United States (MNN) — How many stories have you heard of people who have been fighting addiction most of their lives, have sought professional help, and still cannot kick the habit? How many lives have you witnessed overturned by bouts of depression? How many families ripped apart after a loved one died from an overdose or suicide?
Depression, anxiety, addiction, and substance abuse — these are real problems. And what they all have in common is that they take people captive. Trends indicate they are growing problems, as well. So what are we doing about it? What can we do about it?
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in one year 6.2 percent of adults were diagnosed with a condition indicating they depended on or abused alcohol. For dependency and abuse of illicit drugs, the number was 2.8 percent.
These may seem like small percentages, but Dean Vander Mey, Executive Director of Set Free Ministries, says the reality of those numbers is overwhelming.
“There’s people who are calling who are desperate. Many have attempted suicide, many want to attempt suicide. I was just reading this morning on a book on teens — 228 teens will attempt suicide every hour today.”
But this isn’t just a problem for the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, about 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide. It is the leading cause of disability. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 29-year-olds.
These vices manifest within the Christian community as well. As Vander Mey points out, an astonishing percentage of Christians are addicted to pornography.
“They say 67-68 percent of the young men aged 12-28 are porn addicts. A young man addicted to porn is a captive.”
How can freedom be found?
Vander Mey says, “We have a culture that’s dying, that’s trapped in sin. And God is looking for a few good men and women who are willing to engage this culture with truth that will set the captives free.”
What does “set the captives free” mean, exactly? Well, it’s often the case that underneath the vice is a deeper problem — one that cannot be addressed through medication, rehab, and secular counseling. Set Free Ministries is helping people find freedom by exposing the spiritual root of the problem and speaking the truth of God’s Word into the situation. They are identifying the barriers in people’s lives that are inhibiting their faith. As we’ve shared before, something as simple and common as holding a grudge against someone can plunge someone into despair.
The phrase “set captives free” comes from Luke 4:18-19, a passage where Jesus is identifying himself as the Messiah by quoting prophesy from Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (ESV)
In other words, Jesus came to bring spiritual freedom through the truth of the Gospel. Vander Mey reminds us, this work is to be continued through His Church.
“It’s our job as co-laborers to go and seek those who have strayed, bring back the lost, and help the wounded and help them regain their faith in God,” Vander Mey explains.
But despite the needs being so great, there aren’t very many organizations like Set Free. Vander Mey says spiritual warfare is not typically taught at seminaries, even though it was such an obvious reality for the early Church.
“It’s not a subject that people want to deal with,” he says.
He believes the main reason this is true is because of fear. If you’re going to address spiritual warfare, there is going to be pushback. Not to mention, you’re not going to fit in with the culture that looks at spiritual warfare as superstition.
Pete Noor of Set Free, who shared his story with us yesterday, says this: “I think it’s a mindset as well. We trust what we can see, hear, feel, taste, touch, but the spiritual we tend to not really realize it’s as real as it is.”
If you’ve been struggling with some of the things we just talked about and are interested in getting help, consider contacting Set Free Ministries here.