Simple Program for Complicated People

Christian 12-Step Recovery Program in Budapest, Hungary

Photo by Larry Winckles; Recent Christmas Celebration in Budapest, Hungary, which included participates of the Christian 12 Step Recovery Program

Photo by Larry Winckles: Recent Christmas Celebration in Budapest, Hungary, which included participates of the Christian 12 Step Recovery Program

Saturday, November 14, 2015, was a very busy day for the representatives of the Christian 12-step Recovery Group of Budapest.

Margaret and Júlia, the co-founders, along with their friend Anita, went to share about the ministry that was embraced by Free Methodist leadership in Budapest when the group was established in 2006. The Free Methodist Mission provides the fellowship room in the Budapest Ministry Center for the meetings of the two weekly recovery groups.

Since the Free Methodist Church is a member of the Wesleyan Theological Alliance in Hungary, Larry Winckles paved the way for the Recovery Group to be invited to the Wesleyan Alliance’s annual Theology Day. This year’s theme was “Radical Service through the Radical Love of Christ.” One of the Salvation Army churches in Budapest hosted the event, and more than 60 people attended. Júlia, Margaret and Anita shared about their own painful, personal spiritual journeys that led them to become involved with a 12-step program. They were happy to share about the new inner freedom and love for others they gained with the help of the program. They shared the following truth: “Without good emotional health we cannot be spiritually healthy.”

Knowing the Hungarian cultural background, Júlia was able to paint a vivid picture of why people need to deal with soul issues weekly:

We do a favor to one another when we get up in the morning. We brush our teeth; we take a shower; we use deodorant, comb our hair and dress up nicely and then go out about our day and meet with people. We want to be attractive and pleasant to others, don’t we? We take care of our body naturally. We keep our quiet time, read the Bible and pray daily to maintain our spiritual well-being. But what about our soul? Are we taking care of our emotional and rational being? What about our decisions and about our deepest desires to be loved and be significant? What about our past hurts? What about our ambivalent relationships? What about our urge to control events and people? What about our behavior patterns and compulsions? What about our addictions and ingrained habits? What about our hard feelings and hidden unforgiveness?”

The recovery groups in Budapest use a Christian 12-step program that also incorporates the Eight Principles from the Beatitudes, as developed by Celebrate Recovery. In the recovery groups, people are not alone on the way to healing, to true freedom in Christ, and to expressing radical love towards others. The groups provide the right setting for people to face their shortcomings, take responsibility for their own lives, come out of denial, start trusting God, take steps to real freedom, love others as we love ourselves, and put love for God first. These are just some of the many ways to care for ourselves and become more loving to others.

Later on that afternoon the ladies had the privilege of sharing the same message with a group of singles whose deepest concerns included feeling lonely due to divorce, experiencing rejection, dealing with disappointments and personal tragedies, feeling shame, and struggling with self-abuse.

The prayer for both of the presentations was that people would have ears to hear what was shared and take the steps necessary to begin recovery. It seems this happened as in the weeks following the presentations the recovery groups experienced an increase in the number of participants.

One of the participants summed up her hope for the future like this:

I am so happy to learn about the Christian 12-step Recovery Groups. This gives me hope to come out from years of suffering and hopelessness.”

Please pray more people would begin this journey towards experiencing real freedom in Christ.

Luke 4:16-19 (NIV)
He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, …
He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.
Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”