A STORY FROM AMSTERDAM
So I met a man in Amsterdam named Kenneth…
Kenneth has been living in Amsterdam for 9 years and has had an ongoing battle with drug addiction. I first met him a couple of weeks ago at The Cleft’s soup kitchen ministry. About halfway into my shift, Kenneth walked through the door and came right up to me. I gave him some tea and then he immediately started talking about how he was fed up and just wanted to die. He talked about his drug addiction and how it was killing him.
Shortly after that I introduced him to a full-time staff member of The Cleft, Will. The two of them sat down at a table nearby and talked for a while. When the conversation ended I could tell that Will loved all that had transpired. Kenneth had decided to get help and Will set an appointment for him to go to a place where he could do just that.
Fast forward one week.
I was at The Cleft again for another time of giving food to the hungry and once again Kenneth walks in. He was in the same state of mind he was the previous week, which let Will and I know that he didn’t make it to the clinic. This time both Will and I got to sit down and encourage him in his time of suffering. He stated much of the same as he did the week prior, but this time he was ready to go get help right then. After the ministry time ended that night, it was about time for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to begin at a place just down the road so Will gave him all the information he needed to get there. Kenneth left The Cleft, and once again, the situation now rested in God’s hands.
Fast forward one day.
Before Kenneth left for the Narcotics Anonymous meeting, Will had set up a time the day after to meet up and discuss how the day went. I wanted to be there with Will for the appointment so at 5:30pm we both sat on the front porch of The Cleft. We were expecting Kenneth to show up any minute. 5:45pm came and went. No sign of Kenneth. 5:55pm came and there was still no sign of him. A couple of minutes later, just as we were getting ready to call it a day and go our separate ways, up walks none other than Kenneth. He looked different today. He was walking with a swagger and his head was held high. After saying hello to us he sat down and began to talk all about the meeting from the night before. He showed us the literature they gave him then he showed us the phone numbers of all the guys in the group who were ready to help him if he ever got another urge. Kenneth was beaming and we couldn’t help but get caught up in his excitement. He had his first clean 24 hour period in six months and couldn’t believe it! As our time came to a close Kenneth talked of how he couldn’t wait to get to his NA meeting that night. He took off shortly after and all we can do now is pray for him.
Will and I sitting on a porch in front of The Cleft
This is not the norm for The Cleft. Appointments are made but it is common for the person to never show up. It’s also common for the people who do show up to get help for a brief amount of time and then end up right back where they started—hurting and enslaved to their addictions. People like Kenneth are huge boosts to the morale of the full-time staff here. It makes sense when you think about the majority of the people The Cleft works with and the incredible amount of patience needed to continue to love those who continually fall back into the same destructive patterns they were trying to get out of a week before. It is undeniably hard to repeatedly love someone who continues to cycle in and out of their addictions and Kenneth could just as well fall into that category. We are praying that does not happen!
Kenneth said something profound when he was sitting with Will and I on the front porch of The Cleft. He said, “You look at teams who win lots of games. They practice and practice and practice in order to play the game well. Well, this is my first day of practice so I can win a good game.” He, of course, is talking about how he is now practicing a different way so he can come close to God AND move away from his destructive addiction. After hearing this, I couldn’t help but think of how we could all probably benefit from a 12-step program. I know I have some addictions that keep me from maintaining a healthy life, but they are harder to see so they go unnoticed for longer and are given time to grow and grow and grow. An addiction is an addiction, and Kenneth didn’t realize it but he ministered to me in that moment sitting on the porch. Let’s all take Kenneth’s quote to heart and begin to shed the old way of practicing and adopt a new practice routine so we can win the good game…after all, God came to give hope to the hopeless and set the captives free.