Why the International Christian Recovery Coalition Thrives
By Dick B.
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Letters! We Get Letters!
It was probably not until our large meeting of recovered Christian leaders and workers held at Mariners Church Fellowship Hall in Irvine, California that we really awakened to the need for, and importance, of an informal fellowship of participants all over the United States and other countries. A coalition that would tell of the roles played by God, His Son, and the Bible in A.A. and recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.
In mid-2009, we had gathered over two hundred people and twenty speakers, expecting they would tell the audience their progress in restoring old school A.A. to the recovery scene. There was music with Santos! Food for the gathered. And lots of opportunity for expressing thoughts about A.A., recovery today, and Christians in recovery. Elements that have grown since then.
But we heard a mountain of stories from those who were on the verge of leaving A.A. and very concerned about the lambasting suffering newcomers were getting if they mentioned the Bible, the Creator, Jesus Christ, and their own born again experiences. As a result, in July, 2009, the International Christian Recovery Coalition was founded: http://www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com.
And Day After Day Since 2009, We Have Received Letters Like the Ones We Mention Here Today. And They Have Spawned Group After Group of What Can Be Called “Old School A.A.”
The Letters from Paul N. of Texas
[edited very slightly]
“Good morning Dick!!!
My name is Paul N. . . . I am a recovering alcoholic with 2.5 years sober and very active in AA here in Dallas. And, oh my, what a miracle!! I almost died three times in 2011.
I am also a born again Christian. I surreptitiously encounter your work on AA history. I am intrigued. We have some “bleeding deacons” in our group who are sadly running off newcomers who even hint that they are Christian. It is not surprising. They can refer to Buddha or anyone else. But the name of Jesus is so offensive to them. And to the whole world for that matter.
Through my life I have studied the Bible arduously. I memorized it, taught it, sang it and yes, I danced it. Yet later in life it did not keep me sober. I know that there are many many stories of people turning to Christ and getting set free. Are you familiar with Cyrus Scofield? That is just not my story.
Several years ago I was in the middle of one of my many many attempts to get sober. I was new and was sharing at a meeting about how I was learning not to judge people. I was explaining how I do not have the power to read peoples mind and that I should assume their motives are pure. I just mentioned I Cor 13 where it says the “love believes all things”. A man stood up and yelled at me. He said ” you cannot mention that Bible at our meetings”. As a newcomer, I had no idea what the protocol was. I was so confused and hurt that I went and got drunk and wrote off AA.
I am now at another group. That same man is has now started to attend my new group. He is doing the same thing to others.
There is another “bleeding deacon” in our group. We had a new lady whose sobriety is so fragile. She mentioned one day in sharing how much the beautiful passage in Jeremiah meant to her. She was referring to Jer 29:11-13. “God has a plan for you” I love that passage!! This man was called on to share right after her. He attacked her for referring to the Bible. She also like me did know the “rules” She ran out crying never to return.
I have been blessed with an “elder statesman” as a sponsor. He too is a born again Christian. He has been able to help me tremendously in working through these resentments.
I love doing research. I was recently at Intergroup and noticed a nicely framed long version of the Serenity Prayer. I was pleasantly surprised that it was the verse that said “taking as Jesus did . . . .” I had to purchase it. I did my research on which long version is accurate. My conclusion is that nobody knows for sure.
Before I go further, I need to know if you are willing to answer some questions and continue a dialogue. I have no idea if you have the time and energy.
Your brother in Christ.
And thanks for all of fine work!!!!
Thank so much for the “occurrences” attachments! I do so much enjoy my own “occurrences” research. My latest — Bill W. was so impressed by Ebby’s statement – “God has done for me what I could not do for myself”. This is evidenced by his frequent use of the phrase. See
pages 25, 71, 84 (last of the 9th Step promises), 457; and in The Language of the Heart, page
25. Page 76 in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
I wonder if Ebby [Thacher] had read Ephesians 3:20–“Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”
Examples of the Growing Number of Substantial Residential and/or Long-Term Christian Recovery Homes
Often through the early years of A.A., there were comments by members, observers, clergy,
physicians, and charitable organizations that the concerns and programs which preceded and
accompanied early A.A.’s Christian Fellowship in Akron, Ohio, closely resembled First Century
The ingredients of these efforts included prayer, Bible study, Quiet Time, witnessing, breaking
of bread together, worship together, enabling others to become children of God by coming to
Him through His Son Jesus Christ, converting the willing, and healing the needy.
This turn of direction came as Christian organizations and individuals like the Young Men’s
Christian Association, Salvation Army, Rescue Missions, great evangelists like Dwight Moody
and F.B. Meyer, Congregationalism, and Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor focused
on the plight and needs of the down and outers – the derelicts, alcoholics, and addicts. A.A.’s
cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob were born and raised during this period in their upbringing in
The “community” approaches were not only quite simple. They enabled many suffering
unfortunates to obtain God’s help as they realized their own helplessness They approached
the suffering soul on his own miserable turf. They suggested he could get well if he
gave up his addiction, gave His live to God, studied the Bible to understand God’s promises and
power, prayed together with others, and obeyed God’s will. They insisted that he must help
those next in line to recover by the same means. They often made it possible for the afflicted to
live with others during the difficult withdrawal period.
The original Akron A.A. program differed. It did not call for money. It did call for love,
compassion, and brotherly concern. And it stressed helping others as a prime element for
maintaining the new relationship with God—the relationship that Bill W. was later to call being
of maximum service to God and others.
But times changed. Insurance money factored into recovery. Large buildings were erected to
enable “treatment.” Expensive treatment programs required money and thereby limited the
duration of fellowship and experienced help for most. Reliance on God and Christian fellowship
waned as new folks left their safety nets. And candor required admission that relapse,
recidivism, and continued help for others lost much of its impact as old ideas, old relationships,
and “God-sufficiency” gave way to short term self-sufficiency.
A new call for change occurred in Orange County, California in mid-2009; and Christian
churches, clergy, counselors, recovery pastors, and leaders began to realize that the former
effectiveness of pioneer A.A. needed to be fostered and returned.
We will shortly be providing examples today of how the former, successful, fellowship of
Christians began to welcome recovery, provide Christian leadership, and enable Christian
servants to strengthen the original ideas just as they had done In the previous century.
The aim was not to exclude others from fellowships. It was not to force religious views on
newcomers. It was not to criticize those holding different views about God, atheism, humanism,
unbelief, and diverse religions.
It was to inform those seeking complete healing that they could do so in today’s recovery arena
by turning to God for help using the same “old school” program ideas that characterized early
Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship and successes.
As we will illustrate with specific examples among effective endeavors today, this focus on
renewal of Christian recovery from alcoholism and addiction whenever hands reached out for
God’s help isa growing, thriving, nationwide and worldwide effort right now.