I witnessed City Gospel Mission transition into a relationship-based ministry with the goal of transformation. As expected it was not easy, but it had to be intentional as all transformative relationships need to be. I got similar experience from Crossroad Health Center where I was a volunteer chaplain. This is a Christian ministry that emphasizes relationship between the medical personnel and the community they served – low income individuals and families with limited resources.
These relationships, along with church and regular bible study groups, for example at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Mark on Capitol Hill, and Ascension and St. Agnes, have been fundamental for my own transformation.
But why is relationship important in transformation?
In the course of studying Paul’s epistle to Romans for the men in the recovery program we sought application of chapter 12 and verse 2, where Paul writes: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Transformation calls for a change of mindset, renewing of mind; changing the way we look at things; changing the way we see the world. That, in turn, will lead to change of behavior. (What Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: 3 is essentially the same thing, though Nicodemus tried to understand it literally, just as some Christians do, today).
Thus, recovery from addiction is a process of transformation from a flawed conformity, a process that requires a change of mindset and a change of heart.
Secondly, since environment has a lot to do with behavior, transitioning from one environment to a healthier one entails more than physical locale. Those seeking to transition need mentors and examples they can emulate. Change will not happen from sermons and admonitions, but through coaching and setting examples. I gave the example of my friend trying to help a young man through the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington in my previous blog which you can access here: https://joelmlayblog.wordpress.com/book-project/connection-is-why-we-are-here/
Unfortunately, building relationships for transformation is not always easy; but, as I said, it must be intentional.
I’ll continue with that next time.