Identity or Experience?
Written By Greg Miller
Have you ever found out that a friend has cancer and then started going around telling others that your friend IS cancer? Would you tell someone that has a tumor that they ARE a tumor? We are horrified by such thoughts. The problem is that we (at least I) do it every day. We tell someone who suffers from bi-polar disorder that they ARE bi-polar. We tell someone with black skin color that they ARE black. We tell someone suffering from addiction that they ARE an addict.
When we do these things we reduce human beings made in the image of God to some aspect of their experience. We identify their past experience and we remove hope.
If you ARE bi-polar, well, you are what you are. If you suffer from bi-polar disorder, however, you can have hope that you can manage it or that it might go away. If you ARE black, well, good luck changing that. If you have black skin, the possibilities for your future are only limited by your aspirations and dreams. If you ARE an addict, well, get used to a life of addiction to one thing or another. If you suffer from addiction there is hope that through prayer and the power of God that that can change.
Our ability to serve those suffering from mental illness, racial discrimination, (and/ or) addiction is greatly diminished unless we change our thinking and realize that those experiences do not define who people are.
Character can overcome experience but character cannot change identity.
May God help us to live this as out as image-bearers of God.
Written By Maggie
It’s noon. Monday, January 15th, 2018. I just got to the café. Upon my arrival, I greeted Mr. Herb and we got into a conversation about my goals for the very near future. Tomorrow I will be turning in my paperwork application to be a Church Army Candidate. How far I’ve come! But I remember. Addicted to heroin, hopeless, barely surviving... not really wanting to survive at all. I found recovery and found this café. And in turn I found a home, a family, and Jesus!
I remember just before Christmas 2017 last year, I was newly clean and still living in a halfway house. But I got to be present for Andrenna’s being accepted as a Candidate. I remember wanting that for myself so badly. I didn’t think it was even possible for myself. I mean, I didn’t even know if I would be strong enough to stay clean this time or not. But I know now that I am never alone - I always have the Lord. I didn’t know I was going to make any of this happen, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up. So, I showed up. Time and time again. I followed my heart, knowing that Jesus himself put this call on my heart. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve stumbled. I’ve fallen flat on my face. But I’m never alone.
I’ve always looked at life as a series of obstacles I have to overcome before my life can truly start. First, I have to stay clean. First, I have to get stable. First, I have to go fight for my daughter and get her back. First, I have to become a Candidate... And THEN my life will start. I was wrong. These obstacles ARE my life. This is my story. And it is one of strength and redemption. I am so blessed to have such amazing people around me, let alone supporting, loving, and believing in me. I am so grateful for the ones who have gone before me, the ones who I look up to, the ones who show me the way.
My life today is so far from where it was less than two years ago. I am clean. I have a home. I have a Job. I have a family. I have a purpose. I have a future. I have Jesus. I never dreamed my life could be so good. Even in the midst of the obstacles my life is wonderful. Things are happening in me and through me! The time is NOW! I’m loving every moment of it and for once, I can’t wait for what my future holds!
So much love,
Being a bridge
Written by Angel Bailey
We met 3 1/2 years ago when she came in for some coffee and was upset because her boyfriend and father of the baby she was carrying, kicked her out. She was in active addiction but desiring help to get clean. We sat and talked about the life inside of her, the mother she wanted to be and prayed and cried together for a couple hours. She was in and out of my life through similar scenarios like this for the next few years. I was able to assist her with the birth of her fifth child and worked on getting her into treatment several times.
It was about a month ago that she came in to the café, frantic and bruised up and pregnant again, stating that she needed to go to the hospital and try to get into rehab somewhere. I drove her to McGee Women’s Hospital and spoke to our team about finding a place for her to go. We made connections with Beaver County Behavioral Health and Salvation Army. They found a rehab center for her and got her a hotel room for four days till she could get on a bus that would take her to get the help she was finally wanting. I knew she didn’t need to be alone because she suffers with severe anxiety disorder and PTSD from past life events so another team member and I stayed with her at the hotel the four nights. The day she left, I took her to the bus station, prayed with her and waited till she got on and the bus departed from the station. She called me when she made it to the center. This is the work of our Second Responders. This is the work we are needing more help. It is about building relationships and walking with those that are struggling in their addictions and needing (though it may take a bit for them to get to the point where they really want it) help moving from isolation to community.