Bringing Shalom to the City….

stories from CityTeam International in Oakland, CA

Freedom at Last?!?!

Written by Samuel Garcia


“We’re not recovering from alcohol (and drugs), we’re recovering from sin.”

-Corey, CityTeam Graduate

Paul, one of CityTeam’s graduates this week. I found out he was also a Cal graduate.

I’m starting to feel the cabin fever of our little room now.  I’ve seen one too many mice scurrying around our little room.  I wouldn’t mind usually, but since we are practically sleeping on the ground, I just pretend I don’t see them anymore and try not to think of the possibility of them climbing all over me in my sleep.

I’ve also been struggling with the lack of privacy around here.  All day, every day, there are people either around you or talking around you.  Every room of the building is always occupied, from 5am until midnight.  I guess privacy is a privilege here I have taken for granted before coming.

On another note, Corrie, Jordan, and Mike won 2nd place for their street basketball tournament yesterday.  Shout out to them, and the rest of their street basketball endeavors in Oakland!

Yesterday marked the graduation day of two of the clients at CityTeam from their one year program of rehab.  It surely was the highlight of the week.  Paul and Corey, the graduates, seemed really proud of their accomplishment, and they have every right to be.  The rest of the guys were really proud of them, too.  They all clean up real well!  Past graduates, family, and old friends were present at the ceremony.  Even last year’s Stanford Bayup team was in attendance.  Although the spirit of the morning seemed high in hopes for me, something that struck me was a statistic that Paul, one of the graduating seniors, shared with us all.

In their first year of sobriety, 90% of all rehab clients will relapse.  For those who make it to their 5th year of sobriety, 90% of those individuals will never relapse again in their life. 

Now that got me both scared, but excited as well, because these men are up against some serious odds.  Once they leave this program, it’s going to be difficult trying to get a job with backgrounds like these.  I pray that they do find hope, and not get discouraged when they face ridicule and rejection that in the end might cause them to relapse.  Yet, I am hopeful because I want to see these men make it up to their 5th year.  Heck, I want them to live the rest of their lives drug and alcohol free.  When I look and talk to them, these men have goals, ambitions, and dreams even bigger than my own.  I want them to succeed and find peace in their lives, to put their past behind them, and to have a fresh start.

Just because these men have such apparent struggles, the truth is that we all are struggling with something deep-down inside, even if it’s not so obvious as substance abuse.  We’ve all got our dirty little secrets, those bad habits we just can’t seem to kick to the curb, but we are well aware that they hurt us and others.  That’s the evidence of sin in our lives, an endless gap that is evidence of ways which we have fallen hopelessly short of God’s intentions for our lives.  It affects us all on some level, but as the first step in the A.A. program tells clients, the first step is “honesty”.  And most of these men get that.  They have lost everything, severed their relationships, and, in some ways, have lost their freedom.  Unlike most of us who feel like we’ve got it “all together”, they are able to admit that they have fallen infinitely short of what things out to be.  Unlike most of us, they have quit trying to work their way out on their own accord.  Unlike most of us, they have recognized and acknowledged their need for a Savior.

last year’s BayUp team from Stanford


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