A Lesson Learned from a Bug

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The Lord spoke to me today during my devotion time through a bug. They don’t always have screens on the windows here in Thailand, and the poor guy flew into my bedroom through my middle window that was wide open. Somehow he made his way to the bottom row of windows that don’t open. He buzzed around that bottom window for a good long time trying to figure a way out of the invisible force field that kept him trapped. Every so often he would drop down to the bottom of that same window pane where he encountered the same invisible barrier. After watching him for quite a while the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Sometimes we can’t find the answer because we’re too busy looking at the problem.” I realized the bug was studying the problem of the invisible force field pretty intently, but he didn’t stop looking at the problem long enough to get a different perspective. He needed to stop doing what he was doing over and over again with no success, back up, and survey the big picture. Then he might have noticed that the middle window directly above the one that was holding him captive was different from the rest. It was lighter than the tinted glass and had a nice breeze blowing through the open space. Unfortunately for him, he never took his eyes off the problem long enough to see the very easy solution. He met an untimely end by my swat. I realized that sometimes we humans can be so fixated on the problem of the day that we don’t back up long enough to ask the Lord for His perspective. It helped me to realize that when I don’t know what to do, repeating the same unsuccessful behavior isn’t the answer. Time to take my eyes off the problem and seek the Lord for His easy solution. Sometimes there’s an open window nearby that we humans just can’t see.

A Fruitful Harvest... A New Season of Planting...

Dear Friends,

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One of my favorite food experiences in Thailand is enjoying the various fruits that have come in during the different months that I’ve been here. I realized that this is similar to the various fruits from your prayers and financial support, during the different seasons that you have equipped Reconciliation Ministries to serve in the US and Thailand. As I write this newsletter, I have just over a month left here in SE Asia. I can sense the Lord preparing my heart to transition back to the States. He has been speaking ministry vision for 2019 as our time here in Thailand concludes with a fruitful harvest.

Thank you so much for sowing eternal seeds and sharing in the harvest that we’ve had this year. You have helped touch hearts in the US through our increased focus on abuse recovery, and the continuation of our support groups and individual counseling for men, women and adolescents struggling with sexual and relational issues. Your prayers and financial support for the ministry expansion program have made it possible to add two part-time therapists to the Reconciliation Ministries team, add an additional meeting room, and build on the high standard of ministry care that we’ve practiced since the ministry was founded in 1984. You have touched many hearts in a variety of other ways including the Living Waters program, the Walking Free support groups, the Healing Hearts parents’ group, individual licensed counseling and prayer ministry, the Overcoming Strongholds seminar and much more.

Your prayers and financial support have brought a fruitful harvest in Thailand and have planted seeds for future ministry. One of the main objectives during our time here was to prepare a male leadership team for Living Waters Ubon. It is such a blessing to watch the Lord strengthen three husbands and wives in particular who are called to bring Living Waters into their very different communities. One couple is called to serve with Living Waters Ubon directly as a member of their ministry team. Another man and his wife work with abuse survivors and at risk youth, while the third couple ministers to those who are struggling with addictions and emotional brokenness. All three of these couples plan on integrating the Living Waters concepts into their regular ministry. Your support is also bringing healing to the other participants of the 20-week Living Waters program, and making an impact through Sunday speaking engagements, cell group meetings, and the upcoming Cross Current group which will introduce churched and unchurched people to inner healing.

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Your continued prayers and financial support through 2019 will continue to sow the seeds of healing in the men and women that come to Reconciliation Ministries for help with sexual and relational issues. Your support is instrumental to help fight against the cultural tide that tells young people to embrace their gay or transgender identity. You will help men and women caught in adultery and sexual addiction find freedom in Christ and restore their families. You will help precious souls tormented by the effects of trauma and abuse find healing and restoration through the grace of God. Your prayers and financial support will help set the captive free.

Please join us in prayer as the Lord continues to lay out His vision and specific steps for 2019. He has been speaking to our hearts to continue increasing our ministry offerings to those affected by sexual abuse. We are excited to be looking at training and equipping offerings by Dr. Dan Allender, Desert Stream Ministries, and others. We will also be offering a new session of our Mending the Soul group, and will be connecting with area leaders who are actively involved in outreach to abuse survivors both in Metro Detroit and Southeast Asia. Although my main focus for 2019 will be in Metro Detroit, my wife and I are praying about a ministry trip to Cambodia for two to four weeks in the second half of 2019 to help equip pastoral caregivers to minister healing to trafficking and abuse survivors.

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Your faithful prayers and generous financial support will continue to sow the seeds of healing in the hearts of men and women struggling with sexual and relational brokenness. You can help bring a fruitful harvest of healing, equipping and victory to men and women, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters. If you are already a monthly ministry supporter, please know that you are very much appreciated. If you aren’t yet a member of our monthly support team, we invite you to begin sowing into the lives of brothers and sisters today. You can join the support team and donate securely online by clicking here.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us, and thank you for sowing seeds of healing into the lives of brothers and sisters in need. Your prayers and financial support are changing lives.

In Christ,

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P.S. Your special end of the year donation will help bring freedom to many who are struggling with sexual sin and the trauma of abuse. Reconciliation Ministries is a 501.c.3 organization and all gifts are fully tax deductible. You can donate securely online by clicking here.

Photo of family used under license with www.shutterstock.com. Photos of male and female used courtesy of www.unsplash.com.

Jesus Can Unlock Your Heart

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I saw this lock as I was walking through the neighborhood today. It reminded me of how we can have pain, discouragement, trauma and struggles locked deep inside our hearts. Sometimes we don’t even know where we lost the key or how to get healing. It is during times like this that we need to cry out to Jesus and ask for help. When we don’t even have the strength to cry out, we can look toward Him and merely think, “Help.” He always hears. He is always there. He may not answer in the way we expect, but He will always answer. He knows where the key is.

You Can Change a Life!

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.


Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

 Be Thou My Vision by Dallan Forgaill

Dear Friend,

As I was singing this hymn the other day, I was struck by how different our lives would be if we really lived with the Lord as our only vision – as the focal point of our lives. Sin would be over. Pain would be over. Hopelessness would be over. If the Lord is our only vision, then He will guide us through everything else. We truly would have the fulfillment we've been searching for all of our lives. For now, we can sing this song as a prayer and ask Him to make it a reality in the depths our hearts. May it forever be true in our lives!

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Your financial support to Reconciliation Ministries helps men and women leave their lives of sexual sin and emotional pain and move closer to living with Jesus as their heart’s single vision. In this month’s newsletter, you’ll read powerful testimonies from Living Waters participants whose lives you’ve touched. You’ll read one man’s story of how he came to Living Waters with no expectation of change. He had already resolved to divorce his wife and embrace a life in the LGBTQ community. Thanks to the prayers and support of caring men and women like you, this man has experienced a heart transformation and is now committed to following Jesus, remaining a faithful husband to his wife, and being a godly father to his three children.

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You’ll also read how one woman who was devastated from the trauma of sexual abuse and sexual assault experienced the cleansing love of Jesus Christ. She was delivered from debilitating fear of men that plunged her into lesbian relationships, and now joyfully lives in freedom with her past washed by the precious blood of Jesus.

You can make a difference in the lives of more hurting souls through your tax-deductible donation to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan. Be a part of changing lives by donating today. You can use the form enclosed with this newsletter, or donate securely online by clicking here.

Thank you for making a difference through your prayers and financial support.

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Introducing Our New Therapist...

We are pleased to announce that Pam Farlow-Wolgast will be joining Reconciliation Ministries as our new part-time licensed professional counselor. Pam is also the women's facilitator for our Mending the Soul abuse recovery program, and a valuable member of our Living Waters leadership team. She previously shared her testimony of overcoming childhood sexual abuse in our April 2017 newsletter. Pam recently attended the Living Waters leadership training offered by Desert Stream Ministries and shares her experiences from the training.

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I always considered myself an emotional person. After all, I teach about feelings, and talk about feelings, and am careful to encourage others to express those feelings - joy, sorrow, grief, amazement.

Then I realized that I don't cry often. Well, there are those Hallmark ads and dead animals on the road - I find myself teary at those times.

I began to learn that it was easier to cry about an animal, than it was about me, or what was happening in my life. I considered this and found it quite curious; I still had no answers as to where the tears were.

Then I attended the Living Waters Leadership training in January, and at one point, someone handed me a box of tissues to hold on to, because my tears came and came. Before this training, I'd done a lot of healing from the brutality of my childhood. I didn't cry as the memories came, and sometimes I wondered about this.

I'd looked at the evil represented by my father and others, and the distance and coldness of my mother. I didn't cry as I felt the abandonment and loss of love, and I wondered about this.

Then I planned to attend the Living Waters training. God told me to let Him take charge and to enter wholeheartedly into this time. "But, I don't trust," I said. He said, "It's time to trust and feel."

And God met me at ministry time - and I cried.

And God met me in the small group - and I cried.

God met me, carried me and held me - as I cried.

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He went to the deep desolate places of shame and pain with me. God showed me He is so much stronger than the pain. He showed me I was never alone in the darkness, the terror, the confusion.

He showed me how present He was - and how He cried for me when it wasn't safe for me to cry for myself.

God showed me the healing strength of tears, the power of grieving and how the loving presence of others brings light and healing.

He showed me I can trust another with the ugliness of the past, and they show me the beauty He created in me.

God showed me His face - through the faces of each person at the training. God showed me how powerful and intense His love is.

God showed me healing through each of the people I met, through their prayers, their presence and their love.

God showed me who He created me to be and encouraged me to continue allowing Him in; to never close Him out. He showed me His loving eyes, and His kind face. He showed me how love builds and encourages, and never destroys. He showed me the power of His love and taught me to receive and accept it.

God allowed me to see myself through His eyes, and I learned I can laugh with joy, embrace the beauty of His world with smiles, and cry for release, pain and grief. God showed me about the wholeness of life with Him.

I am changed, the same and yet oh, so different. I learned and experienced God in ways which are available for us all - we have only to ask Him. He is waiting for us; waiting with His kind eyes and gentle smile.

Blessings, Pam

Do You Want to be Made Well? There are Risks While Getting Off Your Matt.

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
John 5:5-6 NLT

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Dear Friend,

At first glance, that quote from Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda may sound like a ridiculous question. “The guy’s been waiting at the pool for 38 years hoping for an opportunity for healing; of course he wants to be made well!” It’s easy for us to answer that question when we’re talking about someone else. Sooner or later, all of us will face this same question in our own lives. Do we really want to be made well?

There is a lot more to that question when you go below the surface. In today’s terms, Jesus would be asking that man if he wanted to be made well, which would mean that he would lose his social security benefits and his bridge card. He would now be responsible to find a job, work faithfully, and provide for his own necessities. He can no longer rely on others to fulfill his needs. He will have to learn to receive empowerment from the Lord, take appropriate risks, and learn to perform skills that were previously impossible for him. That is scary.

It’s very similar in our recovery. Our addictions have kept us on some type of matt for years. We simultaneously hate it, and fear the day when the Lord calls us off our matt to walk away from our sinful addictions. We know how to be broken. We don’t know how to be whole. We’ve even received false comfort from our addiction. Will the Lord really give us something better? We know in our heads that He says He will. In our hearts we aren’t so sure.

If Jesus is calling you off your matt, you don’t have to do it alone. Reconciliation Ministries can help. We offer licensed professional counseling, prayer ministry, and support groups. Call 586.739.5114 and find out how we can assist you in your recovery.

In Christ,

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P.S. You can read a related story in this month's newsletter. Those who have experienced the trauma of abuse also have to consider life off the matt of emotional devastation.

Celebrating the Blessings of 2017

In Mending the Soul I could talk about the abuse I experienced, the addiction I developed, and all the fallout and consequences; without having to be worried about judgement or rejection. – A male survivor.

I can truly say that though I have a ways to go as far as healing, I am not the same person I was when I entered  Mending the Soul. I have regained my voice, set boundaries, gained strength in many ways, and found hope for healing in God. This group has truly been a blessing. – A female survivor.

I am closer to God as a result of  Living Waters. I see Him more clearly in my past, anticipate Him more certainly in my future, and follow Him more peacefully in the now. - A male participant.

Living Waters saved my marriage. A female participant.

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Dear Friend,

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior and the gift of eternal life that He has given us, we at Reconciliation Ministries would like to celebrate the blessings that you have provided for the ministry participants throughout 2017. The quotes from some of the participants of this year’s Mending the Soul and Living Waters programs (used by permission) highlight the lives that you have changed through your prayers and financial support of Reconciliation Ministries. Many others have found healing through your support of Reconciliation Ministries speaking engagements and affordable licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry. You have touched the lives of many men, women and adolescents who were formerly bound by sexual sin and those who have suffered the trauma of abuse. These precious husbands, wives, men, women, sons and daughters are now experiencing the joy of healing and transformation through Jesus Christ.

Reconciliation Ministries would like to thank those of you who have already joined our support team. Thank you for responding to the opportunity to touch many more lives in Southeast Michigan and Ubon, Thailand in the coming year. If you’re not yet a member of our support team, there’s still time to make a tax-deductible end of the year donation to change even more lives. You can donate securely online by clicking here.

Thank you for changing hearts,

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

You Can Touch Thousands

 “I’m going to raise up two, or three, or four people in this room to touch thousands.”
God in Ubon, Thailand on Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dear Friends,

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The presence of the Lord was powerful among that small group of Thai Living Waters participants. Among them were several who had been delivered from a life of prostitution, a man who was overcoming transgender issues, someone who was HIV positive, and others who had committed serious offenses. Thailand is a stronghold of sexual sin, prostitution and transgender culture. Yet, it was among that group of Living Waters participants that the Lord said He would raise up two, three, or four people to touch thousands.

Sexual sin is rampant in the US as well. Homosexuality, transgenderism, and pornography addiction are on the rise. The prevalence of sexual abuse is alarming, both in popular culture and within the church. We are only now becoming aware of the depths of human trafficking.

Countless lives have been taken captive; yet, there is hope. You can be a part of the solution. You can touch thousands. Join the Reconciliation Ministries support team and help men, women and adolescents experience the transformational power of Jesus Christ in Metro Detroit, Thailand, and beyond.

During 2017, the Reconciliation Ministries support team establish our very first Mending the Soul program to bring healing to survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse. We were able to reduce the tuition for the Living Waters program, and now have our largest group in years. Many others are receiving licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry to overcome sexual abuse, sexual addiction, unwanted homosexual attraction, gender dysphoria, and more. Marriages are being restored. Men and women are being set free.

More plans are underway for 2018. Your partnership will make it possible to run our second Mending the Soul group and further reduce the tuition for the Living Waters program. We’ll be adding a part-time counselor and making other improvements to foster our ministry in Metro Detroit. Dan Hitz, Director of Reconciliation Ministries, is making plans to minister in Ubon, Thailand from July through December of 2018. He will be helping to strengthen Living Waters Ubon, mentor male leaders, and present sexual and relational healing seminars in the surrounding villages.

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You can touch lives in Metro Detroit and around the world. Reconciliation Ministries invites you to become a member of our monthly support team. We are praying for 30 new members to invest an average of $100 per month into the lives of broken people. You can help those who are hurting experience the healing power of Jesus Christ, and become the men and women that God created them to be. If you are already a member of our support team, please know that we truly appreciate you. If you aren’t a current member of our monthly support team, please join us. You can also make a special year-end donation to touch lives in Metro Detroit and Thailand. All donations are tax deductible. An investment of any amount can change someone’s life for all of eternity.

You can join the Reconciliation Ministries support team online through PayPal by clicking here.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us,

Dan Hitz, Director
Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.
586.739.5114
dhitz@recmin.org
www.recmin.org

P.S. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, or if you would like to meet for coffee and hear more about how your investment through Reconciliation Ministries can change lives.

Images used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

Me Too...

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Me too…   Unfortunately…   To be honest, I have been wrestling with a personal response to the entire "me too" campaign since those two words began showing up on my Facebook news feed. Sexual assault and harassment of women in the work place is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. I honor those who have come forward in a very personal way to address this critical issue. I would like to offer some sincere thoughts about a very sensitive topic. I ask that your responses be sincere and sensitive as well.

At first I wasn’t sure that I should speak those two words. While I can acknowledge the need to address the specific focus of sexual assault and harassment of women in the workplace, I am praying to come up with a proper response concerning the other lives touched by abuse/assault in other venues. Innocent girls and boys, women and men, heterosexuals and members of the LGBT community, who were victimized elsewhere; in a wide variety of circumstances and a wide variety of places. I am also praying to come up with adequate words to address the many males who have been victims of sexual assault/abuse. Sometimes males who have been abused can feel marginalized. The effects of abuse on males is often minimized or overlooked through the lens of a broken culture with a false concept of masculinity. The reality is that abuse and assault have touched so many people in so many walks of life. All victims... all survivors… need compassion and understanding. Those who have not endured such trauma will not be able to fully understand the depths of the effects, yet those who have not endured abuse can certainly offer prayers, support, and compassion to those who have been abused.

Let’s all do what we can to end abuse and create an atmosphere of safety and healing for all who have suffered the trauma of abuse. If you are someone who can also write those two words that have such a huge impact, “me too”, and would like to talk about it with people who can help, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114. You can also read testimonies and articles to help you overcome the effects of abuse on the archives section of our website by clicking here.

Healing Hearts of the Parents

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Dear Friends,

Thank you for partnering with us to help hurting hearts find healing and restoration through the power of Jesus Christ. You have helped many overcome sexual abuse, sexual addiction, unwanted same-sex attraction, and transgender issues. Another group of people that you help through your partnership with Reconciliation Ministries is Healing Hearts, a support group for parents of LGBT identified people. Christian parents of the LGBT community often struggle alone. Members say, “When Christian kids come out of the closet, the parents go into the closet.” It is truly heartbreaking for parents to see their sons and daughters making sinful and harmful choices. Many parents sink in despair and false guilt. They wonder how they can continue to have a good relationship with their kids without giving the impression that they embrace their wrong choices.

Your support of Reconciliation Ministries helps bring life back into these worried parents’ lives. Healing Hearts teaches parents how to love and have a relationship with their LGBT identified sons and daughters without compromising their Christian convictions. It is a confidential place to cry, ask questions, pray and receive Biblical hope. Many parents share how they came to the group hoping to learn how to change their kids, then realized that the Lord did a deep work of change in their own hearts. Meetings are held on the second Sunday of each month from 2pm to 4pm at Renewal Church in Warren, 11174 E 13 Mile Road. There is no charge to attend and everyone who wants to love their LGBT identified son or daughter with the love of Jesus is invited. If you’re hurting over your LGBT identified son or daughter, come to this group, get support, and learn to breathe again.

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At our next Healing Hearts meeting, we’ll be watching the movie Tranzformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. This movie, features interviews with 15 former transgender men and women who have overcome personal transgender struggles through the grace of Jesus Christ. This movie will help you understand the inner turmoil of those who struggle with transgender issues, and give you hope that Jesus Christ can touch your loved one. Anyone wanting to learn more about transgender issues is welcome to attend.

Thank you for partnering with us to bridge the gap between the church and the sexually broken,

Dan

Mom and son photo used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

 

God Is Faithful!

I thank my God every time I remember you…  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3,6

Dear Friends,

God is always faithful and good. About eight or nine years ago our family was going through a horrible valley. I was at the point of giving up hope when the Lord spoke to me and said, "It’s not over yet." Since that day worse things have happened. Since that day better things have happened. I can honestly say that God has been faithful through it all. The situation from eight years ago remains unresolved; nevertheless, I can still say that God is faithful and good. No matter what you're going through today, He loves you very much and He will carry you. He will finish the good work He started in you.

Reconciliation Ministries is here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling, call us at 586.739.5114. We have multiple options available to care for you. There are currently openings for individual licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry. Walking Free, our open support group for men and women at any stage in their recovery, is held on the second and fourth Monday of each month. The Healing Hearts group for parents and family members of individuals dealing with LGBTQ issues meets on the second Sunday of each month. As we look ahead to the future, our next Living Waters program will be starting in October with a reduced tuition rate, while our Mending the Soul program will expand to fourteen weeks and is tentatively scheduled to begin next October.

We would like to thank you for helping us expand the ministry and touch more hearts. In our last newsletter, we asked for your help to add an additional office and give our entrance a much needed facelift. We are happy to report that we have received the finances we need for this project. The participants will soon be greeted with a warmer entrance. We will be adding another therapist soon and increasing our outreach. Thank you for making this all possible through your prayers and financial support.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan

An Opportunity to Invest in Souls

Dear Friends,

In last month’s newsletter I presented the vision that the Lord has laid on my heart to bring healing to many more souls in Metro Detroit; Ubon, Thailand; and beyond. We at Reconciliation Ministries are thankful for the lives already changed and invite you to invest in transforming many more.

The next steps in our ministry expansion are to add an additional part-time counselor to our staff, and to increase our support team by reaching out to potential members with the invitation to invest in changing lives. Adding another counselor will expand our current services, and ensure that our local counseling services will continue while I’m ministering in Thailand next year. In order to do this, we need to remodel the room next to my current office to provide another counseling office. We also need to give our counseling entrance a much needed facelift through some simple coats of paint and adding a few lights to brighten things up.

We at Reconciliation Ministries would like to thank our generous support team members who have already contributed towards the ministry’s expansion, and invite you to invest in the expansion needs listed below.

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  • 3 solid core doors with windows for counseling offices - $175 each
  • Sound proofing materials (insulation, caulk, plywood) - $100
  • 2 new light fixtures for counseling office - $30 each
  • 5 gallons of paint for counseling office - $25 each
  • 5 gallons of paint for counseling entrance - $25 each
  • 2 light fixtures for counseling entrance - $40 each
  • 2 white noise generators to ensure privacy - $25 each
  • Carpet for new office - $350
  • Furniture – couch, chairs, desk – donations appreciated
  • We are still getting estimates for labor - approximately $1500 - covered
  • Ministry brochures - $300 - covered - covered
  • Support team outreach - $500
  • Ministerial training - $1200 - covered

Your investment can help someone overcome sexual sin and the trauma of abuse, and walk in their true identity in Christ. Please make a special donation towards our ministry expansion. You can sponsor a specific portion of the project by indicating it on the enclosed donation form, or when you make a donation online via the PayPal link on our website at www.recmin.org.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan

An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach

Dear Friends,

Reconciliation Ministries began in 1984 with a focus on ministering specifically to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction. Through the years, our focus deepened to include heterosexual issues and the addition of our Living Waters program. We added licensed counseling to our services of pastoral care and prayer ministry, and recently began a new program for abuse recovery called Mending the Soul.

Over the past several months, you’ve been reading how the Lord has been working on our hearts to minister to those with a deeper level of brokenness than Reconciliation Ministries has ministered to in the past. This part of our journey actually began about three years ago, during a conversation with the Lord that took place over four Sunday worship services. I knew He was doing a deep work in my heart. I was shaking during the last worship service as He asked me to pray that He would send me to the bowels of hell on earth, so that we can save people from the bowels of hell for eternity.

We are excited to announce that the Lord has even more plans in store. As we continue to minister to all forms of sexual and relational brokenness in Metro Detroit, we also have an opportunity to touch souls in Ubon, Thailand. Plans are underway for me (Dan Hitz) to minister in Thailand from July through December of 2018. I have been invited to assist in the development of the Living Waters team in this remote region of Thailand, mentor men who are potential leadership team members, and minister to pastors and villagers in the surrounding areas. You can read more about the progression of this vision and calling on the inside of this newsletter.

Reconciliation Ministries will continue to serve the Body of Christ in Metro Detroit even as we extend our outreach to Ubon, Thailand. We would like to invite you to join us in bringing the transformational power of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. You can become a valuable member of the Reconciliation Ministries Support Team through your generous financial partnership and your prayers for the ministry and the participants. No one can affect the lives that we are called to reach alone, but together through Christ we can reach thousands of people who need His healing touch. You can join our Support Team and help bring healing to those who are sexually broken and to those who have suffered the trauma of abuse by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 586.739.5114 or DHitz@recmin.org.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Dan Hitz, Director, Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Prodigals Are Coming Home

Dear Friends,

Your prayers and financial support are touching many lives. Although we’ve seen a dramatic cultural and political shift towards homosexuality in the recent years, something has shifted in the spiritual atmosphere since the beginning of the year. Many prodigals are returning to Jesus.

Starting with the implosion of Exodus in 2012, and continuing through the legalization of same-sex marriage and the celebration of Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn, it seems like many who would normally seek help to overcome LGBT issues had decided to accept and act upon their desires. In the past two months we’ve seen many of these prodigals coming home. In fact, we’ve had more people wrestling with LGBT issues seek help in the past two months than we’ve had in all of 2016 combined. Unfortunately, they’ve also experienced the devastation of life as a prodigal. Instead of the freedom and self-actualization that the LGBT community promised, they’ve experienced the devastation of being HIV positive and having marriages that are ready to collapse. Others were feeling suicidal while they were embracing and acting upon their LGBT desires. They have learned the hard way that sin only brings further pain and bondage.

The Father is merciful to the prodigals. Instead of shame and condemnation, He greets them with love, cleansing and forgiveness. Sadly, they still have to deal with the effects of their time “in a distant land”. The good news is that they are also learning the redemption and restoration that Jesus Christ has to offer. It is beautiful to watch their lives being restored.

We are excited to open up registration for Mending the Soul, our brand new program for male and female survivors of abuse and neglect. Mending the Soul is a great addition to the Living Waters program and the professional counseling and prayer ministry already offered by Reconciliation Ministries. It will be run by licensed therapists and focus specifically on overcoming the devastating effects of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Mending the Soul effectively combines Scriptures and powerful recovery insights and experiences. The group runs for ten weeks and will meet every Monday night from 7 to 8:30pm beginning April 17th. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of abuse, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and find out how you can register for our upcoming group.

Thank you for standing with us to uphold Biblical truth. Thank you for praying with us as the Lord expands our vision and brings more lives to touch. Your prayers and financial support are changing hearts for all of eternity. You can donate securely online by clicking here.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan

An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach

 Image licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

Image licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

The Lord has given us a lot to accomplish together in 2017. The thought that best sums up my heart lately is, “God is expanding our vision, and giving us more lives to reach”.

No ministry organization can change lives in its own strength. It takes a great team of intercessors, financial supporters, ministry team members, board members and many other faithful volunteers working together for the Kingdom of God. Whether you have helped us stuff newsletters, given a one-time donation, provided financial support on a monthly basis, volunteered for the ministry team, or simply helped spread the word; please know that your service is greatly appreciated and has touched many lives for eternity. Thank you for sharing a rich history with us, and for walking with us into the future.

We started Reconciliation Ministries in 1984 with the vision of helping men and women overcome homosexuality. There were few such ministries back in those days. Jack Hickey and our early ministry partners were some of the brave pioneers. With Tom Cole as the director in the mid-90s, the ministry vision grew to include a wider variety of sexual and relationship issues. Together, we began offering help to heterosexual strugglers as well as homosexual strugglers and Living Waters became one of our main ministry offerings. In the late-2000s we added licensed counseling to the pastoral care offerings and continued to grow in our expertise and impact.

As we pass through the mid-2010s the Lord has been putting on our hearts an increased focus on helping those who have been traumatized by sexual abuse. We have spent the last year researching a variety of resources and are excited to announce that we will be offering a new program called Mending the Soul this coming spring. Mending the Soul is a 12-week therapy group run by licensed therapists. It is designed for men and women who have suffered from any form of abuse, including sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual and neglect. Mending the Soul is a great addition to the Living Waters program and counseling services already offered by Reconciliation Ministries. We’ll be announcing more details in the months ahead.

Together, we will continue to expand our ministry offerings in the near future. Reconciliation Ministries is blessed to have you as a part of our ministry team. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, and thank you for being a part of what God is doing to transform lives.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan Hitz, Director
Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P. S. You can help transform lives through your tax-deductible donation by clicking here.

Lives Are Being Changed

“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT 

“At forty-five years old, I was overwhelmed with the secret pain I carried from my childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse and prostitution. Words cannot express the gifts of healing I have received from Living Waters. These faithful servants of Christ helped me out of my dark hiding place and into the light of His mercy and truth.”

“I came to LW full of shame from same-sex attraction struggles as well as the pain of rejection from my father growing up. I lived through a filter of pain I couldn’t get rid of, and blamed myself for it. The Lord began to bring healing as I opened up in the group ministry and took away the sting and the shame of that pain. Living Waters brought freedom beyond what I thought possible.”

“I came to Living Waters filled with guilt and shame because of my struggles with heterosexual pornography addiction. The healing process revealed to me the sources of the pain and the triggers of my addiction. I found the tools to help defuse these triggers before the addiction cycle kicks in full. The Lord still works with me on these things to this day.  I now know that the Lord's love can heal the wounds of my past with His love.”

Dear Friends,

Perhaps you can relate to these profound testimonies of recovery and transformation. Maybe you are still waiting for that day when you, or someone you love, can speak such words of hope and freedom. Reconciliation Ministries exist to walk with people who are broken and bound by sin, and help them find healing through the wonderful power of Jesus Christ. His birth, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection, provides all that we need to overcome the worst forms of abuse, trauma, and sexual sin.

You can make a difference in the lives of hurting people. Your prayers help break the chains of addiction and heal the wounds of abuse. Your financial contributions reach out to those in need through the Living Waters program, professional counseling, and support groups.  You can encourage, educate and equip by sponsoring seminars and newsletters. You can even reach people on the other side of the world by sponsoring missions trips – healing leaders and raising up others to carry the message of redemption and transformation through Christ.

Maybe you don’t feel like you can make an eternal difference in anyone’s life. I am amazed at the people that the Lord used in Scripture. The very lineage of Christ is full of people like Rahab the prostitute (Matthew 1:5), and Judah and Tamar who conceived a child in sin (Matthew 1:3). From the very beginning of Jesus’ life, the Father showed His love to those whom others cast away. His birth was announced to a group of shepherds who were simply doing their job of taking care of a bunch of sheep somewhere in a field in the middle of the night. Those shepherds had the privilege of hearing the Heavenly choir of angels announce the Savior’s birth and being among the first visitors to see Jesus in the manger. Jesus showed his mercy to the woman at the well (John 4); a woman who had five husbands and was currently living with another guy she wasn’t even married to. He spoke into her heart and showed her how to find what she was really looking for. He showed great mercy to the woman caught in adultery and offered her another way to live when He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Even in his death and resurrection, Jesus revealed Himself first to Mary Magdalene, “out of whom He had cast seven demons” (Mark 16:9). Jesus loves the broken.

These beautiful Scriptures are just a few of the many examples of Jesus’ love for those in need. No one is beyond His love and care. No one is beyond his power to transform lives. If you or someone you love is trapped by sin and pain, reach out for help as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and let us walk with you to Jesus.

You CAN make an eternal difference in the lives of others through your prayers. Contact us at info@recmin.org and join our intercessors’ list. Any financial gift of any size can change someone’s life. All donations are tax-deductible and can be made through the form included in this newsletter, or securely online by clicking here. Make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting today.

In Christ,

Dan Hitz and your friends at Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

P.S. Here are a few more testimonies. All were used by permission.

“I came to Living Waters after a period of personal crisis— I knew that God loves and forgives me, but I was still deeply confused about the sources of my addictions. Hearing the testimonies of others, reading and working through the lesson plans, and sharing in group discussions has freed me from much darkness that I did not even realize remained.” 

“Growing up I was expected to achieve and perform to be acceptable. Only rarely was what I did enough by my parents' shifting standards. During Living Waters I learned that I am of value just because I am; that God loves me expecting nothing. He transformed my mind through the loving and prayerful leaders at Living Waters who cheered me on in my progress toward learning who I am in Christ and being able to accept myself as being worthy of love.”

“I came to Reconciliation Ministries full of self-hatred and condemnation because of my struggle with same-sex attraction. In the process of healing, the Lord touched the roots of my SSA and also brought healing from childhood sexual abuse. I now know who I really am in Christ and have a deep sense of purpose.”

“When I first came to Living Waters Ministry I felt stuck in an abyss of pain that I couldn't seem to escape from no matter how hard I tried. Living Waters helped me discover the root cause; wounds and breaches from my past that were ruling my present. Through the help of loving leaders, I was finally able to name specific abuses and the way these violations impacted my life. As they led me to release my soul wounds into the Cross, and exchange lies for God's truth, I began to walk in peace and freedom. My past abuse was no longer was an unwelcomed guest in my present life!”

The False Guilt of Abuse

One of the deepest and most painful effects of abuse is the profound sense of guilt that often afflicts survivors. Those who have never suffered the pain of abuse would loudly declare that the survivor was the innocent victim who did not cause the abuse and should not feel the least bit guilty. They are correct. Unfortunately, even though abuse survivors would loudly proclaim the freedom of guilt to others who have suffered abuse, they seldom apply this truth to themselves. This article will look at some of the root issues fueling the false guilt of abuse, and help those who are recovering from abuse learn how to overcome false guilt and walk in peace. The list is far from conclusive, but it covers some of the main causes of guilt I’ve seen through the years as I’ve counseled abuse survivors.

As a child, we want the world to make sense. We grow up hearing that the big people are in charge and we need to obey them. Everyone is born with a deep need to be loved and feel secure. We instinctively look to our parents and caregivers to fulfill those needs. Abuse from those who were supposed to protect us does not make sense. There is no way it can. As a child, our need to feel loved and secured is shattered as we are abused by those who were supposed to keep us safe and provide for our needs. After all, we were taught that Mom and Dad were in charge and we assumed that they were always right. In innocence, and in desperation to make sense of the world, children who are abused often assume that they must be the ones who were wrong, and therefore they deserve the harsh treatment they are receiving. This does not make logical sense when we step back from our emotions and evaluate the thoughts. No matter how badly a child behaves, no child deserves to be beaten physically or abused sexually. However, in the mind of an abused person, it seems to make all the puzzle pieces fall into place. “I am so bad that my daddy has no choice but to treat me like this.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Believing that the abuse was “my fault” also instills a false sense of hope and control. Admitting that the abuse is not my fault, and recognizing that there is nothing that I can do to prevent the abuse, brings the terrifying realization that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop the abuse or predict when it is going to happen. This realization is accompanied by terror and helplessness. If I unconsciously believe that the abuse is “my fault” and that “my horrible behavior” caused the abuse, I can hold onto a false hope that I can prevent the abuse by becoming “invisible” or by being a good boy or good girl. After all, we are taught that bad things don’t happen to good boys or girls. Our abusers may even tell us so. Healing comes at a deeper level as we acknowledge that the abuse was not our fault, confront our terror and helplessness, and seek healing from safe people.

“My body responded to the abuse. That ‘proves’ that I must have wanted the abuse to happen.” Our bodies are amoral. Our sexual organs were created with many nerve endings that respond to touch. Our bodies don’t know if that touch was wanted or unwanted. They don’t know if the touch was from the loving hands of our spouse, or from the tormenting hands of an abuser. Our bodies just know that the nerve endings are being stimulated and that the stimulation feels good. Males commonly experience an erection during unwanted sexual touch which adds to the false guilt. Both males and females experience orgasm during unwanted sexual abuse. This does not mean that the abuse survivor wanted the abuse. It simply means that the body’s nerve endings did what they were designed to do in a situation that was not supposed to happen. Recognizing this truth has helped many abuse survivors overcome years of false guilt.

“There were times when I initiated the abuse. Surely this ‘proves beyond a shadow of a doubt’ that I wanted the abuse to happen.” There are many reasons why an abuse survivor may begin to initiate sexual activity with the abuser. The human heart is very complex and the wounds and voids of life can leave us starved for affection. Abusers know this and are expert manipulators. They seem to have a built in radar sensor to figure out which kids have emotional voids and are open to abuse. They can also figure out which kids are less likely to tell an adult that the abuse happened, and which kids are more likely to be shy and silent. They prey upon these vulnerabilities during the grooming process. The abuser grooms – or prepares – the potential victim by showering him with attention and making him feel like he has a special relationship with the abuser. The abuser may even buy special gifts for the child and/or let him do special things that others in his family are not allowed to do. Abusers often introduce abuse through non-sexual touch like hugging or massages. If the child is responsive to this touch, he then begins to make the touch more sensual. The child’s boundaries are eroded and he often suffers emotional confusion as this trusted friend begins to make unusual requests. Sometimes the victim complies because the abuser tapped into a vulnerable part of the child’s heart that craves attention. Sometimes the victim complies because he feels obligated to the abuser due to their special relationship. Manipulative abusers can make the victims feel like the abuse was their idea, and some even threaten the child or his family if he tells. This sets the victims up for further abuse.

Abuse fragments the victim’s heart. Sometimes abuse victims learn to “enjoy” the abuse out of desperation to avoid the emotional torment and terror of the abuse. Victims are usually conditioned to submit to their abusers and may not see any other options but to comply with the abuse. If children who are being abused were forced to live in the ongoing terror of the abuse, they would probably suffer a severe emotional breakdown. Often the child’s mind “splits” or dissociates. This means that a part of their mind stays to endure the abuse, and a part of their mind “goes away”. Think of the last time you had to perform a prolonged, mundane task. Your mind probably got so bored with the task that part of your mind began to daydream that you were off doing something exciting, while another part of your mind and body continued to perform the task. This is a very simple example of dissociation, and most of us experience this from time to time. Dissociation during abuse occurs on a far more severe level. The part of the mind that stays to endure the abuse is forced to “like” the abuse to avoid “going crazy”. Sometimes that part even learns to initiate the abuse to gain the favor of the abuser, or to protect younger siblings from the abuser. The victim initiating the abuse in no way justifies the actions of the abuser. No matter the situation, if a child makes sexual advances towards an adult, an older child, or a person in a perceived position of authority; it is the spiritual, moral, and ethical responsibility of that person to protect the child and to get help for that child as quickly as possible.

Sometimes abuse survivors feel a special bond with their abusers. Tracy, Tracy, and Garrison explain this in their book Mending the Soul Student Edition (Zondervan, 2011). Compounding the manipulation experienced during the grooming process, our bodies secrete special hormones during and after a sexual experience that bond our hearts to the object of our stimulation. God’s intent was that the bonds to our spouse continue to grow as we thrive in marital and sexual intimacy. Remember, our bodies are amoral and can’t tell if our sexual experience is within the boundaries of a godly marriage, or within the broken boundaries of abuse. Unfortunately, this works against abuse victims to deepen the strange emotional connection between the victim and the abuser. This also intensifies the confusion the victims face when they find themselves bonded to the one who causes so much pain. Fortunately, these strange connections can be broken through prayer and counseling to free the survivor from the emotional bondage that was forced upon him during the abuse.

“But I didn’t stop the abuse from happening, and I didn’t tell anybody about the abuse when I had the chance. Doesn’t this ‘prove’ I wanted the abuse to continue?”  There can be multiple reasons why victims don’t stop the abuse or report it to others. Remember that abusers are expert manipulators. They often trick the victims into thinking that the abuse was their idea. They may also threaten the victims that they or a member of their family will be harmed if they tell. Other times, the abusers exploit the bond that has been built with the victim. Abusers pressure the victim not to tell anyone or their “special relationship” will end and the abuser, himself, will be in trouble. Not wanting the “special relationship” to end may not make sense to one who hasn’t been abused. It helps to remember the issues of dissociation, whereby the victim’s mind – heart – is split into pieces. The piece of the heart that carries the terror of the abuse is separate from the piece of the heart that engages in a special relationship to avoid going crazy. As healing begins and the fragments of the heart are reunited, the survivor often feels relieved to recognize that a large part of their heart truly hated the abuse.

The process of “learned helplessness” keeps the victims silent. If the abuser uses aggression to force the victim to comply, the fear of being harmed can propel the victim to remain silent even after the abuser is gone. Small children may be fully dependent upon an abusive caregiver. They may fear abandonment and being helplessly left alone if they turn their abuser in. Children don’t have adult reasoning capabilities to figure out how to get help. They “learn” the message that they are helpless to stop the abuse. Even after they grow older and/or their abuser is gone, they continue to perceive that they are helpless. “Learned helplessness” explains why a child who is aggressively abused at home fails to tell a teacher or other caregiver about the abuse. During the healing process, survivors begin to learn their current coping abilities as they heal and grow stronger.

Abusers often refuse to acknowledge their guilt and push it off on their victims. The authors of Mending the Soul Student Edition explain that abusers should feel immense guilt for what they’ve done. This guilt should cause them to feel extreme conviction, leading to repentance and a full acceptance of responsibility for the harm they have caused. Instead of repenting, abusers commonly refuse to accept responsibility and harshly blame the victims. This manipulates the victims into carrying false guilt for what the abuser has done. One of the first steps to overcoming false guilt is to hand the guilt back to its rightful owner – the abuser.

Abuse survivors can take positive steps to overcome false guilt and the negative effects of abuse. The first important step that they must take is to come to Jesus. This step may sound obvious to anyone who hasn’t been abused, but victims struggling with false guilt often feel too dirty and disgusting to come to Jesus. Satan is right there screaming lies in the struggler’s ear. We can remind survivors that Jesus came for broken people. He forgave the repentant thief on the cross who was mocking Him just moments earlier (Matthew 27:44, Luke 23:39-43), and He forgave the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11). No matter how dirty we feel or how sinful we have been, Jesus came to heal people just like us. He loves us in a safe way and He can help us navigate through the healing process.

Abuse survivors will need the help of safe, godly people as they overcome false guilt. Yes, God touches our hearts individually through the Holy Spirit, but He also works through His people to heal our hearts. This can be a scary step for those who were abused by someone who was supposed to keep them safe. It can be especially frightening if that person was in the church. However, a principle in God seems to be to use healthy people to help us heal from the wounds inflicted by unhealthy people. A great first step in finding a safe person would be to talk to someone in the pastoral care department of your local church. You can also talk to a counselor who has experience in helping people overcome sexual abuse. As you heal, you can pray for God to send you one or two other safe people that you can share your story with. You don’t have to tell everyone about your abuse. God will show you who He wants you to tell. You will also need other safe friends just to enjoy life with. It will take some time to learn trust, but it is worth the effort.

Facing the pain of your past with safe others is essential in your healing process. You might feel like you just want to forget your abuse and move on, but it is important to acknowledge your wounds, take them to the cross, and find healing. One of the worst things about getting a physical wound that requires stitches is that the doctor has to wash out the wound before he stitches it up. That hurts. Sure, he could stich it up without washing it out, but that would leave contaminants in the wound that would cause much worse problems down the road. It is better to endure the short-term pain of cleaning out the wound thoroughly so that a deeper healing can take place. Your heart is just like this. It will be painful to talk about the abuse, but in doing so the Lord can bring a deeper and more thorough healing. As your healing progresses, you will find good parts of your heart coming back to life and you will have much more peace. The short-term pain of the healing process is worth it for the long-term peace the process brings.

Give yourself much patience during the healing journey. Healing is a process that usually takes much longer than we wish it did. Give yourself a lot of grace during this process, and take as much time as you need. I hope that your favorite part of the journey will be to learn about God’s safe heart of love for you. He is a safe caretaker that heals our hearts, strengthens us, and teaches us how to do life. You will learn some beautiful things about God along the way. You will learn some beautiful things about yourself too.

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries, or any of the ministries we offer, visit us on the Web at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.  You may also e-mail us at info@recmin.orgAll correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.  Reconciliation Ministries is an affiliate ministry of Restored Hope Network.

Images licensed through www.shutterstock.com.

 © 2016 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living Waters

Living Waters Logo

Living Waters is a Christ-centered discipleship and ministry program for men and women seeking healing in areas of sexual and relational brokenness including pornography addiction, codependency, sexual addiction, homosexuality, sexual ambivalence, childhood sexual abuse, transgender issues, and difficulty in establishing and sustaining healthy relationships.  Our next program is starting soon. 

Frequently asked questions about Living Waters…

I don’t struggle with same-sex attraction. Is Living Waters still for me? Yes! Everyone in the body of Christ can benefit from Living Waters. Living Waters is for a wide variety of sexual sin and relationship struggles. We hear many testimonies from men and women who have struggled with heterosexual issues such as pornography addiction, codependency, and promiscuity; who have found freedom through the program. Others have found freedom from struggles such as the effects of abuse, food addiction and self-hatred.

Is Living Waters group therapy? Living Waters is a peer ministry, discipleship program and not professional therapy. Our leaders have all overcome their own battles with sexual and relational brokenness and are free to share their journeys with the participants in a way that professional therapists do not. This helps us walk towards Jesus together in a way that personalizes our recovery and brings deep freedom.

What is the difference between Living Waters and Celebrate Recovery? Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful 12-step program that has helped many men and women begin their recovery journey. Many of our participants have told us how Living Waters has deepened the healing they have received in Celebrate Recovery. Living Waters small groups are interactive and the teachings go much deeper on the root issues of our sexual and relationship struggles through Biblical, in-depth studies of issues like the mother and father wound, the effects of abuse, the cross and confession, forgiveness, and an examination of God’s design for our genders. It helps us better understand who we are in Christ and live according to our God given calling in our local church and the greater body of Christ.

Why is Living Waters 24 weeks long? Living Waters is established as a safe place with enough time set aside to work on some very difficult, and sometimes painful, life issues. We know from our own experience that this time commitment is a necessary blessing that helps to bring many victories.

Why does Living Waters have a $495 tuition rate? Living Waters cost less than $21 per week. This is considerably less than counseling and therapy co-pays, and substantially less than many of us have spent on our addictions. We have found that people who make a financial investment in their recovery are far more committed to their recovery when things get tough. The tuition also helps filter out people who aren’t serious about their recovery or who have dishonorable intentions. Living Waters graduates will tell you that the benefits have far outweighed the costs.

Will I be completely “fixed” at the end of the 24 weeks? Recovery and transformation into the fullness of Christ is a life-long journey. No program of any length can bring the complete restoration that Jesus Christ desires to give. Our primary goal for each participant is that they gain a deeper understanding of who they are in Christ. This leads to deeper healing of the root issues of their struggle, and empowers them to live a holy life. Participants will also learn tools to help them in their recovery and deepen their connection to the Body of Christ.

How long has Reconciliation Ministries been offering Living Waters? Reconciliation Ministries has been partnering with faith communities to help men, women, and adolescents overcome sexual and relational brokenness since 1984. We have been offering the Living Waters program since 1995.

If you or someone you love is struggling with sexual or relational difficulties, there is hope and healing through the power of Jesus Christ.  Call us and ask about attending the next Living Waters program. (586) 739-5114

 

© Reconciliation Ministries 2016.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as credit is given and no fee is charged.

God Knows Where You Are... And He Cares

This testimony was written by a member of our Living Waters Ministry team.  She has experienced the depths of despair and the great love of our Heavenly Father who reaches into our deepest pits and draws us to Himself. Her life is a wonderful testimony of the grace, restoration, and power of Jesus Christ. This article shares how the love and compassion of the Body of Christ helped her find the mercy of Jesus.

Reaching for God

My husband always says that things seem really dark just before they go completely black.  I think he’s right.  Good thing the Good Shepherd isn’t afraid of the dark.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

At forty-five years old I was adopted by my step-dad. That experience opened up for me a bigger share in the inheritance from my Heavenly Father.  It was several months later that I went to see Dan Hitz for counseling and was referred to the Living Waters program.  My natural father had been involved in witchcraft, adultery, and alcoholism.  My step-dad originally came into my life when I was three, bringing me to the waters of Baptism, a life of scripture study, prayer, and regular church attendance.

When I was growing up, our home was a happy place, only it didn’t keep out sexually abusive relatives who had plenty of drugs and alcohol to share.  By age fourteen, I had a drug problem and was preoccupied with sex and thoughts of suicide.

My parents’ plea for help was intercepted by the enemy, as they placed me in a drug program run by cruel con-artists.  It was actually a warehouse modeled after North Korean POW camps.  During my one and one half years of food, sleep, and oxygen deprivation; and mental and physical beatings; I lost all hope.  God did not seem to be there, or know that we were there.

After my escape, it was not difficult to find myself caught in the snare of drug, human, and sex traffickers.  These professional predators offer help and friendship to gain trust.  I even gave them my real name and my parents’ contact information, in case something bad ever happened to me.  With this information, they secured ownership, by threatening to kill my whole family if I should try to leave.  I was told that    I was born for one thing; to please men, and that I would never return to my family, get married, or have children

Trapped

Upon entering a drop house for the first time, I saw something that horrified me.  Drop houses are terrible places where the traffickers imprison their victims. We delivered a father and two small children.  A large door was unlocked and slid open to reveal many men, women, and children crammed into this room.  The heat and the smell that poured out felt like death.  Armed gun men pushed the three in and locked the door.  Panicked, I asked my owner what was going on.  He explained to me that some people are disposable, “…even God does not know that they exist.”  His words confirmed my deepest fear, a lie that had burned deep into my heart in that warehouse; I was one of these people.

One day, something happened that I will never forget.  While working my corner, a minister and his wife came up to me.  They said that God loves me and they invited me to a church event.  They were run off by another street girl, but they had shown me the truth.  God DID KNOW where I was!  He sent these people of faith to my dark place to shine a bright light.  I could hardly recognize the feeling, but it was joy!  Although religious practices were forbidden, this visit emboldened me.  I never did attend their church, but for Easter I bought some proper clothes and a corsage (my dad had always gotten corsages for us girls on Easter).  I snuck out to Church.

I got “the look” as a lady pointed me out to the minister, but it didn’t matter.  I felt as if I had been invited by his Boss in Heaven, and that I belonged there.  It was the closest I had been to my family in years, even though I was 2,000 miles from home.  It only lasted a couple hours, but a bridge of hope to my Father in Heaven had been built.  I believed He would get me home one day.

Mark 2:5 says, “And when Jesus saw the faith of his friends, He said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’”  At a one day conference, Dean Greer from Desert Stream Ministries asked, “Do you have friends like this?”  Thanks be to God, I do!  In their faith, I have found the healing power of Jesus Himself.  I have also been blessed with 31 years clean and sober, reconciliation with my family, 29 years of marriage, 14 beautiful children, and 3 wonderful grandchildren, so far.  God has been so generous and it just keeps getting better!!!  Praise be to Our Father, who causes His children to become light that leads us back to Him.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NLT

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries, or any of the ministries we offer, visit us on the Web at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.  You may also e-mail us at info@recmin.orgAll correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.  Reconciliation Ministries is an affiliate ministry of Restored Hope Network, and uses many of the programs written by Desert Stream Ministries.

© Reconciliation Ministries 2016. Images used under license from www.shutterstock.com

Developing a Relationship with Your Kids - Dan Hitz

This is part-one of a three part article on developing a relationship with your child and talking with him or her about sexual purity. Next month’s article will talk about repenting to your son or daughter for mistakes you have made as a parent. The following month will discuss ways to talk with your teen about sexuality. This article will look at some ways that you can build and improve your relationship with your child. Ideally we should begin using these ideas when our children are small. However, if your child is older, it is not too late to start. Realize that it will take longer to build or repair a relationship when your child is older.

Sometimes we may need some outside help like a counselor or pastor. No matter how old your son or daughter is, we can trust the Lord to guide us in our parenting. Begin talking to them when you have nothing profound to say. This may sound pretty basic, but it is a thought that many of us miss. If we don’t start talking to our kids when they are young about things like Hot Wheels cars or dolls, we won’t have the relationship built up with them when they are older to talk to them about things like dating, or pornography, or sexting.

We have to develop relationships with them when they are young in order to build the emotional bonds and trust that it takes to talk to parents about things that really matter. Things that require vulnerability to share. Make your home a welcoming place for their friends to hang out. It is far easier to watch over our kids when they are at our house than when they are out at someone else’s house. We need to learn the fine balance between hovering over our kids, and investing in the social activities and taking an interest in the lives of their friends. We may not have the money to provide deep dish pizza every night when their friends come over, but making some popcorn and providing some games and activities is a worthy investment in keeping our kids happy and active in our own homes.

Striking up a simple conversation with their friends from time to time helps us to get to know their friends and lets their friends know that we care about them and that they can come to us if they need help. Realize that you don’t have to correct every single thinking error your son or daughter has while he or she is talking to you. Correcting every single error in your son’s thinking as he talks to you about his developing world view can cause him to shut down and not share his heart with you about anything at all. Of course there are some topics that we have to address, but it is really critical to jump on every movie plot or political thought that your son has that you don’t agree with? It may be better to ask teens what attracts them to a particular ideal than to try to talk them into changing their ideals right away.

If you’ve taken the time to develop a deep relationship with your teen as he was growing up, it will be easier for you to ask questions designed to help him think his thoughts through. This may actually help him recognize areas where he needs to make corrections on his own. This is much more powerful for a teen than a parent trying to talk him into believing something that he just doesn’t have the experience to interpret. Another benefit of not trying to correct every error in thinking in every conversation you ever have with your child, is that he will be much more willing to come to you if he makes a mistake knowing that he won’t be lectured on what he should have done, but encouraged to find ways to resolve the problem he has created. Allow your kids to respectfully disagree with you and hear their point of view. This is another very delicate balance, yet important skill that we need to teach our teens. Of course there are times when they have to do what we say because we are the parent; however, as they mature from the innocent young child and their critical thinking skills begin to develop they may see things from a different perspective that we have never even thought of. Sometimes, they are right and we are wrong. Are we willing to at least hear their point of view? More importantly, are we willing to admit that they may have a better idea than us?

Of course, we will have the last word and sometimes we won’t really know why we want things to be a certain way. We are the parent and we may have to make some unpopular decisions at times, but that will be much easier if our kids realize that we do care about their thoughts and ideas even if we don’t change our minds and follow their ideas. Correct poor choices in an empowering manner rather than shaming your son or daughter. Of course all teens (and parents) make mistakes, and a wise parent will help a teen correct the mistake he has made in a way that equips him to do better, rather than causing him to feel like a complete failure. Public humiliation or yelling tears down personal value. Sometimes we have to calm down and overcome our own emotional reaction to a mistake our teen has made before we talk to him. We should make sure that we work with our son to help him see the problems his choice has caused, help him take ownership of his errors, and help him find a way to satisfactorily resolve the issues as best he can. Here is another learning curve of knowing how much to help our teen resolve his own problems, not helping him at all, or over helping him. This can be challenging when his problems really do affect us and the entire family, and we might need some outside help in some situations. Grant privileges and trust in direct proportion to your teen’s faithfulness and trustworthiness.

It is best to grant as many privileges and practice as much trust at an age appropriate level as your son has earned through his good behavior and trustworthiness. This helps your teen to recognize that his behavior has good and/or bad consequences, and helps him have a goal to work towards. A teen who is given driver’s training and his own car while he does not complete his assigned chores, and drives recklessly develops a sense of entitlement. A teen who sees that helping around the house, doing his homework, and driving safely when practicing with his parent sees that his good behavior is rewarded and is motivated to live conscientiously. If your teen has developed a pattern of bad behavior, outside help can be beneficial in working towards improved behavior that results in increased privileges. Maybe your heart is sinking as you are reading through these ideas.

Some of us have such challenging relationships with our teens that we can never imagine trying to implement these practices. If you have recognized areas where you have made mistakes as a parent, spend some time in prayer to ask the Lord to show you some specific things to apologize to your kids about. Ask the Lord to prepare your hearts prior to your talk, and then wait for the right moment. You can begin to work on your relationship with your teen again. You will have to proceed slowly and have many ups and downs, but don’t give up. The fruits of your efforts will be well worth it. Some of us may need professional help through a counselor or family therapist to work on our relationships with our kids. This is especially true if you or your teen is dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If that is you, seek help from the pastoral care department of your local church or find a good Christian therapist. Good qualified help is available.