In the past ten or so years that I’ve been invited to teach Bible studies at the Salvation Rehabilitation Center near Pestravka, Russia, one of the frustrating but inevitable aspects of the process is recidivism (or, in their more direct vocabulary: failing.) It’s not unusual to see “familiar faces” at the Center, and not because they decided to stop by and say hello. It’s tough out there, folks. Life on a farm in the country is nothing like “real” life in the city. Temptations abound. Old friends carry peer pressure in their back pockets. And, without prospects of education opportunity or employment–what’s a guy or girl fresh out of rehab supposed to do?
The Salvation Center’s one-year program has a better success rate than most, IF the rehabilitant stays the course. The Center addesses the individual’s recovery physically, emotionally and spiritually. There is equal and ongoing emphasis on getting clean, then developing a strong work ethic; learning to dialog and have proper and meaningful relationships with others–working out differences non-violently, etc.; and realizing that nothing significant can happen without God’s presence and power in their lives. That a strong and growing relationship with Jesus Christ will be the “anchor” when they are faced with the realities of life in the city again.
Still, I’ve often asked myself, how do they find direction? Where to begin the new life?
That’s where PASSION comes in.
Knowing that each year the rehabilitants present for my Bible studies are at different places (both timewise and emotionally) on their path to health, I wasn’t sure if my theme this year would “click” for everyone. This time the group of twelve consisted of one guy (who had been there before) being just a week from finishing. One girl had been there 10 days and decided to leave after the “guests” were gone. And everything in between.
The main point of the study is that God will use whatever is already in our hands (see Exodus 4:1-4) for his kingdom purpose. BUT, we must not only recognize that our strengths–our passions–are from Him (he created us that way)–we must submit it to Him in order for Him to give it an eternal purpose. (Ephesians 2:10)
Most, if not all, had “ah ha!” moments at one point or another. They all were able to identify their God-given passion (such as: compassion for poor children; love of animals; creative hand work; sports, and teaching kids teamwork; web design; starting a teen club in a town where there is nothing for kids to do; counseling and encouraging addicts in the first stage of recovery; fund-raising to help the Salvation Center; ag-business.)
Do these passions surprise you? Didn’t expect drug addicts to have such noble aspirations inside them? When the passion is God-given, why not?
I came away blessed, as usual. Satisfied that once again, God used me to drop a seed of His truth into fertile soil. Perhaps this time, their passion for God’s purpose in their lives will lead them–and next year I won’t see any familiar faces at the Salvation Center (except these two below)…