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C CAIR-FL In The News

Recovery Leaders Reach Out For Faith

By Katie Landeck, For News Herald, On 31 January 2018, Read Original

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For some, faith is a critical piece in their recovery process.

PANAMA CITY — As addiction and mental health issues grow in prominence, members of the local faith-based community sat down Monday at the Faith and Recovery Symposium to talk about how they could become part of the solution.

“Move over in your pew or your seat for someone who may not look like your average worshiper,” said Mylisa Lee, substance abuse and mental health director with the Department of Children and Families in her opening remarks. “What better place for them to be?”

For some, faith is a critical piece in their recovery process.

“I’d been in recovery for two years when I came to faith,” said Christopher Dykes, an attendee who works with the Department of Children and Families. “It brought me peace.”

In faith, addicts can find forgiveness, and a chance to start over. In a brainstorming session led by Director of the Lead Coalition Janice Lucas, the group of about 70 people said faith-based groups offer a discrete support system that allows people to tap into something bigger than them.

Those who need help can find people, Dykes said, who will “meet people where they are” and who “love and serve.”

But when challenged, the group said the faith community also has turned people away — feeling burned by others — making some less willing to come back. People can feel judged, they said, and find the church doctrine to be exclusive.

 

It all led to the question, “Are we here to proselytize or to help people?” said attendee Hiba Rahim. “If it’s to help, as I believe we should be, then we should be working together a lot more.”

Interconnecting the dozens of places of worship in the county always has been a struggle. When asked the symposium attendees said they did not believe even 80 percent of the churches in the region were on the same page when it comes to helping addicts.

 

“No ma’am,” one man said. “It would take a lot of work to get 80 percent.”

Doing the work to get 80 percent was the challenge issued by Kevin Warren, one of the event’s facilitators with the Life Group. He compared it to that scene in “Saving Private Ryan,” where people are dying everywhere in the battle except for the one guy “that had all the bullets, all the bullets” and froze on the stairwell. Later the character, Timothy Upham, moves past his fear and helps save the day.

“How many of us are holding onto ammunition while we see our pastors out there trying to fight the fight with no bullets?” Warren asked. “Faith is the ammunition to recover ... You are the ammunition.

“You have a responsibility to this problem,” he continued. “That’s the takeaway.”

The symposium was the first of three planned in Northwest Florida during the next few months. The event was a collaboration between the Department of Children and Families, which is hoping for more faith organizations to become involved in the Recovery Oriented Systems of Care initiative, and the Life Group.