Testimonies

Here are some real life testimonies of changed lives as a result of working through the Celebrate Recovery programme. These people have experienced the hope and healing through their readiness to embark on their own journey of real and lasting change.

Read these Amazing Recovery Stories

Read some of the amazing recovery stories from those that made a life-changing decision to attend Celebrate Recovery.

Caroline's Story

For 24 years I have struggled to make myself happy in my marriage. I have manipulated and tried to manage my husband’s every move or thought process in order fix him. I know best, therefore I need to manage how we should both live together …. This is true insanity.

I devalued my husband’s opinions, copying my fathers overbearing and self-righteous behaviour which he showed towards my mother.

Together my husband and I became entrenched in a negative cyclical behavioural pattern that remained ingrained until I started Celebrate Recovery. At the beginning of CR I believed my higher power was real but out of date and didn’t understand marriage.

I had an attitude of pride and self-righteousness.

According to CR literature the heart of pride is rooted in rejection. Pride in my life is where the enemy has robbed and destroyed many years of happiness for me. The lie being worldly truth, “You are justified to get your pound of flesh because you didn’t deserve so and so, go on, keep manipulating until one of you is exhausted, you will win because you are right”. This is not a spiritual truth.
The kingdom of God is upside down. Turn the other cheek. To me, this means being above the problem, you don’t always have to react, think like a wise man would, you have a choice.

Before I came to Celebrate Recovery I denied that I had any emotional problems from childhood.

As a child, I became addicted to negative attention through parental emotional neglect. I developed PTSD after a near-death incident. I fantasised about death and how everyone would react if I died. Later, I tried to run through traffic to see if I should be dead or alive. I got the reaction I wanted when the heavily pregnant passenger cried and knelt beside me making sure that I was ok. Then I moved to less dangerous feats by ripping off wallpaper all over the house. My siblings got smacked if they didn’t stop me. So I stopped and internalised pain into comfort eating and bulimia developed.

The CR teaching on denial showed me gently that these problems developed innocently as a child but bedded down in adult life into an unbalanced thinking pattern of victim and saint complex.

As an adult, I had the perfect complex to manage my husband and feel justified in doing so. Also during the denial step, I saw that there was a stronghold of bitterness within me. Jesus helped me to see that it was not about me being guilty, I was only a child when these things developed.

I blamed all the marital problems on my husband.

Until I started Celebrate Recovery I had kept my bulimia secret for 30 years. I also drink too much. I used to enjoy self pity parties on my own until the early hours of the morning.

I started coming to Celebrate Recovery after signs that God was at work in my life.

At university, a student prayed for me. She saw the cycle of negative behaviour in my marriage with no middle ground. She prayed that I would let go and let God. She prayed for freedom in my house. After this prayer, I kept being pulled to stop and look at running water and there I would hear God saying “Be still, and know that I am God”. I pondered about the water and the effects of gravity and knew that God had shown order and a purpose in all His creation. From that time on I knew that my life also had a plan and a purpose. Two weeks later I came to a church service at the Riverside and the sermon was about how massive God was. We looked at the universe and the magnificence of God.

I broke down. I felt that I had wasted 24 years of my life on one problem. I felt that I had been conned.

Seeking help I was advised to try Celebrate Recovery. I told Tony and Val my deepest hurts and fears and they identified my co-dependency and advised me to let go and let God. They asked if I would consider CR to get free from my problems. I said, “Give me one good reason why”. They said Jesus will be singing and dancing. I thought they were both made to believe that they know what Jesus thinks. We prayed and I saw a picture of the statue of liberty. “Oh, I am going to New York,” I thought. God said “No. Freedom silly!” I also saw full technicolour bands of light. I had seen these for weeks every time I prayed and I now recognised them as the 12 steps. God said they were a ladder and I found that the picture on the card was a ladder, not steps when I started CR.

Jesus showed me that I was the problem in my marriage.

I had a Cinderella complex. “Poor me” I moaned to God, “If only my husband didn’t … ” God said, “You are the problem!” Until that point, I had not realised that there were two people in the marriage. It’s funny how blind I had become. Now, I have dumped the victim saint complex, I see all things in a new way. I am much closer to Jesus now. I filter everything through and check if Jesus is speaking to me. I believe I know how to walk in the Spirit now. The world doesn’t hold me and I have lost the need to achieve. I have lost some of my pride but there is plenty to go. I don’t need to intellectualise all the time. God loves me like I was the only person on earth. He is omnipresent in my life. We have a one to one relationship.

I found out that God does know more than me.

He hears every word I speak. In the car one night after CR I said 2 negative things about my husband. When my husband woke the next morning he repeated them verbatim. I was shocked. I remember I was on the forgiveness step so I asked for his forgiveness. I found out the will of God for my life. He never wants me to divorce. He has shown me that I am the problem. Because I am a Christian He needs to work in and through me to manage the marriage His way. My eldest son watched Jo Galcsche and Kesler box to 2.00 am drinking plenty of beer. He asked me to wake him in the morning to go to church at 9. Getting him up at 9 was a miracle in itself. At church, he remarked how he felt that the pastor had written the service for him and he gave his life to Christ.

Since coming to Celebrate Recovery my life has changed, also my family life is changing.

For this I am grateful and I would encourage anybody reading these words to give CR a chance like I did and your life will also change.

Gordon's Story

The following article was written by Jill Gallone and printed in the Derby Evening Telegraph on Wednesday, 17 January 2007.

Gordon Glover is 80, a perfect gentleman and a retired chartered quantity surveyor. He is also a recovering alcoholic who used to drink up to 15 bottles of red wine a week.

“In the end, I wasn’t even tasting it” said Gordon. “I was just gulping it down. I drank quality wine. It cost me around £100 a week. The more I drank, the more I was able to drink. The inevitable results were the shakes, foul hangovers and more often than not, forgetting what I had said or done the night before.”

“I gradually realised that I was killing myself. My life was a mess and I had to do something about it. I was existing, not living.”

You don’t have to look far to see why Gordon, an articulate and intelligent man, turned to drink for comfort.

He said “My wife of 51 years has dementia. I cared for her for nine and a half years. I did everything – looked after her, shopped, cooked and ran the home. I began to drink to shut out what was happening. Marjorie was the most amazing thing to me – and still is.”

However, in September 2006, Gordon finally had to take the heartbreaking step of allowing his wife to go into a nursing home, such were the demands of caring for her. He visits her regularly, though she can only hold “a conversation of sorts” with him.

“I take pictures in to show her” he said. The couple have two children and five grandchildren.

The pain of losing someone you love, not to death but to an illness that destroys the mind is something many people have to face.

But that is scant comfort to those going through it.

It’s not difficult to see why, after completing the nightly care routine, Gordon looked forward to a glass or two of red wine. It’s just that it turned into a bottle – or two.

“I finally admitted that I had a drink problem in 2004” said Gordon, of Heritage Court, Belper, in Derbyshire, UK. “I was referred to Addaction and completed a 16-week course. That was helpful. I did not drink for eight months and felt that I was cured. But pride goes before a fall and, on a holiday in Majorca, I became so tired of drinking mineral water that I decided the occasional glass of wine would not hurt.”

Gordon was on the slippery slope yet again.

However, towards the end of 2005, he was introduced to Celebrate Recovery.

He said: “I was skeptical at first. I could not believe that you could deal with all types of addiction and issues at one group.”

Tony turner, a pastor at Community Church, Pride Park, went to America to learn from the Celebrate Recovery developers because he realised that so many people were carrying issues like these around with them.

Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step recovery programme similar to the one Alcoholics Anonymous uses, but it is not purely for people with drink problems.” said Tony, of Albert Road, Derby.

“It’s for anyone with hurts, habits or hang-ups.

Through my work at Community Church, I began to see that lots of people were suffering and there didn’t seem to be anywhere they could turn to for support. I thought the programme could be really helpful in this country.”

He was right. Tony, who runs Celebrate Recovery with his wife Val, helped a handful of people in the first year and numbers gradually grew.

About 50 people were on board when the 2007 programme began this month and that figure is expected to increase.

“We’ve helped 400 people so far and 70 percent of those people have changed”, said Tony.

“It’s a vehicle which helps them to begin to take responsibility for their own actions.”

The first 30 minutes of a Celebrate Recovery meeting take place in a large group setting but the rest of the evening is spent in small, gender-specific groups. Each group has a leader, who offers ongoing support. Celebrate Recovery meets for 50 weeks of the year; people can join at any time and stay as long as they want.

Gordon is still a regular and has not touched alcohol for 11 months. (Now over 2 years) “It’s an enormous help to hear from other people with similar problems. Even my course leader has dealt with an addiction.”

Along the way, Gordon became a Christian in March 2006 but the course leaders are keen to stress that religious beliefs are not necessary to seek help.

“It is open to anyone,” said Tony.

“It works because people feel that it’s a secure place where they are accepted.”

Celebrate Recovery meets every Wednesday at The Riverside Court, Pride Park, Derby, from 8pm to 9:30pm. All are welcome. The meetings are free. People are just asked to pay £12 for the necessary workbooks. For more details, call Derby 332044, or e-mail tony.turner@emcf.net.

Original article written by Jill Gallone and printed in the Derby Evening Telegraph on Wednesday, January 17 2007.

Jane's Story

My name is Jane. I’m a believer, recovering from childhood sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

I gave my life to Jesus eight years ago, on fire for the Lord. I then found the fire going out because God was revealing issues in my life that needed to be dealt with going way back into childhood.

This was a pattern of sexual abuse which first began at 6 and 14. My mother’s reaction was to get angry and to hit out physically, which in turn caused me to feel guilt, shame and that I was as fault.

It also affected my relationship with my mother. I felt I could never gain her acceptance, trust or love.

I felt unwanted, unloved and that I didn’t fit into the family.

In later years I was to be labelled ‘the problem’.

As far as I am aware none of these incidents were ever told to my father. As I grew through my teenage years I became more resentful towards my mother, a kind of love/hate relationship and to cope with my feelings I would suppress them and withdraw, particularly into books.

Later, through friends at school and my family, I was drawn into the occult through Ouija boards, levitation, horoscopes; anything paranormal or unexplained. I was 15 when I visited a clairvoyant with my mother.

I was searching for something but in all the wrong places.

I was looking for love and acceptance, feeling lost and alone. At 17 I left home to begin training as a nurse in Nottingham. It was the first time I gained approval and praise from my mother and family. I felt both overjoyed at the praise but guilty, shameful and unable to speak to anyone about what I had done in complying with the abuse.

It was during my training that I suffered my first attack of depression and left nursing to go back home. I thought it was homesickness but going back home only made matters worse as memories came back and I was tormented by the ‘if only’s and the ‘yeah buts’.

I was 19 when I attempted to take my own life through an overdose of tablets.

After a stay in hospital, an older sister invited me to stay with her family at Derby. This I did but I still could not find anyone to speak to.

I settled and found work in Derby and through a mutual acquaintance met the man who was to be my first husband.

I was able to disclose the abuse to him and I thought it would give me release but it was like taking a stopper out of a bottle and I realised there was more to come. My husband was not able or qualified to cope so again I began to repress my feelings and carry on as best as I could.

This was not easy as my husband was verbally abusive and had quite a temper. After I had our two children I suffered from post-natal depression and felt isolated and very alone. My husband became more verbally abusive, very much a Jekyll and Hyde character. You never knew what was going to happen.

I felt unloved and starved of affection and kind words.

It was when we moved to Eastwood and again I was spiralling down into self-destruct that I sought affection elsewhere and my husband suspected and eventually, I told him and things got worse.

He became more aggressive through drinking and verbal abuse was accompanied by physical. My past was held in emotional blackmail should I disclose his plans for revenge against the person and their family that I had been indiscreet with.

Everything came to an end after my husband physically assaulted me and we were divorced three months later. Again I thought I would gain some release but I could not grieve. I felt numb inside and I had two small children to care for. Shortly after this, I had a phone call to say my father had died. I had not been given the chance to say goodbye as my husband would not let me go to the hospital.

I coped with all this through drinking to ease the pain but everything began to crumble around me. I could not cope any longer.

It was at this time a lady in the aerobics class I attended, the mother of my son’s school friend gave me a leaflet about an Alpha Course, which I attended, and through this course, I gave my life to Jesus.

At the same time, a programme called Celebrate Recovery had begun in Derby. I could not attend at this time as I had no transport but as I said at the beginning, God was working on this and three years later, after hearing a testimony at the church in Derby, I came on to the programme.

So, what has Celebrate Recovery done for me?

It has given me a safe and secure environment to look at what I was responsible for, my actions and choices. It has given me, through support and acceptance, a place to share and realise that I am not on my own; other people have felt and thought the same as me.

Through the principles, steps and teachings, I have come to understand the power of forgiveness and through this gain at last the release that I needed.

Through Jesus Christ, my Higher Power I have forgiven my abusers and, the hardest of all, I have forgiven myself and received the strength to make amends. The scripture which has given and continues to give me the most comfort is this; “Fear not for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God and I will strengthen you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Celebrate Recovery has given me someone to celebrate, the person who God created me to be.

John's Story

When asked to share about Celebrate Recovery and how it has helped me I thought that this would be rather like trying to commit the entire works of William Shakespeare onto the back of a postage stamp. The fact that I am able to share this without the aid of a safety net should be proof enough that Celebrate Recovery can help anybody.

My safety net was prescription drugs and alcohol.

I was suffering from low self-esteem, depression, lacked confidence and had an addiction. I constantly worried about my future and that of my family. I was not coping well with the stresses and strains of everyday life and was continually in a state of anxiety. Alcohol had been my friend for some years; to quote Al Pacino, “When you have known Jack Daniels as long as I have you can call him John”

The benefits however were short-lived and I had begun to suffer from disturbed sleeping patterns and would wake in the early hours of the morning in a state of panic.

Sleeping tablets helped initially but as with most drugs they became less effective and I always dreaded reaching the last pill in the bottle, wondering if my GP would agree to prescribe more.

Hypnosis was of little help and counselling, though of some benefit, was limited and after these sessions I was left to struggle on alone. My wife and children were wonderfully supportive during this difficult period but were at a loss and felt helpless during my episodes of depression, withdrawal and alcohol abuse.

Antidepressants helped but only sufficed to relieve the symptoms but did not address the causes.

It was incredibly difficult to find continuing support and I had spent hours exploring all avenues.

I was enlightened to the existence of Celebrate Recovery by a counsellor who had had personal experience of the group and knew Tony. I arranged to meet him and attended the Riverside Centre not knowing what to expect and doubting very much if it could be of any benefit, all else having failed so many times before. I was pleasantly surprised by Tony’s affable and avuncular manner and talked way beyond my allotted span. I cannot continue any further at this point without mentioning how very grateful I and my family have been for the time, encouragement and support given by both Tony and Val.

The first meeting at Celebrate Recovery was relaxed, friendly, and followed the now-familiar pattern of prayer, reading of the 12 steps by a volunteer, worship and teaching.

We were then split into smaller units for discussions with the help of a group leader with personal experience of the Recovery programme. They were there to facilitate these meetings, not to fix anyone. Under strictly confidential circumstances, adhering to certain guidelines which are always read prior to each meeting, over the ensuing months I was able to step out of denial and with God’s good grace face my nemeses. I gradually became able to manage without my former false friends.

I no longer needed to drink alcohol, take antidepressants or require sleeping tablets.

I was encouraged to become involved at Recovery meetings, eventually dusting off my Fender Precision bass guitar and taking part in worship. For once I felt quite at ease knowing that I was playing in praise of the Lord and that this was all that mattered. I have now become involved in bringing worship to a number of small churches in my parish.

There have been moments during the past eighteen months when I have slipped back into my old ways but, through the patience of my family and the continuing support of my sponsor and accountability partner, I have been able, with God’s help, to defeat my demons.

Like Tony, I believe Recovery not to be a programme but a continuing process. It is a seed that, once planted, evolves, blossoms and flourishes. It is eternal. I will always be in Recovery, learning, and I hope, giving something back to God and to the people who have helped me so very much. I thank God, my family for their belief in me, the Church and the wonderful people at Celebrate Recovery for helping to restore my sanity.

I would urge anybody who might find themselves in my situation to come to Celebrate Recovery, if only for one meeting, just to see what it is all about.

It has helped me beyond belief.

Gail's Story

Nearing the end of a year on Celebrate Recovery, you get a sheet on ‘How to write your testimony’. It suggests you start by describing how life was unmanageable before you began … but … my old life was great; Christian parents, who I knew loved me, a great church with good friends, lovely family, a job I got without trying but enjoyed … all neatly managed. Then God said, “You’ve seen what Celebrate Recovery has done for Alistair, Jayne, Paul and others, you have no excuse, the kids can be left without a sitter – now it is your turn.”

So, I did as I was told. I had no idea what I might have to deal with and was probably a little smug because I had heard a lot of the teaching already second hand. It couldn’t be that hard … could it?

Each week we began by reading through the 12 steps and already I was in trouble. Step 1 says “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviours, that our lives were unmanageable.” “But it’s not unmanageable!” was my reply; so God had to show me some of my compulsive behaviours that I had not faced before Celebrate.

I was a compulsive fixer. Rather than face my own issues, I would rather sort someone else out.

I could think of lots of ways of solving other people’s problems by adding anecdotes from past experience. That was issue number one for me and God’s solution; “Don’t say anything in the small groups for at least three weeks.” It nearly killed me and I did have to warn Val or she might have been in shock for weeks. It was amazing what I actually learnt about myself when I really stopped and listened to others. Thinking about me, my attitudes and reactions was not something I was in the habit of doing. God had really grabbed my attention.

I realised that ‘worry about it’ was not a strategy I used to face problems. I had already begun to see the wisdom of ‘accepting things I cannot change’. Slowly I understood that it was God who had made my life manageable, but there was more to life than just managing. If I let God be the Manager and kicked pride into touch; then life could be even better.

It was as if I had accepted free tickets to a theme park and only tried out a few of the rides; so much more was available.

God’s challenge for that – think outside the box, go on a team to Sierra Leone.

The next phase of Recovery is to find a sponsor, someone to discuss your inventory, your list of issues God has identified for you to begin to sort. This was hard, I knew that one reason I tried to be a ‘good girl’ was because I hated being told off. God led me to a great passage in Proverbs:

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. If you reject criticism you will only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction you will grow in understanding.”
Proversb 16:31,32

The key for me was the word ‘constructive’; you can weigh the value of the criticism and the criticiser. If God says it is valid, go for it; if not, dump it. God also showed me that my greatest critic was me; his answer to that was from Galatians 5:6 (The Message) “That means we will not compare ourselves with each other, as if one were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I could set realistic targets for reading and praying, which God blessed. I could write in my journal things that helped me. It was ok to pray with a pen in my hand to write ideas down and keep my focus on the job in hand.

Finally, God had plans for an area I had accepted as something I could not change. Through others he showed me a link between several relationships I had where I placated, allowing myself to be manipulated just to keep the peace.

I became aware that I felt responsible for the reactions of these particular people and in one case had done so for most of my life.

With these women I was not sure that my opinion counted for anything, my only goal was to appease them. It was so insidious that even close friends had not seen the connections but had noticed the different way I was with these people. It seems obvious now that though I cannot change the things they say and do, I am not responsible for their happiness. I could not make them happy even if I gave them what they think they want. They are not my problem.

So, I am now able to step out into new things; God prompted me to pray for healing for a colleague of mine, a radical step for me and I am just waiting for the opportunity to tell him what I am doing, maybe soon, but I did mention Celebrate Recovery to him. It is not a course that you graduate from, it is a new style of working to live your life by. It is for everyone, no one can say they would not benefit from it. If God is challenging you then I say go for it!

Psalm 9 says “I will thank you Lord with all my heart. I will tell of all the marvellous things you have done.”

Jed's Story

Before I came to Celebrate Recovery I was living in a place where I was not content with my life and was always reaching out to someone or something to fix my feelings and make my life perfect. I found comfort in relationships with a partner but more than that I found an identity with them that meant I did not feel complete without them. For me, this resulted in my fearing rejection and abandonment so much that I would do almost anything to keep it together. I would deny the important things in my principles in order to avoid rocking the boat while all the time hoping that somehow God would intervene and change my circumstances.

I was in total denial of my responsibility to get behind the steering wheel of my life. I wanted to do it my way and not God’s way.

Before Celebrate Recovery I had been married for about 10 years but this relationship was failing due to our unhealthy methods of dealing with each other and what we both wanted from life had become markedly different.

My relationship with God was unproductive and immature. I believed in God and in my heart loved Jesus but was unwilling to live life his way. Instead, I wanted him to sort out my life to my specifications and my way and, now I look back, I realize that I was waiting for him to fix everything so that it made it ok for me to do his will and did not take any effort from me.

In my daily life, I struggled relating to others in a healthy way.

My main problem was when they wanted to do things their way. To combat this I either rejected them or manipulated them to my way of thinking. This was obviously the right way of doing things because it was my way and to even contemplate being wrong and not getting my desired outcome was unthinkable. If things were done my way and did not work out right I felt really useless and guilty for making a bad decision and manipulating others. I would often apologize for this offence when there was no way out but if possible I would shift the blame to some other party, thereby relieving myself of all responsibility.

I often sought out people to comfort me when things went wrong and would spend time talking things through with people that agreed with me when all the time justifying myself and my actions to make me feel better was the main aim.

My lowest point finally started to come when my wife wanted to go to Africa to work and live. She asked me what I thought and I agreed but soon after she went on her own to work. I realized that I didn’t really believe this was for me and I didn’t really want to go but I had said yes to avoid rocking the boat … again.

While my wife was was abroad I was looking after the family and trying to continue as normally as possible but it was very painful as I felt the burden of responsibility falling on my shoulders alone. When she did return from Africa for visits our relationship was at best fraught as we both tried to get what we wanted but were unable to find any common ground.

It was at this point that I was faced with the hardest decision of my life to that point. Was I to keep going around this circle of insanity that did not satisfy me or could I face standing up and saying no to my wife and risk losing my security and marriage?

During this time I felt the call of God on my life as I have done for many years to work with his people and in his church family. I had started to go back to church while my wife was away and asked Tony how I could get involved in such work. When he suggested that I start the Celebrate Recovery course I was at first agreeable and signed up to start a couple of months later. When I took some time to consider my actions I realized that I was quite afraid of the idea because I knew inside that this meant I would finally have to face my denial issues and actually do something to change my life.

Whilst on the course I came to know Jesus Christ as my saviour in a more intimate way as I walked through the steps and asked for his guidance at each stage. He revealed to me the nature of my personality. I discovered that there were parts of me that Jesus actually loved and these he helped strengthen me which gave a much needed real boost. As he showed me where my character flaws existed he gently encouraged me to let them go and stop defending them.

By working through this programme I have discovered that with Christ’s help I am no longer tied into a circle of insanity and that I am free to make choices for myself and that I am capable of making good choices. I am more willing to accept responsibility for my life and decisions and no longer try to shift the blame to others.

The step that benefited me most was stepping out of denial and trusting God to guide me where I could not see.

I was so afraid of losing everything but I realized that God had good plans for me. Whilst going through this step a friend gave me a scripture that has stayed with me and is a source of comfort still. This is from Jeremiah 29:11 which reads

“for I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord; plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

It helps me to realize that even though I may not know what God has planned for me I can trust him because of these words and I draw courage from them for my daily walk.

Since doing the Celebrate Recovery programme God has changed me in many ways. I often still feel like trying to control and manipulate people but now when that happens Jesus prompts me to remember his way and that I should not enforce my agenda on others. He helps me to say how I feel in love instead of being passive or aggressive. I am more willing to speak the truth and seek the truth because now I know that the truth sets me free and does not bind me up in living a lie.

Christ has used the Recovery programme to give me some tools which I can use to help me live a more productive lifestyle but it is always my responsibility to choose to use them. To rely on Christ and accept my own responsibility is the best thing I have ever done.

I know in my heart that he is willing to do the same for you.

Listen to these Amazing Recovery Stories

Click to listen to some of the amazing recovery stories from those that made a life-changing decision to attend Celebrate Recovery.