Addiction was the topic of the April 13 Center for Leadership Development seminar series, which gives the BJU administration the opportunity to “be investing in the (student) leadership in some type of intentional way,” said Jon Daulton, director of student life.
Typically, student leaders work through a book and discuss it in a seminar once a semester. “This year we felt we just had a need to hit a current life issue with students that would help them either from where they’re at personally or probably more than that, help them help others who are struggling,” said Daulton.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse is on the rise in college-age adults, making the topic timely for student leaders. Said Daulton: “Trying to hit issues where the students live is just increasingly important.”
Three guests with differing experience with addiction were invited to speak at the seminar. Retired Capt. John Gardner served with the Travelers Rest Police Department for over 25 years, 10 years as captain. Part of Gardner’s time with the department was spent undercover as a narcotics investigator. He shared with the student leaders the motive behind substance abuse, what substances are being abused, and the results of the abuse.
“These people are on the road to death and destruction,” said Gardner. “We want to help them.”
Dr. Marc Chetta of the School of Health Professions faculty has served as a full-time emergency department doctor for 30 years. He has also served as a correctional physician for 25 years. Chetta shared stories from his time in the ED about what he termed “the end result” of drug and alcohol addiction.
“My question to the people I counsel, that I mentor, and that you mentor and counsel. My question would be: not, why not? The question is: why? Why would you want to do that? Christian liberty is not a good enough reason to do things that are harmful to the human body,” he said.
After Gardner gave the facts and Chetta revealed the reality of addiction, Dr. Jim Berg gave student leaders a biblical perspective on addiction. Not only is Berg a member of the BJU Seminary faculty who teaches courses in biblical counseling, but he also began and leads Freedom That Lasts, an addiction ministry of his local church.
See Also: Jim Berg and Freedom That Lasts
Berg said, “I want to dislodge any confidence you have in the medical model of addiction.” He quoted from several prominent neuroscientists and addiction experts claiming that addiction is not a disease, rather a training of the brain and body to desire something. “God made our bodies to serve our hearts,” said Berg. “Only Jesus Christ has the answer to our soul problems.”
Student leaders were given an opportunity to text questions to the panel. “Substance abuse and addiction is a complex and sensitive topic, so it was very helpful for me to learn from experienced Christians in such a variety of fields,” said junior Jewel Schuurmans. “I could tell they each had a heart of service for those who suffer from addiction, and that kind of genuine love is contagious to the rest of us as student leaders. Now that I’ve heard their perspectives, I’m more aware of the roads to and from addiction and feel better equipped to handle a conversation with someone I can help.”