It’s Friday night, and Jimmy Cassadore is at his church, Whiteriver Lutheran Church of the Open Bible, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona.

Ask Jimmy (better known as “Jeep”) what he used to do on Friday nights. Go ahead. Ask him. He doesn’t mind. “Ten years ago…on a Friday night? High on meth? Kicking off a 72-hour drunk? Making a drug run back from Phoenix? Who knows?”

Well, Jeep.  Now what do you do on Friday nights? “I lead a Celebrate Recovery ministry at my church.” Celebrate Recovery – what’s that? “It’s like a 12-step meeting only, it’s for any kind of hurts, habits, and hang-ups that people have. So, pretty much it’s for everybody. The biggest difference is that we don’t talk about a ‘higher power.’ We talk about my Savior Jesus. Jesus’ words give us forgiveness, guidance and power.”

How did this change happen? It’s the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Baptized as a child; confirmed as a teen – even after a few decades of the wild life, Jesus never turned his back on Jeep. Jeep’s family never gave up on him, either. His mom, Linda, and his grandma, Ronda are long-time LWMS convention attendees and members of the Ladies’ Aid. Through their prayers and encouragement, God’s gracious hand brought Jeep back. He's even a member of the church council and receives training through the Apache Christian Training School (ACTS).

Jeep’s love for the hurting, broken, and addicted is a shining light in the darkness, a reflection of the Light of the world, who has so changed his life. Let there be no doubt in your minds – he who has been forgiven much, loves much.

Pastor Joel Sutton