E-1 UNDERSTANDING: Substance Abuse 1

Hindsight tells me this all really began in 2001. My husband and I were privileged to host a series of hospitality dinners for our Church in hopes to stir up the pot, so to speak. No pun intended…. These dinners were designed to mix up a rapidly growing congregation of saints (reaching about the 900 count), which had a need to become plugged in and connect with others merely on a social level over good food and light hearted fellowship. One of these dinners made an indelible impression on my heart.

There were generally about 20 guest each month. A team of six of us prepared a formal, sumptuous, pampered, scratch prepared, five course dinner, pulling out all the stops. That is to say–we were considerably well off and in possession of all the good stuff such as restaurant grade foods with all the trimmings–well you get the picture. I’m not one to hoard.  All the good stuff was given to us by God to bless others. So that’s what we did with it–and continue to do. Anyway, there was one dinner that stood out. Six guys from a rehab house showed up. I was quickly impressed by these clean cut looking men, mostly in their mid-30’s,  as I recall. They had a great time and mixed in with ease. Now please understand. This was the first experience I had ever had with up-close substance abuse–bottom line–drug addicts. Never would have considered that I would be entertaining drug addicts in my home.

These guys didn’t “look like” drug addicts to me. I was accustomed to seeing such people on the streets of east-end Vancouver, dishevelled, begging or dropped against a building in a state of stupor.  These men were, as I said, all clean-cut and apparently ordinary folk.

At the end of the dinner, while all the other dinner guests made their way about the living room and family room to continue the relaxed fellowship we became accustomed to witness, one man remained at the pristine, white, linen covered table. He was softly weeping.  I stepped over and sat near him and asked if he was ok. He was one of the guys from rehab–mid-30’s. He wiped his eyes and said, “Yes, thanks.” But the tears continued to flow, so I waited. He was looking down at the white linen table cloth as he sobbed. He lifted his eyes from this thoughtful gaze and looked at me. “I just don’t understand why you would invite me to your home and make me welcome.” He wiped his eyes once more, now able to speak out what had brought him to tears, “No one has ever invited me to their home–ever….” I was speechless. His words gripped my heart and I knew then that I would never see these souls the same again. It was a God moment. His compassion, mercy and grace flooded my heart for these men He had placed in our home. In hindsight–He was preparing us for something we did not understand then…but a time would come when we did understand….

Alison Teed

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