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Five church groups are spreading the message of the freedom found in Christ in the city of Kingston, Ont. Westside Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, together with Baypark Baptist, Bayridge Alliance, and St. John’s Anglican churches partnered to offer Freedom Session, a ministry that seeks to bring healing and discipleship for those struggling with brokenness, either from addictions, broken marriages, abuse, post-abortion trauma, or other hurts. Geneva House, the CRC campus ministry at Queen’s University, also offers the ministry.

The 12-step program aims to free participants from the addictions they use to escape the pain in their lives. Julia Kooy, a member of Westside Fellowship, felt there was a real need for this program in Kingston. Kooy, the women’s ministry leader at Geneva House, was set free from alcohol addiction in her early 20s after allowing Christ into her heart. She is passionate about recovery ministries and wanted to run Freedom Session since it is Christ-centered and digs deep to the root of pain to promote healing, not just recovery. With a grant from the Christian Reformed Church and continued support from Operation Manna, Freedom Session was piloted in spring 2014; the 27-week program started that September.

“God has been using Freedom Session, not only in the lives of the students I work with, but in my own life as well,” said Kooy. Kooy facilitated Freedom Session in hopes of helping others but she also found healing from a different addiction—escaping through work. As Kooy explained, the problem is not necessarily the addiction, but the triggers and pain that drive individuals to these addictions. “Freedom Session taught me skills on how to notice my triggers, how to make healthier choices and take responsibility for how my workaholism was affecting my relationships.”

At the end of program, there was a graduation night where some of the 20 participants shared their testimonies. One participant, who had struggled with alcohol and pornography addictions, said that Freedom Session transformed his life and that he has a new identity in Christ.

“We are all broken in some way. Freedom Session has been the most effective place for me to work through areas of pain and grow in my relationship with God and others,” said Kooy.

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