helping_handsBy Joseph Johnson

Don’t expect A-list hosts, or Grammy winning musical performers to take the stage at this Saturday Night Live experience. In fact, there is no stage. There is a “house” band, with rotating players and vocalists. The music is top notch and the message is life changing.

On April 19th, Joplin’s Saturday Night Live celebrated their 9th birthday.

Maybe.

Oddly enough, when I asked some of the “old-timers”, some said it was the 8th birthday, while others were certain it was the 10th. This actually makes sense when you consider that this is a group of people attempting to live “one day at a time” without being defined by their past.

SNL is a “life recovery” group that meets Saturdays in the basement of Central Christian Center in Joplin, Missouri. Initially the group began to meet to provide intervention, encouragement and life-support for individuals struggling with substance abuse issues. Meth was one of the killers that brought people to SNL seeking help.

Today, SNL is that and so much more. Dozens of people make their way to the meeting every Saturday to surround themselves with others who are experiencing similar issues as themselves. The symptoms may vary, but often, the root cause of their troubles are very similar. During the meeting, folks will share their successes and failures in a non-judgmental environment.

Recovery is the goal at SNL and the key to it all is building a relationship with Jesus Christ. They have a set of Twelve Steps that they use to guide them on their path, and each one serves to build relationship with others as well as God. For some, the steps help them to even get to know themselves on a deeper level.

It’s a place to get real.

According to one man I spoke with, that’s the key. “I come to SNL because I know I will be surrounded by real people who are just trying to make it.” Tears, laughter, hugs and prayers are the visual pieces of evidence that a lot of “real” is taking place at the meeting.

Young children and teens who accompany their parents have their own place to recover, although they may not understand that’s what is happening in their separate “meetings”. But the parents are aware. A parent shared with me that, “Since I have been coming here, and bringing my kids, I have noticed that they seem to have more peace in their life. I didn’t even expect that.”

SNL officially begins at 7pm, but folks usually come early. They just can’t get enough.

If you would like more information on Joplin’s Saturday Night Live you can call Central Christian Center at 417-781-5982, or visit the church at 410 Virginia in Joplin. Better yet, check out a meeting yourself.

Visit SNL’s Facebook group by clicking here.

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