By Scott Kemp
My name is Scott, and I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with drugs, alcohol, and lust. My wife, Veronica, and I lead the Celebrate Recovery® ministry at First Assembly of God Church in Normal, Illinois. Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a faith-based, 12-step ministry designed to help people recover from their hurts, hang-ups, and ha6bits. It was founded in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and is now operated in over 35,000 churches globally.
I grew up in an average family and struggled with self-esteem issues as a young boy because I had to wear glasses for my lazy eye. I got teased and picked on regularly. My father introduced me to alcohol at a young age, letting me sip on his beer and mixed drinks. The feeling alcohol gave me led to my fascination with drugs: marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens.
I was arrested for drug possession in high school and barely graduated. I landed a job in the corporate world, got married, and eventually had three children. I was a functioning alcoholic and addict for many years and was never emotionally present for my wife and kids. I also struggled with pornography, codependency, financial issues, and infidelity. My marriage was a wreck, and I was close to losing my job.
Numerous sobriety attempts and suicidal thoughts led to a treatment center visit and secular recovery in 1993. I was introduced to the 12 steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, found a sponsor, and started working the program. Although my spiritual life was nonexistent, God was working behind the scenes. Early in recovery, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior during a men’s weekend spiritual retreat. I felt like I was only working a “partial” recovery program for over a dozen years. My treasures were found in both the Big Book of AA and the Bible.
After a difficult divorce, I remarried and started attending a new church. The pastor asked me if I had ever heard of the Celebrate Recovery ministry. I said no, and he handed me the CR starter kit. Surrender is a full-time job. It takes all 12 steps along with the spiritual foundation that comes from the principles of recovery found in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.
I attended my first CR Summit conference in 2005 to learn about the ministry, and I haven’t looked back! We launched CR at our church in January 2006 and have helped over 25 churches start the ministry in central Illinois. Celebrate Recovery allows me to continue addressing my substance-abuse issues and find freedom from sexual addiction, codependency, and self-defeating thoughts.
Today, I earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover! By the grace of God, I’ve celebrated 26 years of substance-abuse recovery, 15 years of sexual-integrity recovery, and continued growth in other hang-ups. I’m blessed to serve and lead in this ministry along with my wife. I thank God for restored relationships with all my children!
Thank you, Jesus, for Celebrate Recovery!