and encourage them that they can start over again fresh right now.
3. Then we tell them about ourselves. We keep in mind that what’s important right now is to get closer with this person and becoming long term friends with them. Then we share about our recovery progress, the tools of recovery, the fellowship I am a part of, and how my life has been transformed. We can answer questions as well. And we ask if they are interested in joining our fellowship. There is no reason to push those who are hesitant. We either wait for them to contact us or we trying once more to contact them later. If they are willing to join us we set up the appropriate plan to do so. Provide them with rides if they need it and continue to keep in touch through phone. We give them a reminder of meetings.
The fact of the matter is, reaching out to new comers and helping them is something all of us can do. But so many of us are hesitating and putting it off. How would I find a new comer? Could I actually be useful in helping them? We are unsure and self-conscious about whether our own experience is valuable enough to help others. And there are people who just do not want to do anything for anybody else but themselves. These people should repent. Because the truth is that if we have truly gained a new way of living through spirituality we definitely do have something to share. If there is even a little bit of a change in our lives we have the ability to carry the message. Sharing our experiences is like cultivating the land we wish to farm in. We do not have to be discouraged by not immediately bearing fruit. That will take time. So we wait in prayer.
It’s already half way through this year. I hope that all of us here can become determined to carry the message to at least two people before this year is through. And I hope that we can all see how much care and sacrifice is needed to save one person’s life. I hope we can experience watching people walk away from us back to the path of death and failure. Why am I saying this? Because I have experienced this many times before and my heart ached for a while each time. But after a while I realized that this is how Jesus feels. He loves me even though I’m foolish and short coming. That is his heart. I hear Jesus telling us to love those still suffering out there.
There are several songs I’ve come to love after starting the Gilgal ministry. One of those songs is called “Anyway”. I wish to conclude today’s lecture by listening to this song. I hope you can hear the message in the lyrics of this song. Thank you