Meet the crew behind Thriving
Pastor Ed Khouri
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equippinghearts.com

Catfish Corner, NC

Ed Khouri has fought with pain all his life. Ed was adopted at six months into a loving home. From early on Ed knew he wanted to change the world. He discovered very young that there could be love after loss. He had a strong sense that human suffering was unjust and couldn’t understand why it was tolerated so easily. It seemed especially unjust that those who could do most to relieve pain often did the least while those who seemed small and insignificant often did the most.

Unknown to everyone, Ed was sexually abused by a non-family member before he was 5. Alone and in pain again, the shame of Ed’s secret became a drive to perform and feel accepted. Performance dominated his life. Ed did well in school, had friends, was an altar boy, played guitar at the folk mass, worked at the rectory and, from most appearances, was doing fine. In his mid-teenage years, Ed made a conscious decision to drink and drug. That had to be better than the pain he was feeling. In college, he hit bottom quickly, and surrendered his life to the care of Jesus. He was no longer alone in his pain. About that time Ed made a second important discovery about pain and being alone. He says:

One of the defining moments in my life happened when I was 17 and a senior in High School. I was working at the rectory one night, and all the priests were out. A woman who was scheduled to have an abortion the next day called, because she was in pain. This was a defining moment for me, because I realized that night that I had a gift of being able to talk with, and comfort people who were in serious pain. I realized that this was a natural part of who I am - it came so effortlessly that I was amazed.

Small people could change the world! Ed began working as a volunteer in recovery groups. He began to discover that God can and does heal lives broken by trauma, abuse and addictions. No one needs to be alone in his or her pain. Ed has been involved in recovery work ever since that start in 1980. He has worked in many different phases of treatment, including residential Christian programs, halfway houses, jails, programs for homeless people, and churches.

Then in 1992, Ed accidentally damaged his knee while working at a treatment program. Following surgery, he developed an extremely painful and disabling disease that spread throughout his entire body. Depressed and in despair, Ed’s health broke leaving him in a wheelchair. In the years that followed, Ed was unable to work, his family fell apart. He had to quit graduate school and was left alone in pain with few friends and just his service dog to keep him company and bring him things he needed. At times, he could barely think or move. It was during these years of being alone and in pain that Ed began to discover a depth in his relationship with God that he had never known before. Through what felt like endless sleepless nights, Ed gradually began to experience the reality of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his suffering. One day a counselor asked him a life-changing question. “Ed,” she said, “What do you want the rest of your life to look like?” Empowered by the thought that his life could still be meaningful, Ed determined that his life would not be wasted. He began volunteering a few hours a day in a Christian substance abuse treatment program.

Then came the unexpected, God raised Ed out of a wheelchair after 10 years of disability through a miraculous answer to healing prayer. The woman who prayed for him did not know it but she would become a key part of Ed’s life. Ed and Maritza were soon married. Within a year after he could walk again Ed met Jim Wilder. Ed and Maritza took the three years of THRIVE brain skill training designed by Jim Wilder and Chris Coursey and it changed their lives forever. These joy-based skills provide the maturity development that helps us really thrive. THRIVE is designed for optimum brain training and that requires two people with a loving bond for life in order to train.

People with traumas and addictions rarely have these strong bonded relationships and three years to train their brain so, in 2005 Jim and Ed decided to do what had never been done and find a way to train people who lacked a bonded partner in a year without using professionally trained doctors as facilitators. Both men believe they have been healed by God to lead this joyful vision and train people across the world. Before their pilot program was even completed the invitations to tell others about this revolution of hope were coming in from around the world. Ed says:

As a person in recovery, who has spent almost 28 years working in this field - and training workers for this field across the world - I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to recovery. I am more excited about Thriving - and it’s ability to impact lives than anything I’ve ever worked with. Statistically, traditional recovery methods succeed somewhere between 20 - 30% of the time...and that is just not good enough. I believe that Thriving has the potential to change the future of recovery forever. It is time to experience joy!

Ed crossed another invisible frontier when he described the unifying cause behind all addictions as the hijacking of the brain’s attachment system by BEEPS. (Behaviors, Events, Experiences and Substances that help regulate emotions, reduce pain or increase pleasure.) When BEEPS take over your attachment system they replace relationships as our source of joy. By dealing with the force behind all addictions, Ed and Thriving allow people with many different forms of addiction or codependency to recover together in a community where they are known but their BEEPS can be anonymous. You do not need to be alone and in pain.

Ed and Maritza train workers and leaders in the US and across the world to better serve the needs of men and women who are struggling with issues related to addiction, trauma, abuse, painful relationships and spiritual dryness. Ed says, “If we keep training recovery leaders to do the same things that produced the current results, we will continue to get the current results.” The world is asking for the joy that has changed his life and family. In the past year alone Ed has trained recovery leaders and workers from over 40 nations on every inhabited continent to experience the power of a joyful recovery!

Ed has been appointed as a member of the Secretariat for ISAAC (International Substance Abuse & Addiction Coalition). ISAAC is an international network of substance abuse workers whose efforts focus on encouraging, connecting and equipping each other around the globe to better combat the rising problem of substance abuse and addiction.

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