Some years ago, TobyMac very kindly embraced my idea to hold youth crusades in San Diego and came alongside me to offer his talent, grace and prayers. He worked tirelessly, was great at what he did, and reached thousands of kids for Christ. When one enters into the trenches with you to support your idea, it is very easy to feel a certain amount of fondness and affection for them, and that is certainly how I felt and feel about Toby. I am eternally grateful to him.
That is why Toby’s nightmare, the loss of his son, Truett, hits particularly hard. Toby loved his boy and was a family man. It is my hope and prayer that in this long night of the soul, the one he is suffering through at this very moment, that he finds hope and healing in the arms of our heavenly Father who knows what is like to lose a son.
Truett died of an accidental drug overdose and fentanyl was involved. Opioids are an American tragedy that, I’m afraid, may get lost in these tumultuous, news-heavy times. I’m also concerned that people may feel that the opioid crisis is just an extension of the drug scene that started has been a part of our national conversation since the late 1960s. It is not. This is different.
The opioid crisis is rolling through American communities like a fast-moving plague. More than 47,000 Americans died in 2017 alone. Multiply that by the number of each victim’s family members and it is easy to see the wake of destruction is historic. But it doesn’t stop there. Millions of people are battling crushing opioid addictions right now. In 2015, 1.2 million women and nearly 1 million men addicted. The numbers are likely greater today. The crisis is one of the worst drug crisis in American history, causing more deaths annually than car crashes or guns, and making orphans of thousands of children. The incidents of running into someone who has been affected is growing. A woman who worked at my church’s K-12 academy just recently lost a family member to opioid overdose. It’s everywhere. America is losing nearly 200 people every day.
One of the catastrophes of the phenomenon is that it carries with it the judgment of many in our culture — those who believe that only druggies die of a drug overdose. As many of you may know, opioids are largely found in prescribed painkillers, which means that the crisis is so insidious it is making addicts out of people who have never taken a recreational drug before.
I am praying that the churches of America will begin to prepare themselves in a way that takes seriously its impact on our communities. We will need to offer spiritual and practical support for the coming wave of people who will look to the church for help. We need to pray for our leaders and legislators. If Truett’s death can serve to ignite us all into action and bring hope and healing to the masses, well, I hope my friend, Toby, can take some solace in that.