Delivered from Drug Addiction in China
June 26, 2014
Smoked opium delivered the euphoric high in the 1800s. The opening of China’s borders to trade and tourists in the 1980s ushered in a major influx of heroin. Now crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy are becoming the drugs of choice.
China has a long history of drug use and abuse, and the problem is growing as young men and women seek a recreational “high” at parties and nightclubs. Synthetic drugs, like meth, are especially popular because they are easy to produce and cheaper to buy (about $50 per day).
While China’s drug problem pales in comparison to the United States, it is still significant. There are an estimated 7 to 12 million drug abusers in China. More than 80 percent are men and over 70 percent are under the age of 35, according to a report by China’s Ministry of Public Security.
Southern provinces, like Yunnan, are among the most affected areas, where heroin and other illicit drugs come across the border from Myanmar. Known as the “Golden Triangle,” the countries of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand are some of the largest suppliers of heroin in the world.
Hundreds of voluntary and compulsory treatment centers are open throughout the country, but that’s not nearly enough to take care of the needs of millions of substance abusers.
Christian Aid Mission assists a ministry that operates New Birth Garden, a Christian drug rehabilitation center located in Yunnan Province. The center is making a life-changing impact on the young men who come there to seek release from the chains of addiction.
Started in 2007, the program offers a different approach from government-owned facilities, where drug offenders are viewed as lawbreakers and a nemesis to society. Students at New Birth Garden enroll on a voluntary basis, but they agree to stay for the duration of the 18-month session.
Students also must sign an agreement stating they will participate in all of the center’s Christian activities, including Bible study, prayer, and praise and worship gatherings.
Xu, a drug user for eight years, was skeptical when a pastor brought him to New Birth Garden. Nothing had helped him break his terrible addiction—not time in prison or a compulsory government treatment center.
“These places did not change me. Instead, they made me feel worse, and I was more addicted than ever,” Xu said. “My life was in darkness and I was not able to help myself.”
During his 18 months at New Birth Garden, Xu studied the Scriptures in depth. He spent a lot of time in prayer. He learned that there was someone who could help him overcome his addictions—Jesus Christ. Only through His power would Xu and the other students be able to experience true freedom.
“Through the teachings and equipping of the Bible, my life was transformed day by day. I no longer cause pain and grief to my family,” he said. “Due to Christ turning my life around, the broken relationship with my family has been restored. There is now laughter in the home and my life is filled with hope.”
Because of the dramatic change they have witnessed in their son’s life, Xu’s parents have received Christ as their Savior, too.
The facility also provides vocational training so students can learn practical skills that will help them find employment when they graduate. At the ministry’s farm, students plant vegetables and raise a variety of livestock. They learn the techniques of acupuncture and pressure point massage.
While prayer and Bible study are the core “spiritual exercises” of the center, students are encouraged to devote a few hours a day to physical activity, too. There is a basketball court on site and plenty of open space for walking or running.
For those interested in music, students can learn to play instruments and join the ministry’s dynamic worship team.
Recognized nationally, New Birth Garden maintains a great relationship with both the Chinese government and the community because of its highly successful track record. That rapport has made it possible for the ministry to have an outreach to college students and hold religious programs that are sanctioned by local officials.
One of its biggest public events is held every December during World AIDS Awareness Day. There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDs among intravenous drug users, and the ministry uses the annual event to encourage AIDs prevention and education from a Christ-centered perspective. A music concert, blood drive, and community rally are among the featured activities.
For former drug addicts like Xu, the road to recovery has been a lengthy but ultimately victorious journey. His favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 5:17, and he thanks New Birth Garden for pointing him to the Savior.
“The old has passed; everything has become new for me. I pray that from now on I can help those who are perishing in the poison of addiction,” he said. “I am willing to follow the Lord Jesus all the days of my life. May the Lord receive all the glory, honor, and praise!”
- Currently there are 21 men enrolled in the program. The ministry has had to turn other prospective students away due to lack of funding.
- The center has 14 full-time workers, but it would like to hire additional teachers and staff.
- Operation costs total approximately $10,000 per year.