In the 1930’s, a man named Bill Wilson recognized his need for recovery after repeated hospitalizations for alcoholism that only temporarily helped him. He joined the evangelical Christian Oxford Group, which helped him realize his road to recovery required a spiritual dimension to succeed, and he soon became permanently sober. The Oxford Group had identified 12 steps people need to follow to experience the kind of growth and transformation Jesus intended for His followers. Wilson adapted that process so that people of any faith could participate by simply acknowledging a “higher power” and founded Alcoholics Anonymous based on these teachings of Jesus that had helped him in his own struggle. That 12-step movement has subsequently helped millions of people in their journey to recovery, but has lost the biblical component that was the original foundation.
Over fifty years later, a man named John Baker saw his life spiraling out of control and, with the help of participating in AA, experienced the same healing Bill Wilson had and became sober. But he soon realized he couldn’t truly share his story with people in AA because in that secular setting people didn’t want to hear about Jesus. And people in his church didn’t really want to hear about his journey of freedom from addiction to alcohol. His knew in his heart that there needed to be a place where people struggling with life’s hurts and hang-ups and habits could go and work through them in an environment where they could plainly recognize the person and power of Jesus Christ. So, he wrote a letter to his pastor, Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, in California, recommending they begin such a ministry in their church. So, in 1991, Celebrate Recovery was born. What began with a handful of people in a single church 24 years ago has now become a movement that stretches around the world, with Celebrate Recovery ministries in 27,000 churches and over 2 million people involved. It provides help for people struggling with every imaginable kind of hurt, hang-up or habit, enabling them to experience the freedom and joy that God intends life in Christ to have.