I met Christy in Beattyville, Kentucky, a small town in Lee County located in the extreme eastern part of the state. I would have guessed her age at being somewhere in her mid-thirties until our conversation revealed that she was merely a young woman of 21 years. Our paths had crossed on a hot and humid August evening at a small community center where we had gathered to attend a town-hall meeting to discuss the devastating effect of prescription drug abuse on the families of Kentucky’s hardest hit region.
Christy had just completed a second stay at a nearby drug rehabilitation center for treatment of an addiction to OxyContin. To offer a bit of context, in Eastern Kentucky, the average age at which children first get high on prescription drugs is 11, according to Operation UNITE, a nonprofit agency that fights drug abuse in that region. Officials have said that many factors can be blamed: easy access to drugs, a lack of activities for young people and, in Eastern Kentucky, a culture that has made prescription drug abuse the norm.
Christy, a single mom, had just rocked my own personal “norm” by calmly explaining to me that when (not if) her young daughter became addicted to drugs and needed a drug rehabilitation center of her own – it was her hope that she could go to the same facility where she had just been admitted. Wow. Had I heard her correctly? I remember thinking with a heavy heart that “something is way broken here.” In that moment, national statistics about inter-generational drug addiction patterns suddenly made a whole lot of sense to me.
But hold on for a minute. My conversation with Christy wasn’t the only thing that stuck out to me that night. Local churches, school teachers and administrators, law enforcement officials, business leaders and parents had come together in that place united in purpose and determined to do something about a problem that threatened to destroy everything good and beautiful about generations of families in the area. I was amazed by the resolve I saw in those people and the steps they were willing to take to protect their community from this crisis.
Frequently, through our experience of working in hurting communities around the country, we see this kind of passion and a sense of urgency around many societal issues. When brokenness in our culture becomes the standard – not the exception – it seems to mobilize people into action. It’s as if God has wired each of us to recognize, as His people, when we’ve lost too much ground to the enemy – and, more, to instinctively understand when it’s time to draw a line in the sand and say “no more; enough.”
This is exactly what I was watching unfold that night in Beattyville. I was a witness to the power and effectiveness that cooperation and collaboration can have when that line gets drawn. The people who were stepping forward to take action were those who had been directly affected by drug abuse. Clearly, their passion for finding a solution to the problem was born from their own life experiences: families dealing with an affected family member; a teacher concerned about a child in a classroom; a pastor determined to help his congregation; an employer facing a problem with employees.
Has God given you life experiences in which He expects you respond and draw a line? We believe in the truth of Ephesians 2:10 that God has created each one of us with some important Kingdom tasks in mind. He has appropriately equipped you and planted within you a desire to make a difference. Pray that God would reveal your own passion and corresponding assignments.
Find your place and draw your line.