Eleven graduates of a new 12-step ministry at Maple Ridge (British Columbia) Christian Reformed Church recently participated in a worship service during which they gave their testimonies and nailed their old identities to the cross.
Graduates of Freedom Session at Maple Ridge Christian Reformed Church.
“Freedom Session is basically a 12-step program with a strong Christian perspective,” explained organizer Arnie Melissen. “It is a very intensive program dealing with all the various forms of brokenness in people, not just obvious addiction issues.”
The 27-week program was developed by a pastor from Langley, British Columbia, about 10 years ago. It is now used by churches across Canada and in the United States.
Melissen explained that the first graduates are mainly members of Maple Ridge CRC who felt the need to go through the program themselves so that they could better serve future participants. Melissen himself felt called to this ministry because of his previous work with the prison ministry M2W2. “The church is often good at bringing people to Christ, but not always that great at helping people heal the inner brokenness they carry from their past,” he said.
Tim Sheridan, the pastor of Maple Ridge CRC who also graduated from the program, agreed. “Freedom Session is a helpful tool for congregations that want to explore this area of discipleship—the link between emotional health and spiritual maturity—in more depth. It invites us into a journey of finding the healing and freedom that only the gospel can bring into our lives.”
The church hopes to open the program to the community and partner with other churches next year. “We are hopeful that it can be used as a tool for healing and growth, both among people within our congregations and within our broader community,” Sheridan said.