The “Celebrate Recovery” 12-step recovery program lost its founder on Tuesday, February 23. John Baker died suddenly at the age of 72. He leaves behind an evangelical community determined to continue its action to help people who are victims of addictions.
A program available in 35,000 churches
John and his wife, Cheryl Baker, founded Celebrate Recovery in 1991. This program of recovery is Christ centered and is for “All people with injuries, pain or addictions of any kind”, especially drug addiction and alcoholism.
“Celebrate Recovery” was initiated within the Church of Saddleback, California, the “Evangelical megachurch” by Pastor Rick Warren. This is one of the largest congregations in the country to which John Baker was attached.
A few years later, the pastor had collaborated with James J. Ackerman, the president of the Christian organization for prisoners “Prison Fellowship”. The program has thus been adopted by the prison systems of New Mexico and California.
Finally, “Celebreate Recovery” has been exported abroad, notably to Canada, Brazil and Switzerland. Today, according to the program’s website, 35,000 churches have adopted the program and five million people have followed it.
Linking the Gospel to the Healing Program
On social network Twitter, Kay Warren, the wife of the pastor of Saddleback Church, paid tribute to John Baker calling his friend a ” big man “ who has helped millions of people find hope and a second chance in life.
1/3 Our world lost a giant of a man today, and our family lost a dear friend and brother in the Lord. Thirty years ago John Baker turned the ruins of his life over to Jesus Christ and God transformed him from a driven businessman with an addiction to alcohol, a failing marriage, pic.twitter.com/yBlmUvwCA3
– Kay Warren (@ KayWarren1) February 24, 2021
Johnnie Moore, member of the United States International Commission on Religious Freedoms also expressed his sadness on the social network. For him, John Baker had become ” a doctor of hope for all those whose lives were trapped in vicious circles of guilt, shame and failure “. According to evangelical leader John Baker “ has never been satisfied with saving souls. He also wanted to save lives “.
His relatives recalled the extraordinary career of the founder, a former air force officer. In fact, in the 1990s, John Baker drew on his own fight against alcoholism to establish the “Celebrate Recovery” program.
Once out of his addiction, he wanted to create a program that would combine Christian teaching with Alcoholics Anonymous’s twelve-step healing process, the news site recalls. Christianity Today. He thus wished to relate the gospel to the program which he himself had followed.
Today, “Celebrate Recovery” is internationally recognized for its action in favor of the non-stigmatization of addiction among the evangelical community. The program maintained its goal of making the church a place of trust, listening and a path to recovery.