While this isn’t news to people who’ve found Youtube footage of Joseph Habedank giving his testimony in concert, these secular outlets are revealing new details about his struggle with prescription pill addiction. The Blaze just did a write-up the other day, while Billboard ran a story earlier in the month. The Billboard piece actually goes further in depth, as Habedank shares that addiction runs in his immediate family, including a brother who became hooked on narcotics in his teens. He also shares in both pieces that the Perrys had to stage an intervention after he had been taking “10 to 12 hydrocodone or oxycodone a day.” This led to his resignation from the group, after which he checked himself into rehab and began the long journey back.
I have even more respect for the Perrys now that their handling of his resignation has come to light. I also admire Habedank’s forthrightness and humility in sharing this deeply private struggle with his fans and the world, as well as his responsible recognition of the seriousness of his disease. I wish him continued sobriety and many more years of fruitful ministry. This is something he could have chosen to keep to himself, but instead he’s chosen to use it as a way of offering hope to other addicts. Hope for the addict is a hauntingly timely message, especially now in the wake of Robin Williams’s suicide. While I certainly don’t believe Christians are obligated to announce their private demons from the rooftops, people in the pew aren’t immune to addiction, and it’s healthy for the Church to be aware of and prepared for that reality.
On a more wry note, it’s a little sad that one of the few moments when southern gospel gets major mainstream media coverage should involve some kind of failing on the part of one of its stars. I guess we’ll have to wait until Ernie Haase & Signature Sound get invited to open for Susan Boyle.