Applied Belief: Elephants, donkeys and heroin

This election feels like it has gone on for 10 years. It has lasted a long time, for sure. Throughout the past several months there has been an ongoing debate within the Christian world about whom Christians should vote for this election. Christians have been torn because, like many Americans, they see that both top polling options aren’t very appealing. I have written many articles addressing how Christians should vote and what the Bible says is our responsibility as Christians. You can read through my articles by clicking on the link below “more posts” under my profile picture.

With just under a month to go before we go to the polls, and yes we all should vote, many Christians have begun to throw their support behind the GOP nominee, the party symbolized by the elephant. The main reason has been the fear of many Christians about the DNC nominee, the party symbolized by the donkey. I have heard so many people say that if the Democratic nominee wins we are all going to suffer and God’s wrath will come upon this nation like never before. The truth is we can sit here all day and talk about fear and “what ifs.”

I don’t know what is going to happen in November but I want to call you to a different subject that is weighing heavier on my heart than even this election. Heroin is killing off our people by the thousands especially in Pennsylvania. This epidemic in my mind eclipses in importance even this election.

Heroin is in our middle schools, high schools, suburbs, urban areas, and in our churches. Heroin is taking the lives of young and old, rich and poor, and people of every race. Heroin overdose deaths have skyrocketed since 2002. In 2013 overdose deaths had increased 286 percent compared to 2002 according to the Centers for Disease Control. It has just gotten worse since then. The epicenter of heroin use, abuse, and overdose deaths has shifted from the southwestern United States to the northeast with the tri state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware being a focal point where heroin comes in droves through the ports in these three states.

I have seen many people struggling with addiction. I am a pastor, but also a trauma and addictions therapist. Some people I know have died and others feel like it is just a matter of time before their addiction takes their life. There’s no doubt about it, we are facing an epidemic of evil proportions.

I often call heroin the devil’s candy because of its addictive nature and propensity to kill. Many people make light of the concept of the devil and his power. The Bible makes it clear that the devil is real. He has power but is not more powerful than God. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

The devil is like a thief. He wants to steal life and bring death while Jesus has defeated death to give life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

The devil uses our sinful nature, our flesh and our mind to tempt us and, when it comes to addiction, let other things like substances control our lives. But God desires to be Lord over our life.

Deaths due to drug overdoses now exceed deaths by car accident and gun violence, according to the CDC. The devil is celebrating. Our population is being decimated at a time when our focus in on elephants and donkeys. This needs to end. There are not enough beds at detox facilities to treat all of those that need help and want to get clean. Yet, at the end of the day as a Christian, I know that no amount of detox, rehabilitation, and treatment will get to the root of addiction and all human problems, and that is the sinful nature in all of us.

Only Jesus can free us from this epidemic. It doesn’t matter which political party wins in November, people will continue to be enslaved to heroin and many will die. They want to have life and they want to be free. There is freedom and it will not come from the CDC or any government agency. It will come from Jesus who has defeated sin and death.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). It is my prayer that Christians through Pennsylvania and the country will pray fervently that true freedom from sin and addiction will come to all who are struggling.

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About Rev. Marcos O. Almonte

Rev. Marcos O. Almonte is senior pastor at Brandywine Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church west of Philadelphia. Pastor Marcos is a graduate of Palmer Theological Seminary with more than 10 years working with families with an expertise in theology, trauma and addictions. Pastor Marcos and his wife Mary have three children, Carmen, Joseph, and Lincoln.

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