Friday, May 4, the American Association of Christian Counselors will provide a free, all-day training on the opioid crisis called The Opioid Crisis: Creating Church and Community Collaboration. It will be held at Grace Fellowship Church in York, Pennsylvania, which is located about 30 miles south of Harrisburg.
The event will include U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Director Shannon Royce and will delve into ways churches can connect with community organizations that are dealing with the opioid epidemic.
Opioid overdoses continue to be a leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of 42,000 Americans in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, told CBN News, “This is chaos,” adding, “The York area has been pounded. “We figure if we can get the church dialed in here it might be a gift to that community, maybe even save some lives. We figure if we can get the church dialed-in it might be a gift to that community, maybe even save some lives.”
Clinton is asking for believers to pray for the event.
“Pray for us, and with us, that God would do something special this weekend in York, Pennsylvania,” he said, adding, “We are doing this as a prototype hoping God would do that very thing” get this type of event going in churches across the nation.”
Clinton said the church needs to be “awakened” to the opioid crisis and “take her rightful place” in the forefront of helping victims. “There’s Hope in Christ. If we can get the church to come alongside and be a support system, to be an educational vehicle to help people understand everything from prevention to intervention to collaboration, I think we’ve done a good thing,” he said.
Clinton said two more similar events are already planned for fall, but encourages church leaders nationwide to contact AACC to see about scheduling one in their area. “When it comes to mental health and the church, I want to challenge pastors,” he said, to “deal with life issues.”
Clinton said participants in the free event will learn the facts about opioid addiction. “Let’s talk about these issues. Let’s not be silent. Let’s engage what everyday people are going through,” He says there isn’t a church in the country that doesn’t have at least one member “wrestling with the opioid addiction crisis.”
“Who better than the church to offer the hope of Christ and the latest and best understanding, awareness, resources, support and more.” Clinton said, pointing to effective treatment strategies like Alcoholics Anonymous that use “support networks, the sponsor system and more. The church needs to be in the middle of all that.”
“Without Christ, ultimately, what hope is there?” asked Clinton, “We really believe that this is a forward step. Let’s pray that God uses the church and community together in a unique way to deal with what the President has called a national emergency in our country.”