*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 4, 2018, Local
By Stacey Carmany
The Chili Crossroads Bible Church in Fresno is drawing upon the healing power of spiritual faith to help area individuals break free of the chains of addiction.
Six months ago, the church began opening its doors every Friday evening to offer RU Recovery, a nationally-recognized, Christian faith-based addiction recovery curriculum that seeks to rescue, recover, and restore those struggling with addictive behaviors by introducing them to the love of Jesus Christ.
The first meeting drew about 50 participants, and weekly attendance has since remained relatively steady, according to church Pastor Neal Dearyan.
“It’s going great,” Dearyan shared. “Some weeks are a little less and some weeks are a little more, but we’ re still holding around 50, and we’ re seeing new people coming to the program on a regular basis.”
Dearyan explained that the RU Recovery program is based on 10 Biblical principles for overcoming stubborn habits that are broken up into a series of lessons, group discussions, and exercises.
“We actually go over one of those principles every Friday night, and, just by simple repetition, help to integrate that into the fabric of our lives by constant re-exposure to those truths,” Dearyan said.
Each meeting is further divided into three 40-minute sessions that are collectively referred to as “talk, talk, talk.”
First, the group talks to God through prayer and gives thanks for their victories.
Then, participants break up into smaller groups and talk to one another. “We encourage each other, whatever struggles we’ re going through,” Dearyan explained. “It’s just an opportunity to be open in a safe environment.”
Finally, God talks to the group through His word as one of the 10 Biblical principles are shared with the group. “It’s lowkey but it’s high energy, and it’s relevant to struggles of the people that are participating,” the pastor explained.
Dearyan added that one of the things about the RU Recovery program that’s unique is its facilitators are also learning the same lessons alongside the students. “There’s not an attitude of ‘I have arrived and I look down on you because you haven’t arrived,’” he said. “The attitude, instead, is, ‘None of us arrived. Let’s help each other get there.’ That makes a palpable difference in just the way that the interactions in this program happen.”
During this portion of the program, the church also welcomes others from outside the group to share inspiration through their success stories, according to Dearyan. “We’ve done that quite a few times with people who have maybe struggled with an addiction and made it through,” he said. “God speaks to us through his word, but also through the life stories of people who got to know him better through their sometimes really challenging life experiences.”
At the end of the third talk, awards are handed out in recognition of the progress participants are making in the program. “We have a bunch of different awards to give away,” Dearyan explained. “That’s kind of a high-energy, fun end to the third talk.”
In addition, Chili has also added a fourth “talk” to the program during which participants spend time together in fellowship making homemade pizza and listening to music. “We just enjoy great food and good music and company, and we talk to each other, sometimes until late at night,” Dearyan explained. “It’s really fun.”
After each session, attendees are also given a series of challenges to complete during the coming week. “We encourage folks to do as many or as few challenges as they want to but to keep making progress through the material,” Dearyan explained. “We often say, ‘Work the program because the program works.’ Working the program consists of doing challenges and also disciplining yourself to read the Bible every day and to journal about what you’re learning.”
So far, Dearyan said the results of the program have been great. “I don’t know a single person who comes to the program on a regular basis who doesn’t report that it’s transforming their spiritual outlook,” he shared. “It’s like attaching a jetpack to their spiritual growth.”
He explained that one of the reasons he believes the program has been so effective is that it is designed to address an important component that is often overlooked in the recovery process.
“There have been over 200 empirical studies done to confirm our mutual hunch that addressing the spiritual appropriately makes the physical and mental more effective,” Dearyan explained. “The conclusion of those 200 studies is that faith- based addictions recovery works two to three times better than non-faith-based. Those results don’t surprise me a bit because we can’t compartmentalize ourselves as people. Every part of us touches every other part of us.”
The RU Recovery program is held every Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. The church is located at 29445 County Road 10, just off State Route 93, south of Baltic, near Fresno.
The program is free and open to the public, and the church also provides free on-site childcare and local transportation to help eliminate some of the barriers that might prevent individuals from taking part in the program.
For more information, visit www.RuRecoveryFresno.com or call 740-545-9707.