Healing From Porn Addiction
While soul care is about truly caring for yourself, it’s not an entirely solo pursuit. “We get wounded in community, and we get healed in community,” says Teri Craft, who with husband James shares their story of brokenness and restoration to bring hope to other troubled marriages.The couple’s world fell apart when James’ long-term pornography addiction, and an affair, came to light in 2013. “So many times, we put such effort into our ministry, but we don’t put the same level of care into ourselves,” James observes.
Fearful of what others would say if they knew, he’d kept his inner struggles secret through years of fruitful ministry as Foursquare’s NextGen national director and a senior pastor.
Now calling that crash-and-burn God’s “great kindness” to them, bringing them to healing, the Crafts have told their story in their book Exposed as a warning and a beacon of hope. They help couples rebuild their marriages through personal counseling, and warn of the dangers of pornography through their Novus Project.
Central to their message is the belief that soul care, being attentive to one’s own inner being, is the essential, first step in truly transformative discipleship. And that requires what they believe are the inextricably linked experiences of truth and grace—which are encountered through relationship with others.
“Isolation is the kiss of death,” James asserts. “When you isolate, that’s when you medicate ... Even the Lone Ranger had a partner.”
It is also important to focus “on the whole person—spirit, soul and body,” he says. “You can’t be broken in one area of your life and not have it affect all the others.” That means pursuing physical health as well as spiritual and emotional health; while not downplaying personal responsibility, he points to the part neurochemistry plays in porn addiction.
As part of their new way of living, the Crafts have established practices that help provide good boundaries—exercise, eating well, scheduling time together, a plan for media consumption, and a set of family values that is framed and hung on the wall. “It all comes down to time and relationships,” Teri summarizes.“If we can honestly be real with one another about the brokenness within—because everyone has brokenness within them—if we can be real about it, we might just have a chance of turning the next generation’s hearts to Jesus.”
Tracing the fault-lines in their own lives back to dysfunction they experienced when they were young, and still passionate about helping young people live well for God, the Crafts believe that soul care is a critical need for—and desire of—the next generation.
Many are leaving church because they are tired of formal programs and don’t see the personal authenticity they hunger after, James observes. “They think authenticity is a badge of honor,” he says, while many older people believe showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness.
“If we can honestly be real with one another about the brokenness within—because everyone has brokenness within them—if we can be real about it, we might just have a chance of turning the next generation’s hearts to Jesus,” he says.
One of the biggest challenges, the Crafts believe, is the shame many leaders feel at the prospect of admitting they don’t have it all together. They suspect that many, as they did for so long, feel they need to perform well to earn God’s approval and acceptance.
But they have discovered that it’s better “to be in a close, intimate, vulnerable relationship with Christ—and whatever comes out of that is ministry,” Teri says.
“What if we were able to open the door and create a cultural environment where people are safe, and their stories are told, and healing is brought, and restoration takes place?” adds James. “I believe that is the beginning place of revival.”
Visit James and Teri’s Website
Helping College Students Find Christ: Larry DeWerd
Growing up, my family only went to church on Christmas and Easter.When I was 13, my mother sent me to confirmation class. Before we took communion for the first time, the pastor told us, “Take the bread and cup, then go back to your pew and pray.” Well, he didn’t tell me what to pray about, so my prayer was one of thankfulness. At that point, I felt God’s arm around me. I was His.
By the time I was in college, however, I had become enamored by pantheist and deist literature. When I met the lovely young woman who was to be my wife, I decided to start a “deep” discussion and asked, “How do you know you’re going to heaven?” I figured I could philosophize about the nature of heaven.
She simply replied, “Because the Bible tells me so.”
Then God suddenly spoke to me: “You’ve never read my Word.” So, I went home that night and started reading through the Bible. Even Leviticus didn’t stop me.
I was almost led away as a young college student, but God pulled me back. Eventually, I became a credential minister, but I still felt I belonged in the university. Now I try to help my students with their questions and encourage them to dig into the Bible. A lot of them grow up in Christian homes but lose their faith in college, and I feel for students confronted with many ideologies.
A couple of my students were attending a church but not getting much from it other than “Jesus loves you.” They were struggling with the idea that “the Bible is just a bunch of fables.” I asked them to start reading the Bible, and then we met weekly and discussed their various questions.Eventually, my students will ask, “Why do you have so much peace?” or something similar. Then I explain about how I base my truth off of what the Bible says and what Jesus has done.
One time, we decided to walk across campus, praying for it and speaking in tongues. No one paid any attention to us because there are so many languages on campus; they just thought we were foreign students. Now some of them are in leadership in their local churches.
It’s crucial to find out where the student is coming from. A common stance is “all truth is relative.” Gently challenge them: Why do you believe that? If truth is relative, who’s right? How do you decide what is the correct truth?
Eventually, my students will ask, “Why do you have so much peace?” or something similar. Then I explain about how I base my truth off of what the Bible says and what Jesus has done, which grants a peace that transcends understanding.
This isn’t just a conversation I have with my students. For five years, I taught a weekly Bible study on campus with five other professors. Also, when I received the Quimby Award for outstanding achievements in the medical physics field, I quoted Proverbs 25:2—“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (NKJV)—in my acceptance speech to over 5,000 medical physicists. Many of the medical physicists actually came up later and thanked me for quoting Scripture.
All of this convinces me that God is bringing people to Himself all over, but particularly people who are searching for answers and really want to dig into something true.
Larry DeWerd, Ph.D., is an assisting minister at Chapel Valley Community (Madison Foursquare Church) in Middleton, Wisc. He is fellow of the AAPM and a Quimby fellow for lifetime achievement in medical physics. He is also a Caswell fellow for lifetime achievement in Ionizing Radiation Standards for the Council of Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards, as well as the director of the Medical Radiation Research Center. He has published over 150 research articles and currently lives in Madison, Wisc., with his wife. Written with Rachel Chimits, a writer in Reno, Nev.
The Healing Power of Prayer and Community: Anthony Hernandez
This all got started when I went forward after a typical service because I wanted prayer for God to use me more.I attend Faith Center (Eureka Foursquare Church) in Eureka, Calif., led by Pastors Matt and Heidi Messner. I told Heidi how I was starting my life over with God, and all the stuff He had done. Then she asked, “Hey, would you be willing to be part of a video on people’s testimonies?”
At the time, I didn’t feel comfortable telling my story because it’s a small town, and I didn’t want people to know I’d become a drug addict, and that my addiction had made me homeless. Fears rushed at me: People you know are going to look at you differently. Then I felt like the Holy Spirit said, “You need to take this step of faith.”
I was thinking, Oh, man … But this is how God has made me comfortable with my story, and anytime I get nervous, He reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s about Him and how He works.
To give you a little background, my family and I are really close. Growing up, we didn’t have much—just God and family, and that’s pretty much all I need in my life. Mom would always pray with me about anything, so I’ve always understood the power of prayer.God has made me comfortable with my story, and anytime I get nervous, He reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s about Him and how He works.
I was about 17 when I started using, and that really hurt my family because they know how it can destroy your life. My mom was constantly praying for me while I was staying away from home, especially around dinnertime because, like I said, we’re normally together.
One night, my mom prayed: “God, I need you to help me. He’s my son—I can’t lose him.” Then she felt the Holy Spirit respond, “He’s my son, too.”
From that point on, she knew God was going to bring me back. A few months later, I decided to quit, and my parents let me come back home. If you don’t know what heroin withdraws are like, they’re some of the worst out there—pure agony—and I knew it because I’d tried to quit a few times.
This last time, I was in a world of pain, and I finally dropped to my knees and told God, “I can’t do this without You.” Instantly, I felt relief, then the next day I had almost no symptoms at all.My mom prayed: “God, I need you to help me. He’s my son—I can’t lose him.” Then she felt the Holy Spirit respond, “He’s my son, too.”
I knew I needed to turn my life over to God again. Mom told me about Celebrate Recovery at Faith Center, so I went there with her that first weekend after I got clean. At the end of the meeting, they asked if anyone wanted to turn their life over to God, and I did. Ever since then, I’ve felt God’s presence with me.
Shortly after that, though, I started feeling really sick. I went to the hospital and found out that my liver was on the verge of failing; they had to keep me overnight. The next day, a doctor told me I had Hepatitis C. So, my family and I went into prayer. It’s hard to be at peace when you get news like that, but I felt the Holy Spirit tell me everything would be OK.
Anthony with his nephews
About four months later, the doctor called with my blood work. “This is going to sound crazy, but you have no Hepatitis C cells in your body anymore. It’s gone.”
While God was repairing my body, He was also healing my soul, and a big way He did that was through community. In Narcotics Anonymous, we can only say that we have a “higher power”; but in Faith Center’s Celebrate Recovery meetings, we thank God for the changes He’s made in our lives.
Especially when trying to recover from addiction in church, there’s this anxiety that not everyone can relate to what you’re going through, and sometimes that scares you away. At Celebrate Recovery at my church, though, people completely understand because they’re going through the same things.
The folks at Faith Center are really friendly. They’re easy to talk to and feel like regular people—just way cooler. Since sharing my testimony in church, anytime people see me they give me a hug and say they’re proud of me.God has changed my heart. … I can reach out to others who are struggling with addiction, sharing how I was in their place and what God has done.
Pastor Matt came to a Celebrate Recovery meeting and worshiped with us. I think I actually got my nine months clean chip while he was there, and I was stoked that he got to see that.
With anybody at Faith Center you build a relationship with, you can tell them you need prayer for something, and they’ll put a hand on you and pray for you right there, and the prayer team will always pray for you, too. Prayer is really open here. I’ve never felt so close to a church before, and now I can’t imagine going anywhere else.
Because of my experience, I think I want to try to become a police officer. On the street, any user dislikes cops, and I did once, too. But God has changed my heart, and I feel like I can reach out to others who are struggling with addiction, sharing how I was in their place and what God has done.
Watch Anthony’s Testimony →
Anthony Hernandez attends Faith Center (Eureka Foursquare Church) in Eureka, Calif., co-pastored by Matt and Heidi Messner. This story is as told to Rachel Chimits, a writer in Reno, Nev.
Why I Want to Bring My Church Under Foursquare
Senior Pastor Bruce Grecco and his wife, Rebecca, planted Summit Church in San Diego eight years ago.As a Foursquare-ordained minister of a nondenominational church, Bruce has found ways to integrate their church’s calling and mission with Foursquare’s leadership and principles.
In this interview, the pastor of Summit Church explains how they first connected with the Foursquare family, and why they want to stay connected.
How did you first connect with Foursquare?
I’m a transplant, but my wife grew up in Foursquare. Her parents were Northwest District supervisors many years ago. While in Bible school, my mother-in-law actually did research for Aimee Semple McPherson’s sermons.
After Rebecca and I married, we spent plenty of time with her mother at district conferences, so I met a lot of people in Foursquare. After we started our church in 2008, I asked myself who had impacted my life the most, and it was Foursquare. So I thought: “You know what? It’s time to make the shift.”
Which Foursquare leaders have been important sources of encouragement to you?
Not long after we planted our church, my wife and I met with Glenn Burris Jr., Sterling Brackett and Rod Koop. That was when the discussion of Foursquare Association came up, and Glenn reminded us that the cornerstone of Angelus Temple is “dedicated unto the cause of world-wide and inter-denominational evangelism.”
We went away that afternoon really honored to have met these guys, and impressed by the spirit of humility and openness. We wanted a spiritual covering and a community we resonated with. To have both of these things and be able to pursue God’s calling for our church was such a blessing.
How was Foursquare Connection 2016 in Hawaii?
I really loved this last conference. The QuickTalks were amazing, especially hearing from guys leading churches of all sizes and from different contexts. The overall tone of our leadership is very humble, inclusive and God-honoring.
Also, Foursquare’s global focus is so important because I think it keeps the church here encouraged. There’s just a momentum in Foursquare that God’s breathing life into, and that excites me.
How is the Reimagine Foursquare initiative changing things for you and your church?
It gave us clarity. About six years ago, I had our then district supervisor, Kimberly Dirmann, come to our church to see who we are, even though we’re nondenominational and an Association church. I wanted her to know that I wanted to be Foursquare. I asked her, “I know my church is independent, but where do we fit?”We wanted a spiritual covering and a community we resonated with. To have both of these things and be able to pursue God’s calling for our church was such a blessing.
Now, I feel like I’ve finally moved out of the waiting room and into a solid identity. I think Foursquare’s done a brilliant job of putting together a bylaw change that doesn’t compromise their values but still draws a wider circle for people like us who resonate with Foursquare but are in different situations.
What do you envision for your church’s future?
We still meet in a high school theater, so our next big step is finding a permanent location. We know God has another home for us, so we’re praying for that transition.
In the meanwhile, I know exactly what the next level of involvement with Foursquare could look like in the future, and how I can move forward as our church progresses from a community church to a covenant church.
Por qué Quiero Traer a Mi Iglesia Bajo la CuadrangularEl Pastor Principal Bruce Grecco y su esposa, Rebecca, plantaron la iglesia Summit Church en San Diego hace ocho años. Bruce y Rebecca Grecco
Como ministro ordenado bajo la Cuadrangular de una iglesia no denominacional, Bruce ha hallado maneras de integrar el llamado y la misión de su iglesia con los principios y el liderazgo de la Cuadrangular.
¿Cómo se conectó por primera vez con la Cuadrangular?
Yo soy un trasplante, pero mi esposa creció en la Cuadrangular. Hace muchos años sus padres fueron supervisores del Distrito Northwest. Mientras asistía al colegio bíblico, mi suegra estuvo haciendo investigaciones para los sermones de Aimee Semple McPherson.
Tras casarnos Rebecca y yo, pasamos mucho tiempo con su mamá en conferencias del distrito, y por ello conocí a mucha gente de la Cuadrangular. Después de plantar nuestra iglesia en el 2008, me pregunté quién había impactado más mi vida y resultó ser la Cuadrangular. Así que pensé: “¿Sabes qué? Es tiempo de hacer un cambio”.
¿Qué líderes Cuadrangulares han sido fuentes importantes de ánimo para usted?
No mucho tiempo después de plantar nuestra iglesia, mi esposa y yo tuvimos un encuentro con Glenn Burris Jr., Sterling Brackett y Rod Koop. Fue entonces cuando la discusión de la Asociación Cuadrangular surgió, y Glenn nos recordó que la piedra angular de Angelus Temple está “dedicada a la causa del evangelismo mundial e inter-denominacional”.
Nos fuimos de allí esa tarde muy honrados de habernos reunido con estas personas e impresionados por la humildad de espíritu y transparencia. Deseábamos una cobertura espiritual y una comunidad con la cual pudiéramos identificarnos. El poder tener ambas y al mismo tiempo perseguir el llamado de Dios para nuestra iglesia fue toda una bendición.
¿Qué le pareció la Conexión Cuadrangular 2016 en Hawaii?
Me gustó muchísimo esta última conferencia. Las sesiones de QuickTalks fueron impresionantes, especialmente cuando escuchamos de personas dirigiendo iglesias de todo tamaño y de diferentes contextos. El tono general de nuestro liderazgo es muy humilde, incluyente y que honra a Dios.
Además, el enfoque global de la Cuadrangular es muy importante porque creo que mantiene a la iglesia de aquí animada. Hay un impulso en la Cuadrangular donde Dios está soplando vida y eso me entusiasma.
¿Cómo la iniciativa Re-imagina la Cuadrangular le están cambiando las cosas a usted y a su iglesia?
Nos dio claridad. Hace unos seis años, nuestra entonces supervisora, Kimberly Dirmann, a petición mía, visitó mi iglesia para ver quiénes somos, aunque somos una iglesia no-denominacional e iglesia de la Asociación. Quería que supiera que yo quería ser Cuadrangular. Le pregunté: “Sé que mi iglesia es independiente, pero, ¿dónde encajamos?”
Ahora siento que por fin pasamos de la sala de espera a una sólida identidad. Pienso que la Cuadrangular ha hecho una labor brillante en establecer un cambio en sus estatutos que no compromete sus valores pero aun así atrae a un más amplio círculo de personas como nosotros que pueden identificarse con la Cuadrangular pero que están en diferentes situaciones.
¿Qué visualiza para el futuro de su iglesia?
Aun nos reunimos en el teatro de una escuela preparatoria, así que nuestro próximo paso es encontrar un lugar permanente. Sabemos que Dios tiene un hogar para nosotros así que estamos orando por esa transición.
Mientras tanto, sé exactamente cómo pudiera verse el próximo nivel de involucramiento con la Cuadrangular en el futuro, y cómo puedo avanzar en lo que nuestra iglesia progresa de una iglesia en comunidad a una iglesia de pacto.
Este relato fue redactado por Rachel Chimits, una escritora independiente de Reno, Nevada. Traducción por Frank Leon.
Giving Up Independence to Join Foursquare: Patricio and Rosa Serrano
Senior Pastor Patricio Serrano and Assisting Minister Rosa Serrano had been independent pastors in Grand Junction, Colo., for seven years when their paths crossed with the Foursquare family at a youth camp.So what happened when this dynamic couple encountered Foursquare and brought their church under our movement as Aliento de Vida (Grand Junction Hispanic Foursquare Church) in Grand Junction, Colo.? Patricio and Rosa candidly share their story.
Why did you choose to join the Foursquare family?
Patricio: In 2011, my church attended a Foursquare youth camp. One of our youth leaders had come from a Foursquare church and encouraged us to attend. When we were there, we felt very welcomed and included in everything. We kept going back to the youth camps, and in 2013 we started going the Gateway District trainings.
Eventually, I talked with my wife and told her we should either think about joining Foursquare or stop going because we were receiving so many resources and a lot of training, but we weren’t Foursquare. Prior to that, we felt very isolated, and we didn’t really have fellowship with other pastors. Now we had people looking out for us. Pastoral care is really big in Foursquare, and that’s something that’s really helped us.
What is pastoral care like in your district?
Rosa: Liliana Hanold, our divisional superintendent, calls us often and asks us how we are doing in our personal lives, and in the church. We also pray with her and the group of pastors in our region, and we talk about different important topics each time. We have received calls from Martin Ruarte, the leader of Hispanic ministry in our district, also to ask us how we are doing. We do not feel like we get lost in the group; they have a more personal relationship with us.
What are some benefits that you've received by attending district trainings?
Rosa: Although we had been pastors for several years, the district trainings have been like the foundation of the ministry we now have. Many of the things they teach us in regional trainings have to do with pastoral care, how to care for ourselves and how to care for the congregation, how to multiply. It is not so much about how to preach, but more about how to make the church flourish.“Pastoral care is really big in Foursquare, and that’s something that’s really helped us.”
— Patricio Serrano
Who helped you in your transition to become Foursquare pastors?
Rosa: We cannot name just one person because there were several: Daniel and Monica Prieto, Martin Ruarte, Liliana Hanold, Martha Gallegos. It’s a group of people. It’s a team, and they work in unity. They work very closely with one another, and everyone does their part in what they are responsible for.
Have you been able to attend a Foursquare convention?
Patricio: We have attended two: Dallas in 2014 and Anaheim in 2015. At the Anaheim convention, several speakers talked about starting things—starting different ministries, small or big. So when we came back, my wife and I started a young adults Bible study.
We live about 10 minutes from Colorado Mesa University, and young people come to Grand Junction from different parts of Colorado to either study or work. We wanted to connect with them and be an extended family to them. For an entire school year, we invited them to our house, my wife cooked dinner for them, and I would do a short Bible study. Then we’d have a time of fellowship.
How would you encourage other Foursquare pastors who are reading your story?
Rosa: It has been a great blessing for us to be under the covering of The Foursquare Church. Knowing we have a family that is supporting us in every area, both spiritually and physically, makes our job so much easier. We have been given the necessary resources and tools so that we can have a successful ministry.
Renunciamos a Nuestra Independenica para Ser CuadrangularesEl Pastor Principal Patricio Serrano y la Ministro Asistente Rosa Serrano habían sido pastores independientes en Grand Junction, Colorado, por 7 años cuando sus caminos se cruzaron con la familia Cuadrangular en un campamento juvenil. Patricio y Rosa Serrano
Conozca cómo esta dinámica pareja se encontraron y trajeron a su iglesia bajo la Cuadrangular como Aliento de Vida (Grand Junction Hispanic Foursquare Church).
¿Por qué decidieron unirse a la familia Cuadrangular?
Patricio: En el año 2011 mi iglesia asistió a un campamento de jóvenes Cuadrangular. Uno de nuestros líderes de jóvenes había venido de una iglesia Cuadrangular y nos animó a asistir. Estando allí, nos sentimos muy bienvenidos e incluidos en todo. Seguimos regresando a los campamentos de jóvenes y en el 2013, empezamos a ir a los entrenamientos pastorales del Distrito Gateway.
Con el tiempo hablé con mi esposa y le dije que deberíamos o pensar en unirnos a La Iglesia Cuadrangular o dejar de asistir porque estábamos recibiendo tantos recursos y mucho entrenamiento sin ser Cuadrangulares.
Antes de eso, nos habíamos sentido muy aislados y en realidad no teníamos comunión con otros pastores. Ahora teníamos personas pendiente de nosotros. El cuidado pastoral es realmente importante en la Cuadrangular y eso es algo que realmente nos ayudó.
¿Cómo es el cuidado pastoral en su distrito?
Rosa: Liliana Hanold, nuestra superintendente divisional, nos llama a menudo y nos pregunta cómo nos va en nuestra vida personal y en la iglesia. También oramos con ella y con el grupo de pastores en nuestra región y todo el tiempo hablamos de diferentes temas importantes. Hemos recibido llamadas de Martín Ruarte, líder del ministerio Hispano del distrito, también preguntándonos cómo nos va. No nos sentimos perdidos en el grupo; tienen una relación más personal con nosotros.
¿Cuáles son algunos de los beneficios recibidos al asistir a los entrenamientos del distrito?
Rosa: Aunque habíamos sido pastores por varios años, los entrenamientos han sido como el fundamento del ministerio que ahora tenemos. Muchas de las cosas que nos enseñan en los entrenamientos regionales tienen que ver con el cuidado pastoral, cómo cuidarnos a nosotros mismos y cómo cuidar de la congregación, cómo multiplicarse. No es tanto acerca de cómo predicar sino más bien de cómo hacer que la iglesia florezca.
¿Quién les ayudó en su transición a convertirse en pastores Cuadrangulares?
Rosa: No podemos nombrar a una sola persona porque fueron varias: Daniel y Mónica Prieto, Martín Ruarte, Liliana Hanold, Martha Gallegos. Es un grupo de personas. Es un equipo y trabajan en unidad. Trabajan muy cerca el uno del otro y cada quien hace su parte en lo que le corresponde.
¿Han podido asistir a una convención Cuadrangular?
Patricio: Hemos asistido a dos, Dallas en 2014 y Anaheim en 2015. En la convención de Anaheim varios oradores compartieron sobre comenzar cosas—iniciar distintos ministerios, pequeños o grandes. Así que al volver a casa, mi esposa y yo comenzamos un estudio bíblico para jóvenes adultos.
Vivimos a unos 10 minutos de la Universidad de Colorado Mesa, y los jóvenes vienen a Grand Junction desde distintas partes de Colorado ya sea a estudiar o a trabajar. Quisimos conectarnos con ellos y ser una familia extendida para ellos. Durante todo un año escolar los invitamos a nuestra casa, mi esposa les preparaba cena y yo hacía un breve estudio bíblico. Después pasábamos un tiempo de compañerismo.
¿Cómo animaría a otros pastores Cuadrangulares que están leyendo su historia?
Rosa: Ha sido una gran bendición para nosotros estar bajo la cobertura de la Iglesia Cuadrangular. Saber que tenemos una familia que nos apoya en todo, tanto espiritual como físicamente, hace mucho más fácil nuestra labor. Se nos han dado los recursos y herramientas necesarios para que podamos tener un ministerio exitoso.