Miracle coming? Bringing lost sheep back to the flock
Call it the modern-day parable of the good shepherd bringing the lost sheep back to the flock.
The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has tapped the Christian group Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) to lead a pilot spiritual rehabilitation program for drug users under the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
“Spiritual intervention has been a proven effective approach to help drug users since churches operate more in communities. It has a more long-term effect compared to medical intervention since there’s a support system. The progress of an individual is monitored,” DDB Chair Felipe Rojas Jr. said, adding that the program will be nondenominational and was just one of their many approaches to solve the country’s drug problem.
The 12-session pilot program will be implemented by pastors and leaders of CCF-Ortigas headed by senior pastor Peter Tan-chi, and its 60 satellite churches nationwide. The counseling will start with a group of 5,000 users from Cainta and Pasig this Sunday, said pastor Dan Urquico, head of Simula ng Pagasa Recovery program, CCF’s program for drug users.
Urquico said the 12-session program, which will be facilitated by CCF pastors and its leader, is divided into three parts, with the first four sessions tackling family. “Addiction starts in dysfunction in the family. No matter how often you undergo rehabilitation, if your family is not restored … when there’s selfishness and chaotic environment, there will not be much change,” he said.
The next four sessions will talk about the drug user, while the last four will emphasize the need for a community for accountability.
In 2006, Pasig City was known to be the hub of “shabu tiangge” or flea markets—with the drug trade happening near the City Hall. No longer, said Pasig Mayor Robert Eusebio. “There are no more drug markets here,” he said. “The leaders are all in jail,” he added.
But drug users apparently still abound, according to Pasig Police Chief Senior Supt. Orlando Yebra Jr. From July 1 to Aug. 6, police knocked on 2,237 houses under its Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel program in Pasig City. This resulted in the arrest of 21 wanted felons and the surrender of 1,485 drug suspects. From the 71 police operations conducted within the period, 118 were arrested, 5 killed in action while nine cases were being investigated by the police, Yebra said.
Recent data from the DDB showed that about 500,000 of the estimated 3 million drug users in the Philippines have surrendered.
“We need the help of faith-based groups because there’s a void that needs to be filled in the lives of drug users,” Rojas said, adding that the main reasons for substance abuse are family problems, insecurity and peer pressure.
“The usual cravings for illegal drugs, according to research, come between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Now, we give them spiritual feeding during those times; we expose them to the word (of God),” Rojas said.
CCF pastor Urquico, a former drug addict, recalled how attending prayer meetings called Dawn Watch helped him turn his life around.
“I was 9 years old when I first smoked; 10, when I started drinking. Then, at 11, I tried marijuana,” Urquico said, adding that his drug addiction seriously affected his family. The pastor now helps lead drug users back to the straight and narrow.
“I realized that those who were jailed and released just keep coming back to jail. Pabalik-balik lang.”
He added: “Our President (Duterte) always say ‘Change is coming,’ but you see, transformation, real change happens only when we surrender our life to Jesus.”
Aida Concepcion, head of the Pasig City’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council, said CCF has expressed its willingness to share their module with other faith-based groups.
“If the program becomes a success, it will be duplicated nationwide,” Rojas said.
A CCF Facebook post enjoined netizens to “help drug users know Jesus!” Its members are holding a facilitators’ screening and orientation program for its drug counseling program starting Aug. 11, the post said. TVJ
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