Proclaiming freedom for the prisoners of addictions
Last Tuesday, as is our routine, the volunteers prayed together for our friends and neighbors who are homeless before we hit the streets to share lunches and conversation with them.
Pulling into the parking lot of the vacant strip mall, we had little idea of what we would encounter. We'd suspected that the heroin traffic has been increasing in this area and more and more of our neighbors here seemed to be getting involved with it. I hadn't encountered someone in the throws of heroin withdrawl before. But as "Tom" approached me, I knew he was experiencing extreme symptoms of withdrawl. Our team has some history with Tom and he recognized us as Christians. His body was twitching as he walked up to me and immediately asked me to pray for him. He openly confessed that he was sick and addicted to heroin. So I laid my hands on his shoulders, and he put his on mine and we prayed.
We prayed for forgiveness of sins, we prayed that God would release him from this addiction, we prayed that any spirits that had attached to him during his drug use would leave in Jesus name. When we finished praying he was still twitching. He began a scattered monologue on his past with the church, as a minister and singer. He yelled at a few of his companions who owed him $5, threatening them with violence if they didnt pay up soon. I was scared and wondered if God could really get a hold of this guy. I wondered, is Tom responsible for his recovery now? I know the official party line for social work is that he is. But how is it that we expect someone so dependant on a chemical that his soul is buried under addiction to make daily phone calls to the detox in order to stay on thier 2 week waiting list and get help?
In Luke 4: 18-19, Jesus says "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Sometimes we wonder if what we are doing is really gospel work. If we don't disciple people in a program are we really doing God's work? The simple act of proclamation, while it often doesn't result in immediate transformation in an individual or nieghborhood, is obedience and therefore success. I struggle some times because I don't see immediate change for our neighbors like Tom. But when I reflect on my own journey with God, and the ongoing nature of my own sanctification process I recognize that God's time frame is different than ours.
May this year be the year of the Lord's favor for Tom.