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Dealing with Drugs
Thieves, drunkards, beggars, prostitutesif Jesus touched them, why dont we?
By Gordon Aeschliman
Dayria is a 24-year-old prostitute and drug addict a friend and I met in the inner city of Ensenada, Mexico. In a time of suicidal desperation, she had gone to a church as a last resort for help. There in front of the congregation, the pastor kicked her out with the pronouncement that a sanctuary cannot be defiled by such sinners.
Sonja is a middle-aged mother of four in Mexico City, driven to prostitution to feed her children. Because of her lifestyle, the local church rejected her.
John is a homosexual I met in Santa Barbara, Calif. His few encounters with Christian had turned quickly into verse-down-the-throat sessions. He stayed away from Christians, and Christian stayed away from him.
These people and millions of otherswelfare abusers, drunkards, prisoners, porno lovers, adulterers, fornicators, juvenile delinquentsare the dirty people in this world, the ones that good, clean Christians dont go near. People like Sonja and John are living all around us. How is it that our Christian lifestyle is protecting us from them, when the example and call of Jesus should instead catapult us right into their lives?
So often we demand that these people change before well reach out and care for them. We might as well tell famine-starved victims to feed themselves before well help them. Dirty people have no more resources for doing good than famine victims have to food. Its only as people plug into the righteousness of Christ that theyre able to live his righteousness.
Why are we isolating ourselves from these dirty people? Because we have been seduced by our culture. We have taken on its values.
We pursue what the world pursues, and in so doing we have isolated ourselves from those who need us.
Lets look at the worlds pursuits and understand Gods alternatives.
The non-Christian is pursuing a secure future. But how can he find it? By building financial strength in retirement accounts, houses, employment, and investments? Theres no way to determine when enough is enough, and no one else promises to care and supply.
What does the Christian have instead? In our personal relationship with Christ, we have been given an eternal hope that cannot be shaken, an unequaled gift that defies description. Billions and billions of years await us in total bliss, where there will be no pain, no tiredness, no loneliness. Christ tells us that no mind has conceived, no ear has heard, no eye has seen the pleasure prepared for us.
But when that new life is squandered, when I pursue security in this life, then I have committed what I believed to be the greatest evil describable: I have allowed my temporal world to control my resources at the eternal expense of others.
Enter a paradox: Scripture instructs us that the way to care for our temporal needs is by caring for the eternal business the Father calls us to. That sounds like madness to conventional wisdom and even goes against most of the advice offered at Christian financial success seminars. But Matthew 6:33 is not a suggestion, its a command that calls us to make our decisions based on what God wants accomplished on earth as he spreads his kingdom.
The non-Christian is pursuing the good life. And our culture thoroughly defines what that is. The more you can get, the more you can enjoy. Advertisements entice us with vacations, cars, drinks, food. You owe it to yourselfits life, its enjoyment. Pursuit of personal pleasure is the highest good.
But its a hollow pursuit. A second paradox enters: We cant experience the good life if the good life is our goal. The prophet Haggai told the people of Israel that they had put their energies into paneling their own homes, putting their wants ahead of the Lord. Consequently, You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it (Hag. 1:6).
Jesus tells his followers that if we want to save out lives, well lose them; that we can gain the whole world and everything it has to offer us, and yet lose our souls.
The satisfaction that Christ offers on earth cant be bought; it can only be found in him as we pursue his way.
But the worlds way is not just a hollow pursuit. It is antithetical to everything Scripture stands for and calls us to. In fact, Jesus says that the very salvation of those caught up on such a pursuit is in doubt. If I begin to hoard and acquire at the expense of the hungry, the orphan, the thirsty, and the prisoner, then I have rejected Christ himself. According to Matthew 25, I might be told, Depart! I never knew you.
The non-Christian wants to be somebody, and our culture has set up the standards: fine job, a respectable neighborhood, good salary, a tasteful manner, a fashionable wardrobe, a beautiful home, a comfortable car.
Yet Jesus lived with the publicans and sinners. Prostitutes tax collectors (cheats), and smelly fishermen made up his circle of friendsnot the sort of thing a respectable Christian businessman would be caught dead doing!
His sense of status or significance didnt come from what his culture though important, but rather from his relationship to his Father. He was secure in his self-worth, knowing that what counted was that he was doing the will of the Father, and that included dying the scornful death of a criminal.
What place does a dirty person have in a world of security, satisfaction, and significance? Proximity with them may mean unpredictability, long hours, inconvenience, a threat to our possessions, a risk to our reputations.
How as Christians can we stand against the stream of culture and implement a lifestyle of caring for dirty people?
It begins with a firm rejection of those values preached by the world. A prostitute is no dirtier than a successful businessman who has his private affairs. A welfare abuser is no dirtier than a landlord who charges high rent to the poor. A drunkard in the gutter is no dirtier than a suburbanite consumed and controlled by the passion to possess more and more.
Instead of running from poor neighborhoods, we must begin to infiltrate them. Instead of noticing how lovely the architecture of a new house is, we should see the beauty of the family of a welfare mom and kids. Instead of rewarding people with recognition for their respectable jobs, we must work to reconcile those ravaged by the elements and economics of our society.
To being to care for dirty people will mean shifting our focus from taboos and looking at the positive elements of what it means to be in the world. Instead of abandoning the sinner, we reject the sin and stretch out our loving arms to draw the unloved into the family of love.
- Begin to circulate with people unlike yourself. Ask God to bring them into your life, to arrange circumstances that will bring you to dirty people.
- List whats important to you. Have you bought the worlds values of security, satisfaction, and significance, or have you sold out to Jesus life and love?
- Concentrate on the good things God has given you. List them and ask him to use them for his desires instead of your temporal satisfaction. Look at your assets. Do they truly benefit the King. Or are they for your satisfaction?
- Expect inconvenience, long hours, damaged assets, unpredictability, hardship. If these were not a part of Christs or the disciples lives, we wouldnt have the church today.
- Pray or a heart of compassion that will put people above your plans and possessions.
- Link up with someone else. Its hard to live by these biblical values alone.
- If you have children, teach them biblical caring, being careful not to reward them for pursuing the worlds way. Make caring for all kinds of people a venture of faith for your family.
God never promised us an easy life. Thats what the world advertises. But God offers life itself to us as we lose ourselves in him and pursue the things that are importation to him. Fear, uncertainty, and rejection may all be part of following Christ faithfully into neighborhoods and lives of societys outcasts. But we have all the resources of heaven behind us.
Originally appeared in Moody Monthly
If there are dramatic changes in your Teenagers behavior, school grades, friends, activities, and health, your teenager maybe doing Drugs.
Here are 15 helpful checkpoints.
- A dramatic drop in school grades.
- School absences and discipline problems.
- New friends that are known to use drugs.
- Unwilling to bring their friends home.
- Change in music to "acid rock".
- Lying, stealing, or secretiveness.
- Loss of interest and motivation.
- Withdrawal from family activities.
- Loss of money and missing things.
- Unexplained absences from home.
- Unkempt appearance.
- Poor coordination and thinking.
- Poor attention span, can't concentrate.
- Possession of paraphernalia.
- Odor of drugs, and use of incense.
If several of these signs fit your teenager, there is a good chance he/she is using drugs.
Another key is to look at their eyes. Dilated pupils may be the result of cocaine or ampheta mines. Pinpoint pupils are the result of heroin. Blood shot eyes may be from alcohol or Marijuana. Glazed or watery eyes are another indication of drugs. There may also be slurred speech and lack of coordination. Check up on your teenager before it is too late.
Most drugs that affect the brain will also affect the eyes because they are connected to the central nervous system. By close observation of I the eyes, and a few simple tests, a person can determine if someone is on drugs, and what type of drug it might be.
Redness in the white part of the eye (the sclera) is common with marijuana and alcohol. A droopy eye lid is common with heroin and marijuana. This is when the upper eye lid touches the pupil. The bug eye is when you see the white sclera above the iris. This is common with PCP. A glazed or watery looking eyes may be the result of marijuana, alcohol, and heroin, Swollen eye lids is common with marijuana, PCP, and heroin.
The next important thing to notice is the size of the pupil. Dilated pupils indicate cocaine or amphetamines. Very small constricted pupils indicates heroin, PCP, or sedatives. Normal pupil size is 3 to 6.5 mm. The pupil size is normal with marijuana and alcohol.
There are several simple tests that you can do to check for drug influence. Shine a small light at the side of the eye, and see how fast the eye I reacts. A slow or no reaction may indicate drugs like cocaine or amphetamines. Inability to hold pupil contraction indicates the influence of marijuana or sedatives.
Another test is to hold your finger out and have the person follow your finger, up and down then left and right sideways. If the person can not hold his eyes on your finger moving vertically and horizontally suggests the use of alcohol or PCP. Failure to hold his eyes just horizontally may suggest marijuana, or benzodiazepines.
For the "cross eye" test hold your finger a foot away from the person's nose, and then move it close to the nose. If the person can not hold the cross eye position for 5 seconds, then he may be using marijuana, alcohol, or sedatives.
There are the old tests like walk a straight line, touch your nose, and walk up some steps. These tests are used for alcohol but may indicate other drug use as well. If you are a parent, and you suspect some drug use, then have an eye test when they come home.
Drug addicts are the greatest con artists in the world. They have the uncanny ability to look you straight in the eye and tell you the biggest lie without batting an eyelash. They are out on the street corner pleading for a quarter, nickel, or dime. (By the way, pan handling is against the law.) As soon as they get enough money they head for the nearest liquor store for a big bottle of Thunderbird wine, the cheapest, or they may head for their cop man (drug dealer) for their next hit.
As I was driving down 2nd street one day, I stopped at a red light where a young unkempt man stood with a plastic prestone antifreeze container in his hand. He came over and asked for fifty cents because his car, over there, was out of gas. There was only one problem, I knew this man. He did not have a car, and the money he pan handled was being used to buy drugs.
Another man walks around shopping centers pretending to be out of gas collecting $60 to $70 a day to support his cocaine habit. We as Christians need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Don't give cash to a stranger. It will be used the wrong way.
What can you do. ? If some one asks me for a token to go see his dying mother in the hospital, I say let me take you there in my car. Oh no, you can just give me the money so I can get down there, he replies. He does not have a dying mother. He is dying for a fix.
If someone asks for money for medicine for their very sick child at home, I say let's go to the drug store. Oh no, you can just give me the money. Most have medical cards that cover medicine in the first place. If someone needs money for food and clothing, I tell them to come to the Kensington Outreach Center at a certain time for food and clothing.
By giving your money to a stranger on corner, you are perpetuating their drug addiction. Our helping is hurting them. A wife who keeps bailing her husband out of jail is actually encouraging him to drink more.
In Luke 16, the father lets his prodigal son go to suffer the consequences of his sin. Many times a drug addict "or alcoholic does not look to God until he hits rock bottom in the gutter with the pigs. Then we can welcome them back.
Be wise as serpents. Give your money to Christian organizations that can help drug addicts get off drugs rather than to give addicts money to perpetuate their problem.
--Stephen C. Meyers
- IKnay -Spanish Slang for Cocaine
- Aqua -Spanish Slang for Cocaine
- Boom Ba -Spanish Slang for Police
- Ya- Yo -Spanish Slang for Cocaine
- Weekend Warrior -Gets high on weekends
- Straight Shooter -A long pipe used for smoking cocaine
- Caps -Viles of cocaine
- Rocks- Cooked Cocaine
- Len Bias -Cocaine
- Powder -Bags of cocaine
- Bake -Baking soda used to cook cocaine
- Fish Series -Bags of cocaine that is very pure
- Debs -Girls who trade sex for cocaine
- Man -Police
- Slum -Phony Cocaine
- Boy- Heroin
- Girl -Cocaine
- John Belushi -Cocaine & Heroin (Speed Ball)
- Bowl- Pipe used for cocaine
- Swag -Something stolen for cocaine
After one of our services I talked to a man from Maryland who was looking for his missing daughter. He gave us a picture of a beautiful young teenage girl. Even good Christian homes are not exempt from this problem. There are about 1.5 million children and youth that run away from home each year. Based on one study, about 63 percent are male, and 37 percent are female. Their ages ranged from 15-20. About 81 percent were white, 9 percent black, and 10 percent other groups. About 80 percent have trouble in school or at work. Most ran away from financially stable families. Half of the families were supported by two working parents. Only a very small number of runaways came from families on welfare. Only 20-30 percent run away from single parent homes.
Why do children run away from stable families? It is because there is constant conflict in the home. About 90 percent have serious arguments with their parents. About 73 percent of runaways have been physically beaten. About 70 percent of the female runaways report sexual abuse. The root cause of running away may be the disintegration of the family structure.
Most youth return home after one month to one year away. Females return home sooner than males. Forty percent of the females return home in less than one month.
Often runaways return home only to run away again. Forty percent run away more than three times. Those who just run away once or twice do so because they wanted a new experience. Those who left home more than nine times say alcohol was an important reason for running away. When the runaway returns home the same problems are there, and they leave again when it's unbearable.
The first 48 hours are the most crucial in locating a child. Check with any friends and relatives. Report the runaway to the police and make sure the information goes on the National Crime Information Center computer. Provide a recent photograph. Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-621-4000 where you can leave a message for your child, or see if the child left a message for you. You may also want to contact the Runaway Hotline at 1-800-231-6946.
When your child does return make sure you show love and concern, not anger and fear. Finally, try to resolve any problems in the family that caused the child to leave.
There are a number of signs that may indicate that your child may leave home.
- Problems in school.
- Sudden changes in mood.
- Increased isolation.
- Rebellion and rule breaking.
- Violent displays of temper.
- A family crisis, death, divorce.
- Accumulation of money and possessions.
- Talk of running away with friends.
- Severe depression.
- Tendency toward drinking or drugs:
For more information contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Prostitution has been called the oldest profession in the world. This may or may not be true but prostitution is certainly one of the saddest professions. The problem is global -in some capital cities of the world thirteen percent of the female population are prostitutes, and in Columbia, the capital of Sir Lanka, 2,000 small boys are caught in the net of prostitution. But you don't have to leave Philadelphia to be confronted with the industry of prostitution. Right here on Kensington Avenue prostitution is a 24 hour a day business.
The dynamics of the problem revolve around three significant groups -the prostitutes, their clients, and the pimps. The prostitutes on Kensington Avenue are easily identifiable. For the most part they are very young and appear physically 'wasted' due to their drug habits. Many of them are underweight. Obviously they don't choose to live such a lifestyle but for many it has become a necessity in order to purchase drugs. Some have been forced on to the streets due to poverty or psychological damage incurred during childhood experiences of abuse or incest. It's all too easy to dismiss them as 'fallen women,' and yet when we turn to the gospels we find Jesus going out of his way to speak to prostitutes. In fact in Matt. 21:31-32 Jesus tells the self-righteous Pharisees that prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of them because they have believed the message of repentance. Christ's attitude should be ours -compassionate involvement which doesn't ignore repentance from sin but also exalts the love and grace of God. This is a costly ministry and demands sacrifice in terms of providing concrete living and employment alternatives for men and women involved in prostitution .
The second group who contribute to the prostitution business are the clients. In many ways there would be no business without them -they create the demand which generates the supply. All sorts of men cruise Kensington Avenue looking to pick up prostitutes. Many of them have new, expensive cars with out of state license plates. Many are probably married. It's hard to even guess the deep motivations which cause these men to come to the Avenue but in a world where marriage is devalued and women are exploited for the purposes of advertising we shouldn't be surprised that 'sex for sale' is considered normal. Once again God's grace means that these clients are not to be excluded from our ministry. Indeed at a deeper level the church can be involved in transforming a culture which allows men to degrade women.
Finally, there are the pimps. In many parts of the world these men who control the prostitutes are in it solely to get rich. The situation in Kensington appears to be slightly different. There many of the pimps are drug addicts too and use their cut of the girls' earnings to buy cocaine. We know of a number of husbands who pimp for their wives. Either way the girls are in bondage to both drugs and men whose own habits or lifestyle are dependent on the prostitutes earnings. In neighborhoods where the pimps are merely in the business for economic gain the church can cooperate with the police or city officials to try and drive them out of business. In Kensington where pimping often goes hand in hand with drug dependency, the better way would be to break the drug dependency.
Ultimately only Christ can bring true liberation to the prostitute, client or pimp. Hence continue to pray for us as we minister the gospel, both verbally and practically to these people in Kensington.
(In writing this article we are grateful for the information and ideas provided by "Let These Women Go! Prostitution and the Church" by Roger S. Greenway in Urban Mission, P. 17 - 25, March 1984).
--written by Andrew Jones
One late Saturday afternoon I heard some yelling and screaming across the street. When I opened the door I saw Mike with too much to drink, yelling at his wife, Tina, who was holding their baby. Mike grabbed Tina by the throat and started to choke her. My wife called the police and a relative of the wife separated them. The police carted Mike away to the police station, but before the night was out the wife was begging the police to let him go.
All to often battered wives are trapped in a cycle of violence. Approximately 3.5 million women are abused by their partner in the United States. One in ten women will be, seriously injured by her husband during the course of marriage. One in twenty will be continually beaten in marriage, yet they will keep going back to their husband. Many women come from homes with a history of violence. They saw their father beat their mother so they think this is the way women are to be treated. She may blame herself and think that she deserves punishment. After the husband beats her, he feels guilty and therefore tries to be loving and kind. Because she likes the tender care, she endures the beating. Many times the battered women has been isolated from family and friends and they have no one to turn to for help. They think that some day he will eventually change.
The abusing husband usually has grown up in a family with an abusive father. As a child he loved his mother and helped her, but as a teenager he becomes violent and rebellious. He becomes just like his abusive father. The cycle of sin is passed on the next generation. God in Exodus 34:7 says, "visiting the iniquity of the father's upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation.
There was a young man named John that hitchhiked from California to Philadelphia. He finally ended up at our Outreach Center. He was filled with hatred from his father and mother for physically abusing him when he was young. He warned to murder his father. He had the exact same attitude of violence as his father. Unless John is able to forgive, he will empty his bottled up anger on his wife and children. The cycle of violence will be passed on to another generation.
What can be done? The power of the gospel can transform lives. The battered wife needs to get help. Call the police. Let the abuser sit in jail for awhile and suffer the consequences of his actions. The wife wrongly thinks that when he get out of jail he will beat her worse. Just the opposite happens. When Mike across the street was let out of jail things were very quiet. Both the wife and the husband should get counseling. Christians can help support them in prayer, help, and a listening ear.
(Names have been changed in the above article.)