A 12-Step Fellowship Need and Must
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From the earliest thoughts of A.A., “helping others” – “love and service” – “self-preservation” -- have all been considered the one thing that recovered alcoholics, addicts, and others who have suffered can do best. And must!
Bill Wilson’s friend and “sponsor” Ebby Thacher hastened from his recovery from alcoholism at Calvary Mission in New York to the home of Bill Wilson to “witness,” to tell Bill his story, to explain that God had done for him what he could not do for himself, and to show Bill the winning way.
Just after he had his vital religious experience in his Towns hospital room ablaze with an indescribably white light, Bill concluded he was a free man and had been in the presence of “the God of the Scriptures.” Bill believed he had been commissioned to help other drunks. On discharge, Bill rushed out from the hospital with a Bible under his arm; a desire to tell his story to drunks in the streets, the missions, the flea bag hotels, the mental wards; and at Towns Hospital that they could be cured if they gave their lives to God.
Having failed to bring any drunks to sobriety after six months of hard work, Bill heard from Dr. Silkworth that he needed to change his approach. And he heard from Rev. Samuel Shoemaker that he should continue to carry his spiritual message to others. And when Bill’s business venture failed in Akron, he reached out to Henrietta Seiberling to find a drunk to help; and Henrietta brought Bill and Dr. Bob together for a six hour visit, And, at that visit, Dr. Bob grasped Bill’s message of “service.”
When both Bill and Bob had achieved sobriety by turning to God for help, their first thought was that they must find another drunk to help. And, when they contacted Akron City Hospital for a harvest, the nurse told them of the very sick alcoholic attorney Bill D. Bill and Bob told Bill D. (A.A. Number Three) their stories, persuaded Bill D. to entrust his life to God’s care and direction, and insisted that, upon recovery, Bill D. help others – things he did at once. And was cured!
All three men were cured and said so. All three had quit drinking for good. All three had turned to God for help. And all three—sober for life—devoted their remaining days to helping other drunks.
These men had no Steps. They had no traditions. They, of course, had no Big Books. They didn’t give drunkalogs. And they had no meetings like those of today. They simply believed the answer to their problems was in the Bible. And they considered the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 to be absolutely essential to program success.
Do sponsors today have that degree of belief that God can help them and others? That He can enable them to quit drinking for good? That prayer and the Bible still hold the keys to recovery? And that they have a responsibility, a need, a mission to carry that message to others? Do they need more information, more study, and more help in learning how to do these things?
Most important, do 12-Steppers today believe they want and need to spend the time to help? Do they know enough about the origins of the recovery movement, the simple techniques of the early program, the successes that the pioneers told about, where the Bible fit into the picture? How to pray? How to integrate old school A.A. with the chapters of the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, and the personal stories of the pioneers?
Those are the questions we will present to you in the next articles. And provide some suggested answers.