Posted by: Kerry Spencer | February 1, 2009

Kerry’s February Newsletter

Since coming to serve here at Jeff St., I have seen firsthand the consequences of substance abuse more than ever before. The lessons seem to be coming all the more frequently in recent days. Some of the victims have been weighing heavily on my heart. I certainly do not mean to reinforce the stereotypes concerning homeless folks: alcoholism, mental illness, laziness, and the rest. Homeless folks are as varied as any other group of people. However, it is true that we see a good number of people who are clearly enslaved and oppressed by alcohol. So I’ll share one recent episode.

One of our newest residents, Carl, was suspended for breaking our no alcohol policy his first night here. A couple nights later he came in anyway asking to get into his room. He was sloppy drunk, having trouble speaking and walking. Due to his suspension we told him he’d have to leave for the night and come back when the proper staff person was available to talk with him. Because of his inebriated state and the fact that the temperature was below freezing, I decided to give him a ride to where he was staying: an abandoned building, or in his words an “abandominium.”

On the drive there, Matt and I asked Carl about his life and his addiction. Sadly, he told us he had no plan and no hope. We asked about whether he had tried to get help for his addiction. He said he’d tried but to no avail. We then shared that the only true hope is found in Jesus Christ. Carl told us he doesn’t believe in Jesus as God’s son, but he does believe in God. I figured that rather than argue with a heavily intoxicated guy about the deity of Christ, it might be more worthwhile to challenge him to pray to God and ask him to reveal the truth to him. We also prayed for him before we dropped him off at his abandominium. He was very appreciative of the ride and our prayers. One of the saddest parts of all this is that Carl seems to be a genuinely kind and pleasant man. His life is simply out of control because of his addiction.

Although I was thankful for the chance to share the Gospel and serve Carl in God’s love, this experience left me with a lingering sadness. When dealing with addicts, sometimes their situation does seem hopeless. It seems there is nothing we can do to help. It seems some are truly stuck in an endless cycle. But I know better. I know that God is the God of hope. I know that He is the great Redeemer. I know that nothing is impossible for God. So with Carl, and other like him, all we can do is serve, love, pray, and then leave the rest in God’s hands.

I’m also learning that I need to be very careful not to judge others’ addictions while ignoring my own. Jesus taught us to take the log out of our own eye before trying to help someone else with the speck in theirs (Matt. 7:15). It seems that most addictions have to do with things that in moderation, or in their proper place, are not harmful. The Bible never condemns wine or beer, but drunkenness. Sex is a gift from God, but outside of the proper confines (marriage) it holds many grave consequences. Even wonderful blessings and necessities like food and sleep can be abused. Other addictions are even more subtle – entertainment, materialism, greed, pride, comfort, etc.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). Like Carl, I too need to fight, in God’s strength, against the addictions that enslave me. Ultimately, his hope and mine is in Jesus Christ who was sent “to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

Please pray for:

• the Lord to move in our lives (mine, Carl’s, and others) to free us from our addictions.
• The Lord to equip us with every good thing to do His will (Hebrews 13:21).

Thanks again for your continued prayers and support of our work here at Jeff. St. You are a blessing to me and to this ministry.

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