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Celebrate Recovery

Testimony: What Keeps Me Coming Back to CR

By Pastor Johnny Baker, Pastor and Global Executive Director

Hi, my name is Johnny, and I’m a believer who struggles with alcoholism and codependency.

I have been in recovery since 2004 and have seen my life change in so many ways. One thing I have learned is what brought me here isn’t what keeps me here. I began attending Celebrate Recovery when my first daughter, Maggie, was about to be born. I knew I wanted to break the cycle of dysfunction in my family and needed to get help overcoming my addiction to alcohol. I tried to do it on my own for a few months, but I didn’t have the power to sustain it. So, I began attending Celebrate Recovery in Lake Forest, CA. I say began, but I should say I started attending again. See, I was part of the very first group of people to do Celebrate Recovery when it started at Saddleback Church in 1991. At the time, I attended groups and completed a step study in the area of codependency. My father was an alcoholic, and I was a teenager who had decided I would never drink.

Cut to 2004, post DUI, after countless times trying to get my life together on my own power. It wasn’t until I told a friend of mine all the things I was trying to do to stop drinking that he said, “Johnny, you know better than this! Just go to Celebrate Recovery!” So I did, and my life has never been the same. I started attending weekly and completed a step study focusing on my addiction to alcohol.

I found sobriety and have been sober since 2004. I quickly found that although I had found freedom from my compulsion to drink, I had unhealed areas in my life that needed the same kind of healing. So, I began another step study to face my codependency again. My type of codependency looked like people-pleasing. I hate confrontation and will do whatever it takes to avoid it. I find it hard to have a voice and stand up for myself or to hold on to boundaries I have set. I wish I could say I have found the same kind of freedom from this compulsion, but it is a daily struggle. See, I don’t have to be around alcohol. I can avoid going places that serve alcohol and can remove myself from situations that trigger me. But people? They are everywhere! I can’t excuse myself from relationships. So, while I have seen major growth in my codependency, I have a long way to go.

I am not looking just for sobriety. I want recovery! I want to have Jesus be the center of every part of my life, and I want freedom in all areas of my life. I want what the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV). I came to recovery to find freedom from alcohol; I stay to find restoration and freedom for the race set out before me.

These days I find that while I haven’t had the desire to drink in years, I need to focus on my recovery. I need to attend meetings and be around the community of believers in recovery by attending my Celebrate Recovery weekly. I need large group to hear a lesson or a testimony. I need an open share group to share the things that are going on day-by-day, and I need step study to help me dig into my hurts, hang-ups, and habits. I can’t do this alone, so I need to stay in contact with my sponsor and accountability partners and stay active in service.

What brought me to Celebrate Recovery isn’t what keeps me here. What keeps me coming back is the desire to find freedom in all areas of my life and to give back by helping others who are on the Road to Recovery too.


If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit:

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