It is truly remarkable to stop and consider how God works, isn’t it? A little over 14 years ago I attended a Purpose Driven Church Conference at Saddleback Church led by Rick Warren. I’d heard about the powerful testimonies that were being shared many times during Rick’s sermons and that they mostly derived from a ministry called, Celebrate Recovery. On Friday night of the conference I attended Saddleback’s CR BBQ and Worship Service and was impressed. Then, I attended the Saturday night service where I heard one of the most powerful testimonies I’d ever heard in my life… and I was not only impressed, I was hooked!
About 18 mos. later, a member of our church- one of those special people whose leadership guaranteed the success of whatever ministry she led- asked for prayer. A cousin was being released from prison down in Florida and she and her husband were praying about inviting the cousin to come to Tulsa and live with them. Their fear was that if she was released and returned to her old environment that she would return to prison before very long. But, they said, “We have no idea how to help someone who has struggled with the issues she has.” It was in that moment that God seemed to prompt…. “There’s the beginning of Celebrate Recovery at Southern Hills Baptist Church.” After we prayed for this request I said, “I know of a wonderful ministry that God is using to transform people who have struggles like your cousin!”
Sure enough, the cousin came to Tulsa and 6 mos. later, together they attended the CR Summit at Saddleback and were completely convinced that God wanted them to start CR at our church. And, that’s exactly what they did. The result, now almost 10 years later, hundreds and hundreds of lives have been transformed in Christ. And, in addition, a spark was ignited that has ultimately led to CR ministries in 63 more churches, 22 prisons, and 3 jails in the state of Oklahoma resulting in tens of thousands of lives being transformed in Christ!
But that’s not all. Along the way, about four years after CR had begun, I found myself in the midst of what I call my “perfect storm” in life. That’s when I realized, “ I NEED THIS!” So, I found eleven other pastors who more or less felt the same way, and we started a 12 step group just for pastors. A few months into our steps we discovered that the founder of CR, John Baker, had been dreaming of such groups and already had a name picked out… CPR… Celebrate Pastors in Recovery. Now five years later, almost 150 pastors and a number of spouses have completed the steps in the city of Tulsa.
If you are attending the CR Summit next week, please be sure and join us at one of the CPR Workshops.
To John and Cheryl Baker and to all the Saddleback CR Family, Happy 20th Anniversary! We are so grateful!