The Season of Preparation

But, as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.[1]

So, the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.[2]

prep·a·ra·tion
/ˌprepəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
1. the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.

Beginning early in 2019, I began sharing with ATC leaders around the world that God is preparing to move and do more with ATC in the next ten years than what’s been done already in the last sixty-two years. What God has done through ATC over its history has been nothing short of miraculous with hundreds of thousands of lives touched and transformed through the power of Jesus Christ.

This is only the beginning. Times have significantly changed in recent years. Addiction is skyrocketing and the number of deaths due to alcohol and drugs combined is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. Over 155K people died in 2018 from alcohol and substance abuse related issues or overdoses. SAMHSA’s latest report[3] shows 20.3 million people in the U.S. with at least one substance abuse disorder (addiction). 9.2 million of these people also had an AMI (any mental illness) and 3.2 million of those individuals had a co-occurring SMI (serious mental issue). 47.6 million people had an AMI according to the report.

In 2018, 10.7 million adults had thought seriously about killing themselves, of which 3.3 million made plans to do it, and 1.4 million tried but failed in the attempt. In 2017, over 47,000 people committed suicide.

These trends are growing in many ways, and the current pandemic will cause an increase according to recent predictions by the consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. and by SAMHSA. McKinsey reports that immediately following the 2008 great recession, suicides rose by 13% attributable to unemployment[4]. Today, over 22 million Americans (13.5% of total workforce) have filed for unemployment, the highest in our history. Anxiety, loneliness, personal loss, job loss, financial ruin and an uncertain future all are factors that have driven mental health issues in the past which often lead to alcohol and substance use disorders. SAMHSA reports an 891% increase in calls to their disaster distress line between March 2019 and March 2020 and an increase of 338% from February to March 2020[5]. Alcohol purchases rose 55% in the week ending March 21. The state of Oregon reported marijuana sales of $84.5 million in the month of March 2020 – the highest since legalized in 2015[6]. Finally, NCBI and NIH research of one hundred and one papers concludes “On the basis of a thorough analysis of the selected investigations, we conclude that periods of economic recession are possibly associated with a higher prevalence of mental health problems, including common mental disorders, substance disorders, and ultimately suicidal behavior.”[7]

John Wooden once said “when opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare”. A larger opportunity to bring the gospel to those in addiction is rapidly coming. I firmly believe God is preparing ATC for a greater impact on alcohol and substance use disorders but more importantly on the lives these addictions are destroying.

This preparation must be done at all levels, in all areas. We must prepare our hearts and minds spiritually first. Then we need to develop our staff and equip them with better tools, processes, and systems to continue to serve our populations with love, compassion and excellence. We also need to understand what areas God wants us to grow in as residential programming alone will not solve this crisis (we cannot build 21 million beds).

These are dark times however we serve the Light of the world. The waves of fear, depression, loneliness and doubt are driving lives onto the rocks of addiction, shattering lives in the process. ATC is meant to be the harbor where lives can be restored, renewed and transformed, ready for new life in Christ out on seas where Jesus is the Compass and Captain.

  • So, what does preparation look like for staff development?
  • What does preparation look like for student personal growth planning?
  • How do we prepare for better programming and outcomes?
  • What does preparation look like for new ways to evangelize in our communities?
  • Are we prepared for the next great move of God within ATC?

These are questions we must address to be prepared for the next great move of God. More to follow in the coming months.

Debbie and I love this ministry and each one of you. We are very excited about our future. A future where ATC brings Hope to hundreds of thousands of people suffering in addiction and provides thought leadership to other ministries and organizations in this critical area.

May the Lord bless each one of you.

With deep love for and devotion to all we do,
Gary


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV)

[2] Acts 9:31 (ESV)

[3] http://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2018-national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases

[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/returning-to-resilience-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-behavioral-health

[5] https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/10/us/disaster-hotline-call-increase-wellness-trnd/index.html

[6] https://www.rollcall.com/2020/04/10/virus-forebodes-a-mental-health-crisis/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26847554

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