This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to the UK to visit Betel Ministries. This ministry was described to me as God-centered rehabilitation centers throughout Europe. As someone who works in the education and mental health field, I was very interested in how they tackle the issue of substance abuse disorder.
When I got there, I was excited to talk with the person who ran the ministry. I quickly found that when I asked him about mental health or treatment in general, I didn’t receive a lot of traditional answers. Initially this was a little concerning, but I quickly realized why. As we stayed at the house with the men going through the program, I found out whythis was so different. The program is free. The residents can come and stay with no monetary cost. However, the lives of these people are meant to be lived in a community of God and not in the treatment of man.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus was asked to explain the greatest commandment of the law. “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (22:36-40)
You’ll notice Jesus doesn’t just answer with the greatest command, but also the second greatest. This is the model for the ministry of Betel. This is how true transformation happens. This is how the rehabilitation of these men and women is accomplished. They love the Lord and they love people. That’s the treatment plan! They have strategies and schedules to achieve this, but loving God and loving people is how the residents are changed forever.
From the moment a resident arrives, they are paired with other people who are going through the program and they are taught the rules of the house and the schedule of the program. They have chores, they go to work, they eat together in community. Through all of that, they learn how to serve and love others. They are not just busy for the sake of being busy. This is to teach, in a very strategic way, the second greatest command. They are given purpose and family which, as an addict, they may not have had in a long time.
The greatest command to love the Lord is at the beginning of every meeting, the beginning of every meal. They are taught to praise with devotions every morning and church twice a week. The beautiful scenery of the UK is filled with the praise of God every moment they have. When God is at the center, hope for their future is restored. These people see true transformation when they lay down their own efforts and give in to the work of the Lord.
This example is such a precious one. If we are looking for true transformation, it is not in our own effort; it is in where we place the vigor of our love. He gave us, the undeserving people, His son and the opportunity for eternity with the Almighty. The moment of transformation comes when we lay down our plan and give love to God and those around us.
I’m not saying all mental health is restored in this way, but the purposes of God in your life will swallow up the sin of your heart and mind. This is a radical thought that should be the outcome of our normal lives.
Rene Solis is Director of Koinonia School of Ministry, a ministry of Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 559-582-1528.