Note from the Editor:
Recently, OCMC sent out a call to our Missionaries, asking them to provide us with blog contributions. Floyd Frantz, Missionary to Romania, answered us with this series of entries, painting a vivid picture of his activities in Romania during April and May of this year. These entries have been edited and will be posted in groups of 2-3.
Today I am sending a very short history of my journey to becoming a missionary and living in Romania.
I first came to Romania in October of 1998, and stayed for six weeks. It was a life-changing experience. Being a professional addictions counselor, and having been employed by some very fine treatment centers in Kansas and Oklahoma, I was accustomed to living and working in a society that takes addictions treatment for granted. AA meetings are available to help people in virtually every city and town in America. There are professional treatment centers virtually everywhere, so people who need help with alcoholism or addictions can find help. In Romania, at a presentation that I made on that trip for the chiefs of the education department of the prison system, I found that more than half of the educators had never even heard of Alcoholics Anonymous. They had not even dreamed that there were treatment programs for addictions (Minnesota Model) that are multi-disciplinary and based in the concept that alcoholism is a treatable disease.
To make a long story short, at the end of the training conference I was asked by the director of the education department of the national prison system to write a program that could be used in the prisons in Romania. Because of my short stay, I had to refuse the offer. However, after I returned to Romania in 2000 we did write the program, which was accepted for use in 2002. We used it in a prison near Cluj for about 8 months but, mostly because of funding issues, we decided to direct our priorities elsewhere. We have made it available to other programs which are now working in the prison system, and are using the basic Minnesota Model approach.
Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits.
Before continuing the last newsletter, I would like to share with you some very good news. Today Fr. Iulian Negru, the priest that I have been working with in Iasi, announced that our Patriarch (Daniel)has given his blessing for us to begin work on developing an addictions education program for the Romanian Orthodox Church, at the national level. This is very good news, as it will bring us closer to our goals of getting information about alcoholism and addictions to every priest in Romania. Of course, this also applies to what we are doing in Moldova, as the Romanian Orthodox Church has about 500 parishes here in Moldova.
To continue with our last newsletter, the “Minnesota Model” (M/M) of addictions treatment is essentially the basic “bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach” to treating alcoholism and addictions that is found in virtually 99% of the treatment centers in the United States. It is based on the belief that alcoholism (a form of addiction) is a primary, progressive, chronic and fatal disease. It holds that the best treatment for addictions is found in the framework of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. In early recovery, the “treatment phase,” a clinical adaptation of the first five steps of AA is used as a critical part of the treatment program. Also, the client is sent to AA meetings while still in treatment, and is encouraged to attend meetings after his/her discharge. Now, it is important to note here that this very important part of the treatment program is essentially spiritual in nature. It is about personal honesty, exploring values related to the use of alcohol and its effects on the person’s life, resolving inner guilt and conflicts, exploring one’s relationship with God (or “Higher Power”), and establishing or re-establishing a relationship with God.
Along with this, any identified physical, emotional or social problems that the client has are addressed while he/she is still in the treatment program. If the patient has problems that cannot be addressed in treatment (traditionally 28 days residential), then the client is referred to an outpatient specialist to work on those particular issues after the client addresses the primary issue of alcoholism or drug addiction.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “What has all this got to do with his being a missionary? Is this what missionaries are supposed to be doing? I thought that they were supposed to be building churches, bringing people to the Lord, and spreading the “Good News” of the Gospel.” Well, I agree with all of that, and all of that is what we are trying to accomplish here in Moldova, and in Romania.