Peeking Through a Window into Heaven
By Bill Specht
I will be forever amazed at how God can use the challenges of life to mold us into useful components for His kingdom and bring us together in unity as the body of Christ. My life, my journey is such a story of God’s grace and redemption and thank goodness our God has patience, He needed that with me.
The recent chapter in my journey began on June 5 of this year when I had the privilege of traveling to Latvia to conduct training and teaching for the current Celebrate Recovery (CR) leaders of the country.
I left early in the morning to fly across the Atlantic with excitement bubbling over to see my friends again and be used by God to do His will. I was ready with my presentation material, a welcoming video to share from my CR group here in Englewood, Florida and five t-shirts from my church to give away as door prizes. As my mind contemplated what was to come on the plane, I thought to myself that with the video and t-shirts in a very real sense our hands and hearts were reaching across the Atlantic towards the Latvian CR community.
I opened the first day sharing the welcoming video from my group back home to say “hello from Englewood Florida.” My comments following were “We are now family. In America, in the CR circles, we call ourselves a Forever Family and you now have brothers and sisters in America.” That set the stage for an amazing four days of togetherness and love as we learned together and shared together including powerful break out sessions for the men and women.
There is such a strong connection with people recovering from their hurts, habits and hang-ups as we carry within us the common bond of broken people saved by grace and on this lifelong journey together of recovery.
Is that not what all us Christian have in common? Are we not all on this same journey until we meet Jesus one on one?
The pure beauty of this ministry takes place in the small group setting with men helping men and women helping women. Collectively together with Jesus at the center, the scars of the past fade into a distant past and a new creation is revealed. Piece by piece God begins to reveal the truth buried behind false perceptions developed from our hurts, habits and hang-ups about ourselves and at times, others. The miracle of transformation for the recovering person that can only come from God’s grace. A journey of redemption day by day, meeting by meeting as our Lord reveals Himself in His full glory, His perfect and unconditional love.
As my teaching came to a close and with my testimony yet to come I ended the session with the only Latvian word I know: “Paldies” which means “thank you.” As I was walking back to my room a young man approached me and in broken English, doing his best to communicate said: “there is this…..this feeling here…..this spirt…..like family…..family up above…..someday we will be all together up above.”
For the moment I felt as if I was peeking through a window into heaven and I said: “yes, my friend, someday we will be all together up above.”
Day three begins with the Latvian CR leaders providing training for Latvians interested in starting CR. My mind drifted back to eight years ago when we launched the program in the country and now the circle is complete, Latvians training Latvians. I could see clearly that there is a core group with the passion for the ministry from experiencing healing themselves, but the ministry is in dire need of additional resources, advanced training, nurturing and national unity.
As the evening progressed the first of the four Step Study Guides were handed out to the participants and I could clearly see the worn edges around the booklets. My mind began to process images of the many hands that have touched these books to find God’s grace and healing. A beautiful thing to see and my heart filled with joy.
The evening closed with me sharing my life story with my new Latvian friends. As I left the meeting hall a man walked up and wrapped his arm around my waist and I did the same as well to him. Walking together and through translation, he told me he now has 28 years sober from alcohol. Arm in arm we walk together in celebration of our life in recovery. Two souls redeemed by God’s grace. Another little peek through a window here on earth into heaven.
At the close of four amazing days, we made a video of the group saying “Hello from Latvia” that I will share with my CR group back home. Just as our hands from America reached across the Atlantic to say hello, now the Latvians are reaching back across the ocean to their new brothers and sisters in America. A living bridge completed, a Forever Family serving the needs of the hurting to share God’s love and grace. And yes, just as the young man said, someday we will all be together up above.
Now my focus shifts to what’s next. God is never done with us and continues to build upon what He began. As stated above, there is a core group with the passion for the ministry but there is a dire need of additional resources, advanced training, nurturing and national unity for the program to become self-sustaining in Latvia.
New material is available and in need of translation and publishing for use in Latvia. First is an advanced Step Study from Celebrate Recovery called “The Journey Continues” which contains four new books to take participants through a deeper journey of recovery. The second is a book authored by Dr. David Sutton titled “The Principle Approach.”
Plans are currently in the works for a return trip next year in which Dr. Sutton will attend along with me to conduct more teaching, training and encouragement for the leaders.
With all this said, I would like to ask that you prayerfully consider a financial donation to ensure the Forever Family remains and continues to grow and spread in Latvia.