An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach

Dear Friends,

Reconciliation Ministries began in 1984 with a focus on ministering specifically to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction. Through the years, our focus deepened to include heterosexual issues and the addition of our Living Waters program. We added licensed counseling to our services of pastoral care and prayer ministry, and recently began a new program for abuse recovery called Mending the Soul.

Over the past several months, you’ve been reading how the Lord has been working on our hearts to minister to those with a deeper level of brokenness than Reconciliation Ministries has ministered to in the past. This part of our journey actually began about three years ago, during a conversation with the Lord that took place over four Sunday worship services. I knew He was doing a deep work in my heart. I was shaking during the last worship service as He asked me to pray that He would send me to the bowels of hell on earth, so that we can save people from the bowels of hell for eternity.

We are excited to announce that the Lord has even more plans in store. As we continue to minister to all forms of sexual and relational brokenness in Metro Detroit, we also have an opportunity to touch souls in Ubon, Thailand. Plans are underway for me (Dan Hitz) to minister in Thailand from July through December of 2018. I have been invited to assist in the development of the Living Waters team in this remote region of Thailand, mentor men who are potential leadership team members, and minister to pastors and villagers in the surrounding areas. You can read more about the progression of this vision and calling on the inside of this newsletter.

Reconciliation Ministries will continue to serve the Body of Christ in Metro Detroit even as we extend our outreach to Ubon, Thailand. We would like to invite you to join us in bringing the transformational power of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. You can become a valuable member of the Reconciliation Ministries Support Team through your generous financial partnership and your prayers for the ministry and the participants. No one can affect the lives that we are called to reach alone, but together through Christ we can reach thousands of people who need His healing touch. You can join our Support Team and help bring healing to those who are sexually broken and to those who have suffered the trauma of abuse by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 586.739.5114 or DHitz@recmin.org.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Dan Hitz, Director, Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Prodigals Are Coming Home

Dear Friends,

Your prayers and financial support are touching many lives. Although we’ve seen a dramatic cultural and political shift towards homosexuality in the recent years, something has shifted in the spiritual atmosphere since the beginning of the year. Many prodigals are returning to Jesus.

Starting with the implosion of Exodus in 2012, and continuing through the legalization of same-sex marriage and the celebration of Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn, it seems like many who would normally seek help to overcome LGBT issues had decided to accept and act upon their desires. In the past two months we’ve seen many of these prodigals coming home. In fact, we’ve had more people wrestling with LGBT issues seek help in the past two months than we’ve had in all of 2016 combined. Unfortunately, they’ve also experienced the devastation of life as a prodigal. Instead of the freedom and self-actualization that the LGBT community promised, they’ve experienced the devastation of being HIV positive and having marriages that are ready to collapse. Others were feeling suicidal while they were embracing and acting upon their LGBT desires. They have learned the hard way that sin only brings further pain and bondage.

The Father is merciful to the prodigals. Instead of shame and condemnation, He greets them with love, cleansing and forgiveness. Sadly, they still have to deal with the effects of their time “in a distant land”. The good news is that they are also learning the redemption and restoration that Jesus Christ has to offer. It is beautiful to watch their lives being restored.

We are excited to open up registration for Mending the Soul, our brand new program for male and female survivors of abuse and neglect. Mending the Soul is a great addition to the Living Waters program and the professional counseling and prayer ministry already offered by Reconciliation Ministries. It will be run by licensed therapists and focus specifically on overcoming the devastating effects of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Mending the Soul effectively combines Scriptures and powerful recovery insights and experiences. The group runs for ten weeks and will meet every Monday night from 7 to 8:30pm beginning April 17th. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of abuse, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and find out how you can register for our upcoming group.

Thank you for standing with us to uphold Biblical truth. Thank you for praying with us as the Lord expands our vision and brings more lives to touch. Your prayers and financial support are changing hearts for all of eternity. You can donate securely online by clicking here.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan

An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach

Image licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

Image licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

The Lord has given us a lot to accomplish together in 2017. The thought that best sums up my heart lately is, “God is expanding our vision, and giving us more lives to reach”.

No ministry organization can change lives in its own strength. It takes a great team of intercessors, financial supporters, ministry team members, board members and many other faithful volunteers working together for the Kingdom of God. Whether you have helped us stuff newsletters, given a one-time donation, provided financial support on a monthly basis, volunteered for the ministry team, or simply helped spread the word; please know that your service is greatly appreciated and has touched many lives for eternity. Thank you for sharing a rich history with us, and for walking with us into the future.

We started Reconciliation Ministries in 1984 with the vision of helping men and women overcome homosexuality. There were few such ministries back in those days. Jack Hickey and our early ministry partners were some of the brave pioneers. With Tom Cole as the director in the mid-90s, the ministry vision grew to include a wider variety of sexual and relationship issues. Together, we began offering help to heterosexual strugglers as well as homosexual strugglers and Living Waters became one of our main ministry offerings. In the late-2000s we added licensed counseling to the pastoral care offerings and continued to grow in our expertise and impact.

As we pass through the mid-2010s the Lord has been putting on our hearts an increased focus on helping those who have been traumatized by sexual abuse. We have spent the last year researching a variety of resources and are excited to announce that we will be offering a new program called Mending the Soul this coming spring. Mending the Soul is a 12-week therapy group run by licensed therapists. It is designed for men and women who have suffered from any form of abuse, including sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual and neglect. Mending the Soul is a great addition to the Living Waters program and counseling services already offered by Reconciliation Ministries. We’ll be announcing more details in the months ahead.

Together, we will continue to expand our ministry offerings in the near future. Reconciliation Ministries is blessed to have you as a part of our ministry team. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, and thank you for being a part of what God is doing to transform lives.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan Hitz, Director
Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P. S. You can help transform lives through your tax-deductible donation by clicking here.

Lives Are Being Changed

“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT 

“At forty-five years old, I was overwhelmed with the secret pain I carried from my childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse and prostitution. Words cannot express the gifts of healing I have received from Living Waters. These faithful servants of Christ helped me out of my dark hiding place and into the light of His mercy and truth.”

“I came to LW full of shame from same-sex attraction struggles as well as the pain of rejection from my father growing up. I lived through a filter of pain I couldn’t get rid of, and blamed myself for it. The Lord began to bring healing as I opened up in the group ministry and took away the sting and the shame of that pain. Living Waters brought freedom beyond what I thought possible.”

“I came to Living Waters filled with guilt and shame because of my struggles with heterosexual pornography addiction. The healing process revealed to me the sources of the pain and the triggers of my addiction. I found the tools to help defuse these triggers before the addiction cycle kicks in full. The Lord still works with me on these things to this day.  I now know that the Lord's love can heal the wounds of my past with His love.”

Dear Friends,

Perhaps you can relate to these profound testimonies of recovery and transformation. Maybe you are still waiting for that day when you, or someone you love, can speak such words of hope and freedom. Reconciliation Ministries exist to walk with people who are broken and bound by sin, and help them find healing through the wonderful power of Jesus Christ. His birth, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection, provides all that we need to overcome the worst forms of abuse, trauma, and sexual sin.

You can make a difference in the lives of hurting people. Your prayers help break the chains of addiction and heal the wounds of abuse. Your financial contributions reach out to those in need through the Living Waters program, professional counseling, and support groups.  You can encourage, educate and equip by sponsoring seminars and newsletters. You can even reach people on the other side of the world by sponsoring missions trips – healing leaders and raising up others to carry the message of redemption and transformation through Christ.

Maybe you don’t feel like you can make an eternal difference in anyone’s life. I am amazed at the people that the Lord used in Scripture. The very lineage of Christ is full of people like Rahab the prostitute (Matthew 1:5), and Judah and Tamar who conceived a child in sin (Matthew 1:3). From the very beginning of Jesus’ life, the Father showed His love to those whom others cast away. His birth was announced to a group of shepherds who were simply doing their job of taking care of a bunch of sheep somewhere in a field in the middle of the night. Those shepherds had the privilege of hearing the Heavenly choir of angels announce the Savior’s birth and being among the first visitors to see Jesus in the manger. Jesus showed his mercy to the woman at the well (John 4); a woman who had five husbands and was currently living with another guy she wasn’t even married to. He spoke into her heart and showed her how to find what she was really looking for. He showed great mercy to the woman caught in adultery and offered her another way to live when He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Even in his death and resurrection, Jesus revealed Himself first to Mary Magdalene, “out of whom He had cast seven demons” (Mark 16:9). Jesus loves the broken.

These beautiful Scriptures are just a few of the many examples of Jesus’ love for those in need. No one is beyond His love and care. No one is beyond his power to transform lives. If you or someone you love is trapped by sin and pain, reach out for help as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and let us walk with you to Jesus.

You CAN make an eternal difference in the lives of others through your prayers. Contact us at info@recmin.org and join our intercessors’ list. Any financial gift of any size can change someone’s life. All donations are tax-deductible and can be made through the form included in this newsletter, or securely online by clicking here. Make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting today.

In Christ,

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P.S. Here are a few more testimonies. All were used by permission.

“I came to Living Waters after a period of personal crisis— I knew that God loves and forgives me, but I was still deeply confused about the sources of my addictions. Hearing the testimonies of others, reading and working through the lesson plans, and sharing in group discussions has freed me from much darkness that I did not even realize remained.” 

“Growing up I was expected to achieve and perform to be acceptable. Only rarely was what I did enough by my parents' shifting standards. During Living Waters I learned that I am of value just because I am; that God loves me expecting nothing. He transformed my mind through the loving and prayerful leaders at Living Waters who cheered me on in my progress toward learning who I am in Christ and being able to accept myself as being worthy of love.”

“I came to Reconciliation Ministries full of self-hatred and condemnation because of my struggle with same-sex attraction. In the process of healing, the Lord touched the roots of my SSA and also brought healing from childhood sexual abuse. I now know who I really am in Christ and have a deep sense of purpose.”

“When I first came to Living Waters Ministry I felt stuck in an abyss of pain that I couldn't seem to escape from no matter how hard I tried. Living Waters helped me discover the root cause; wounds and breaches from my past that were ruling my present. Through the help of loving leaders, I was finally able to name specific abuses and the way these violations impacted my life. As they led me to release my soul wounds into the Cross, and exchange lies for God's truth, I began to walk in peace and freedom. My past abuse was no longer was an unwelcomed guest in my present life!”

The False Guilt of Abuse

One of the deepest and most painful effects of abuse is the profound sense of guilt that often afflicts survivors. Those who have never suffered the pain of abuse would loudly declare that the survivor was the innocent victim who did not cause the abuse and should not feel the least bit guilty. They are correct. Unfortunately, even though abuse survivors would loudly proclaim the freedom of guilt to others who have suffered abuse, they seldom apply this truth to themselves. This article will look at some of the root issues fueling the false guilt of abuse, and help those who are recovering from abuse learn how to overcome false guilt and walk in peace. The list is far from conclusive, but it covers some of the main causes of guilt I’ve seen through the years as I’ve counseled abuse survivors.

As a child, we want the world to make sense. We grow up hearing that the big people are in charge and we need to obey them. Everyone is born with a deep need to be loved and feel secure. We instinctively look to our parents and caregivers to fulfill those needs. Abuse from those who were supposed to protect us does not make sense. There is no way it can. As a child, our need to feel loved and secured is shattered as we are abused by those who were supposed to keep us safe and provide for our needs. After all, we were taught that Mom and Dad were in charge and we assumed that they were always right. In innocence, and in desperation to make sense of the world, children who are abused often assume that they must be the ones who were wrong, and therefore they deserve the harsh treatment they are receiving. This does not make logical sense when we step back from our emotions and evaluate the thoughts. No matter how badly a child behaves, no child deserves to be beaten physically or abused sexually. However, in the mind of an abused person, it seems to make all the puzzle pieces fall into place. “I am so bad that my daddy has no choice but to treat me like this.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Believing that the abuse was “my fault” also instills a false sense of hope and control. Admitting that the abuse is not my fault, and recognizing that there is nothing that I can do to prevent the abuse, brings the terrifying realization that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop the abuse or predict when it is going to happen. This realization is accompanied by terror and helplessness. If I unconsciously believe that the abuse is “my fault” and that “my horrible behavior” caused the abuse, I can hold onto a false hope that I can prevent the abuse by becoming “invisible” or by being a good boy or good girl. After all, we are taught that bad things don’t happen to good boys or girls. Our abusers may even tell us so. Healing comes at a deeper level as we acknowledge that the abuse was not our fault, confront our terror and helplessness, and seek healing from safe people.

“My body responded to the abuse. That ‘proves’ that I must have wanted the abuse to happen.” Our bodies are amoral. Our sexual organs were created with many nerve endings that respond to touch. Our bodies don’t know if that touch was wanted or unwanted. They don’t know if the touch was from the loving hands of our spouse, or from the tormenting hands of an abuser. Our bodies just know that the nerve endings are being stimulated and that the stimulation feels good. Males commonly experience an erection during unwanted sexual touch which adds to the false guilt. Both males and females experience orgasm during unwanted sexual abuse. This does not mean that the abuse survivor wanted the abuse. It simply means that the body’s nerve endings did what they were designed to do in a situation that was not supposed to happen. Recognizing this truth has helped many abuse survivors overcome years of false guilt.

“There were times when I initiated the abuse. Surely this ‘proves beyond a shadow of a doubt’ that I wanted the abuse to happen.” There are many reasons why an abuse survivor may begin to initiate sexual activity with the abuser. The human heart is very complex and the wounds and voids of life can leave us starved for affection. Abusers know this and are expert manipulators. They seem to have a built in radar sensor to figure out which kids have emotional voids and are open to abuse. They can also figure out which kids are less likely to tell an adult that the abuse happened, and which kids are more likely to be shy and silent. They prey upon these vulnerabilities during the grooming process. The abuser grooms – or prepares – the potential victim by showering him with attention and making him feel like he has a special relationship with the abuser. The abuser may even buy special gifts for the child and/or let him do special things that others in his family are not allowed to do. Abusers often introduce abuse through non-sexual touch like hugging or massages. If the child is responsive to this touch, he then begins to make the touch more sensual. The child’s boundaries are eroded and he often suffers emotional confusion as this trusted friend begins to make unusual requests. Sometimes the victim complies because the abuser tapped into a vulnerable part of the child’s heart that craves attention. Sometimes the victim complies because he feels obligated to the abuser due to their special relationship. Manipulative abusers can make the victims feel like the abuse was their idea, and some even threaten the child or his family if he tells. This sets the victims up for further abuse.

Abuse fragments the victim’s heart. Sometimes abuse victims learn to “enjoy” the abuse out of desperation to avoid the emotional torment and terror of the abuse. Victims are usually conditioned to submit to their abusers and may not see any other options but to comply with the abuse. If children who are being abused were forced to live in the ongoing terror of the abuse, they would probably suffer a severe emotional breakdown. Often the child’s mind “splits” or dissociates. This means that a part of their mind stays to endure the abuse, and a part of their mind “goes away”. Think of the last time you had to perform a prolonged, mundane task. Your mind probably got so bored with the task that part of your mind began to daydream that you were off doing something exciting, while another part of your mind and body continued to perform the task. This is a very simple example of dissociation, and most of us experience this from time to time. Dissociation during abuse occurs on a far more severe level. The part of the mind that stays to endure the abuse is forced to “like” the abuse to avoid “going crazy”. Sometimes that part even learns to initiate the abuse to gain the favor of the abuser, or to protect younger siblings from the abuser. The victim initiating the abuse in no way justifies the actions of the abuser. No matter the situation, if a child makes sexual advances towards an adult, an older child, or a person in a perceived position of authority; it is the spiritual, moral, and ethical responsibility of that person to protect the child and to get help for that child as quickly as possible.

Sometimes abuse survivors feel a special bond with their abusers. Tracy, Tracy, and Garrison explain this in their book Mending the Soul Student Edition (Zondervan, 2011). Compounding the manipulation experienced during the grooming process, our bodies secrete special hormones during and after a sexual experience that bond our hearts to the object of our stimulation. God’s intent was that the bonds to our spouse continue to grow as we thrive in marital and sexual intimacy. Remember, our bodies are amoral and can’t tell if our sexual experience is within the boundaries of a godly marriage, or within the broken boundaries of abuse. Unfortunately, this works against abuse victims to deepen the strange emotional connection between the victim and the abuser. This also intensifies the confusion the victims face when they find themselves bonded to the one who causes so much pain. Fortunately, these strange connections can be broken through prayer and counseling to free the survivor from the emotional bondage that was forced upon him during the abuse.

“But I didn’t stop the abuse from happening, and I didn’t tell anybody about the abuse when I had the chance. Doesn’t this ‘prove’ I wanted the abuse to continue?”  There can be multiple reasons why victims don’t stop the abuse or report it to others. Remember that abusers are expert manipulators. They often trick the victims into thinking that the abuse was their idea. They may also threaten the victims that they or a member of their family will be harmed if they tell. Other times, the abusers exploit the bond that has been built with the victim. Abusers pressure the victim not to tell anyone or their “special relationship” will end and the abuser, himself, will be in trouble. Not wanting the “special relationship” to end may not make sense to one who hasn’t been abused. It helps to remember the issues of dissociation, whereby the victim’s mind – heart – is split into pieces. The piece of the heart that carries the terror of the abuse is separate from the piece of the heart that engages in a special relationship to avoid going crazy. As healing begins and the fragments of the heart are reunited, the survivor often feels relieved to recognize that a large part of their heart truly hated the abuse.

The process of “learned helplessness” keeps the victims silent. If the abuser uses aggression to force the victim to comply, the fear of being harmed can propel the victim to remain silent even after the abuser is gone. Small children may be fully dependent upon an abusive caregiver. They may fear abandonment and being helplessly left alone if they turn their abuser in. Children don’t have adult reasoning capabilities to figure out how to get help. They “learn” the message that they are helpless to stop the abuse. Even after they grow older and/or their abuser is gone, they continue to perceive that they are helpless. “Learned helplessness” explains why a child who is aggressively abused at home fails to tell a teacher or other caregiver about the abuse. During the healing process, survivors begin to learn their current coping abilities as they heal and grow stronger.

Abusers often refuse to acknowledge their guilt and push it off on their victims. The authors of Mending the Soul Student Edition explain that abusers should feel immense guilt for what they’ve done. This guilt should cause them to feel extreme conviction, leading to repentance and a full acceptance of responsibility for the harm they have caused. Instead of repenting, abusers commonly refuse to accept responsibility and harshly blame the victims. This manipulates the victims into carrying false guilt for what the abuser has done. One of the first steps to overcoming false guilt is to hand the guilt back to its rightful owner – the abuser.

Abuse survivors can take positive steps to overcome false guilt and the negative effects of abuse. The first important step that they must take is to come to Jesus. This step may sound obvious to anyone who hasn’t been abused, but victims struggling with false guilt often feel too dirty and disgusting to come to Jesus. Satan is right there screaming lies in the struggler’s ear. We can remind survivors that Jesus came for broken people. He forgave the repentant thief on the cross who was mocking Him just moments earlier (Matthew 27:44, Luke 23:39-43), and He forgave the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11). No matter how dirty we feel or how sinful we have been, Jesus came to heal people just like us. He loves us in a safe way and He can help us navigate through the healing process.

Abuse survivors will need the help of safe, godly people as they overcome false guilt. Yes, God touches our hearts individually through the Holy Spirit, but He also works through His people to heal our hearts. This can be a scary step for those who were abused by someone who was supposed to keep them safe. It can be especially frightening if that person was in the church. However, a principle in God seems to be to use healthy people to help us heal from the wounds inflicted by unhealthy people. A great first step in finding a safe person would be to talk to someone in the pastoral care department of your local church. You can also talk to a counselor who has experience in helping people overcome sexual abuse. As you heal, you can pray for God to send you one or two other safe people that you can share your story with. You don’t have to tell everyone about your abuse. God will show you who He wants you to tell. You will also need other safe friends just to enjoy life with. It will take some time to learn trust, but it is worth the effort.

Facing the pain of your past with safe others is essential in your healing process. You might feel like you just want to forget your abuse and move on, but it is important to acknowledge your wounds, take them to the cross, and find healing. One of the worst things about getting a physical wound that requires stitches is that the doctor has to wash out the wound before he stitches it up. That hurts. Sure, he could stich it up without washing it out, but that would leave contaminants in the wound that would cause much worse problems down the road. It is better to endure the short-term pain of cleaning out the wound thoroughly so that a deeper healing can take place. Your heart is just like this. It will be painful to talk about the abuse, but in doing so the Lord can bring a deeper and more thorough healing. As your healing progresses, you will find good parts of your heart coming back to life and you will have much more peace. The short-term pain of the healing process is worth it for the long-term peace the process brings.

Give yourself much patience during the healing journey. Healing is a process that usually takes much longer than we wish it did. Give yourself a lot of grace during this process, and take as much time as you need. I hope that your favorite part of the journey will be to learn about God’s safe heart of love for you. He is a safe caretaker that heals our hearts, strengthens us, and teaches us how to do life. You will learn some beautiful things about God along the way. You will learn some beautiful things about yourself too.

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries, or any of the ministries we offer, visit us on the Web at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.  You may also e-mail us at info@recmin.orgAll correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.  Reconciliation Ministries is an affiliate ministry of Restored Hope Network.

Images licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

 © 2016 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living Waters

Living Waters Logo

Living Waters is a Christ-centered discipleship and ministry program for men and women seeking healing in areas of sexual and relational brokenness including pornography addiction, codependency, sexual addiction, homosexuality, sexual ambivalence, childhood sexual abuse, transgender issues, and difficulty in establishing and sustaining healthy relationships.  Our next program is starting soon. 

Frequently asked questions about Living Waters…

I don’t struggle with same-sex attraction. Is Living Waters still for me? Yes! Everyone in the body of Christ can benefit from Living Waters. Living Waters is for a wide variety of sexual sin and relationship struggles. We hear many testimonies from men and women who have struggled with heterosexual issues such as pornography addiction, codependency, and promiscuity; who have found freedom through the program. Others have found freedom from struggles such as the effects of abuse, food addiction and self-hatred.

Is Living Waters group therapy? Living Waters is a peer ministry, discipleship program and not professional therapy. Our leaders have all overcome their own battles with sexual and relational brokenness and are free to share their journeys with the participants in a way that professional therapists do not. This helps us walk towards Jesus together in a way that personalizes our recovery and brings deep freedom.

What is the difference between Living Waters and Celebrate Recovery? Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful 12-step program that has helped many men and women begin their recovery journey. Many of our participants have told us how Living Waters has deepened the healing they have received in Celebrate Recovery. Living Waters small groups are interactive and the teachings go much deeper on the root issues of our sexual and relationship struggles through Biblical, in-depth studies of issues like the mother and father wound, the effects of abuse, the cross and confession, forgiveness, and an examination of God’s design for our genders. It helps us better understand who we are in Christ and live according to our God given calling in our local church and the greater body of Christ.

Why is Living Waters 24 weeks long? Living Waters is established as a safe place with enough time set aside to work on some very difficult, and sometimes painful, life issues. We know from our own experience that this time commitment is a necessary blessing that helps to bring many victories.

Why does Living Waters have a $495 tuition rate? Living Waters cost less than $21 per week. This is considerably less than counseling and therapy co-pays, and substantially less than many of us have spent on our addictions. We have found that people who make a financial investment in their recovery are far more committed to their recovery when things get tough. The tuition also helps filter out people who aren’t serious about their recovery or who have dishonorable intentions. Living Waters graduates will tell you that the benefits have far outweighed the costs.

Will I be completely “fixed” at the end of the 24 weeks? Recovery and transformation into the fullness of Christ is a life-long journey. No program of any length can bring the complete restoration that Jesus Christ desires to give. Our primary goal for each participant is that they gain a deeper understanding of who they are in Christ. This leads to deeper healing of the root issues of their struggle, and empowers them to live a holy life. Participants will also learn tools to help them in their recovery and deepen their connection to the Body of Christ.

How long has Reconciliation Ministries been offering Living Waters? Reconciliation Ministries has been partnering with faith communities to help men, women, and adolescents overcome sexual and relational brokenness since 1984. We have been offering the Living Waters program since 1995.

If you or someone you love is struggling with sexual or relational difficulties, there is hope and healing through the power of Jesus Christ.  Call us and ask about attending the next Living Waters program. (586) 739-5114

 

© Reconciliation Ministries 2016.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as credit is given and no fee is charged.

God Knows Where You Are... And He Cares

This testimony was written by a member of our Living Waters Ministry team.  She has experienced the depths of despair and the great love of our Heavenly Father who reaches into our deepest pits and draws us to Himself. Her life is a wonderful testimony of the grace, restoration, and power of Jesus Christ. This article shares how the love and compassion of the Body of Christ helped her find the mercy of Jesus.

Reaching for God

My husband always says that things seem really dark just before they go completely black.  I think he’s right.  Good thing the Good Shepherd isn’t afraid of the dark.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

At forty-five years old I was adopted by my step-dad. That experience opened up for me a bigger share in the inheritance from my Heavenly Father.  It was several months later that I went to see Dan Hitz for counseling and was referred to the Living Waters program.  My natural father had been involved in witchcraft, adultery, and alcoholism.  My step-dad originally came into my life when I was three, bringing me to the waters of Baptism, a life of scripture study, prayer, and regular church attendance.

When I was growing up, our home was a happy place, only it didn’t keep out sexually abusive relatives who had plenty of drugs and alcohol to share.  By age fourteen, I had a drug problem and was preoccupied with sex and thoughts of suicide.

My parents’ plea for help was intercepted by the enemy, as they placed me in a drug program run by cruel con-artists.  It was actually a warehouse modeled after North Korean POW camps.  During my one and one half years of food, sleep, and oxygen deprivation; and mental and physical beatings; I lost all hope.  God did not seem to be there, or know that we were there.

After my escape, it was not difficult to find myself caught in the snare of drug, human, and sex traffickers.  These professional predators offer help and friendship to gain trust.  I even gave them my real name and my parents’ contact information, in case something bad ever happened to me.  With this information, they secured ownership, by threatening to kill my whole family if I should try to leave.  I was told that    I was born for one thing; to please men, and that I would never return to my family, get married, or have children

Trapped

Upon entering a drop house for the first time, I saw something that horrified me.  Drop houses are terrible places where the traffickers imprison their victims. We delivered a father and two small children.  A large door was unlocked and slid open to reveal many men, women, and children crammed into this room.  The heat and the smell that poured out felt like death.  Armed gun men pushed the three in and locked the door.  Panicked, I asked my owner what was going on.  He explained to me that some people are disposable, “…even God does not know that they exist.”  His words confirmed my deepest fear, a lie that had burned deep into my heart in that warehouse; I was one of these people.

One day, something happened that I will never forget.  While working my corner, a minister and his wife came up to me.  They said that God loves me and they invited me to a church event.  They were run off by another street girl, but they had shown me the truth.  God DID KNOW where I was!  He sent these people of faith to my dark place to shine a bright light.  I could hardly recognize the feeling, but it was joy!  Although religious practices were forbidden, this visit emboldened me.  I never did attend their church, but for Easter I bought some proper clothes and a corsage (my dad had always gotten corsages for us girls on Easter).  I snuck out to Church.

I got “the look” as a lady pointed me out to the minister, but it didn’t matter.  I felt as if I had been invited by his Boss in Heaven, and that I belonged there.  It was the closest I had been to my family in years, even though I was 2,000 miles from home.  It only lasted a couple hours, but a bridge of hope to my Father in Heaven had been built.  I believed He would get me home one day.

Mark 2:5 says, “And when Jesus saw the faith of his friends, He said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’”  At a one day conference, Dean Greer from Desert Stream Ministries asked, “Do you have friends like this?”  Thanks be to God, I do!  In their faith, I have found the healing power of Jesus Himself.  I have also been blessed with 31 years clean and sober, reconciliation with my family, 29 years of marriage, 14 beautiful children, and 3 wonderful grandchildren, so far.  God has been so generous and it just keeps getting better!!!  Praise be to Our Father, who causes His children to become light that leads us back to Him.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NLT

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries, or any of the ministries we offer, visit us on the Web at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.  You may also e-mail us at info@recmin.orgAll correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.  Reconciliation Ministries is an affiliate ministry of Restored Hope Network, and uses many of the programs written by Desert Stream Ministries.

© Reconciliation Ministries 2016. Images used under license from www.shutterstock.com

Developing a Relationship with Your Kids - Dan Hitz

This is part-one of a three part article on developing a relationship with your child and talking with him or her about sexual purity. Next month’s article will talk about repenting to your son or daughter for mistakes you have made as a parent. The following month will discuss ways to talk with your teen about sexuality. This article will look at some ways that you can build and improve your relationship with your child. Ideally we should begin using these ideas when our children are small. However, if your child is older, it is not too late to start. Realize that it will take longer to build or repair a relationship when your child is older.

Sometimes we may need some outside help like a counselor or pastor. No matter how old your son or daughter is, we can trust the Lord to guide us in our parenting. Begin talking to them when you have nothing profound to say. This may sound pretty basic, but it is a thought that many of us miss. If we don’t start talking to our kids when they are young about things like Hot Wheels cars or dolls, we won’t have the relationship built up with them when they are older to talk to them about things like dating, or pornography, or sexting.

We have to develop relationships with them when they are young in order to build the emotional bonds and trust that it takes to talk to parents about things that really matter. Things that require vulnerability to share. Make your home a welcoming place for their friends to hang out. It is far easier to watch over our kids when they are at our house than when they are out at someone else’s house. We need to learn the fine balance between hovering over our kids, and investing in the social activities and taking an interest in the lives of their friends. We may not have the money to provide deep dish pizza every night when their friends come over, but making some popcorn and providing some games and activities is a worthy investment in keeping our kids happy and active in our own homes.

Striking up a simple conversation with their friends from time to time helps us to get to know their friends and lets their friends know that we care about them and that they can come to us if they need help. Realize that you don’t have to correct every single thinking error your son or daughter has while he or she is talking to you. Correcting every single error in your son’s thinking as he talks to you about his developing world view can cause him to shut down and not share his heart with you about anything at all. Of course there are some topics that we have to address, but it is really critical to jump on every movie plot or political thought that your son has that you don’t agree with? It may be better to ask teens what attracts them to a particular ideal than to try to talk them into changing their ideals right away.

If you’ve taken the time to develop a deep relationship with your teen as he was growing up, it will be easier for you to ask questions designed to help him think his thoughts through. This may actually help him recognize areas where he needs to make corrections on his own. This is much more powerful for a teen than a parent trying to talk him into believing something that he just doesn’t have the experience to interpret. Another benefit of not trying to correct every error in thinking in every conversation you ever have with your child, is that he will be much more willing to come to you if he makes a mistake knowing that he won’t be lectured on what he should have done, but encouraged to find ways to resolve the problem he has created. Allow your kids to respectfully disagree with you and hear their point of view. This is another very delicate balance, yet important skill that we need to teach our teens. Of course there are times when they have to do what we say because we are the parent; however, as they mature from the innocent young child and their critical thinking skills begin to develop they may see things from a different perspective that we have never even thought of. Sometimes, they are right and we are wrong. Are we willing to at least hear their point of view? More importantly, are we willing to admit that they may have a better idea than us?

Of course, we will have the last word and sometimes we won’t really know why we want things to be a certain way. We are the parent and we may have to make some unpopular decisions at times, but that will be much easier if our kids realize that we do care about their thoughts and ideas even if we don’t change our minds and follow their ideas. Correct poor choices in an empowering manner rather than shaming your son or daughter. Of course all teens (and parents) make mistakes, and a wise parent will help a teen correct the mistake he has made in a way that equips him to do better, rather than causing him to feel like a complete failure. Public humiliation or yelling tears down personal value. Sometimes we have to calm down and overcome our own emotional reaction to a mistake our teen has made before we talk to him. We should make sure that we work with our son to help him see the problems his choice has caused, help him take ownership of his errors, and help him find a way to satisfactorily resolve the issues as best he can. Here is another learning curve of knowing how much to help our teen resolve his own problems, not helping him at all, or over helping him. This can be challenging when his problems really do affect us and the entire family, and we might need some outside help in some situations. Grant privileges and trust in direct proportion to your teen’s faithfulness and trustworthiness.

It is best to grant as many privileges and practice as much trust at an age appropriate level as your son has earned through his good behavior and trustworthiness. This helps your teen to recognize that his behavior has good and/or bad consequences, and helps him have a goal to work towards. A teen who is given driver’s training and his own car while he does not complete his assigned chores, and drives recklessly develops a sense of entitlement. A teen who sees that helping around the house, doing his homework, and driving safely when practicing with his parent sees that his good behavior is rewarded and is motivated to live conscientiously. If your teen has developed a pattern of bad behavior, outside help can be beneficial in working towards improved behavior that results in increased privileges. Maybe your heart is sinking as you are reading through these ideas.

Some of us have such challenging relationships with our teens that we can never imagine trying to implement these practices. If you have recognized areas where you have made mistakes as a parent, spend some time in prayer to ask the Lord to show you some specific things to apologize to your kids about. Ask the Lord to prepare your hearts prior to your talk, and then wait for the right moment. You can begin to work on your relationship with your teen again. You will have to proceed slowly and have many ups and downs, but don’t give up. The fruits of your efforts will be well worth it. Some of us may need professional help through a counselor or family therapist to work on our relationships with our kids. This is especially true if you or your teen is dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If that is you, seek help from the pastoral care department of your local church or find a good Christian therapist. Good qualified help is available.

Being Single Through the Holidays

Being Single Through the Holidays

– Leslie Kalis

Leslie has been a faithful member of the Reconciliation Ministries leadership teams in Brighton and Troy for many years. It is a joy to see the Lord flow through her heart with strength and grace.

The holidays are a time for family, faith and fun. It’s a time for giving gifts and spending time with those we love. It's a time for planning and decorating, anticipation and expectation. A time when we reminisce past Christmases, when things were better or perhaps worse. Either way, they tend to bring out the deepest longing in us for love and family. For those of us who are single it can be a time that reminds us of the husband or the wife that we don't have, or loved ones we’ve lost through divorce or death, or the children we desire and never got. Apart from that, it can be a reminder that we are alone and this can often be a dreaded season.

When I first began to think on this subject, my mind went to the natural things to do that would help me enjoy the season… bake cookies for someone… volunteer your time at church, in a nursing home, or at a soup kitchen serving those less fortunate… do a Christmas puzzle… join a choir… have friends over to make wreaths and drink hot chocolate… start an exercise program or a Bible study. These are all good things, but I realized they are just diversions. They just stave off any loneliness or sadness we may be feeling for another time. Yet, at the end of the Holiday when all the gifts are given and the decorations are taken down and put away and families go back home, we are still the same inside only we are no longer reminded of it quite so blatantly. At least we made it through the holidays and life can be normal again. Right?

The world gives us a rosy picture of what Christmas is supposed to look like and what romance is supposed to look like. All of the “happily ever after’s”. I think all of us to some extent have bought into it. We watch the movies that give us warm emotions and stir longings in us for this dream life that promises to fulfill us, but many times they just create unrealistic expectations. If we look at the world today, we see empty promises and broken cisterns. It's no longer about giving ourselves to others and how we can serve them, but it becomes about how we can be served. It’s no longer about Jesus. It becomes about us. Jesus shows us what Christmas looks like in Himself. He shows us that love came to give. And that the greatest of all is servant of all. The life of Christ is our greatest example. Should we do no less? A friend of mine told me a story of a childhood friend who was very concerned about a birthday party she got invited to.

Was she going to have a good time there? She voiced her concern to her mother who wisely responded, “You just make sure everyone else is having a good time and you will too.” Jesus says, “When you do it to the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” Let's change our focus to Jesus, and look for ways to serve others this season. In so doing, we honor our Lord and are refreshed ourselves. It’s only in Christ that we are truly fulfilled and He sees even the smallest gesture of good and will reward us. “...if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:1 I have known the frustration of unfulfilled desires and the deep pain of dashed hopes and lingering sadness. I grew up with a wonderful mother who was the only love and safe feeling I knew because I was scared of my father. Because she was a stay at home mom, my first day of school was my first separation from her.

We only lived a couple blocks from the school. Hand in hand, my friend and I walked to kindergarten in our new dresses with great anticipation and delight. It would become a day that changed my life. We were going out to recess and the teacher pulled me aside to tell me that my mother was in the hospital and would not be home when I got there. I don't remember what else took place in that conversation, only that my heart was gripped with fear. All I thought was that my mother died. I died on the inside that day. I found a whole in the fence and ran home to an empty house. I lost something that day. I shut down inside. Life was too painful. My heart lived with this expectation that my mom would die at any time and I never told anyone. I just suffered in silence. It would be 32 years before the Lord would miraculously drop that fear from my heart and set me free, but it still left me on a lifelong search for that love and safe feeling that I lost that day.

One day the Lord asked me to give Him my right to be loved. Was He serious? This is what I lived for. I didn't care about money, or fame, or position. I just wanted to be loved. How could He ask that of me? He gave us a desire to be loved as human beings and now He wanted me to give it to Him? I fought this for weeks, reasoning that if I gave this to Him I would never be loved again. It was my Isaac. Could I offer it up? Would I abandon this pursuit to be loved in life and put it on the altar? I finally said, “Yes, Lord, I will give You my right to be loved and I will never be loved again.” I truly left that at the cross to be His. To my amazement, about two weeks later that “drive” to be loved and feel safe inside had left me. What once consumed me was gone. He exchanged my greatest need in life for “resting” in Him. Now I feel truly loved, accepted and complete in Him beyond all I could ask or think. I am never alone because He is with me. What about you? Will you lay your very self at the foot of the cross this Christmas season and trust the One who left His Father’s side in glory to come and give His life for you, so that You could have it more abundantly? I pray that you will truly know the love of Jesus deep down in your soul. I pray that you will and that you experience Christmas with Christ, Himself, in a new way.

What RECMIN Stands For

Dear Friend,

So often when we see people discussing – or debating – controversial issues on social media, someone in the group will point out that the church is really good at presenting what they are against, but not so good at presenting what they are for. Sometimes I have to agree with them on that point. With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the things that we at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan are for. Though this list is not conclusive, it is a good start. 

That people will have a life giving relationship with Jesus Christ so that they can be redeemed and spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16  Helping people know their true identity in Christ. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Helping people overcome sinful, addictive behaviors so that they can live free from bondage, deepen their relationship with the Lord, and remain faithful to their calling as Christ-like men, women, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9  Seeing hurting people become free from the traumatic effects of abuse, abandonment, and other devastating life events so that they can achieve their full potential in Christ. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Jesus in Luke 4:18-19

That people have their lives transformed through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to overcome the sin, trauma and temptations of this world. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 10:11

For the Biblical definition of marriage as a life-long commitment between one biologically born male and one biologically born female. And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” Matthew 19:4-5

For those struggling with sin, shame and condemnation to be set free. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

That people can truly know the love of God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:16 We hope this letter helps you to hear the hearts of the men and women who are a part of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan. We have all been touched by the redemptive heart of Jesus Christ in our own journeys out of sexual and relational brokenness. We continue to be completely dependent upon the Lord’s transforming work in our hearts.

If you or someone you love is struggling with sexual or relational sin, please call 586.739.5114 and see how Reconciliation Ministries can help.

You can also visit us on the internet at www.recmin.org. We could not do what we do without the many men and women who pray for us regularly and support us financially. Let us know if you would like to join our intercessory team by contacting us at info@recmin.org. Please consider supporting this ministry through a monthly tax-deductible donation or a one-time gift. You can donate online via PayPal. You can become a vital part of this ministry and touch the lives of others.

In Christ,

Dan Hitz
Director Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan

Dysfunctional Family Roles

Dysfunctional Family Roles

           
Last month’s newsletter article entitled “Home for the Holidays” talked about preparing for family gatherings which are often a source of stress and triggers of emotional wounds.  This month’s article explores various roles people play in the dysfunctional family. These roles serve as coping skills and defense mechanisms, but often tend to keep the dysfunction going.  Recognizing your role in the family system can help you make healthier choices to overcome the dysfunction and walk in better emotional health.  Most of the roles in this article are widely recognized and can be found by searching “dysfunctional family roles” on the internet.  This article is a compilation of the roles found through multiple internet resources.

The Person with the True Problem.

Simply put, this is the person with the addiction or other dysfunctional behavior.  It may be the alcoholic father, the vengeful mother, or the sibling with the substance abuse problem.  Rather than seeking the help he needs, the person with the true problem expects others to adjust to his dysfunctional behavior.  Others in the family learn to comply with his demands rather than facing the wrath and harshness of the broken system.

The Enabler/Codependent.

This is usually the spouse of the person with the true problem.  She is the family peacemaker who keeps the creator of the dysfunction in business by covering for him.  She tries to smooth over the waves caused by the true problem and the fallout from the emotional reactions to that problem.  Rather than trying to fix the root, the enabler seems to fertilize the bad fruit hoping for a good harvest.  She feels responsible for everyone’s emotional well being.  Strangely, the enabler’s behavior tends to get worse when the person with the true problem begins to get help.  She isn’t used to “normal” and seems to try to get everyone back to “broken” where she can feel “needed”.

The Hero.

This person adopts the values and dreams of others in an attempt to show the outside world that the family is actually okay.  Heroes are usually overachievers with poor self-esteem who intellectualize problems and disregard their own feelings.  Although they are forced to interact with others, they don’t allow others to get close enough to see their true emotional brokenness.  They view appropriate vulnerability as dangerous and work hard to put up a good front.  The oldest children in the family are usually the heroes.

The Scapegoat.  

The scapegoat is the opposite of the hero.  Rather than playing the game and pretending that things are okay, he tends to rebel against the dysfunctional system and begins acting out unspoken family conflict.  The scapegoat is the problem child who takes the focus off of the real problem and makes everyone else look good.  Scapegoats are often the second born.

The Lost Child/Loner.  

The lost child is usually a loner who becomes a chameleon to disappear into the background and not cause problems.  He brings relief because he has learned not to rock the boat and others don’t have to worry about him.  He has no opinions of his own and no expression of emotional needs.  This complies well with some of the unspoken rules of the broken family system including “don’t talk”, “don’t feel”, and “don’t have needs”.  He may also leave the family system as soon as he is able and maintain only minimal contact with them.  Middle children are often the ones in the role of the lost child. 

The Mascot/Class Clown.  

Mascots seek to be the comic relief of the dysfunctional family system and try to diffuse emotional pain through humor.  They can develop friendships easily and usually spend little time at home.  Mascots have a short attention span and are very poor with responsibility.  This serves to help them avoid the family dysfunction and puts their mind on fun things to fuel their escapism.  Mascots are usually one of the younger children in the family.

The Doer.  

The doer is similar to the hero. Doers may also be referred to as the “adult child”.  She is the overdeveloped, overstressed family member who often excels academically and takes care of the siblings for the dysfunction parents.  Although she may still be a child, herself, she has learned to act like an adult as a matter of emotional survival. This helps her cope with the adult who is acting like a child.  Doers live in the illusion that they exist to meet the needs of the dysfunctional adults.

The Manipulator.  

Manipulators use their skill to get others to do what they want them to do.  They have learned the unspoken message that needs and desires expressed directly clash with the family dysfunction and go unmet.  They play off the dysfunction of the person with the true problem and the attempts of the enabler to smooth the wake from the problems if the system.  Manipulators control others indirectly.  Manipulators are extremely intuitive and know what buttons to push in each family member to get their way.

The Critic.  

As the name implies, critics use negativity and fault finding to control others.

Daddy’s Little Princess.  

This role develops when the father uses the daughter to fulfill his broken emotional needs, and is a subtle form of emotional incest.  The father uses the child by drawing her into adult conversations and/or activities. For example he may tell the princess about sexual or emotional struggles that he may be having with her mother.  Rather than serving to protect and empower the daughter, the father uses his little princess to fulfill his own brokenness.  In her own emotional dysfunction, the princess learns to embrace her role for the perceived benefits she receives.  Benefits which are merely illusions and only wound her further.

Prince Charming.  

This role is similar to the little princess and occurs when the son is expected to fulfill the emotional needs of the dysfunctional mother.

The Saint/Martyr.  

The saint’s sense of worth is derived from fulfilling a predetermined occupation or course of action regardless of his own personal needs and wishes.  She may attempt to gain extra value by “informing” everyone of the many sacrifices she has made in order to “help” those in the dysfunctional system.  Although they often flaunt their own virtue and goodness, saints are internally sad and unfulfilled, hoping to gain a sense of inner acceptance and appreciation from people incapable of providing it.
 
If you’ve seen yourself as you read through the dysfunctional family roles, there is hope.  One of the main steps in your journey into relational wholeness is recognizing the things that need to be corrected.  Many of these roles are merely broken expressions of character strengths that are undeveloped.  The hero is able to play the hero because he does possess the intelligence and ability to succeed.  The lost child is able to become the chameleon because he is able to read people and situations and attempt to bring himself to a place of internal peace in the middle of the storm.  The mascot is able to be the mascot because he is personable and able to develop many friendships and make people feel comfortable with him.  Through counseling and a deeper walk with Christ, those in dysfunctional family roles can learn to shed the false uses of their personal gifts. They can learn to step out in the power of Christ to implement their gifts for the good that God intended.  The hero can learn to evaluate her own personal abilities and determine what is and is not her personal responsibility.  Accepting the personal responsibilities of walking in her gifts and allowing others to experience their own personal responsibilities offers both the opportunity for self improvement.  The mascot can learn to use her people skills to create a friendly work environment while receiving the satisfaction of meeting her personal responsibilities.  Walking into the good of our god-given design will help us to become all that God created us to be.
 
For others whose roles are deeper expressions of brokenness and sin there is repentance and the grace of God.  Through repentance, the scapegoat can learn to accept the responsibility for his own sinful choices and learn to overcome the emotional distress they formerly tried to escape through sin.
 
Help is available for those who are walking out of a dysfunctional family system.  Seek the assistance of the pastoral care department from your local church, a professional therapist, or a good support group.  Living Waters, Celebrate Recovery, and other life care groups offer support to those dealing with codependency, negative life patterns, and habitual sin.  There is help and hope for everyone through the power of Jesus Christ.
 
Reconciliation Ministries offers licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry.  If you or someone you know needs help, call 586.739.5114 to schedule an appointment.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays                                                                                                

For many of us, the holidays are filled with anxiety that comes with revisiting the dysfunctional family dynamics of our youth.  Family get togethers sometimes place us in the presence of those who have offended us or have the potential to trigger our unresolved wounds – sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose.  The purpose of this article is to help you prepare for family gatherings so that you can walk through them with realistic expectations and minimal emotional stress.

Pray. 

This may seem cliché, but the most important preparation you can make for your family gathering is to pray.  It is important to communicate with the Lord prior to the event and share your hopes and fears.  This is the time to ask Him for help and protection in your specific areas of need, and to be reminded of who you are in Him.  You can also pray for the difficult people that you will be spending time with, and ask the Lord to put a guard on their hearts as well as yours.  Ask trusted others to pray for you.  Sometimes just knowing that others are praying for you will give you the extra boost of confidence you need.

Maintain realistic expectations. 

It is important to maintain realistic expectations through the holidays.  People will not change just because it’s Christmas.  You may have taken the time to get healthy, but others may not.  They will most likely do what they have always done.  If they were overbearing and critical before the Christmas tree went up, they will most likely be overbearing and critical after the tree goes up – and even during the process.  Reminding yourself of realistic expectations will help you avoid getting your hopes dashed by reality.  This is far different from telling yourself to expect a catastrophe so that you won’t be disappointed if one happens.  This is simply reminding yourself of your difficult relative’s character so you can make proper emotional preparations.

Some people do not do well during the holidays because it reminds them of their past abuse.  If you were abused during the holiday season by a visiting relative or during a sleepover while on Christmas vacation, this time of year may automatically trigger anxiety and depression.  Make plans to have safe others to confide in if you feel your emotional pressure rising.  This will help you get the support you need before you reach a breaking point.  Recognizing your own vulnerability and making preparations for assistance is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of healthy personal insight and good coping skills.

Establish appropriate boundaries.  

Decide prior to your gathering what behavior you will and will not accept.  Choose not to allow your family members to treat you disrespectfully, or try to bring you into the middle of their conflict.  Decide your course of action ahead of time if a family member violates your boundaries.  For example, if someone begins to call you disrespectful names you can calmly state that you won’t allow the person to treat you in a disrespectful manner.  If he continues to do so you can remove yourself from that conversation and try to join another conversation, ask him to leave your house, or decide to leave the gathering yourself.  When establishing boundaries with others, it is best to keep yourself calm and speak matter of factly.  Follow through on your boundaries without yelling.  Yelling actually tends to decrease your influence and often plays into the other person’s plan of trying to stir up your emotions.  Don’t be surprised when those who are used to violating your boundaries continue trying to do so after you have informed them of your boundaries.  They are used to doing so and may not take you seriously.  Sometimes their negative behavior may actually get worse for aseason while they try to figure out how serious you are about your boundaries.  They may try to get you to give up.  Calmly stand firm and hold your ground.  The other person will have to decide how they will respond to your boundaries.  It is great if they change and learn to respect you.  In this case your relationship with that person may improve.  If they decide not to respect your boundaries you may have to distance yourself from them and keep yourself in a position where they are unable to offend you.

Recognize that your family members are broken.  

Pray, pray, pray… but remember that it is not your job to fix them.  Broken people do broken people things.  This is not an excuse for poor treatment, but it may help you to put the issue into proper perspective.  Remember to implement you boundaries, and resist the urge to walk on eggshells trying to guess what to avoid or do to keep the other person happy.  Do what is right before the Lord and walk in obedience to Him.

Recognize that the issue usually isn’t about you. 

Don’t let another person’s dysfunction become your dysfunction.  Are they reacting to their own deeper emotional issues?  Are they merely angry people who take out their anger on anyone who happens to get in the way?  Dysfunctional people are operating out of their own brokenness.  Even if you do make a mistake, they are the ones choosing to react in a healthy or unhealthy manner.  Some dysfunctional people try to pull you into their problems and blame them on you.  In situations like this it is helpful to remind yourself that this isn’t your problem and choose not to take it from them.  This doesn’t mean that you are heartless and uncaring.  It simply means that you are choosing to become healthy and allow others to experience the consequences of their own poor decisions.

Don’t bite the bait. 

Many dysfunctional people are addicted to drama and try to pull others into their own internal hurricanes.  They may try to provoke you or highlight your imperfections to justify themselves.  Others may try to blame their own inappropriate behavior on you.  Resist the urge to respond in anger and calmly state your thoughts while maintaining your boundaries.  You may have to allow yourself time to express your frustration later in a safe setting, but resisting the urge to bite the bait keeps you from entering into their emotional turmoil.  You can choose to enjoy the holiday gathering even if they choose to be miserable.

Give yourself extra grace if you are

grieving the loss of a loved one.  

If you are walking through the grief process after loosing someone you love, recognize that the first few holidays without them may bring up a wide variety of emotions.  That is normal.  It is okay if you don’t have the emotional energy to decorate your house and get the same level of gifts that you usually do.  Some people will understand while others won’t.  Do what you feel comfortable doing.  In time, you will be able to carry on some of the old traditions or you may decide to adjust and develop some new ones.  The main thing is that you honor the memory of your loved one, and simply do what you are able to do.

 

Nurture relationships with healthy family members and friends. 

Identify the healthy people in your life and proactively spend time developing those relationships.  Learn to overcome the dysfunctional family dynamics in an appropriate manner with those who have walked through similar situations and are on the road to recovery.  Discussing personal reactions to issues in an appropriate manner helps build relationships and lets you know that you are not alone.

Recognize the progress that you have made. 

Give yourself credit for what the Lord has done in your life and grace for the things He has yet to do.  Nobody is perfect.  It is really okay to celebrate the small victories while you’re looking forward to the larger ones.

Allow yourself time to recuperate after the event.  

Dealing with difficult people can be exhausting.  Prior to the event, discuss your need to relax afterwards with safe others.  You may even want to schedule extra personal quiet time afterwards or make plans to have fun in appropriate leisure activities with those who are able.  It is amazing how beneficial these types of plans can be, and how much easier it will be for you to adjust back into your regular routine once you have take the time to decompress.

Taking the time to pray and read through this list prior to your holiday event can help you navigate through some difficult situations with more peace.  Remember to have realistic expectations and trust the Lord to lead you.  Don’t condemn yourself if you don’t walk through an awkward situation like you think you should.  Give yourself grace to learn and grow more every day.

 

A Gift for Yourself this Christmas

A Gift for Yourself this Christmas

– Kent Darcie


Kent Darcie is the founder and presenter for Adult Children of Divorce Ministries. He has reached out to adults with divorced parents for ten years. A variety of resources for adult children of divorce are available at his website, http://www.childrenofdivorce.net.

An estimated 50% of US adults who will celebrate Christmas this year have divorced parents. For them this season can be particularly tough. Even those who manage to create the “Hallmark” holiday for their own family must often contend with gatherings which include a hodgepodge of parents, ex-parents, steps, step-siblings, grand-steps, and other combinations too numerous to list here.

While few adults with divorced parents would deny hassles are standard equipment with divorce, fewer still understand just how much their parent’s divorce affects them the other 11½ months. My case was no exception.

I was 13 when the divorce occurred. Until then my father, mother, two younger sisters and I lived a comfortable middle class life. Dad worked. Mom stayed home with us. Though I loved them both, my relationship with my dad felt like joy on steroids. Where he was, I wanted to be; whether under a car as he changed the oil, or exploring on a long bike ride. The occasional punishment or spanking did come, but my glasses couldn’t be any rosier thinking about those early years.

After the divorce, I stayed with my mom and sisters. Visits with my dad were painfully infrequent. Sporadic happiness replaced the joy as life wandered on. Junior and senior high school, college, marriage, and kids rounded out the next 30 years. So did anger, anxiety, feeling unworthy, struggling with inadequacy, fears, and bouts with mild depression every Christmas season. It’s almost sinister how abnormal can seem normal when you live it long enough.

 But at a marriage retreat God shined blinding light into my eyes with this truth: even though I was on my first marriage, I was traveling down the same emotional path as my dad who was approaching his third marriage. I swore never to put my kids through a divorce, but it didn’t matter. Apparently that was the path I was on.

We hear how marriages are failing at a 50% rate. What’s not communicated is the disproportionate impact adult children with divorced parents have on the percentage. Simply put, if a person from an intact family marries someone from a broken home, the odds the marriage will fail increase 50%. If both are from broken homes, the chance of the marriage ending in divorce increase 200% (as compared with two people from intact homes.)1 Divorce produces divorce! More frightening is the root causes for these marital collapses are mostly unknown by millions of adults with divorced parents.  

Research indicates adult children of divorce (ACD) have issues with anger and trusting people directly due their parent’s divorce. They also suffer from a list of fears including the fear of inadequacy, of inferiority, of conflict, and the fear of doom—which lives life always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Additionally, children from broken homes have far higher addiction rates including drugs, alcohol, and sex. Depression, attempts at suicide, teen pregnancy, and brushes with the law are also side effects from a parent’s divorce. These can create deep cracks in the foundation an adult life is built upon.   

Combined or in part, these issues form a concoction proven as toxic to relationships and marriages. But, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2

 I've received great comfort from God. Shortly after the marriage retreat, God uncovered resources which helped explain the impact my parent’s divorce had. With these issues exposed, my prayers, research, and actions were more focused on the goal of overcoming the issues. God’s gifts of love, peace, and joy slowly washed away the fears, anger, and other issues that grew like poison mushrooms in a beautiful garden.

This Christmas why not accept this wonderful gift too? You are reading this at God’s leading, but as an ACD you have a choice. Wait 30 years before admitting your parent’s divorce still negatively affects you. Continue limiting yourself and hurting your loved ones. Or bring yourself healing and renewed relationships by applying this new information.

Adult Children of Divorce Ministries provides resources so adults with divorced parents can overcome the unseen tentacles that trip up their relationships with others and God as well. Books, articles, videos, and more are accessible on the website. Seminars, workshops, teachings, and other presentations are available for groups—both small and large. Get information today and jump-start your healing journey.

More important, seek a deeper comprehension of God’s love for you. The holiday season makes revisiting or learning about Christmas’ true meaning easy. Read Luke Chapters 1 and 2.  For a more basic approach you can watch A  Charlie Brown Christmas. 3 For nearly 50 years Linus has been telling Charlie Brown and the world what Christmas is really all about. Afterward, contact Dan Hitz or myself and learn more about how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Christ’s love is for you. 4 Healing begins with God. Accept His wonderful gift and make this a very Merry Christmas.

Kent Darcie founded Adult Children of Divorce Ministries. Resources are available at www.acdministries.com. Check out his blog at www.childrenofdivorce.net.
 1 Paul Amato. www.smartmarriages.com/before.breakup.html accessed 11/6/12
2 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. [ESV]
3 A Charlie Brown Christmas.  http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2011/12/25/linus-tells-charlie-brown-true-meaning-christmas  Accessed 12/5/2013
4 Ephesians 3:18b [NLT]

A Biblical Response to the Gay Affirming Church

A Biblical Response to the

Gay Affirming Church

As we look at the issue of homosexuality and Christianity, we must realize that not all people who identify themselves as Christians see the Bible as the divinely inspired writing of God’s unchanging Word which is our final authority on all matters of faith and conduct.  Many see it as good principles which have evolved over time, and may not have taken into account certain new understandings about cultural issues including homosexuality or homosexual orientation.  Others will attempt to interpret it in a way that still gives the Bible authority as God’s Word, but also allows them to embrace homosexuality.  We as Christians must have a specific, unchanging standard to base our beliefs on and hold fast to the true meaning of Scripture.

Many in the gay community will say that homosexuality is acceptable because Jesus said nothing to condemn homosexuality in the Bible.  However, Jesus also said nothing about pedophilia or bestiality, which most non-Christians would strongly condemn.  Jesus did specifically outline God’s intent for marriage from the beginning of creation.  When the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus with their questions about divorce, Jesus replied in Mark 10:6-9 [NIV]   "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."  Jesus gave a direct reference to the creation account in Genesis 2:18-24 when God formed Eve out of Adam as a helper suitable for him.

Many Christians will point out that God specifically condemned homosexual behavior in the Old Testament in Leviticus Chapters 18 and 20.  Those in the gay affirming churches will ask them why they are holding to the Old Testament laws against homosexuality when they stop at McDonalds and eat a ham, egg, and cheese McMuffin.  As many of us are responding with a blank stare, they will go on to reference Acts 10:9-48 where the Lord commissioned Peter to speak to Cornelius by showing him the sheet of animals and commanding him to eat.  In Acts 10:15 the Lord tells Peter, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."   They will draw a parallel between God calling the Gentiles –  a formerly rejected people group –  clean with God also calling those in the homosexual community clean.  Our response to this can be to cite the decisions of the counsel in Jerusalem as detailed in Acts 15:1-31.  At this counsel, the church leaders gathered in Jerusalem to determine if the new Gentile believers were required to keep the law of Moses.  There was no question that the offer of salvation was opened to all who accepted it.  The question was one of law and behavior.  The counsel reached the decision that the Gentiles were responsible to keep only four behavioral laws, one of them was specifically to refrain from sexual immorality.  Many of these laws are clearly stated both in the old and new testaments.  Those who struggle with homosexuality are welcomed into the Kingdom of God, however they are expected to refrain from sexual immorality and repent of their sin of homosexuality just as we would also expect those struggling with heterosexual sin to repent of their sin as well.

Many well meaning Christians have used Romans 1:25-29 to thunder their opposition to homosexuality loudly to those who embrace it.  Unfortunately, they have also triggered many defenses to this section of Scripture.  When we’re talking to someone who believes that homosexuality is acceptable, we must remember to speak the truth graciously and realize that this passage may very well bring up some strong emotions.  Those who accept homosexuality often say that same sex encounters are natural for persons who are born homosexual, and that this section of scripture refers to persons who are born heterosexual who have abandoned their heterosexuality for homosexuality.  We can respond that our sinful desires always feel natural to us.  When I embraced my homosexual feelings and attractions, it felt very natural to me to act upon them.  When I embraced bulimia, it felt natural to me to eat five times the amount of food that would make a non-bulimic feel stuffed.  The truth is, bulimia is not an acceptable behavior in God’s sight.  As natural as it felt, I was not born a bulimic.  In the same way, homosexuality is not an acceptable behavior in God’s sight.  Both are damaging and self destructive.  There are many secular studies that indicate increased rates of illness,

depression, substance abuse, and domestic violence among homosexuals compared to heterosexuals.  These increased risks also occur in countries and cultures that are more accepting of homosexuality than the US.  [Secular studies will be addressed in a future newsletter, and some references will be given at the end of this newsletter.]

Many in the homosexual community also believe that David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi were homosexual partners.  They may quote 1 Samuel 18:1-3 [KJV] which reads, And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”  It is easy for me to see how broken people can confuse love with a sexual relationship.  They are not the same.  You can have a deep love for someone without having a sexual relationship.  You can also have a sexual relationship with someone without love.  David and Jonathan truly had a deep love for each other, but it was not a sexualized love.  God is not bashful about sex.  There are many details of sexual relationships in Scripture including The Song of Solomon and David’s sin with Bathsheba.  If David and Jonathan would have had a sexual relationship, and that relationship was acceptable in God’s sight, he most likely would have included at least one reference to their union in Scripture.  Yes, David and Jonathan made a covenant, but so did Abraham and the Lord in Genesis 15.  According to Thayer’s Bible Dictionary, the same Hebrew word is used for both covenants.  God’s covenant with Abraham was not sexual.  Neither was David and Jonathan’s.

Those who believe that Ruth and Naomi had a homosexual partnership will quote Ruth’s response to Naomi when Naomi told Ruth to stay in her homeland and with her people when Naomi returned to Israel.  This familiar section of Scripture is even quoted at weddings as couples exchange their vows.  “…Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back.  I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  I will die where you die and will be buried there.  May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”  Ruth 1:16-17 [NLT]  This obviously shows a deep committed love between Ruth and Naomi, but it does not imply a sexual or lesbian bond.  In fact, Naomi helps Ruth get married to a man named Boaz in Chapter 3 of Ruth and tells Ruth how to win Boaz’ heart.

This newsletter is intended to introduce you to some of the doctrinal positions held by members of the gay affirming church.  Future newsletters will explore some of the secular research that shows the pain and destruction involved in a homosexual life.  I encourage you to share your heart in mercy, and not in anger.  As a former homosexual, I can understand the immense power of same sex attraction and the deep inner battle to reconcile such feelings within the context of a God who has a strong moral code.  Inside, guilt dwells with passion.  Our own desires are confronted by God.  I remember hearing about one of the few gay affirming churches in the 1980’s.  Even though I was far from God, something deep within me hoped that I could have both God and homosexuality.  I never did make the connection.  I knew deep inside that the two were irreconcilable.  Now, some twenty years later, I am glad that they are.  I came to the Lord broken and bruised, yearning for acceptance.  It has been a long journey, but I continue walking in the emotional and spiritual healing that Jesus Christ has to offer.  I no longer try to fill the deep voids inside my heart with fantasy or unions with other men.  I can now live as an emotionally healthy heterosexual man, husband, and father.  Only Jesus Christ can heal the wounds and fill the voids.  It took being confronted with the truth by loving Christians and a loving God to bring the healing that I needed.  When you meet those who believe that embracing homosexuality and following Christ are compatible, remember to speak to them in mercy.  You are Christ’s ambassador for healing and reconciliation. 

If you would like more information on this subject…

A Strong Delusion, Joe Dallas.  Harvest House Publishers, 1996
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.  Baker Books, 1996.
Exodus International has many resources available at www.exodus.to/library.shtml
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality at www.narth.com
Focus on the Family at www.family.org
Homosexuality Statement, Christian Medical and Dental Associations at
  http://www.cmdahome.org/index.cgi?BISKIT=2302340612&CONTEXT=art&art=2554

Speaking the Truth in Love, The Dangers of Homosexuality

Speaking the Truth in Love,

The Dangers of Homosexuality

Dan Hitz, Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan

 In the October 2004 newsletter article entitled, “A Biblical Response to the Gay Affirming Church”, I presented an introductory Scriptural response to many of the arguments presented by the gay affirming church.  This article is intended to be a follow up to the October article and presents some of the secular research that shows that homosexual activity is a harmful behavior with physical, emotional, and relational consequences.  Both articles are intended to merely scratch the surface of these issues and present a brief overview.  References will be presented throughout the article and at the conclusion for those who would like more information.

When God ordained sexuality specifically within the context of the heterosexual marriage bed between one man and one woman, he did so because He created us as heterosexual, monogamous beings.  He knows how we function best – body, soul, and spirit.  Secular research on sexuality in general shows that sexually active teenagers are significantly more likely to feel depressed and to attempt suicide than non-sexual active teens.1According to one study, teen females who were sexually active felt “depressed all, most, or a lot of the time” compared to 7.7 percent of the non-sexually active girls.  For teen boys, the percentages were 8.3% for sexually active, compared to 3.4% for non-sexually active boys.2These and other studies back up the message that it is better to wait until marriage to have sex.  Further studies show that there are significant health risks associated with homosexual activities.

According to the Center for Disease Control, smokers can expect to live approximately 7 years less than non-smokers.  This has caused the government to order strict warning labels on cigarette packages and advertisement.  However, the decrease in life expectancy for gay and bisexual men is much higher.  “Life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.3In a household survey of unmarried men 18 through 29 years of age, 328 homosexual men, 20.1% tested positive for HIV 4, yet many men continue to practice unprotected sex with multiple partners.  In addition to HIV/AIDS, there are many extreme health risks associated with homosexual activities including hepatitis A, B, and C; increased risk of anal cancer (4000%), HPV, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, and a multitude of other sexual transmitted diseases.  (For a more complete explanation of the physical risks of male homosexual behavior, see the Christian Medical and Dental Associations’ Homosexuality Statement.  This is an excellent compilation of data from many published secular studies complete with references. 5 )

Embracing the homosexual lifestyle also takes a heavy emotional toll.  According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (December 2003), there are higher incidences of illegal drug usage, alcoholism, psychological problems, and violence in the gay community than in the general population.  “Gay men and lesbians reported more psychological distress than heterosexual women, despite similar levels of social support and quality of physical health”.  (p.556) 6The pro-gay community would be quick to reply that these situations are caused by harassment, intolerance, and homophobia; however, these figures are also reflected in studies conducted in the Netherlands where homosexuality is much more accepted than in the US. 7“A Dutch study of 5998 heterosexual and homosexual men and women showed that ‘psychiatric disorders were more prevalent among homosexually active people compared with heterosexually active people… On a lifetime basis, homosexual women had a significantly higher prevalence of general mood disorders and major depression than did heterosexual women… Lifetime prevalence of both alcohol and other drug dependence was also significantly higher in homosexual women than in heterosexual women.” 5

What about committed relationships between two individuals of the same sex?  Wouldn’t they have less risk factors than promiscuous individuals?  The reality is that even among same-sex couples that say that they are in a committed relationship, there are very few truly monogamous relationships.  In Male and Female Homosexuality, the authors found that the average live-in relationship lasts between two and three years.8In Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover writes “a study conducted by a homosexual couple found that out of 156 same-sex couples 'only seven had maintained sexual fidelity; of the hundred couples that had been together for more than five years, none had been able to maintain sexual fidelity. The authors noted that the expectation for outside sexual activity was the rule for male couples and the exception for heterosexuals.'" 5Many in the homosexual community will point out the high divorce rate in the heterosexual community and claim that the infidelity rate is also bad for heterosexual marriage.  I agree that many heterosexual marriages are also in need of repair, but the statistics of monogamy are still much higher.  “In Sex in America, called by the New York Times ‘the most important study of American sexual behavior since the Kinsey reports,’ Robert T. Michael et al. report that 90 percent of wives and 75 percent of husbands claim never to have had extramarital sex.” 9

There is hope for men and women struggling with homosexuality.  Thousands of men and women have found help in dealing with their unwanted same sex attractions through therapy, and/or faith based groups like Exodus.  Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, “surveyed 850 individuals and 200 therapists and counselors – specifically seeking out individuals who claim to have made a degree of change in sexual orientation. Before counseling or therapy, 68% of respondents perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, with another 22% stating they were more homosexual than heterosexual. After treatment only 13% perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, while 33% described themselves as either exclusively or almost entirely heterosexual, 99% of respondents said they now believe treatment to change homosexuality can be effective and valuable.” 5Other research also shows that individuals have changed their sexual orientation.  Dr. Robert Spitzer, a historic champion of gay activism, played a major role in removing homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Associations manual of mental disorders.10In Spitzer’s 2001 study of 200 men and women, 29% of the male subjects and 63% of the female subjects reported “no or only minimal homosexual indicators”.11The majority of those in the study reported a significant change in their orientation from “predominantly or exclusively homosexual before therapy, to predominantly or exclusively heterosexual after therapy.  Also interesting to note, many pro-gay groups will report that people who attempt to change their sexual orientation will become depressed.  Spitzer found the opposite to be true.  Twelve months prior to their effort to change, 43% of the males and 47% of the females reported suffering from depression.  After their effort to change, and in the twelve months prior to being interviewed, the percentage of people reporting depression dropped to 1% for men and 4% for women.11  As with walking out of any sinful behavior, the temptation may return on occasion.  For example, a former alcoholic may desire a drink after ten years of sobriety.  We would certainly not encourage the alcoholic to “embrace his true self and live out his alcoholism”.  We would instead encourage him to resist the temptation and offer to walk alongside him to help him past the season of temptation.  This is the function of the church, and the work of God’s grace for all in the body of Christ.

This article has only begun to scratch the surface of this topic and to provide additional resources for further research.  Remember, when talking with someone who embraces homosexuality, we must always speak the truth in love.  Knowledge will do nothing to reach someone for Jesus Christ if it is not spoken with love.  If you would like more information on this subject, please check out the following resources:

A Strong Delusion, Joe Dallas.  Harvest House Publishers, 1996

Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.  Baker Books, 1996.

Exodus International has many resources available at www.exodus.to/library.shtml  

National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality at www.narth.com   

Focus on the Family at www.family.org  

  

References
1      Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide, Rector, Johnson, and Noyes.  Center for Data Analysis Report #03—4 http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/cda0304.cfm
2      National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996
3      Modeling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay and bisexual men.  International Journal of Epidemiology. 26 (3): 657-661.  Hogg, R.S. et al.
4      Osmond, D., Page, K., Wiley, J., Garrett, K., Sheppard, H., Moss, A., Schrager, K., Winkelstein, W., (1994) HIV infection in homosexual and bisexual men 18 to 29 years of age: The San Francisco young men’s health study. American Journal of Public Health. 84, 12: 1933-1937.
5      Homosexuality Statement, Christian Medical and Dental Associations http://www.cmdahome.org/index.cgi?BISKIT=2302340612&CONTEXT=art&art=2554
6         Waller, Roy.  New Study Indicates Gays and Lesbians Prone to Psychological Symptoms and Substance Abuse.  NARTH.  December 2003. http://www.narth.com/docs/symptoms.html
7      Sandfort, T.G., de Graaf, R., Bijl, R.V., Schnabel, P. (2001, January). Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: findings from the Netherlands mental health survey and incidence study. (NEMESIS). Archives of General Psychiatry. 58: 85-91.
8      M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore”:  Williams & Wilkins, 1973), p. 225;  Dailey, T. Homosexual Parenting:  Placing Children at Risk.  (OthodoxyToday.orgSeptember 29, 2004)  p. 8.
9      Dailey, T. Homosexual Parenting:  Placing Children at Risk.  (OthodoxyToday.orgSeptember 29, 2004)  p. 8. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articlesprint/DaileyGayAdoptP.htm  
10    Waller R. and Nicolosi, L.  Spitzer Study Published:  Evidence Found for Effectiveness of Reorientation Therapy.  September 21, 2004. http://www.narth.com/docs/evidencefound.html   
11    Research Summary:  Robert L. Spitzer, Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation.  New Directions for Life 2003. http://www.newdirection.ca/research/spitzer.htm   

Ex-Gays – A Scientific Study

Ex-Gays – A Scientific Study

Dan is the executive director to Reconciliation Ministries.  This is a composite of some press releases published in September, 2007, about a three-year study of the effects of programs like Living Waters on persons interested in changing their sexual orientation.

A study that I have been anticipating for a few years has now been made public.  The excerpts from press releases from Exodus International and InterVarsity Press say it best.  I love it when scientific research validates what thousands of us have already experienced and what God has been saying all along… change IS possible!

Researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse released the results of a three-year study during an address at the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. Their findings indicate that religiously mediated sexual orientation change is possible for some individuals and does not cause psychological harm to the patient, on average. These conclusions directly contradict the claims of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association that state that change in sexual orientation is impossible and attempting to pursue this alternative is likely to cause depression, anxiety or self-destructive behavior. The major findings of this study are reported in full in the book Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation (InterVarsity Press). – From Exodus Press Office Release, September 14, 2007

Stanton Jones is provost and professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and served on the Council of Representatives, the central governing body of the APA, representing the Psychology of Religion division from 1999-2001. He has published many other professional and popular articles and books, including Modern Psychotherapies, coauthored with Richard E. Butman.

Mark Yarhouse is professor of psychology and director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (www.sexualidentityinstitute.org) at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he has taught since 1998. He has written extensively for professional publications and has authored several books, including Modern Psychopathologies, coauthored with Richard E. Butman and Barrett W. McRay, and Sexual Identity Synthesis, coauthored with Erica S. N. Tan.

The InterVarsity Press book, scheduled to be published in September 2007, is the most scientifically rigorous study of its kind to date, and uses multiple measures regarded as "industry standards." Knowing their results would generate controversy, Jones and Yarhouse have thoroughly described the rationale for their procedures. George A. Rekers, Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science Emeritus at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, states that the study "meets the high research standards set by the American Psychological Association that individuals be validly assessed, followed and reported over time with a prospective, longitudinal outcome research design." The study will set the standard for all future work in this field and demands a serious reading from social scientists. Publisher Bob Fryling comments, "In a highly politicized environment, this book is another 'inconvenient truth' of scientific research data countering prejudice and ignorance." – From InterVarsity Press release

Why Some Adults Are Sexually Attracted To Children

Why Some Adults Are Sexually Attracted To Children

This article was written by Dan Hitz, Director of Reconciliation Ministries.  If you or someone you know needs help, please call 586.739.5114.  Help is available through Jesus Christ.

Jesus… asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”  
John 8:10-11 NIV

Perhaps no temptation or sin strikes more fear and shame into the heart of an individual than sexual attractions toward children.  People who are attracted to children are often afraid to get the help they need because of the anger in society toward those who have abused and the fear of being reported.  It is important to understand that no one is hopeless, and that Jesus Christ loves those who are attracted to children and wants to set them free.  It is important to understand that suspected acts of child abuse must be reported in order to obtain help for those who are affected by the abuse as well as the individual who has abused another.  It is also important to understand that temptation alone is neither a sin nor a crime, and is not reportable.  The intent of this article is to explain pedophilia, and what may be occurring in the hearts of those who are attracted to children.  Although this article looks at some of the emotional issues that a pedophile may be facing, it is in no way intended to excuse his/her behavior or attractions.  It is intended to encourage those with such attractions to seek help so that they may be set free from the shame and temptations that are keeping them in bondage.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this sin, please call 586.739.5114.  Come and meet Jesus Christ at the foot of the cross and let Him set you free from the temptations that have kept you emotionally imprisoned.

Pedophilia is a recurrent sexual disorder in which a person has frequent, intense sexual urges toward children who have not entered puberty.1 Persons with pedophilia may or may not act upon those urges. Ephebophilia is similar to pedophilia, but involves a sexual attraction to minors who have begun to experience some of the physiological changes of puberty but have not yet reached adulthood.2 Because the characteristics of pedophilia and ephebophilia are similar, the term pedophilia will apply to both disorders throughout this article.

The American Psychiatric Association classifies those attracted to children as “exclusive”, only attracted to children; or “nonexclusive”, attracted to both adults and children.3 Ward identifies “situational offenders” as those who experience a later onset of attractions to children, tend to abuse family members, experience increased attraction to children during seasons of stress, and prefer sex with adults.4 Ward identifies “preferential offenders” as those who experience an earlier onset of attractions to children, are more compulsive in their offending, abuse children outside of their family, and engage in a belief system that fuels predatory behavior.4 Pedophilia usually begins in adolescence,1 however cases of prepubescent offenders have been reported.5 Up to 94 percent of pedophiles are male and may prefer girls, boys, or both.5, 6  In a study of 678 male pedophiles, 47 percent preferred females, 27 percent preferred males, and 25 percent reported attraction to both sexes.6Most prefer children in a specific age range, and limit their activity to incest, step-family incest, or non family members.

Pedophiles report feeling inadequate when relating to peers and have difficulty functioning in appropriate heterosexual relationships.6 They may also experience additional difficulties including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality or mood disorders.1 Sabatino reports that approximately one-half of his clients who are attracted to children are themselves victims of childhood sexual abuse and many of those who were not sexually abused have suffered from emotional abuse.7 Their own abuse results in a sense of powerlessness which leads to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Because of an overwhelming sense of shame, the abuse victims find it extremely difficult to relate to healthy adults in their own peer groups and prefer the vulnerability and acceptance that they gain from those who are weaker. Van Domelen explains that as a child, the pedophile was in some way isolated from himself. He grew into a physical adult yet remained trapped in a perceived need to connect with children and his own lost childhood. Pedophiles are trying to avoid their painful feelings of inadequacy and create a sense of acceptance and value.2 Fearing adult relationships, they try to establish intimate relationships with children with whom they feel accepted and in control.7

Sexual offenders often seek situations where they have influence over children such as teaching, coaching, or developing relationships with the mothers of children to whom they are attracted. Approximately 60 percent of boys and 80 percent of girls who are victims of pedophilia are victimized by someone the child or the child’s family is familiar with.5 Many offenders are drawn to children who have characteristics that the offender desires within himself.8 The offender who unconsciously believes that his innocence and childhood playfulness have been stolen from him by his abuser may be drawn to children who have a childlike, carefree behavior. The abuser has to balance the desired characteristics with the vulnerability that will allow him to groom the victim. He may have to substitute the ideal child with a vulnerable child that he can connect with. Putnam cites several factors that increase a child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse.9 Approximately 75 percent of all victims of childhood sexual abuse are girls. The risk of sexual abuse for girls begins at an earlier age and lasts longer than the risk for boys with the exception of boys with disabilities. Putnam states that boys suffering from a mental or physical handicap are at a substantially increased risk compared to boys that do not suffer from these conditions. He found no socioeconomic, race, or ethnic influences on the frequency of sexual abuse. Putnam reports that the risk of sexual abuse also increases substantially for children living in single parent homes, or in homes where both parents are absent. Girls with a step-father in the home face twice the risk of being sexually abused by the step-father or by another adult prior to the step-father’s arrival. Children who are socially isolated and whose parents are impaired are also at increased risk.

Whether you are an adult who is sexually attracted to children, or you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Jesus Christ can heal the hurts of the past, present, and future.  Don’t let shame or fear stand in the way of the help that you need.  Call 586.739.5114 and ask how Reconciliation Ministries can help you.  There are many men and women who have walked down a path very similar to yours and have found healing.  There is hope for you too.

References:
1.  Comer, R. J. (2005). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology (4th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.
2.  Van Domelen, B. (n.d.). Help for adults attracted to children. Orlando, FL: Exodus International-North America.
3.  American Psychiatric Association. (2000). DSM-IV text revision. Washington D. C.: Author.
4.  Ward, T. (1999). Competency and deficit models in the understanding and treatment of sexual offenders. The Journal of Sex Research, 36(3), 298-305.
5.  Freeman-Longo, R., & Reback, D. (2000). Myths and facts about sex offenders. Silver Spring, MD: Center for Sex Offender Management.
6.  Hyde, J. S., & DeLamater, J. D. (2006). Understanding Human Sexuality (9th ed., pp. 424-428). New York: McGraw Hill.
7.  Sabatino, C. J. (1999). Men facing their vulnerabilities: Group process for men who have sexually offended. Journal of Men's Studies, 8(1), 83-90.
8.  Payne, B. (1996). Healing homosexuality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
9.  Putnam, F. W. (2003). Ten-year research update review: Child sexual abuse. Journal of American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(3), 269-278.

Holy Listening

Holy Listening

– Deborah Tourville

Deborah is on the Reconciliation Ministries Board of Directors.  She has served in the inner healing ministries since 2001.  Deborah is a certified Theophostic minister and has completed year one of herinternship in Ignatinian Spirituality as a spiritual director and retreat director.

Many of us go through our day bombarded with noise.  We begin by waking up to an alarm clock/radio that begins with a buzz and then delivers the news and traffic report.  We go through our day with sounds of all kinds.  When we arrive home, we find more noise with TV’s, appliances, phones ringing, lawn mowers mowing … you name it. 

With all the artificial noise it’s no wonder we have a hard time listening to each other.  When was the last time you felt listened to?  I mean heard for not just the words you are saying, but with the emotion behind your words.   Turn the question around and ask yourself when the last time you listened to someone else like that was.  For most of us, the answer would be “I can’t remember”. 

Our early ancestors were storytellers, passing on traditions from one generation to the next.  The people listening were blessed by the stories and lessons shared as much as the one telling the story.  It’s much the same for us today.  We all have stories and histories we need to share and know another will listen and hold our stories sacred and confidential.   This is what I have come to term holy listening.  The Lord began to teach me the fruits of group sharing that went beyond the individual.  I saw a dynamic where the Lord not only touched each person’s heart in a specific way as each shared, but also touched the hearts of those listening.  He showed me a back and forth continuum that included blessings of love, acceptance, humility, and service.

As a facilitator of inner healing groups since 2001, I have learned that being listened to is one of our most basic desires.  We need to know that someone stands with us in our hurts, wounds, pains, and unfulfilled desires.   An emptying and filling happens in each person as they share their story.  We learn love and acceptance through this process.  This is important, as we need the support of close family and friends to reassure us that no matter what has happened in our lives we can move forward into healing and wholeness.  As we realize the love of others, we in turn can begin to love and forgive ourselves. 

The group setting is a sacred space where we learn to reverence each other as temples of the Lord (2 Cor. 6:16) even though some may not yet see the temple within themselves.  For many this is the first time they have listened to another’s story or have shared their own.  We inwardly cry out, see me, hear me, do you know who I am; longing to know God knows my struggles.  As we listen to each other and with the Holy Spirit, we hear beyond the words, to the root, the unspoken, and into the pain, they may not yet know how to articulate.

 For the listener it is hearing (listening) as God says, “I’m here, my cross is here in their pain and I know”.  It is hearing (listening) to God say to me “love this person here, in this pain, heartache.”  In holy listening, we forget our self, focus on another, and help them as they walk with the Lord in a personal relationship.

As groups such as this grow together, listening to one another, they become “circles of care” where judgment, bitterness and anger are released and healing/reconciliation begins.  We see ourselves accepted by others and realize our self-rejection diminishing.   We become hopeful.  John 10:10 says “I have come so that you may have life and have it to its full.”  Hope brings us into the light of openness and replaces the darkness of fear and shame.  People with hope imagine a God who is approachable and loving.  They believe God’s mercy and love is for them too.  Hope and acceptance are powerful to those who have lived in shame most of their lives.  The listener(s) find their own hearts are changing and opening to a new empathy and compassion for the others.  We begin to learn the meaning of “blessed are they who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs”. 

The group bonds in Christian love and unity as we watch each other grow in confidence and positive self-image.  Everyone rejoices in being a part of this “circle of care”.  I watch as friendships and “community” forms.  Individuals now begin to see themselves not as being all alone but as belonging.  The group ‘bursts forth’ with wanting to share with each other while respecting the parameters and guidelines of the group. 

Individuals healed to this point naturally want to give to others what they have received –  healing and forgiveness.  They see themselves humbly as loved sinners.  With a deep repentance, they move into a new self-awareness and a deeper awareness of God’s mercy.  This always brings about a deeper conversion.  We experience the freedom conversion brings and want to express the joy to others.  Love experienced must be expressed – it is our human nature.  We become empowered by the Holy Spirit – the Love of God to move forward and proclaim the Good News. 

I have found as a minister no one is in a group by accident.  Isaiah 65:24 reads, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear”.  God knows what we need before we ask.  Inner healing groups have helped people become the persons they are created to be.  It brings people into relationship with God, and just as importantly, with each other.  It is bringing about the Kingdom of God one person at a time, one group at a time.  It is the fulfillment of what it means to be Christian, to realize Christ’s love for and within me that can reach and touch you; and Christ’s love with-in you that transforms if I let it….me.

The Union of Spirituality and Therapy

The Union of Spirituality and Therapy

Written by Dan Hitz, Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries

Previous issues of the Reconciliation Ministries newsletter have looked at and defined various models of healing prayer including Living Waters, Theophostic ministry, Restoring the Foundations, and Leanne Payne. This article examines the union of spirituality and traditional therapy. It also takes a look at the scientific validity of healing prayer. Although relatively little scientific research has been conducted in the realm of prayer, the results are very encouraging.

The relationship between theology and traditional therapy has been tumultuous since Freud’s era (Zinnbauer & Pargament, 2000). This author has personally heard numerous fundamentalist and Pentecostal preachers condemn the “evils” of psychology and cite such Scriptures as, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13b-14 (New King James Version), and “Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he] [is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 
2 Corinthians 5:17 (New King James Version). These Scriptures are erroneously used to support the preacher’s idea that Christians should not spend their time dealing with past wounds, but simply “put them under the blood and follow Jesus”. This author was surprised to hear a nationally known Christian speaker on pornography addiction boldly proclaim during his seminar, “Don’t worry about your past wounds or triggers, just find out what the Bible says and do it!” (Gallager, 2001). Although it is critical that believers “find out what the Bible says and do it”, this limited understanding of God’s healing power reinforces the false belief in many Christians that there is something spiritually wrong with them because they are still struggling with wounds from the past.

Many secular therapists have been equally closed minded about the benefits of spirituality upon emotional health and frequently view religious expression as “more closely related to pathology than to health” (Wolf & Stevens, 2001, p. 68). Additionally, psychology has viewed itself as a scientific entity with the focus being on the “empirical and observable” (p.68). Researchers have historically been unwilling to consider the benefits or effects of components that cannot be scientifically measured, calculated, or documented. Many therapists experience operational barriers to the inclusion of spirituality within therapy. Wolf and Stevens note that many have the perception that spiritual issues should only be discussed with religious leaders and others have personal biases against religion. Hall, et al. cite research indicating that although 70 percent of counselors queried were willing to include spirituality in their sessions, 78 percent attended educational facilities that did not offer courses addressing spiritual issues and many believed themselves to lack the necessary training for such matters.

Attitudes toward spirituality within the secular therapeutic community do appear to be changing. Hall, et al. (2004) call for additional research on the benefits of spirituality on mental heath and conclude that “scientific evidence clearly indicates that involvement in religion or religious activities may be of benefit to both mental and physical health” (p. 507). Wolf and Stevens (2001) note that religious institutions can provide support to clients, their partners, and their families while providing an opportunity to experience bonding through participation inspiritual activities. Zinnbauer and Pargament (2000) write that the potential is high that the therapist and client may experience conflict in the realm of spirituality, religion, and therapy. They point out that therapists who work with religious clients must include an assessment of the client’s spirituality during the intake process. They also advise counselors to avoid functioning outside of their area of competence, and to seek additional education regarding the specific religion of their clients when they are unfamiliar with them. Therapists must be cognizant of their own value systems and seek appropriate supervision and accountability to avoid potential value conflicts. It is important for the counselor to maintain an open communication with his/her clients in order for the client to consent to the prescribed method of treatment.

It is also important for Christians to remember the exhortation of Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners” (NIV). Christians should seek a Christian therapist whenever possible.  When this is not possible due to financial constraints or other restrictions, it is important to seek a therapist who will honor one’s value system and work within his/her Christian worldview. It is important for pastors and conservative Christians to remember that Jesus came to heal the broken hearted. He is extremely interested in the believer’s emotional health.  Scripture exhorts them to put off their old man and to be renewed by the Holy Spirit in their minds (Eph 4:20-24).  This is not a one-time event, but a life-long process.  Isaiah writes, “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isa 1:18 NIV) Reasoning implies a conversation and a learned understanding.  With that understanding comes an increased ability to live a life where one’s struggles with sin are no longer debilitating, but are now under his/her feet through the power of Jesus Christ.  Believers must keep their feet firmly planted upon the Rock.

Several pioneers of healing prayer, or prayer for the healing of the emotions, have successfully integrated psychology and spirituality. Among them are John and Paula Sanford, Francis MacNutt, David Seamonds, Leanne Payne (Garzon & Burkett, 2002), and Andy Comiskey (1996). Many other healing prayer ministers use models that are almost identical to recognized therapeutic techniques. Ed Smith (1996/2005), who developed Theophostic Prayer Ministry; and Chester and Betsy Kylstra (2001), creators of Restoring the Foundations prayer ministry, both use prayer models mirroring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Comiskey’s Living Waters program uses a technique similar to the psychodynamic model whereby the client’s family structure, personal perceptions, and responses to his/her environment while growing up are all examined in order to bring about emotional and sexual healing. These and other ministries are specifically grounded in Scripture, while recognizing the value of psychology as the scientific study of how humans think, react, and develop. They also recognize that humans were created by God as body, soul, and spirit beings. Although the spirit man is made new immediately upon salvation, the mind (a part of the soul, along with the will and emotions) is renewed throughout the believer’s life through the process of sanctification. It is in the soul that the wounds and voids requiring emotional healing reside (Smith, 1996/2005). This more balanced approach to emotional and spiritual healing allows Christians to understand why they may continue to struggle with past trauma and resulting symptoms even after professing a deep belief in Jesus Christ and following Biblical teachings faithfully. False guilt and increased shame suffered by so many Christian survivors are effectively reduced.

Studies have confirmed the positive benefits of including spirituality in both physical and mental health. Ball (1999) cites research by Benor who reviewed 131 studies on “the effects of prayer on enzymes, cells, yeasts, bacteria, plants, animals, and humans” (p. 5) and found that 77 studies indicated positive results. Ball also cites a double-blind study by Christian cardiologist Byrd who researched the effects of prayer on 192 cardiac patients compared to the control group of 201 patients who did not receive prayer. Neither the patients, nor the medical staff knew which group the participants were in. Byrd reported that those who received prayer experienced significantly better recovery. They were five times less likely to require antibiotics, three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema, and none required the insertion of an artificial airway. Twelve patients in the control group required the airway.

Although Theophostic prayer ministry (TPM) has simultaneously drawn much praise and criticism Garzon and Poloma (2005) have noted much success. They evaluated 111 responses to a survey distributed at an advanced training seminar presented by Ed Smith and found that a wide variety of people are utilizing TPM including pastors, lay ministers, and psychologists. They write, “Overall, the respondents believe this technique is very effective and have used the prayer ministry in treating a wide variety of disorders including some quite complex” (p. 387). The Christian Research Institute (CRI) (2005) has done an in-depth study of TPM spending many hours in conversation with Smith about his methods and observing TPM sessions. After reviewing the procedure, they have released a 31 page position paper on TPM stating that CRI “detects nothing unbiblical about the core theory and practice of TPM” (p. 1). However, they maintain that they do have some reservations on “Smith’s past teachings on the sin nature, sanctification, and satanic ritual abuse” (p. 1). CRI also states that they do not endorse Smith’s teaching on spiritual warfare.

Garzon (2006) summarized research findings by Teske, a doctorate student at Argosy University/Twin Cities in Minnesota, who performed 13 outcomes-based case studies of individuals who received Theophostic Ministry (TPM) for symptoms including anxiety, depression, and adjustment problems. Ten of the recipients received TPM from licensed therapists, and three received TPM from lay ministers. Recipients were tested prior to receiving TPM, after every ten hours of ministry, at the end of their TPM, and three months following the prayer ministry. Tests given to the participants included the Symptom Checklist 90-R, the Spiritual Well-Being Scale, and the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale. Clients were asked to complete a satisfaction inventory at the close of TPM. Additionally, the progress of each client was assessed by a licensed mental health professional who did not utilize TPM, nor were they aware of the treatment model used on the participants. These therapists spoke with each client for one-half hour and examined their clinical record. The results of the Symptom Checklist 90-R identified nine participants as recovered, two as improved, one as no change, and one as deteriorated. The scores on the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale dropped indicating that the “depression-causing beliefs” (p.3) of the participants had been reduced, while the scores on the Spiritual Well-Being Scale improved. All 13 of the participants reported that they had benefited from TPM, and 11 reported improved spiritually through the experience. The independent mental health professionals reported that nine showed “very much improvement” while two showed “mild improvement” (p. 4). Garzon states that the results remained consistent during the three month period following TPM, and calls for more research “using true experimental designs” (p. 4).

It is encouraging that scientific research has confirmed what many of us who have benefited from prayer ministry have experienced firsthand – that healing prayer works.  If you or someone you know needs help, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and schedule an appointment for prayer ministry.  There is no charge for the initial appointment, and rates are reasonable for subsequent appointments.  Don’t stay isolated in your pain any longer; there are Christian brothers and sisters who are ready to walk with you.

References
Ball, T. M. (1999). Prayer for inner healing of memories and deliverance: A primer for churches. Coldwater, MI: Free Methodist Church.
Comiskey, A. (1996). Living waters: Sexual and relational wholeness through Christ. Kansas City, KS: Desert Stream Press.
Garzon, F. (2006). Research findings. Retrieved from http://www.theophostic.com/displaycommon.cfm?an=5: New Creation Publishing, Inc.
Garzon, F., & Burkett, L. (2002). Healing of memories: Models, research, future directions. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 21(4), 42-49.
Garzon, F., & Poloma, M. (2005). Theophostic ministry: Preliminary practitioner survey. Pastoral Psychology, 53(5), 387-396.
Hall, C. R., Dixon, W. A., & Mauzey, E. D. (2004). Spirituality and religion: Implications for counselors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82(4).
Kylstra, C., & Kylstra, B. (2001). Restoring the foundations: An integrated approach to healing ministry (2nd ed.). Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Proclaiming His Word Publications.
Miller, E. (2005). Position paper PST001: An evaluation of Theophostic prayer ministry. Retrieved from http://www.equip.org/store/topical.asp?Div=Topics&TopID=1193&AS=: Christian Research Institute
Smith, E. M. (2005). Theophostic prayer ministry: Basic seminar manual (3rd ed.). Cambellsville, KY: New Creation Publishing. (Original work published 1996)
Wolf, C. T., & Stevens, P. (2001). Integrating religion and spirituality in marriage and family counseling. Counseling and Values, 46(1), 66-75.
Zinnbauer, B. J., & Pargament, K. I. (2000). Working with the sacred: Four approaches to religious and spiritual issues in counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78(2), 162-171.

Ministry Victories and Challenges 2008

Ministry Victories and Challenges 2008

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  John 3:16-21

We at Reconciliation Ministries would like to take a few minutes to thank Jesus Christ for all He has done in our lives – and all that He will do for us in the future.  The thought of the King of the Universe taking on human form, living among us, and dying for us is beyond comprehension.  Even more staggering is His offer to live inside of us and transform our sinful nature into His pure, holy nature.  In 1984, Reconciliation Ministries was founded to help men and women who were struggling with homosexuality find freedom through Jesus Christ.  Through the years we have expanded to help others who were struggling with heterosexual addiction, pornography addiction, codependency, childhood sexual abuse, transgender issues, and sexual offenders.  God has truly helped this ministry stand through tough times to reach thousands of people with his redemption and mercy.  We are looking forward to celebrating our twenty-fifth year of ministry during 2009. 

In 1987, Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill published an article in the gay publication, Guide Magazine, called “The Overhauling of Straight America”.  (This article can be read athttp://defendthefamily.com/_docs/resources/8142838.pdf.)  In it was a very well thought out plan by gay advocates for the “desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights”.  The article went on to say “…we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games… No big deal.”  Unfortunately, the gay advocacy groups have also expanded their message and have implemented many of the ideas in this plan.  One need only to look at the popular culture and the battles that have ensued after the passage of several state marriage amendments to realize that the kingdom of darkness is advancing.  The cover story in the December 15, 2008 edition of Newsweek magazine reads “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage”.  This article uses inaccuracies and human opinions in an attempt to justify same-sex marriage in the eyes of a holy God.  The cover story of the December 16th issue of The Advocate, another gay publication, reads, “Gay is the New Black: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle”.  The ideas in “The Overhauling of Straight America” are alive and well over 20 years after the article first appeared. 

The homosexual agenda continues to advance and gain ground.  Fortunately, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”  (Romans 5:20).  By God’s grace, Reconciliation Ministries continues to grow 25 years after it was formed.  In spite of the growing cultural acceptance of homosexuality and heterosexual sin, there are countless men, women, and teens who want to walk in godliness and true Biblical sexuality.  The Lord has increase our ministry during 2008 and I would like to share with you some of the services that we offer.

Individual Counseling, Pastoral Care, and Prayer Ministry

Some who contact the ministry need more individualized help than we can provide them in our group settings.  Some are in immediate crisis.  Others wish to continue the healing they’ve received through our groups by receiving individualized ministry.  The director, Dan Hitz, is both an Ordained Minister and a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor.  He is able to integrate clinical counseling with prayer ministry to help those in need of deep emotional healing.  We are also able to provide Internet and phone counseling to missionaries on the field and others who are unable to find counseling in their local areas.  Dan is also a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Specialist.

Living Waters and Other Discipleship Programs.

Our intense 20-week discipleship program, Living Waters, helps men and women overcome a wide variety of sexual sin and relationship difficulties.  Our Walking Free support group is open to anyone interested in sexual and relational wholeness whether they are alumni from our programs or they are just considering walking into freedom.  In February, we will be starting our first Escaping the Dungeon of Porn program for men struggling with pornography and sexual addiction.  Another new program, The Placefor men and women overcoming childhood wounds was a big success and we are looking forward to starting our next session in Lapeer in February.

Consultation and Support

We frequently get phone calls from parents who just found out that their son or daughter is gay and don’t know how to respond, from spouses who have been devastated by the revelation of their partner’s sexual sin, and from pastors who are reaching out to help someone in their congregation.  Other people call hoping there is a way out of their unwanted homosexual bondage in spite of what the pro-gay media tells them.  Reconciliation Ministries is available for phone consultation and face to face consultation for those who are seeking direction and options.  We seek to be a resource for the local church and the community and connect those in need to a variety of healing programs within Reconciliation Ministries and beyond, including Celebrate Recovery, Healing Hearts, residence programs, and individual licensed mental health practitioners.

Newsletter and Website

We have recently updated our website to include the many articles and testimonies that have been published in the monthly newsletters.  We frequently hear comments from pastors and Bible study leaders that they have used our newsletter articles as resource materials and teaching aides for their sermons and study groups.  Please feel free to copy any of the resources posted at www.recmin.org and distribute them to others free of charge.

Seminars and Leadership Trainings

We have received an increase in requests for our classes and seminars on sexual addiction and homosexuality.  A new class is in the works on childhood sexual abuse recovery.  Dan has taught on sexual addiction recovery at a clinic specializing in helping pastors and missionaries, and at numerous churches.  Men and women from Reconciliation Ministries are available to speak to your church, Sunday school class, or Bible study groups.  Members of our leadership team have all received healing from sexual and relational brokenness and share from their own experience.  Team members are also available for instructional seminars specifically designed to meet the needs of your church leadership team.  Reconciliation Ministries has also participated in overseas trainings to help equip Christians in other countries to minister to those in need of sexual and relational healing.

We at Reconciliation Ministries are thankful for all that the Lord has done to help set men, women, and teens free from sexual and relationship sins, bondages, and wounds.  We value your prayers and financial support and could not do all that we do without people like you partnering with us.  Please take some time in the weeks ahead to pray for the ministry participants, team members, and board of directors.  The Lord is truly opening doors for effective ministry; however, this has been a particularly challenging year for us financially.  The suggested donations and tuition for the ministry services covers only a fraction of the cost of operating the ministry.  Many of our services are offered at no charge including our Walking Free support group, overseas missionary counseling, phone consultation, the monthly newsletter, website resources, and more.  Your tax deductible donation will help many in need find hope and healing through Christ.  We would like to hear your prayerful thoughts and suggestions.  You may contact us at info@recmin.org or by phone at586.739.5114. 

References
Guide Magazine, “The Overhauling of Straight America”, 1987, Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill.  Retrieved from http://defendthefamily.com/_docs/resources/8142838.pdf on December 11, 2008.
Newsweek, “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage”, December 15, 2008. Cover retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/id/172737 on 12/12/2008.
The Advocate, “Gay is the New Black: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle”, December 16, 2008.  Cover retrieved from http://advocate.com/current_cover_ektid66071.asp on 12/11/2008.  Please note: This is an overtly pro-gay website.