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|Paynesville Press - September 24, 2002|
Christians battle alcoholism through Alcoholics Victorious
(Editor's Note: Due to the confidential nature of their organization, local members of Alcoholics Victorious asked not to be identified. This story uses fictitious names.)|
For alcoholics, whether they have been sober for years, or for days, sobriety remains a day-to-day battle.
Members of Alcoholics Victorious believe they have the answer to their struggle with addiction – God.
"Everyday, I drive by my favorite liquor store, and I want to stop…but it's been 12 years that God has empowered me to drive by," explained Tom, who, with his wife Mary, has been sober for 12 years.
"Our sobriety has really been hinged on our spiritual life and the strength we need to deal with our alcoholism," said Tom.
They find support for that sobriety at local Alcoholics Victorious meetings. Alcoholics Victorious groups have existed for a year in the Paynesville area, on Friday nights at the Paynesville Evangelical Free Church. They have just begun recently on Monday nights at the Paynesville Area Center and on Tuesday nights at Crystal Hills Assembly.
The Friday meetings at the Free Church are the largest right now, with eight or nine regular attendees. Alcoholics Victorious (AV) spun off from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1948 when a minister formed AV to emulate AA, only stressing the importance of a vital relationship with Christ. Where AA recognizes "a power greater than ourselves," AV stresses the healing power of the Christian God.
Robert found Christ – and started his journey to sobriety – in 1985. "Ever since then, it's been my belief in Christ and his spirit that's kept me sober all these years," he said.
Robert attended AA meetings in the early 1970s and had gone through various treatment programs but none of it worked until he surrendered to Christ, he said.
Instead of ridding his bondage to alcohol and drugs, AA just put him in bondage to AA meetings, he said. "That didn't work," he explained. He only found deliverance in Christ. Now when he attends AA meetings, which he still does regularly, he says, "Hi, my name is Robert. I'm a delivered drinker."
"Some people, it may work to go to AA, but I don't think they're getting the complete healing like Alcoholics Victorious," he added.
Tom and Mary were ostracized from a AA group because another member thought they talked God too much, which baffles Mary since they were meeting in a church. Mary sees accepting God and Christ as the only steps to recovery.
"God," she said, "is the only one who heals you."
Plus, Mary feels AA meetings can be intimidating, with foul language and smoke. Some meetings are just like a bar, she said, only without alcohol. "AA deals with the problem," said Mary. "We deal with the solution, and that solution is Christ."
Jennifer, who attends both AV and AA meetings, likes the Christian focus of Alcoholics Victorious.
Susan, attending just her second Alcoholics Victorious meeting a couple weeks ago, said she feels comfortable bringing her Bible and reading scripture at the meeting.
Alcoholic Victorious meetings start with introductions and prayer, followed by reading the 12 steps (with scripture verses), and then a round table discussion, which can involve more Bible study, may be informal conversation, or might involve looking at other prepared materials. The meetings go whevever the Holy Spirit leads the group, the members said.
The first meeting of each month is open for friends and family who might be affected by a loved one's addiction to alcohol or drugs.
AV meeting times are 8:05 p.m. on Mondays at the Paynesville Area Center; 8 p.m. on Tuesdays at Crystal Hills Assembly; and 7:30 p.m. on Fridays at the Paynesville Evangelical Free Church.
"How I know I'm going to stay sober is my relationship with Christ," said Tom.
"By the grace of God, go I," added Robert.
Alcoholics Victorious is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous,
except that where Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes "a Power greater than ourselves,"
Alcoholics Victorious recognizes a Christian God,
as evidenced by these steps with accompanying Bible passages.
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