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This is Good News! Baptisms at Recovery Church

This is Good News! Baptisms at Recovery Church

Man being baptized at Recovery Church.

Recovery Church (RC) was started in 2007 by Jason Roberts, a young man at the time, who was radically delivered from a heroine addiction. It was the prayers and love of Jason’s grandparents (who attended Broadway Church Vancouver, B.C.) that brought him to a place of surrender. In his sobriety, pastor Brent Cantelon of Christian Life Assembly - Langley was the one who invited Jason to lead a small group study for people fighting addiction, which has led to the place where Recovery Church is today. Jason now serves as executive director and C.E.O. of Wagner Hills Farms, western Canada’s largest faith-based recovery centre. The recent baptisms are a powerful testimony reflecting Isaiah 61:3b:
“They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor” (NIV).

Who are "they"? The poor, the broken hearted, the addict, the one who needs healing in their life. God sees them as oaks. 

Recovery Church started with a small group of 20 people. We now run a weekly service which averages between 125 to 200 people, made up of 13 different recovery homes in the lower mainland/ Fraser Valley, various churches, and Christian Life Assembly. Recovery Church is for anyone, though our target is people in addiction, people in sobriety, and the family members of those who are fighting for this freedom.  

We invite our community to gather four to five times a year and encourage them to get baptised. One of our amazing volunteers attends and leads a study at one of our partner recovery centres, and for this baptism he just threw out the invitation, led a class, and nine people responded. The last baptism we held was in the Fraser River this past August, and 14 people were baptised. 

Apart from worship, the baptism itself is the focus in our baptismal services. We take our time to celebrate this step so that it is imprinted as a memorable day and not only an add-on to a service. We invite family, friends and mentors to join the candidates in the tank if they were/are a spiritual influence. We ask one question: “What has Jesus done for you?” The response is congruent at each baptism: “He is the Higher Power.” “I would be dead without God in my life.” “He brought me out of addiction and death.” “He gave me hope and I see a future of sobriety.” “I tried to recover without Jesus, and with Him I now know real recovery.” “He has given me peace and joy.” “He has started to restore my broken family.” “I really understand that God loves me—He really does.” Powerful. 

We also usually invite the RC community to speak words of encouragement and affirmation over and to the individual just before they go under the water. Two to three people usually share a scripture verse or a word. Then the baptism is done, and finally, we pray for the help and empowerment of the Holy Spirit upon each person. 

We end the evening with lots of food, coffee and time—just being with each other. 

Many of our partner recovery centres are faith-based, and have continual small-group studies and support. We also respond to anyone in our community when they need a pastor or discipleship. We also support the recovery community by the addition of Recovery small groups, bi-weekly outreach, and a spring semester discipleship program called U-Turn, all managed by and ministered through an amazing volunteer team.

One of the phrases we use weekly when we open up the service is this: “We are so glad that you joined us tonight and we do not care if you had a needle in your arm this morning or if you are celebrating 30 years of sobriety; this is a place of no shame and no judgment because we want you to experience the love and mercy of a great God.”

--Contributed by Doug Frederick, associate pastor at Christian Life Assembly - Langley. Photo courtesy Doug Frederick. Used with permission.

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