Winter 2015 Newsletter
In this Issue
- Special Interview with Founder, Johna Hale
- New Website Look
- 1st Annual "Embracing the Light" Training Seminar
- Starter Packages: Introducing L.I.F.E.'s Complete Recovery Program
- New Guide Covers Released
- Important for Group Facilitators
A special look back at the creation of L.I.F.E. Recovery 15 years ago; a personal and private look at the Founder and current Executive Director, Johna Hale; key successes over the years; and what the next 5 years may bring.
Johna, let’s talk about how L.I.F.E. Recovery came into existence. How long has L.I.F.E. Recovery been in operation?
L.I.F.E. Recovery International is essentially the result of an extended period of prompting from God in several sort of ‘visions’ and ‘words’ from Him. The final catalyst actually came from the prayer counseling I was doing in churches here in the Orlando area, where I was seeing an increasing number of people struggling with sexual addiction. I’ve always been a big believer in support groups as a necessary addition to counseling, since counseling will not provide the accountability that comes from the relationships established in a group. So in looking for sexual addiction support groups I could send counselees to, we discovered that there really weren’t any. That research did point to Dr. Mark Laaser, however, and his Faithful and True ministry; and to his reputation as the foremost Christian expert in the area of sexual addiction recovery. We traveled to Colorado Springs to attend a training conference Mark was conducting, established a relationship with him that led to the first of our L.I.F.E. Recovery Guides, the guide for men, and to the establishment of the ministry in the fall of 2000.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, etc.
Well, I’ve had lots of pain and trauma in my life. My mother died when I was 13 years old, and neither my dad nor anyone else helped me work through any of that loss. I realized later that my dad was addicted to alcohol and prescription medications, struggled with sexual addiction and sexually abused me as a child. He committed suicide when I was in my early twenties. In many ways I’m the ‘woman at the well’ from the Gospel of John, Chapter 4. I’ve had four previous marriages, prior to my marriage to Bob, and each of those was characterized by sexual addiction, alcoholism, and included physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Near the end of that cycle, the Lord intervened in a powerful way and I gave my life to Him, which was followed very soon with meeting a wonderful sister in Christ who led me deeper into that relationship. I also went back to school at Kansas University. While there, I got a BS in Human Relations and Speech Communication, which involved leading a number of support groups and learning about the Bowen Clinic and their focus on family systems and core issues from one’s past as the source of most unhealthy and addictive behavior. I also got an MPA before leaving KU. I later moved to the Washington DC area and was fortunate to be able to continue the study of family systems and receive lots of personal counseling at the Bowen Clinic in the Georgetown area of the District. That process, along with much favor and healing from the Lord, made me healthy and discerning enough to be willing to enter another relationship when some friends introduced me to Bob, who was a Christian and had no addictions, and we’ve been very happily married for thirty years. We subsequently moved from DC to California and later to Florida, where I went on to get a Master’s Degree in Counseling and was ordained as a Pastor of Clinical Pastoral Counseling.
Johna, has L.I.F.E. Recovery impacted you on a more personal basis?
Oh, absolutely! Over the years I’ve continued to see the absolute truth of Principle Seven in our L.I.F.E. Guides—the part about giving back and determining what God wants to do with and through your individual recovery. The groups here have heard me say that God’s greatest glory is your story, and its been so gratifying to see that there was such purpose in my own story and in going through all that pain; and to see the healing of so many others. Bob and I are so blessed by that—we often get misty-eyed as we hear the testimonies of those whose lives have been touched and the marriages that have been saved all over the world by L.I.F.E.
What is the mission of L.I.F.E. Recovery?
Of course, our mission is to encourage, empower and equip God’s people to live everyday free from addiction. And God has made it pretty clear over the years that our role is primarily that of providing resources, the L.I.F.E. Guides and other materials that churches and other organizations can use to conduct the support group ministries cross the country and around the world. That family of resources has grown over the years, including translations of some of them into Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Spanish, but the core methodology remains true to Dr. Laaser’s original Seven Principles, which we now address more broadly to substance abuse and addictive behaviors in general in our L.I.F.E. Guide for Recovery from Addictive Behavior.
In working with those struggling with addictions do you see or hear of a need for a ministry such as L.I.F.E. Recovery and why?
Yes, constantly. My original convictions that support groups are essential to recovery, and that workbooks and other resources must address core issues, are proven and strengthened all the time. There is just not the level of accountability or the availability of support at times of need without groups. In addition, the statistics about addictive behavior of all kinds just continue to grow, and sadly those statistics are not significantly different in the church from the population overall, even in the area of sexual addiction where you might expect the church to have a higher resistance to the temptations. Mark Laaser said long ago that our entire culture was being sexually abused by the entertainment and news industries, and now even more by social media.
Where would you like to see L.I.F.E. Recovery in the next five years?
We would like to see the ministry be much larger and more available to those who need support for their recovery. There are great needs in a number of specific areas we would like to see addressed:
1) in the mission field and among those actually doing missionary work in both third world countries and urban environments
2) among those in prisons and jails and otherwise incarcerated where addictive behaviors are such a major component of the high recidivism rates
3) in the context of human trafficking where sexual addiction is such a driver of the demand side of the sex slavery trade.
Of course, we would also like to see much more wide-spread activity in addressing overall addictive behavior using our methodology. You see, L.I.F.E. Recovery is really the second generation in recovery programs. We are all grateful to the original twelve step programs, the first generation if you will, but we believe this new second generation is now available through our resources. So our desire would be for a greater recognition throughout the addiction recovery community of the role that core issues play in all addictive behavior and by extension the importance of addressing those issues in recovery methodologies.
L.I.F.E. Recovery continues to evolve!
Over the past 15 years, we have consistently updated our website with new features and content. From time-to-time we must update the look and feel to not only stay modern, but also to better organize the vast amount of content to become more easily navigated and meet the current needs of you, our visitors.
Mark the Date and Book Your Flight!
March 7, 2015 - Eustis, Florida
Over the years, L.I.F.E. Recovery International has offered gender specific combinations of products, based on the nature of sexual addiction, for those looking to start a group at their church or in their practice. More recently, we have noticed a need for larger groupings of our resources, to help address requests from organizations and practices looking to implement an entire recovery ministry, so we developed Starter Packages. These packages are not gender-aligned, but are structured simply to make a more extensive sampling of our resources available for review by someone considering our program.
L.I.F.E. Recovery is excited to announce the release of the new covers of the L.I.F.E. Recovery Guide for Young Men and L.I.F.E. Recovery Guide for Young Women.
Last fall, we adopted a new policy to only list support groups that use L.I.F.E. Recovery materials. If your group uses L.I.F.E. Recovery materials, you should be listed so your group can be easily found on our website! Every month, we have 1000's of visitors to our website, many looking for groups. You can list your L.I.F.E. recovery support group for free on our site and reach those hurting in your local area. Check to see if your group is listed, if not, login to my LIFE at the bottom of our website and submit your group!