AA-Appreciating It Early Successes
Learning What Its Founders Really Did
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
It is not surprising that the early A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935 had achieved a documented 75% success rate by November, 1937. There are several important
reasons why these astonishing healings occurred.
First, A.A. grew out of the work of people and movements who had been successful many years before A.A. was born. Thus evangelists and revivals had been bringing folks to Jesus Christ and preaching the Word of God for almost 100 years in the Vermont area where A.A.’s cofounders were born and raised. The YMCA lay people had been doing the same thing on a non-denominational basis and working outside of church structures. The rescue missions had specifically turned to decisions for Christ and the Bible to help countless drunkards change their lives. The Salvation Army had attained world-wide notice for its successes in sending a recovered inebriate/criminal into the slums of London with a message of salvation and the truth of the Word and then insisting that the recovered “victim” join “God’s Army” and help others by the same means. Finally, the Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society had, in the period of Dr. Bob’s youth, laid out a program—albeit within the church structure—to bring young people back to the church fold by confession of Christ, conversion meetings, prayer meetings, Bible study meetings, the Quiet Hour, and the motto of love and service.
And all these previous efforts had touched the lives of tens of thousands, brought them to Jesus Christ, taught them the Word, and instilled in them the idea that they must continue to grow through prayer, Bible study, fellowship with like-minded believers, setting aside a quiet time for God, and bringing salvation to others.
These were the principles Bill W. and Dr. Bob learned and brought to the table when they finally met and began developing a one-on-one program for helping drunks get well by relying on the power of God.
There were additional practices Bill and Dr. Bob had learned from their own experiences. Conversion was vital. Determination never to drink was essential. Initial hospitalization was a regular requirement. Learning from Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Ripley Smith the principles and practices she had written and shared with drunks and their families from 1933 to 1939. See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939 (www.dickb.com/annesm.shtml).
Today we have solid documentation, partly from a handwritten list by Dr. Bob himself, that by November, 1937, there were forty members who had achieved continuous sobriety—some for days and a few for years. Of these, fifty-percent had never had a drink. Twenty-five percent had relapsed but returned to recover. And the remainder had continued to struggle.
This is a success story that needs to be told!