|Dr. Jack Smart
Over 50 years ago, a young preacher from Pennsylvania interrupted a high profile murder trial in New York City. That preacher, David Wilkerson, wanted to share Jesus with the seven gang members accused of murder. Rev. Wilkerson wasn’t allowed to speak with the teenage defendants; instead he was hustled out of the courtroom by two policemen. What he experienced on the streets of New York City would change his life, and the lives of thousands of others, forever.
The ministry he founded has expanded around the world and has helped thousands of men and women find freedom from their drug and alcohol addiction. Teen Challenge now has over 1,000 centers in over 80 countries around the world.
Daily, Teen Challenge staff are reaching out to drug addicts, alcoholics, runaways – from the elderly to mothers with children to hurting youth – who come from every socioeconomic background. Addiction does not discriminate. It does not care about age, race, sex or religion. No part of society is immune to the devastation that accompanies addiction. Teen Challenge in the USA currently has 196 residential centers with the capacity for over 7,000 students.
The Teen Challenge model is perhaps best explained, “It’s not just drugs or alcohol; it’s moral training. The Gospel of Mark, chapter seven says, ‘It’s not what enters a man that makes him unclean, it’s what comes out that destroys him; it’s what’s in a person’s heart that is the problem.’ We don’t just talk about drugs and alcohol. We talk about character. Our approach is built on the foundation that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential for long-term success.”
The Teen Challenge program has been developed to encourage the students to learn to cope with everyday life issues. Devotions, Bible reading, discipleship classes, work assignments and chapel are essential elements of the program. Secondary education is provided in all adolescent programs, and many adult programs offer GED classes for students.
Every Teen Challenge center has opportunities for volunteering time and building relationships that will change your life forever. They challenge you to get involved in prayer support and, of course, in supporting this vital work financially. Their existence depends on the generosity of donors willing to join with them. The joy of seeing lives restored and hope renewed is priceless.