Like many other states, we are facing the sin problem of drug abuse. In the State of Oklahoma, we have a serious drug problem. Many of our residents are struggling with serious addictions, including prescription drugs, marijuana and fentanyl.

If you are not familiar with fentanyl, it is one of the most powerful drugs. Fentanyl’s original purpose was to help treat people with severe pain issues, especially those related to cancer or who had life-threatening injuries.

However, in a fallen world, many things that are meant for good often are twisted into something bad.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, “From 2019 to 2022, the number of fentanyl overdose deaths increased 12-fold, from 50 deaths in 2019 to 609 in 2022. Fentanyl was involved in more than four out of five opioid-related overdose deaths in 2022, compared to approximately 10-20 percent annually prior to 2020. Before 2020, Oklahoma saw an increase in illicitly manufactured fentanyl overdose deaths, but not at the scale of other states.” These numbers are only increasing as the drug is getting into more hands throughout the state.

Why is this drug so powerful you may ask? According to the DEA It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic; 42 percent of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg of fentanyl, considered a potentially lethal dose. Drug trafficking organizations typically distribute fentanyl by the kilogram. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

Anyone can accidentally take a pill without knowing it contains fentanyl. It is also possible to take a pill knowing that it does contain fentanyl, but not knowing that it is a lethal dose.

For those who are informed, the devastating effects of fentanyl are easy to see, but why should Oklahoma Baptists be concerned about this issue? The answer is really simple. Those who are being exposed to these deadly drugs are our church members, our family members and friends, and people who are created in the image of God.

This year alone as a pastor and a chaplain I have seen the devastating effects fentanyl has had on the human body and mind. I have witnessed loss of life, families separated and funerals. I have counseled individuals and family members with fentanyl related issues, and each time, it becomes more evident that continued awareness is needed to be able to effectively minister to individuals and families who are dealing with this great addiction.

In the face of this tragedy, the local church has a real opportunity to embrace the brokenness of this world, and minister to people directly affected by fentanyl during their time of great need. As great as this epidemic is, I have seen firsthand what impact a local church can have. I have seen the Lord Jesus Christ do amazing things!

The real and lasting solution to this and any sin problem is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are also various State of Oklahoma ministries and agencies which wish to help those who suffer from drug addiction. Here are a few of helpful resources I have found that are available online:

In the end, God calls us to be a light amid the darkness. For us to be the light amid this addiction epidemic, we must first find a way to share the Good News that Jesus Christ not only saves from the penalty of sin and death, but also from all addictions.