Back to Basics Recovery Program
the last week in March, the Ministry of Challenge became the focal
point for the Twelve Step communities of Austin, TX.
For eight days, Wally P. hosted "Back
to Basics--Week of Recovery, Renewal and Rebirth"
at the facility. The
events brought together members of various Twelve-Step programs,
people searching for a solution to their drug and alcohol
problems, church members, treatment professionals, and religious
leaders, along with the residents and team leaders at the Ministry
of Challenge. In all,
one thousand people attended the various activities which included
to Basics Beginners' Meetings in which attendees took all
Twelve Steps; "Quiet Time and Guidance" Meetings
where participants practiced the Eleventh Step (Sought through
prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, .
. .); historical presentations; and a seminar on How to Listen
It was a celebration of the "original" Twelve Step program of the 1940's, which produced a 75% recovery rate
from addiction through the establishment and maintenance of a
personal, direct, two-way communication with the "One who has
is the author of Back to Basics--The Alcoholics
and How to Listen to God--Guide
for Successful Living Through the Practice of Two-way Prayer.
He is the originator of the Back to Basics Recovery
Program, which has grown to more than 2,000 Beginners' Meetings,
and 100,000 recoveries since its reintroduction into the
Twelve-Step community in 1997.
program, which was a phenomenal success during the "early
days" of the recovery movement, had become a lost piece of
history. In the spring of 1993, Wally
was in Washington, D.C. conducting research for his first book, But,
for the Grace of God,
which dealt with the explosive growth of the Twelve-Step movement
in the 1940's. While
sorting through some archival materials, he came across a 20-page
pamphlet, published in 1944, which described in detail how one of
the local groups had taken newcomers through the Twelve Steps in
four one-hour sessions. In
his subsequent travels throughout the United States, Wally found
many reprints of this pamphlet along with various formats for
conducting Beginners' Meetings.
In addition, he interviewed more than one hundred
"old-timers" who had recovered in the 1940's.
Many of them told him that, although the Beginners'
Meetings had saved their lives, they had been replaced by other
meeting formats in the 1960's and 1970's.
researched the Beginners'
Meetings for two more years.
Then in the fall of 1995, Wally's spiritual advisor
challenged him to stop talking about the four one-hour sessions
and start doing something about them.
said, "Wally, if you're
ever going to learn how to fly, you have to get out of flight
school and climb into the plane."
This was a scary proposition for someone who had a phobia
about speaking in public. But
Wally walked through the fear and started conducting Beginners' Meetings.
for the first year, Wally "flew
the plane" right into the ground. Even
though he thought he was being true to the "original"
program, he had inadvertently incorporated some material from the
1970's into the Beginners' Meetings, and as a result, he wasn't seeing the recovery rates that had
been achieved by the Twelve Step pioneers.
in March of 1996, Wally met James H..
At the time, James was 90 years old and had been a sober
member of the Oxford Group for sixty-one years.
Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith also were members of the
Oxford Group before they founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939.
James was the last person alive who had attended Oxford
Group meetings with Bill Wilson and knew, from first hand
experience, the spiritual roots and the fundamental principles of
the "original" Twelve Step program.
provided Wally with three concepts from the "original" program that allowed him to successfully "fly
the plane." They were: (1) the verbal
Fourth Step (moral inventory), (2) the expanded Ninth Step that
included forgiveness as well as restitution, and (3) the written
Eleventh Step (prayer and meditation).
He supplied Wally with a four-page pamphlet, written in
1938 by a person who had attended Oxford Group meetings with Dr.
Bob Smith. This
pamphlet, titled "How
to Listen to God"
provided clear, concise directions on how to conduct two-way
that eventful meeting in 1996, Wally and James have been traveling
across the United States carrying the message of the Twelve Step
pioneers at Back to Basics and How to Listen
to God seminars. They
conducted seminars in Austin at the Riverbend Church in March and
November of last year. Their
has produced a renewal of hope within the entire recovery
is a Vietnam veteran who has a unique perspective on recovery.
He has seen bodies stacked like cordwood on the
battlefield. He has also watched people die inside and outside the rooms
of the Twelve Step programs.
In the mid 1990's, when the recovery rate had dropped to
less than 10%, Wally knew he had to do something to correct this
tragic situation. "Why
would I want to be in a meeting where there was the equivalent of
nineteen dead bodies outside the door for each person in the room,
when I could be in a meeting that at one time produced three
recoveries for each person who died?
We need to reduce the body count.
Back to Basics is a proven method to
accomplish this objective."
Wally describes his mission as, "It's all about saving lives."