Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Allie LaBorde, director of the Celebrate Recovery program, has been a part of the group since it started at the First Baptist Church in Vidalia in April 2011.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Allie LaBorde, director of the Celebrate Recovery program, has been a part of the group since it started at the First Baptist Church in Vidalia in April 2011.

Faith & Family: Vidalia group offers healing program

Published 12:10am Saturday, July 27, 2013

VIDALIA —  For a group of broken but healing men and women in Vidalia, recovery starts with a simple premise — I am not God.

But that initial premise follows with another one — I need to earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

Every Thursday at First Baptist Church in Vidalia, approximately 35 people gather for Celebrate Recovery, an addictions and life-issues program.

Based on the 12-step program popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program that interprets those 12 steps through the lens of the biblical Beatitudes, Celebrate Recovery Director Allie Laborde said.

The Beatitudes are in term rephrased as the eight principles of recovery. For example, “Blessed are the meek” corresponds with the idea of consciously committing all of one’s life and will to Christ’s care and control.

The higher power of the 12-steps is a very specific one in Celebrate Recovery — Jesus Christ, she said.

“Our goal is to fellowship and celebrate God’s healing power in our lives,” Laborde said.

Each session opens with music, a guest speaker or testimony, and the serenity prayer and eight recovery principles.

The group then breaks into four smaller groups, which are gender segregated. Both men and women have separate groups for chemical dependencies and life issues such depression, grief, divorce and codependency. Like other 12-step programs, they’re anonymous.

But the group experience allows participants to be changed, Laborde said, and participants are encouraged to have a sponsor or accountability partner.

“We open the door by sharing our experiences, strengths and hopes with one another,” she said. “We become willing to accept God’s grace in solving our lives’ problems.”

Recovery coincides with participants growing spiritually, Laborde said.

“It brings us, peace, serenity, joy and — most importantly — a close, personal relationship with God,” she said.

And while the program has a clear faith basis, the director said its goal is not to be preachy. All of the leaders are in recovery themselves, Laborde said.

“We can identify because we have been where they are, and we don’t force Christ, we don’t force religion,” she said. “If you come and participate in it and are faithful, it will lead you to the road to recovery.”

Celebrate Recovery begins with a free meal at 6 p.m. every Thursday.