Sixteen months ago, Casey Oriend was “literally homeless,” “couch-surfing,” and hooked on drugs.
“I just couldn’t get it together. It had gotten to the point where I was contemplating suicide,” he recalled.
That’s when Oriend picked up the phone and called Beach House Center for Recovery: “I decided I needed to go back to treatment and give it one more shot.”
Today, Oriend is successfully sober and serves as an intake coordinator and behavioral health technician for Beach House— but that’s just his paid job. Oriend leads worship for South Florida’s largest non-denominational church, Christ Fellowship. The multi-site congregation has eight locations, drawing anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 people per service (depending on the site).
In his unpaid volunteer role, Oriend is responsible for:
- Leading the weekly worship for Sunday church services and a Thursday evening Celebrate Recovery group for people with various addictions
- Training the worship team
- Vocal coaching
How did a 26-year-old with no formal vocal training, a 10-year history of addiction and multiple stints in treatment end up singing and leading nationally televised worship services?
The explanation involves a few factors:
- A knack for singing – “I knew I had a pretty good voice but had never done anything with it.”
- Being in the right place at the right time – Oriend first started attending the Saturday night services at Christ Fellowship when he was in treatment at Beach House. After a couple of these worship experiences, Oriend felt led to audition for the worship team: as he recalled, “something told me, ‘You should do this.'”
- Connection with a Higher Power and a newfound purpose and passion – Oriend said his moment of change came when he first realized that he was “worthy of God’s love.” That same conviction is what now propels Oriend to share God’s love with others through the gift of song. “I know today that I’m worthy of God’s love and it’s so amazing: God’s forgiveness, the things that He wants for us,” Oriend said. “There are so many people who walk in to church thinking, ‘I’m not worthy to be here. How can God love me for the things that I’ve done?’ But during ministry moments in between the songs, I like to say, ‘I just want you to know that whatever you’re going through and whatever you’ve been through, you can get through it with the love of Jesus Christ. I share a bit of my story … It’s really cool to be coming from a place of brokenness and to be able to help people.”