In central Simi Valley in California, there are approximately 10 substance abuse treatment centers. There are almost 20 licensed alcohol and drug programs in the area and dozens of 12-step recovery groups. There are also almost 10 Christ-centered recovery groups in the area. A group called FIRE (Friends in Recovery Extended) was started in 2003 and more than 150 people attended the first FIRE event that year. The volunteer group brings together the secular and religious recovery groups together for special events like picnics and baseball games to celebrate recovery.
“We wanted to bring the recovery community together for networking, celebration and an opportunity to learn more about the recovery programs available in churches,” said the group’s co-founder and pastor David Wilkinson.
Those who attend FIRE events get to share their recovery journey with others who are experiencing the same journey, but perhaps in a different way.
“Even though the Bible is all about recovery, there are people in the church who feel completely alienated with their struggles and addictions, so FIRE works to establish relationships with these people and their church leadership,” said Lena Christensen, a member of the group.
Its founders believe that the community only benefits from a group like FIRE.
“Christian recovery provides an opportunity for people to deal with problems in a safe place,” said Wilkinson. “People can get out of the darkness and into the light among other believes are there’s great power in that.”