I have been thinking about why Bethesda House of Mercy in Waycross GA works for women in addiction. There are several reasons I believe which all work together. These things form the unique formula which is the program at Bethesda House of Mercy. They do not include curriculum, though that is important. These things do not include financial success though that is also important. These parts that are most important do not include brilliant minds or state credentials, though both of these are important. These things include, location, a spiritually dominated program, agape love, scientific facts, personal involvement and individual treatment of each woman. Now let me explain these parts that are so successful here and why these things must be duplicated to be a part of what God is doing here.
Location: Since the brain is so adversely affected by the use of drugs or alcohol, the brain must be retrained to think normally again. This drug use has caused the brain to be a drug seeking brain which has built a pathway that perpetuates that usage. By forcing the brain to think about new ideas and new surroundiings the recovery begins immediately. The more the brain is forced to reconstruct the pathway to normal thinking, the quicker the brain leaves the old pathway. This is similar in my opinion to that of a stroke victim who is allowing the brain to form new pathways for signals to accomplish the normal activities of life. Some studies on dementia show that changing normal activities such as which hand you use to brush your teeth may reduce the occurrences of dementia in some. Our program takes women from all over the United States to encourage that forced new pathway. The brain must pay attention to the newness of everything, thus forcing the drug seeking to a less important brain activity.
When we have a local girl we always encourage them to try a program in another city or state to help this process of new location and new pathway to start the recovery process. This is one reason we will be happy to have a sister ministry in Michigan to refer women to and to accept women from.
Spiritually Dominated Program: We introduce the women to Jesus Christ in a new and fresh way. We expose the gospel to them from a Grace standpoint and not judgment. We share the story of Jesus in his humanity and in his position as the Son of God. Many women have lost their faith, and this is an opportunity to learn about Jesus in a warm and friendly environment. They are exposed to many different denominations. Because the women are from varying backgrounds, the staff strives to find the basic Christian doctrines of faith in whatever denomination they come from.
Agape Love: The theme of the ministry has and always will be Love never fails. Women are accepted as they are and encouraged in a loving reparenting environment. They are given a change to feel the love without judgment. They are not disciplined on their past, only on their present. They are rewarded on their present achievements and not ridiculed about past failures.
Scientific Facts: the women are taught about the effects of drugs and alcohol on their bodies, minds and spirits. They are also educated in factual information about codependency, anger management and self esteem. The women learn that their brains are altered and how to reroute the pathways through exercise, healthy diet and meditation.
Individual Treatment: Each woman is treated as an individual at Bethesda House of Mercy. They are not assigned a list of predetermined activities that every person does when they arrive here. Each one will be in a unique group and treated as a one of a kind, special person, a child of God. This creates some chaos in a world that has protocols for everything. But at Bethesda, the Holy Spirit guides and directs each individual program for the best possible results. Some are treated with a firm hand and some with a soft glove, but all are treated as individuals who need individual personal treatment. Some are so wounded they cannot tolerate a single harsh word. Some are so defiant that they must be disciplined from morning to night. It takes a lot of prayer to work this way. We have no one plan fits all at Bethesda House of Mercy.
It would only be fair to also assess why the program seems to fail at times. I will try to be as honest as possible about these failures, or what society calls failures. Sometimes it is lack of personal responsibility on the part of the woman. Sometimes she has no desire to get clean and stay clean, except to get somebody off her back. Sometimes the program seems to fail because of personality clashes. Sometimes it is because the enemy has targeted the ministry to keep people from receiving what they come for and sometimes he targets an individual because he suspects they are important in the scheme of sharing the Gospel. Sometimes it is timing. Sometimes what seems like a failure today becomes a great success tomorrow. This has happened many times. Women come hear the gospel, and go back to drugs only to one day get tired of that scene and return to Jesus. They almost always call me and tell me how important their time at Bethesda has been in their returning to Jesus. I pray that if the women can’t hear God’s voice that they will hear my voice when they are running from Him. So many have said they have heard that Southern voice saying “Do the next right thing.”
Anyway, as we are approaching partnering with people in Michigan to help women in drug and alcohol addiction, we must be aware of what works. We also must have bigger picture than just housing women in one area. The vision was to have a geographical area of the United States so women every where could hear the Good News and be healed. I believe this is what works at Bethesda.