The heroin epidemic is in the news often because today the number of deaths in Cuyahoga County and Northeast Ohio has increased to two per day. For example, 13 heroin-related deaths occurred over Memorial Day weekend.
For the last 15 years, our CrossPointe Community has fervently prayed for Holy Spirit revival and efforts to reach into our community. Gatherings of five to ten people for weekly prayer at the parsonage focused on making a difference in lives of those we’ve never met.
One Sunday 12 years ago, two people walk into our facility to ask about us hosting an Alcoholics Anonymous group. We had specifically been praying for this. Then after two years of AA meetings, the facilitator and two others decided to launch a Families Anonymous group. FA began in Southern California in 1971. It provides support to family members — especially parents whose teen and adult children are abusing drugs/alcohol. Three months passed with seemingly no interest, so we pondered disbanding, when two sets of parents showed up. The rest is history; that is His story! The room has remained full. There have been upwards of 20-plus family members attending on any given Sunday evening.
The love of Jesus drew people. Both facilitators would periodically talk about God (whom they chose to call their Higher Power) and how His help made all the difference.
Hurting parents were cared for. “Many times we would spend time outside of meetings providing support and simply caring for couples and individuals.” We wanted to get to know them and encourage them. We wanted them to know they were not alone. We prayed for them. We prayed with them when that was their desire. Some began asking, “Do you know anything about this church?” Following our “come and see” invite, they did come and see.
Our community was ready with unconditional love and acceptance. We did research. We talked with people. We asked questions. We found resources. But mostly, we prayed and loved and spent time with people, not just helping them but providing friendship and showing them what it means to live life with Jesus. People began to not only “catch” our mission, “Love God passionately, love people genuinely,” but became part of the mission as their journey with Jesus began.
We are blessed with friends now walking the recovery road who work full-time and are engaged in ministry as prayer warriors, giving rides, helping others, playing in the worship team, leading Bible studies, leading hospitality ministry, serving as facility caregivers, raising their young children and more. They are bringing their friends to come and see. One young man, who four-plus years ago opened his heart to Jesus Christ, just graduated from Spring Arbor University (magna cum laude) with a double major. He will be married this summer and begin a double degree program at Princeton Theological Seminary in the fall on a full scholarship.
Some of our dearest friends are already in Heaven. They were addicts who prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, walk with Him for a time in recovery and then relapsed.
Most of the funerals we have officiated have been the result of an extended season of sobriety followed by a onetime lapse and subsequent death. It hurts. But God has given us insight, energy and peace to press on. We’ve had addicts in our worship who were high. We knew they were high, and they knew we knew they were high. They were amazed they were not judged but loved. I asked one young man in struggling with sobriety, “If you were high on a Sunday morning, where do you think I would rather you be, alone or at CrossPointe?” His answer without hesitation was “at CrossPointe!”
So we continue to reclaim the lives of those for whom God sent His one and only Son. We believe that Jesus makes a way, and the community of love and acceptance called alongside the struggling addict will and does make all the difference. If you would like to dialogue more about our discoveries through our journey with heroin addicts, please feel to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are dreaming of creating a Christ-centered treatment center. If you would like to contribute toward the capital fund, please send gifts to CrossPointe Community (the word “church” is not in the name because church has been a painful experience for many people), 1800 Columbia Road, Westlake, OH 44145. Pray for us that we will continue to meet the demands of this ministry. Pray that more Jesus followers will sense a call to engage in this battle we believe God can win. Nothing is impossible with God, and the gates of hell will not prevail. Addicts are breaking free with the help of the Holy Spirit as they follow Jesus and experience the support of this loving, accepting community.
Nelson Blount has served as the pastor of CrossPointe Community in Westlake, Ohio, since 2001. He is an Asbury Theological Seminary alumnus.