The RU in RU Recovery stands for Reform U, and that is the intention of the faith-based addictions abstinence program that started on the east coast. The program has over 2,500 chapters worldwide, and nationally achieves a remarkable national average of an 89% success rate. We recently sat down with the Director of Hopewell Baptist Church’s RU Recovery Program, Berto Garcia, to learn more about the program and how the local chapter is serving Napa Valley.
Not Just Sobriety but Freedom
Unlike most programs which seek to combat addiction, the end goal of RU is not actually sobriety, but freedom. What is the difference between the two? Berto uses the distinction between the body and soul to explain. The soul can be viewed as the manager, while the body is like the employee. Sobriety is only getting the body clean, but there still remains all of the dirtiness inside the manager. This means that despite being substance-free, you’re still fighting the battle. RU is successful because God never intended for us to have this ongoing, long-term battle, He wanted us to experience freedom. Once the manager is cleaned up, it will stop telling the body to engage in dirty activities.
This is something which everyone needs in their lives, not just those who suffer from what we think of as typical addictions. There is the idea that we all are trying to recover what was so long ago lost in the Garden of Eden, and that is the one-on-one personal relationship with He who made us. For this reason, RU Recovery does much more than fight against just one type of addiction, but instead can help with anything with a strong hold on a person. Most people think of drugs, alcohol or porn when they think of addiction and recovery programs. But addiction can go much deeper than this. People can be hooked on their careers or chasing success. People so often feel like they must constantly give chase, because something is missing. Generally, what is missing is a real, one-on-one relationship with God. So while for some the addiction may be alcohol, that is only the fruit on the tree, but the root of why you drink is not because of what you do, but because of what is missing.
A Program Born from Berto’s Personal Struggles
For 10 years, Berto was a career criminal who manufactured meth and struggled with his own addictions. He did not have access to RU in California, but by the grace of God he found his way to church and discovered what was missing: the Word of God. Little by little, as he read the bible and talked daily to God he found that his bad behavior was replaced entirely by something else, something which filled him and entirely and meant there was simply no need for any of the bad things.
While the end of 2020 marks his thirtieth year of coming to church, for Berto, the process of attaining his freedom without the curriculum of RU took 15 years. But once that freedom was achieved, Berto soon found that God still had plans for him, “God began to put people across my path that were struggling, and I had an overwhelming desire to help them.” This was how the predecessor to RU, Trust and Triumph (or TNT), began at Hopewell Baptist Church. Berto wanted to create a curriculum that could provide people with the guidance towards achieving the same results he had found.Subscribe
Discovering RU Recovery
As Berto attempted to create courses that could capture what had happed to him, he was introduced to a pastor involved in a program called RU. After going to a national conference for RU, Berto felt he had discovered exactly what he had been attempting to do, only 10 years further along. After embracing the program, Berto found the attendance at his classes doubled and tripled. The accelerated success of the program was due to being able to take full advantage of the experience of RU, and being able to learn what worked and what did not.
The national program, RU began in a single local church. And because it worked so phenomenally there, the ministry began to export the program to other churches in the area. First it went statewide, then nationwide, and now has become worldwide. Recently, in response to the drug crisis in the Philippines, and a law making drug offenses a capital offense, RU Recovery started over 500 chapters there.
While RU got its start on the east coast and has been widely adopted there, it has been somewhat slower to be picked up widely in California. When it came to Napa Valley originally, there was a great deal of fear regarding th separation of church and state, and it was hard to get the program into jails and other government institutions. But that has since changed. RU is now in the jails, and even considered mandatory in some cases.
How Does RU Work?
Anyone can walk right in the door to an RU Recovery meeting. There’s no need to make an appointment, and it’s entirely free. The curriculum allows you to join in at any time, and meetings are spent learning about the ten principles to maintain freedom. This is entirely different from a ten step program because there aren’t multiple steps necessary to learn to achieve success, rather there is just one: “believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
While the program offers a kit for those who cannot come in so that they may learn the curriculum from home, it is extremely encouraged that people come in, as fellowship is an important part of achieving success. And the success is proven, with an 89% rate. Not only has Berto not had a relapse in the 30 years since he has found his way to church, but one of the taglines for RU is “recovery without relapse.”
So what happens at an RU meeting? The Friday night class is broken up into three parts. First a principle will be covered. Then there’s a testimony time where people tell their stories of victory. These are not what the devil has done to you, but what God has done for you—encouragement. You hear transparency there. And this is not just the polished veneer, but you hear God helping people through their struggles and getting victories that way. Then third part of the evening is challenge groups. They’re not counseling groups, but they are smaller groups. They basically are challenging you to apply that formula for freedom and get into the curriculum in a small setting.
In addition there is also a kids program and a teen program. This does not just work as childcare, but actually functions as preventative measure against addiction before it can ever take hold. When the teen and kids programs are running along with the regular Friday night meeting, as many as 200 people have been in attendance at the Napa Valley Chapter of RU Recovery.
Currently all of those who attend the Friday program are distanced and masked, and Berto encourages all of those who are struggling to come and give it a try. You may have tried many things, but he wants you to try God. For Berto, it’s a family, and he invites anyone who is thinking of coming, but held back by needing a ride to give him a call. He will come and pick you up. For those who don’t feel comfortable to join in person during COVID, Berto will conduct a beginner’s meeting over the phone to get you started, allowing you to join in online later. To find out more about the RU Recovery Program, visit Hopewell Baptist Church’s website, send a message through the Facebook page, or give a call at (707) 252-0332 and leave a message.