Day 100 – Rehabilitating Teen Drug Users

For the last installment of my 100 day exploration of charitable causes to give to, pray for and post about, I will highlight one that has personally impacted me in a dramatic way: Teen Challenge (TC).

WIKI: Global Teen Challenge is a network of Christian faith-based corporations intended to help teenagers, adults, and families with problems such as substance abuse. Teen Challenge was founded in 1961 by David Wilkerson, an Assemblies of God pastor who left a rural Pennsylvania church to work on the street among teenage gang members and socially marginalized people in New York City and who, perhaps, is best known for later authoring The Cross and the Switchblade and founding Times Square Church.

The organization offers rehabilitation programs of a general duration of twelve months to help young people to get out of addictions of all kinds (alcoholism, drugs, crime, prostitution, etc.) By 2020, Global Teen Challenge would have more than 1,400 accommodation centers in 125 countries around the world.

Following several years as a ward of the court bouncing among three foster homes by the time I was 16 years old, I ended up intermittently homeless and mentally incapacitated through excessive drug use, mostly hallucinogens. I eventually washed ashore at the doorsteps of the Teen Challenge Center in Grass Lake, Michigan.

After completing the three month introductory program there, I was transferred to their comprehensive twelve month rehabilitation center, located at a working farm in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Finally, as a quasi “third phase” of the program, I took a position as staff counselor at their center in inner city St. Louis.

In total, I spent over three years cumulatively within the Teen Challenge Organization. It took that long for me to get reasonably coherent and prepared to reenter society. Through TC, I was able to earn my G.E.D., obtain funding through Voc Rehab to attend community college, then finish under-graduate and graduate school.

Over the years, I kept in touch with several of the Teen Challenge folks, most notably the St. Louis Directors (Fred & Erma Johnson), who candidly reflected that I was one of the most extreme cases they had encountered. I credit God’s grace, the sacrifice of many loving, dedicated (severely underpaid) TC staff workers, as well as my long, arduous struggle for recovery and sanity for the happiness that I enjoy today.

Global Teen Challenge is a non-profit organization on a mission to help men, women, boys, and girls in every nation find freedom from life-controlling problems. Our goal is to create locally sustainable programs where men, women, boys, and girls find lasting freedom from addiction and discover the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.