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Community of Faith - Recovery program aims for total transformation

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The Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission operates a residential men's addiction recovery program called the School of Christ.

Missoula 3:16 staff uses the term "life regeneration" to emphasize the goal of total life transformation, rather than only recovery from a disease. They strive for a holistic approach, emphasizing each person as a unique spiritual being.

The faith-based SOC program includes daily classes on topics such as "Will Power is Not Enough," "Anatomy of the Human Personality," "Managing Your Emotions," "Response-Ability," and "Transformation of Identity."

Within a supportive community called "a band of brothers," men learn root causes underlying their addictions and how to change. They engage in one-onone counseling as well as marriage and family sessions, study the spiritual dimensions of their lives, develop consistent work habits and form new identities characterized by success rather than self-defeat.

The SOC program uses a model of human personality called the Interactive Personality Model, developed by current SOC director, Cole Davis. The IPM incorporates conventional addiction treatment data as well as psycho-spiritual principles revealed in the Bible to foster spiritual, behavioral and relational transformation. The IPM considers the physical brain and the human mind (spirit or will) as two separate but interactive entities, each capable of influencing the other.

According to a 2007 National Institute of Health publication, "addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use." This definition portrays addiction as a physical disease in which all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are produced by neurochemical processes.

In contrast, while taking into account neurochemical factors, the IPM considers addictive behavior as a disease of the human will and alcoholism a disease of the body.

According to the SOC model, the human will initiates and sustains addictive behavior and is capable of deciding when behavior is undesirable enough to stop it. When someone decides to stop the behavior, he or she often needs help to restore the power of will. The School of Christ offers this help.

Missoula 3:16 ascribes to the Christian belief that human beings have the potential to enter into a conscious union with God. Participants in the SOC program say the spirit of Christ provides the necessary internal fortitude to overcome addictions, leading to a transformed life. One man, who was an alcoholic for over 25 years, relates his story as follows:

I had eight years of sobriety after being in a treatment program in the Seattle area, but then I relapsed and spent time in and out of jail for many years.

The Seattle program mainly stressed advice such as, "Don't get too tired or hungry or angry." The School of Christ has helped me discover a whole new identity based on union with Jesus Christ who gives me what I need to live each day in sobriety.

Another man, a former police officer, said that alcohol counselors focused mainly on dragging out the skeletons hidden in his past life andemphasized the need to accept himself. He saw the problems, but felt he received no tools to fix them. Now, he's learning to be who he was created to be by God. It's changing his whole life and marriage.

The men all agree that regeneration is not easy, but they praise the "grace-based" approach of the SOC program.

They feel accepted and loved as they progress through the regeneration process, even if they relapse momentarily into old addictive thinking. The School of Christ has issued seven Certificates of Completion to men since its inception in November 2007.

For more information, call Cole Davis (SOC Director) at 370-9350.

Bill Payne is the development director of Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission. He can be reached at 542-5240 or at

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