BreakPoint: “Hopecasting” in the Midst of Crisis

Christians Take on the Scourge of Opioids

No matter the crisis, when Christians take the love of Jesus to the hurting and suffering, hope and transformation are sure to follow.

In his new book “A Practical Guide to Culture,” my colleague John Stonestreet ends several chapters with what he and co-author Brett Kunkle call “hopecasting,”—a reminder that no matter what the issue or crisis, “God’s story continues to play out all around us.”

And when it comes to the nation’s growing opioid crisis, we could use a lot of hopecasting.

We’ve talked about this before on BreakPoint: The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that an average of 78 people die of an opiate overdose every day in the United States.  Annually, opiate overdoses kill more than 28,000 people, with heroin taking the lives of more than 10,500 of them. More than 20 million Americans have some kind of substance-abuse problem, but just 10 percent are receiving any treatment.

And as John has said, the problem isn’t primarily chemical, in the composition of the drugs themselves. It’s a manifestation of a “terrible hopelessness settling over a large part of America.”

So what can we do about it … and begin to restore hope?

Well, rather than tell you, I’d like to show you.

In its annual “Hope Awards” issue, WORLD magazine has provided some great examples of what Christians are doing in their communities to provide hope in Jesus Christ—to help “those who labor and are heavy laden” to find “rest for their souls.”

Exhibit A can be found at the New Life Home. For the last four decades, this Christian residential program in Manchester, New Hampshire, supported by 50 churches, has offered primarily opioid-addicted women an 18- to 24-month recovery program. And it has an amazing 89 percent graduation rate.

Clients don’t have to be Christians—and often aren’t—but they are asked whether they’re open to God working in their lives, and they agree to go to church every week. At New Life they acquire life skills, learn about the Bible, study for their GED or a college degree, and help out with assigned chores.

Here’s something else that’s different at New Life—the women are allowed to bring their children to live with them. Today 15 women and 20 children live at this warm and welcoming home.

Here’s a vignette about one resident, named Rachel, from WORLD reporter Emily Belz: “Rachel, who escaped a violent gang situation and has been in the program for 22 months, now has her three children with her. Rachel’s parents found her living homeless on the street and pushed her to enter New Life and be a mom again—at that point she hadn’t seen her kids in 18 months. ‘God gave [my kids] to me for a reason, and He knew everything that was going to happen,’ Rachel said. ‘I need to restore my life with my kids, that’s why I’m here. I’m not here just for myself.’”

Another resident, Shauna, was sexually assaulted as a teenager, and then again while serving in the military. In the aftermath, she became hooked on opioids and alcohol and lost custody of her 2-year-old, who was scheduled for adoption. But Shauna entered the New Life program and experienced a 180. After seeing Shauna’s turnaround at New Life, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families reversed its adoption decision and recommended reunification. And she’s now living with her son.

So what’s the cure for hopelessness? Only Jesus Christ and His love, carefully and consistently applied by His people into the lives of those who so desperately need it—maybe even somebody you know.

So hats off to the New Life Home in Manchester, and hats off to WORLD Magazine for the 2017 Hope Awards. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to these inspiring stories and the other nominees for the WORLD Hope Awards.

 

“Hopecasting” in the Midst of Crisis: Christians Take on the Scourge of Opioids

Click here to read more encouraging and inspirational stories from WORLD magazine’s Hope Awards issue. You might also discover a way you can bring hope to the world around you.

Resources

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World
  • John Stonestreet, Brett Kunkle | David C. Cook Publisher | June 2017
Clean moms, happy kids
  • Emily Belz | WORLD magazine | June 2017
Overdoses Hit Close to Home: What to Do?
  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | June 19, 2017
The 12th annual Hope Awards for Effective Compassion
  • Marvin O’Laskey | WORLD magazine | June 2017
Heroin Hell: Saving Your Kids from the Opiate Epidemic
  • Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | December 1, 2016

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • 4TimesAYear

    Sure would appreciate it if you could be a voice of reason when it comes to chronic pain patients who are being lumped into the “abuse” category and being treated like addicts. There are people who legitimately need these drugs to deal with their pain so they can function normally. You wouldn’t even know they’re taking opioids. Right now there is more of a war on pain patients than there is a war on drugs. And placing stringent controls on pain patients does nothing to address the abuse/addiction problem.

    • Phoenix1977

      The problem is that a large percentage of abuse started with genuine need for pain killers. It’s estimated over 50% of the current addicts in the US started using especially Oxycodon for legitimate reasons but were not weaned off them quickly enough or at all. One reason for that is that doctors are afraid to say no to their patients in the US out of fear of getting sued. And by the time they finally have the courage to cut their patients off it’s too late and addiction has started.
      Oxycodon is a wonderful painkiller and you should definitely use it when there is a reason to. But as soon as it’s possible you need to be weaned off and started on alternatives, like ibuprofen and paracetamol. But that requires two things: a doctor not afraid to tell you it’s been enough and the acceptance your pain will not go away completely but you will experience some discomfort while you are healing. In the US both requirements are not met.
      So I think stricter pain protocols and controls on patients using opioids as pain killers is a step in the right direction, no matter how much of a burden it is on patients. You have to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any.

    • Dani vind

      Excellent point about a war on pain patients. Last fall Reason magazine had an editorial titled, “Let’s calm down about the opioid crisis.” Facts were given about what a small percentage of people on pain meds are actually addicted to them. If any empathy is given to those who are not addicted, it’s brief and sounds insincere. Why aren’t there more articles written on the excruciating pain people live with that isn’t helped at all by any pain pill, mainly nerve pain? Why don’t articles ever mention that people who are paralyzed still feel pain? I am not paralyzed, but during a long process to try and find relief for my pain (orthopedic surgeons are stumped), I finally turned to Joni and Friends and found out the stunning fact about being paralyzed.

      • 4TimesAYear

        I’m so sorry for what you’re going through – empathizing big time…it’s just plain wrong for them to lose sight of the suffering pain patients go through in the “war on drugs” – which has ended up being a “war on pain patients”…. :'(

  • Phoenix1977

    “Clients don’t have to be Christians—and often aren’t—but they are asked whether they’re open to God working in their lives, and they agree to go to church every week.”
    So, basically, New Life Home takes a broken person, promises to work with them to get better if only they agree to go to church while they go through withdrawal, making them quite susceptible for suggestion. You call that good care and giving hope; I call it blackmail and brainwashing. In fact, I think New Life Home deserves to be investigated for this particular practice alone. I also wonder how they battle the withdrawal symptoms since it’s a residential program and not a certified rehab clinic, meaning there is no professional staff dealing with sick and potentially unstable patients.

    It sounds to me New Life Home is a quite dangerous place to be: mind, body and soul.