SCOTTSBLUFF — As a baseball player and as a man, former New York Met Darryl Strawberry reached the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Now he’s sharing his story of addiction, recovery and salvation and will speak at Bearcat Stadium in Scottsbluff Sunday as part of Family Faith Day through The Rock Church. This is the fourth year the church has put on Family Faith Day. Gates open at 9 a.m. with worship beginning at 10 a.m., including the message delivered by Strawberry and music by worship artist Jared Anderson along with The Rock praise team. The service will be followed by a free lunch and field event activities for the whole family. Strawberry is speaking as part of The Rock’s Celebrate Recovery Program.
“His story in baseball is one that’s riddled with fame, drugs, addiction, pain, and ultimately, arrest and jail time,” The Rock Pastor Tyson Lambertson said of Strawberry. “God has rescued him and brought him from the pit to the pulpit.”
Jeff Courtier is the Celebrate Recovery pastor at The Rock. He said the program is designed to help with all kinds of “hurts, habits and hangups,” not just the drug and alcohol addictions that are generally thought of first. Celebrate Recovery is also designed to help the entire family, not just the addict, through the recovery process. While adults are in their own group for recovery, there are separate sessions for children from 9 months through fifth grade and another for sixth grade through high school age.
“We believe that recovery happens with the whole family,” Courtier said as he described the age-appropriate groupings. “All of the kids are getting the same teaching that the adult is, but at their level.”
The program at The Rock is Friday nights with a free dinner from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed by the group sessions from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The program is not exclusive to members of The Rock - anyone is encouraged to attend.
“We saw a huge need in the community for people to find hope in the midst of pain,” Lambertson said, “and the Lord revealed the Celebrate Recovery program to help us assist in their recovery.”
Courtier himself came from a difficult background, but eventually became the director of Celebrate Recovery, not only at The Rock, but also the same program at the Scotts Bluff County Detention Center. Courtier said he grew up in a home that was “completely broken” and found himself in and out of jail from the ages of 12-25.
“I had been clean for about a year-and-a-half, and then I got involved in CR by a friend,” Courtier said. “I just knew that the program was going to help with my walk.”
Courtier has now been the director of Celebrate Recovery at The Rock for eight years.
Strawberry was an eight-time National League All-Star and four-time World Series Champion with the Mets and New York Yankees. He also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Despite the professional success, his personal life was dotted with addiction, abuse, divorces, cancer and jail time. Now he preaches a message of recovery and salvation.
“Darryl’s story is one that will identify with every person, whether they’re broken or flourishing,” Lambertson said.
Lambertson said the message, whether it be from Strawberry speaking at venues across the nation or Courtier working with families in Scottsbluff, is that there is hope in the Gospel that people’s lives can be changed.
“In my life as well as Darryl’s, I hope people can see that, even though we had that brokenness, we’re completely different people now,” Courtier said. “God has redeemed us. ... Our hope is that someone sees that they can change. You don’t have to keep doing what you’re doing.”