We were friends first. I had gone back to school to get my teaching degree and she, I came to find out, was working to try to get her two children back after her home was raided for meth. Her husband went to jail and she went through drug rehab while her parents became foster parents to her children for a year. She worked at a fast food restaurant and I had a Dr. Pepper addiction, so it was at the drive-thru window that we first met. Over the years, we shared our lives that had very little in common and I committed to pray for her. She divorced, got her kids back and worked her way up to a management position at the restaurant. We often talked about God and I took her kids to youth group Wednesday nights. But she kept smoking and drinking and seeking unconditional love in men. Then one night she ended up at the wrong end of a police officer's gun. He demanded she lay her 8-month pregnant body facedown on the floor in her living room while the other officers searched her home. While her recently paroled brother and a friend (both with drug addictions) watched, the officers arrested her for possession of drugs and paraphernalia and the intent to sell because it was her home. A year later, facing the judge and awaiting his decision of between 6 months to 3 years in jail, she heard him sentence her to 13 months in Teen Challenge.
Teen Challenge is a nationwide grassroots program to, as their mission statement says, "Provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, and spiritually alive."
Teen Challenge is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on donations and volunteers to offset the expenses of both residential and non-residential care and treatment of adolescents and young men and women struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. Founded in 1958 by David Wilkerson, Teen Challenge now includes more than 170 treatment centers across the United States serving thousands seeking freedom from paralyzing addictions. With an average 70% cure rate for graduating drug addicts, Teen Challenge outperforms most secular rehabilitation programs that only see a 1-15% cure rate. This success is greatly attributed to the faith-based curriculum and the generous monetary donations, volunteer help, and prayer support from the center's local community.
This month, discuss with your small group taking an active role at your local Teen Challenge treatment center. Locate the Teen Challenge nearest you at http://www.teenchallengeusa.com/locations.html or contact the national office in writing at PO BOX 1015 Springfield, MO 65801 or by phone at (417) 862-6969.
Discuss some of the following volunteering options with your local Teen Challenge personnel:
- Offer the qualified professional services of your small group members (e.g.- lawyers and accountants for consultations)
- Help lead Bible studies
- Provide maintenance of the center and grounds
- Cook meals
- Mentor residents
- Listen to residents
As a group, pray about your level and length of commitment then be consistent. Consider committing to every Saturday afternoon for a month, all summer, or maybe one Saturday a month for a year. Consistency speaks volumes to residents who have struggled with inconsistency in their own lives. Take time each group meeting to pray for the residents and those working with them on a daily basis.
Small group leaders, encourage your group members to:
- Fly a kite with a child.
- Donate tissue, white board markers, tape, etc. to a teacher.
- Pay double for every meal eaten in a restaurant for one week, letting the server keep the change.