Faith Fellowship church is located 3.5 miles west of Houston on Highway 17.

An older minister once told Pastor Bill Villapiano that real ministry was seeing a need and seeking a way to meet it. Villapiano believes a group of volunteers in his church is doing just that by launching a Celebrate Recovery program in his hometown.

“Texas County is a wonderful place to live but we are not exempt from the cycles of addiction, abuse and hopelessness,” said Villapiano, who has pastored Faith Fellowship for the past 30 years. “I have watched people try to escape the cycle just to fall back in. Many times we fail to have a plan and a path.

“Celebrate Recovery offers a Christ-centered plan and a path forward leading to freedom, sobriety and healing.”

Faith Fellowship is the second Houston church to begin the CR program this year. Life Church started its program in September.

Although the programs are identical, Villapiano said they will complement each other. Faith Fellowship’s services are 7 p.m. Sundays while Life Church meets at 6 p.m. Fridays.

“Some may ask, “Why would we need two CR programs in the same community?’” Villapiano said. “For those acquainted with any 12-step program, they will understand that one meeting a week may not be enough support for someone. By having two programs in the same community, those recovering can receive seamless support if they have to miss a meeting or if the need additional reinforcement.”

CR began 20 years ago at Saddleback Church in California and remains a ministry of the church. The program, which is available in about 70 Missouri churches and 20,000 worldwide, is a biblical and balanced program that the CR website says “was designed to help those struggling with hurts, habits and hangups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process.”

Villapiano said CR was designed for people of all ages with any number of struggles. He stressed that the program ministers to the entire family as well. Celebration Place reaches children ages 5-12 with a program similar to the adult one.

“Celebrate Recovery is for moms and dads. It’s for single parents and teens. It’s for teachers, loggers, clerks and farmers,” he said. “We tend to think recovery, sobriety and healing is for those people. But Celebrate Recovery is for people who are hurting from every walk of life. The truth is we all come to God broken and many of us come with pain. Our pain may be the result chemical dependency, abuse or even depression. Celebrate Recovery is for those who are weary of the pain and need help from others who are on the same journey.”

Faith Fellowship’s CR program includes a one-hour worship service featuring music and a lesson. Small groups based on gender follow for the next hour. Refreshments are served afterwards.

Before Life Church and Faith Fellowship began their services, the nearest CR programs resided in Rolla and Springfield.

Villapiano encourages anyone facing struggles to try CR, which is free and does not require reservations. He says the biggest mistake individuals often make is attempting to resolve a situation on their own.

“For everyone who breaks free from the cycle of addiction, pain or abuse on their own, there remains hundreds unable to break free,” he said. “You need a plan and a process a path forward. Celebrate Recovery provides one.”

Texas County is a wonderful place to live but we are not exempt from the cycles of addiction, abuse and hopelessness.”

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