The last two years have left us all a little worn out. Things have changed dramatically to our lifestyle and to our contact with others. It has been a challenge but true to the American spirit, we have adapted.
While my personal health has taken a bit of a hit due to the severe COVID that took me out for a month in 2020, the health and well being of ATB has never been better. I have backup in two beautiful souls in Joel & Jen, we have been blessed by generous donors and grants. Some of the long haul affects of having COVID linger but God has truly blessed me with incredible people and family during 2021 and I am immensely thankful.
Now we embark on a New Year filled with much promise but also the sense to navigate through the continued troubled waters of public health concerns. We will strive to make a safe environment for our people but also remain on the front line of recovery which means, as always, that we have to take some risks. We have new ideas, new programs and a whole lot of love to share in 2022, so we invite you to join us in this amazing adventure.
As we leave 2021, we have touched the lives of 25,338 people in 530 plus meetings and handed out over 2100 recovery chips. We have Baptized 52 people, given out 40 one year plus medallions, awarded 8 -$1000 Scholarships to families affected by overdose, held 6 Under The Bridge events, and assisted 100 plus homeless people, We have distributed hundreds of food items and meals and given out over 10,000 articles of clothing. It has been a year where many were blessed through ATB, as we ourselves were blessed.
To put a bow on it, we go to the words that guide us so magnificently as we go forward from the book of Joshua: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Move over COVID, let's go into 2022 ready to rumble!
This is a blog about two special people. One was homeless about a half mile from us at ATB, the other we found wandering in a meth induced psychosis in Lawrenceville just a couple miles away from us. You may not be running into folks like this but this is happily the norm for us.
We will call the homeless person Fred to protect his anonymity. I ran into him several times on the ramp on 316, and later in a ride-a-along with the Lawrenceville PD in the woods. He came to some of our meetings, came to church on Sunday and we fed him on Thanksgiving. He told me his story but never acted like a victim, just got gut level honest about his situation and his addiction. We got him into sober living and out of the woods - for two weeks now.
The second wanderer, let's call her Mary, was in and out of mental health/addiction centers for the last couple months. It seemed hopeless. While the police officer (same one from Fred's situation) who I was with when we tried to help her was in my office I received a call from her that sounded like a completely different person. Imagine that timing, it was certainly a God moment. Tonight she is picking up her 30 day clean and sober chip, and she has re-united with her family..
Obviously these two have something in common, but there are some things beyond what seems to be which is a key. Neither played a victim, when offered help they eventually accepted it. Neither one asked us for anything monetarily they just wanted healing, and they can't stop thanking us for helping. In fact, they just wanted someone to see them as relevant.
In John 5, Jesus tells a story of a man crippled for 38 years, of whom he asked a simple question, Do you want to get well? At first he played the victim, but Jesus helped him anyway. He was Homeless & Helpless and Jesus gave him what he needed, healing. So were Fred & Mary, only their story required us to represent Jesus, just like that bracelet says, W.W. J. D., in the way that he works through his followers.
So we just asked those questions and responded. It's also good to have one of Lawrenceville's finest with you when you do because they kind of have the same mindset, to protect and serve.
It's utterly amazing how simple it is to understand the mission Jesus sent us on: to go to heaven and take as many people as we can with us. Especially the Homeless & Helpless!
I remember....Elan's, The Limelight, Disco Nights, dancing and thinking I was moving like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. I was moving, grooving, twirling whoever dared dance with the self proclaimed king of disco. I also remember that most of it was a fantasy.
Most of it was an alcohol or drug induced high followed by a next morning of pain, nausea, and frequent trips to find a place to throw up. Then there were the memories of what happened the night before if I could even remember. Sure we romance the stoned days, but we remember the pain we inflicted to ourselves and others in that delusional process. It was Disco Insanity!
Get down boogie oogie oogie was replaced by I'm broke, I'm sick and I'm a mess. It seemed so harmless too, but of course so does just a little bit of sin. We say in the 12 Step programs that just a little bit of something bad (another different drug) will lead you back to what takes you down, we can't romance it for too long or it comes back to bite you.
Thus the definition of insanity: repeating the same actions expecting different results. Wow, that must be why Jesus told this parable:
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. Gal 5:7-9
Not going back to the Disco Insanity nor that addiction that cut in on my way to a better life. It's fun to listen to some of that old music and envision that I could dance at one time, but my dancing right now is limited to dancing for joy in the Lord (that I can do)!
As for the yeast, representing the evil that was present in my life that dominated my actions, well that was yeasterday and yesterday is gone!
Back in 2009 God put a desire on my heart to expand our former recovery efforts. At the time we had one meeting and a little class on Sundays. Campus Church in Norcross was fully behind our efforts, but we had to find a name for it.
So I asked about a dozen people to pray for wisdom and a name that had impact. After awhile God spoke to my heart again, saying he did not care what the name ended up being just make sure the cross was in it. Thus the name Across The Bridge came to be and through it flows a myriad of meanings. sermons and a change of life.
We connect folks to each other and God Across That Bridge bringing them out of darkness and into the light. We connect all the recovery places to us and to others, and we provide a complete menu of every kind of meeting imaginable so that we see folks multiple times during the week. We are not only a bridge to hope but also that bridge to a relationship with Christ.
Last month 2351 people interacted with us through 47 meetings - 8 people picked up one year or multiple recovery medallions. To date we have baptized 50 beautiful souls this year and added wonderful partnerships that have expanded what we can provide. That's a far cry from 15-20 people a week prior to that change and us going out on our own as a non-profit. There's a reason why that is.
It is so simple when others are trying to make it so complex. If the cross is in what you do, if God speaks his words to us through his Holy Spirit in that endeavor, then it is blessed in enormous ways. Doesn't mean we are perfect, doesn't mean we listen always, but it does mean that in all adversity and prosperity we look to that cross for the answers whatever God has for us.
Going Across That Bridge means standing on the promises of God more than your Strategic Plan, because when he tells us to pivot we cannot be locked into our own plans and will, it must follow his. Some business folk have a problem with this but what I have found in these last three years of growth is that God doesn't because as it says in Step 11:
Praying only for the knowledge of his will, and the power to carry it out. Working pretty good so far, I think we will let Him decide what's next!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.