By KRYSTI SHALLENBERGER
Celebrate Recovery at Asbury United Methodist Church is not just another AA or help group.
“A common misconception that a lot of people have is that Celebrate Recovery only helps people with drug and alcohol problems,” said Sam Hendrickson, one of its leaders, “but it goes way beyond that.”
Inverness resident Sam Hendrickson and his wife, Donna, started participating in Celebrate Recovery to support some of their friends going in the group but soon found themselves confronting their own issues regarding co-dependency and past sexual abuse.
“We’ve been married 37 years and co-existed for 30,” said Sam Hendrickson, “For the past seven, we’ve rediscovered each other. We’re like newlyweds now.”
Today, they lead the program to help others.
Celebrate Recovery, which was started by the Saddleback Church in California, helps people dealing with issues ranging from troubled environments to anger management to food-related issues. Of course drug, alcohol, and sexual abuse are covered as well.
“The vast majority of people in Celebrate Recovery are not members of Asbury, but come all the way from Gardendale, Trussville and even Bessemer,” said Hendrickson.
Each Tuesday night meeting starts with a worship service, and they then move into share groups followed by fellowship time over refreshments. Every other week, a participant shares a testimony.
“We divide the testimony in three parts: the old me, changes through Christ, new me,” said Hendrickson. “I can relate to the old me all the time.”
A few weeks after starting, a share group becomes a new step-study group. These are yearlong, gender-specific sharing groups that implement a twelve-step process of healing.
“My main issue was anger from a divorce, but I’d also struggled with memories of being sexually abused,” said one participant. “Being vulnerable? What was the reward in being that? A relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Celebrate Recovery stresses confidentiality because of the intense personal experience participants share.
“One thing we have to remember is that sometimes we get so caught up in the recovery process, we don’t see the progress in our lives,” said Hendrickson. “That’s where the celebrating comes in.”