Jorge Acevedo smoked a joint to celebrate becoming a Christian. As a 17-year-old, new believer, he didn’t know right from wrong or up from down. But God rescued him from a life of addiction. Forty years later, he pastors Grace Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in Cape Coral, Florida and helps to lead one of the largest and most effective recovery ministries in the U.S.
The church launched a Celebrate Recovery ministry in 2000 with 50-60 people. Seventeen years later, more than 1000 people come to Grace Church to receive the help they need either through Christian or traditional recovery.
“I am passionate for people who have no frame of reference for God, Jesus, the Church or the Bible,” Jorge said.
Jorge is the son of an alcoholic and started “the family business” when he was in high school. As Jorge approached his senior year, he realized he had no sense of purpose or destiny. Then, a man introduced him to Jesus at Campus Crusade for Christ.
“He didn’t give me a diatribe about how sin separated me from God, but how God had a purpose for my life,” Jorge said. “So I did what Sam Shoemaker [Episcopal Priest] said I could do. I gave as much of myself as I could to as much of God as I understood.
Jorge’s recovery from alcoholism and its additional scars has been a life long journey. Even while attending Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary, he white knuckled his sobriety with occasional relapses. He attempted to quench his rage with alcohol, but it spilled over onto his wife and son.
While at the Seminary, he began his ordination process, which required a psychological exam, with the United Methodist Church in Florida. At the same time, his pastor and boss at Trinity Hill UMC (Lexington, Ky.), Howard Olds, recognized his problem and insisted that he see a counselor.