Ann Coleman
Free indeed

Cathy’s life has been one of abuse, domestic violence and utter hopelessness leading to a 17 year downward spiral of substance and alcohol misuse. Homelessness and sofa surfing were the norm and, as so often happens, she found herself in one damaging relationship after another. Most recently she started living with fellow addict, Tony.

The one good thing in Cathy’s life is her son, Michael, whom she adores. Sadly, due to her addiction and the way she lived, he was taken into care and Cathy is permitted only occasional, supervised visits. This loss inevitably added to her need for even more mind-numbing substances.

Frantic to help them, Tony’s parents called in their local community pastor, Graham, who visited the couple and saw how they were struggling with addiction. To begin with both were friendly and receptive, eager to confront their controlling habits and reach for a higher power. They started to attend church occasionally. Sadly, just weeks later, both had lapsed back into the disastrous pit of binging on drugs and alcohol and destructive behaviour. Drugs were cheap, easily available and offered an escape from the grim reality of their lives.

God, it seemed to them at that time, had not provided the quick fix they had hoped for.

However, something of the love and acceptance Cathy found at Westley Community Church where Graham was a leader, prompted her to ask him back for a fuller understanding of living the Christian life. Once again she admitted her desperate need of God’s help in turning her chaotic life around. So together they worked through a booklet – Amazing Exchange – and when it came to making a commitment, she grabbed the chance and sincerely and passionately gave her life to Jesus. She also welcomed the opportunity of attending CAP Fresh Start classes.

Cathy found it life-changing. She wholeheartedly embraced the Bible and its teaching. She cut off the bad relationship, changed her habits and embraced her new Christian identity.

Following on from Fresh Start, Cathy agreed to enter rehab many miles to the north. She knew it would mean not seeing her son for many months and that was tough. But Cathy is staying the course and is learning a new love and dependence on God’s word.

“I would encourage those like me, to reach out. There comes a time in every addict’s life when we reach the end of all our resources and realise there is no possibility of overcoming our habits in our own strength. We have to accept we have lost our friends, family, children, homes and jobs, possessions, morals and self-respect. Only by looking beyond ourselves to a higher being – that is God – is there any hope. The things I lost are slowly being restored to me in a right way. God has set me free.”

It has been a rough ride but as she approaches her 30th birthday, Cathy is looking toward a new decade in her life, to being a brand new Cathy, a better mum and a new creation in Jesus.

Now seven months into rehab, Cathy is thriving. Yes, there are tough days, lonely days too. But her joy now comes from the Bible, making new friends and learning new skills. She still has loving links with Graham, his Westley Church and many of its members. Above all, she is forever grateful to those who walked with her into the Fresh Start course where God has set her free indeed.

* Names have been changed


Fresh Start is a CAP programme that empowers your church to help people break free from life controlling habits like drinking, smoking, gambling or internet addictions. The weekly groups provide a place of trust and security, where people are offered emotional and practical support.

Fresh Start is the new and improved service replacing CAP Release Groups.

To learn more, including how your church can run a Fresh Start group, visit the CAP website.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.