Some ministries are birthed out of a difficult season of life… Today I’d like to introduce you to Amber Fisher, the founder of R3 Ministries. Here is her story:
On January 17, 2012, my best friend since childhood took her own life. She had waged a long war with addiction, relapse, and depression, and on that day she made a permanent decision in a moment of desperation. In the years leading up to her death, and especially in the time after it, God began to show me a need in the body of Christ for a better ministry to people like her. It wasn’t that I blamed anyone for her death, but walking that journey with her opened my eyes to brokenness within the church. I wasn’t sure at that time where God was leading me, but I began to pray for a way to make a change.
Some time later I attended a women’s conference where the theme encouraged moms to be authentic in our relationships with each other. I began to realize it was a need in the church too, and wondered what it would be like if people in the church felt free to be honest about where they were. What would a ministry look like if we knew what it meant to love like Jesus loves—and had the courage to do it? How much would our effectiveness grow if people felt like the church were a safe place to be authentic, a place where they could share their hurts, their mistakes, and their battles without fear? How do we make that happen? That day, the idea for R3 ministries was born, and I began to pray immediately that God would confirm for me that it was the right path. In the short time that followed, I heard story after story of people that didn’t feel safe being honest in their churches. God not only confirmed in my heart the need for this ministry, but He increased my passion for it at the same time. Here are some of those stories: (Please note-names have been changed, and these people are not from the same church.)
*Ann- a wife struggling to keep her marriage after infidelity had torn it to shreds. They were hanging on by a thread, but were afraid of how their church family would treat them if they came for help.
*Grace- a mother with postpartum depression who was asked to leave her women’s Bible study after coming forward and asking for prayer. She was told she wouldn’t be depressed if she wasn’t “harboring sin” and that she was unwelcome until she “got right.”
*Steve-a young man recovering from a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt, who was told by his pastor to “keep this quiet” so as not to hurt the reputation of the ministry
*Beth—Steve’s wife, struggling to not only save her marriage and the life of her husband, but also to parent their three children, and preserve an image within their church
*John-a young man struggling to recover from addiction who, upon completion of a year in a Christian inpatient rehab, was asked to refrain from attending the young adults’ group in a church for fear that his presence alone would be a “bad influence”.
*Ellen—a dedicated Christian woman who began struggling with depression was told that if she really “trusted God”, she wouldn’t need help from pills.
As my husband and I heard these stories, and others like them, we began to envision a ministry that would not only create a safe place for these people, but would also make the body of Christ more aware of the devastation that addiction and depression cause.
Like many others, I was blessed to have been raised in a Christian home and had no idea how far the effects can reach until I had walked that journey with my friend. We believe very strongly that the church as a whole needs a God-given eye opener to the seriousness of these issues, as well as to the enormous number of people struggling with them. To my shame, it wasn’t until after my friend’s death that I began researching and discovered staggering statistics regarding the number of people whose lives are ruined or ended by addiction every year. What I found was heartbreaking.
- In 2010 there were an estimated 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 that were current or former illicit drug users
- An estimated 10.0 million individual 12 to 20 years of age that admitted to being drinkers; 6.5 million were binge drinkers and 2.0 million heavy drinkers.
- Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent
- Over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction.
- An estimated 1 in 10 American adults report struggling with depression
After everything God had shown us, we felt confident that R3 was a necessary ministry not only for our church, but one that we prayed we would get to share with others. We named it R3 based on the phrase: Ransomed, Restored, Released. It represents what God does for us. The theme verse for it is Galatians 5:1, which says, “It is for freedom which Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” It hosts an addiction recovery group, a Grief Share group, and an R3 Prayer Warriors group, and will work towards a partnership with community recovery resources. Our goal is that having this ministry will do these things:
- Show the changing love of Jesus to those who are struggling with addiction and depression
- Provide resources, support, and a safe haven for those who are desperately searching for hope
- Raise awareness in the body of Christ of the magnitude and devastation of these battles, and motivate to become involved
- Help to create an environment within the church that is welcoming, gracious, and authentic
Come back to the blog on Friday, to find out how to start a similar ministry in your church or community.