Addicts make for poor missionaries; they make for ineffective leaders and pretty bad friends. Addicts are hard people to have relationships with, because they are generally unaware of how their unresolved issues taint every interaction.
I have known this for a long time, yet it took 25 years of addiction for me to admit to myself something was really wrong. I felt such deep misery in my soul from the sexual habits I had been acting on since my teenage years. Something had to change, but I didn’t know what and I didn’t know how.
About five years ago, I attended a prayer meeting in South Korea where I had been serving as a missionary for three years. It was early morning and the chapel was still dark when the Lord showed me an image of an injured soldier. I could see both old and fresh wounds on the figure, and cumulatively they were enough to end the soldier’s mission. God shared with me His heart for the soldier as He whispered, “I know and see every bump, bruise, and gash. I too felt the pain of every blow. They are precious to me, and I have not overlooked any of them.” Then a mist wrapped itself around the injured soldier; the Holy Spirit came to heal and strengthen the soldier so its mission could be completed.
The image of the soldier in the mist and the impression it left are still very fresh in my soul. At the time, I didn’t understand the experience or its message. All I knew was that God was speaking.
This led me to transition back to the United States for a desperately needed break from the mission field. I had lived in three different countries in ten years and lost myself somewhere along the way. While home, I sought counseling, rested, and worked to reconnect with myself, God, and my extended family.
While teaching at a missionary training conference, I had the opportunity to participate in a time of prayer and confession as written about in James 5:16. We were supposed to be ministering to the new recruits, but God strongly nudged me to allow myself to be ministered to. At the risk of my ministry and reputation I humbly asked for prayer and confessed that I had been struggling with masturbation for a long time and in spite of seeking help, I was still not free.
The women in that group received me with grace and love. I felt safe. They led me through a time of prayer where I renounced my addiction and everything that went with it. I repented and asked God to refill me with his Holy Spirit. That day I walked away free and I knew it.
A few months after that memorable prayer time I signed up for 423 Women. Although I had maintained my sexual sobriety for a few months, I knew that I needed to understand what was driving my addiction and to develop skills to help me remain free. This has made all the difference.
423 Women has helped me live according to Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” And it is true. I am free.