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‘When Celebrate Recovery started, I think it was God’s way of bringing out the best in some people’

Christians reflect on South Carolina church's ministry to people with hurts, habits and hang-ups.

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. — As The Christian Chronicle reports, the Grand Strand Church of Christ has become a haven for prodigal sons — and daughters.

Here are a few more quotes from participants in the congregation’s Celebrate Recovery ministry:

Jan Cox

“The reason I’m here was when I asked him (minister Jay Thornell) what his vision for the church was, he said, ‘I want this church to be a place that if it disappeared tomorrow, this neighborhood would notice.’ And that was exactly the place I was looking for. It has met every expectation I had. In fact, it’s overwhelming in some ways.” — Jan Cox

Brad Schimtz

“There’s a group of guys here that I can lean on, and they’re always there for me. I can give them a call at any time, and they’re there. We can talk like real people. It’s like a high school friendship; you can just pick up and talk like you’ve left off. I’ve just made so many connections. I think it’s probably the heart for others that people have. It’s genuine.” — Brad Schmitz

Johnny Christensen

“I came to church, and I felt the love and comfort when I came here. When Celebrate Recovery started, I think it was God’s way of bringing out the best in some people. It gave them more room to grow and to become a better person. They can reach out to the community more willingly now. They’re more empathetic.” — Johnny Christensen

Charles Baker

“Celebrate Recovery led me on my recovery for my addictions based on the actual words of Jesus and not the worldly views of others. It’s so powerful that words don’t give it justice. The feeling and love of Jesus is just so powerful. It was really able to deflate my ego, take away my pride and help me to grow in Christ and help me to reach out and help others.” — Charles Baker

Debbie Cuseo

“I would like for Celebrate Recovery to reach everyone in our church. Some people still have the mentality that CR is just for certain people. They don’t realize that those people are them as well because we all have hurts, habits and hang-ups. If they would go to an open share session, they would realize that there’s something they’re struggling with.” — Debbie Cuseo

John Sydor

“I’m a recovering alcoholic. … I’m a volunteer at Refuge of Hope. I do devotionals Thursday mornings, and Thursday nights I teach a lesson. Basically, I’ll show up sometimes at the house, and I’ll take them out for a couple hours at lunch just to get them away, a little change of pace.” — John Sydor

Gina Gordon

“I fell away as a teenager. I was partying and doing all of the things you want to do as a teenager when you’re not following Christ. All of those experiences molded me into being open to people who struggle. That’s also why I have a heart for teenage boys and girls. I know what it’s like to grow up at the beach, and it is not an easy place to grow up.” — Gina Gordon

Noreen Sydor

“My friend, Rita, and I do the children’s program at Celebrate Recovery. I was in recovery for my smoking addiction. It’s very helpful to have the support of my sisters. So if you have a bad day, I can speak to my sponsor. I have my sisters, and I have my church.”Noreen Sydor

Filed under: addiction Celebrate Recovery opioids Partners South Carolina

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