My name is Alex and I am from Milwaukee. When I was 14 years old, I became addicted to opiates. By the time I was 18 years old, I was addicted to heroin. By 21, I was addicted to heroin and cocaine. After overdosing and nearly losing everything, I sat in jail for two months. I decided I needed a change. I remember, clearly, the day that God spoke to me and said “you’ve tried everything on your own and here you are… sitting in jail with nothing and nobody. Try me!”.
I decided to let go and let God have his way with my life. I entered Adult and Teen Challenge in 2018 and since then my life has completely changed. He’s restored every relationship I thought could never be healed. The change that God made in me led to my girlfriend, who is now my wife, come to know Jesus. He completely restored our relationship and made it better than before. I no longer walk a “fine line” of just staying sober.
Today I am free from the chains of addiction because Adult and Teen Challenge gave me time and an opportunity to rebuild the relationship with Christ that I desperately needed. Now have a beautiful wife, a 6 week old son, and have a life that I used to consider just a long-lost dream.
I was born into a broken family. Both of my parents came from broken homes, too. I was raised in rage, pain, and hatred. My parents constantly fought over my father’s drug addiction. One day he left and didn’t come back home. It was so long ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was never the same after that day. I carried all the things that hurt me growing up into the relationships I had with women. I have two sons with two different mothers. I emotionally abused and hurt them both. Eventually I lost visitation rights to both my boys. I was broken, lost, and addicted. All of this brought me to my knees, crying out to the Lord in my lowest pit of failure.
The Lord heard my cry and brought me to the doors of Adult and Teen Challenge. It was here that I met Jesus Christ and made him my Lord and Saviour. He has healed and mended my broken heart and has set me free from all addictions. He gave me the strength to graduate from the program this year. God has called me to the leadership part of the program where I’m blessed to serve and continue to grow in this great ministry.
I’m currently in counseling and so is one of my sons and we will be reunited soon. Praise be to God!
I grew up in a very loving middle class family. I went to Sunday School and church regularly and was active in sports. I went to college, graduated Magna Cum Laude and landed an incredible first job right out of school. Not the picture of a daily meth, heroin and gambling addict. Addiction and evil have no boundaries, and within a short time of starting a promising career in Health Care Administration, I was hopeless and broken. I spiraled from bad to worse.
Stealing from the people I loved the most and making very bad financial and relationship choices are just the tip of the iceberg of the problems that drove me literally into the ground. But God sent an angel on a very cold December day in 2012. That angel was my Mom.
She found me hundreds of miles from home, on the streets freezing cold with nothing but the clothes on my back. She took me home where I spent three days with my family. The day after Christmas, she delivered me to Teen Challenge Milwaukee, where I spent two years learning about the power of forgiveness and the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fast forward and now I am blessed to be working for the ministry. During my time in Milwaukee, Pastor Craig Harper told me about Brooklyn Teen Challenge and planted the seed that this is the place for me. I am grateful he never gave up on the thought because he helped me get here, and now I am the Development Director where Teen Challenge was born 60 years ago.
I liken my role as to that of a coach. Truth be told, I have always wanted to be a coach, and the Lord has called me to coach in this unique way. I develop fundraising game plans, execute on the strategy to win and motivate my team to be the best they can be with the goal of raising money to sustain and grow the ministry of Brooklyn Teen Challenge. We are meeting our goals, and at the same time look for new and innovative ways to generate income so we can embrace broken and hopeless addicts and show them that there is a better way with Jesus. All of this to the glory of God.
God also put on my heart to enroll in the Brooklyn Teen Challenge School of Ministry through Global University where I am studying to become a Pastor. I want to work with disadvantaged youth; coaching and loving them to know their Savior and to find peace and love through ways other than with drugs.
Once I got to high school I was searching for acceptance and I found it with people who were much like myself. I started drinking and going to high school parties at 13 and shortly after I started taking prescription medication. My sophomore year I was expelled from school for pills and then I went to two different schools and graduated in 2013. It wasn’t until after high school I was introduced to cocaine. Once I went to college in Eau Claire, I started selling and doing all different kinds of hard drugs. Cocaine completely consumed my life and I stopped going to school. I started getting involved with the wrong people and when I was 19 I committed a burglary, which I am on probation for now. I sat four months in jail after a year of going through court.
While in jail I heard of a program called Teen Challenge. I was already going to church on Sundays in jail and I asked my pastor about this program. He told me it was the best addiction program there is. The next day I got a hold of the intake coordinator, and I presented Teen Challenge to the judge as a treatment possibility. The judge accepted it and through this program I am able to expunge my felony. I have been in the program for 13 months and graduated at the end of May. God has completely restored my family and is teaching me how to be a morally free person. I am planning on continuing on as a reentry student and going back to school at MATC. A verse I stand on today is James 4:10 “Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
My experience and story with God begins when I was 17 years old. I was a very wild and out-of-control teenager. I was waiting to go to court, and when I went to court, my probation officer said they were going to put me away. I didn’t want to be incarcerated, so my plan as a 17 year old back in 1974, was to rob a drugstore with my friend and run away to Canada. As I was walking to the closet to get my coat to go do this thing, my mom stopped me. She was very distraught and crying, she knew I had problems. She asked me to go to this Christian live-in program that was for teenagers that had drug problems. This place was called Teen Challenge. I didn’t want to go because I had tried to be a Christian, but I never could work that out in my life. Also, I didn’t think I had a drug problem, which was actually a joke, because if anything characterized my life as a young person, it was the fact that I had a drug problem. So, we went to this inner-city part of Indianapolis with these rather dilapidated buildings; I walked into this big old home, and as soon as I walked in, I knew God was there.
Now, I didn’t know how I knew God was there, because I didn’t know you could even know where God was, but I knew God was there. As I walked in, there was a young man reading the Bible. His name was Victor and he was excited about what he was reading. He was explaining it to people as they walked by and I was totally taken back. I didn’t know people my age got excited about the Bible. I thought that the Bible was for old people and for pastors, but he was excited about the Bible. They took me to the chapel and I met the director, Dan. We talked for a little bit, and I remember Dan said, “We don’t have a program here, all we have is Jesus Christ. We believe that He is the answer to all of your problems.” As soon as he said that is was like the entire chapel just lit up; I felt that the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ was standing right there in front of me, and I knew that God still loved me. That day I entered Teen Challenge.
I gave my heart to Christ and I had this wonderful experience with God. It changed my life, all the rebellion and anger I had just went away. I still had lots of problems to work through, but I knew that with hope and faith in Christ that God was going to see me through. God was going to give me a good life and deliver me from this life I had lived. Within weeks of becoming a Christian, I felt that God had called me into ministry, so I went to Bible college at a small school in Lakeland, Florida. After this I continued on to seminary and got my Masters in Divinity and Classical Guitar. I fell in love with studying the Bible, so I went on to Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated with my second Masters in Theology.
I was probably the only one in line at that graduation that had flunked out of high school! I give God all the glory for that. The degree I earned at Princeton is the second most advanced master’s degree in America. I’ve since gone on to do some more graduate work at Marquette, working on a PhD in New Testament and finishing all of the course work required. Today, my wife and I serve as the senior pastors of a church in Indianapolis which is my hometown. This is the third church we have served in since working there at Teen Challenge Wisconsin.
My mom and I spend a lot of time together and she is still in good health. My wife and I have two children. My daughter is a senior at Lee College in Tennessee and my son is in college here in Indianapolis. Today, I’m passionate about experiencing God. I want to experience God in worship, in prayer and in the unity of other believers. I want to experience God in my every day life. I want to teach people how to experience God. And not only to experience God yourself, but to bring others into that experience. So our first passion is to experience God. My second passion is to study the scriptures in God’s book. It’s the only book in history in which the author comes with it. The Holy Spirit comes and helps us to understand it and bring it to life. It’s a book of life, not a book of rules. It’s a book of life, a book of hope – it’s God’s book.
Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge Wisconsin. My wife and I were honored to be a part of the early days of the program there. May the Lord bless you!
In my youth, I was a very hurt, depressed, and had an empty soul. My father left home when I was six years old. My mother had many abusive relationships. I had no fatherly guidance in my life, and I always took second place to my mother’s relationships. Degrading conflict, screaming, and dangerous car chases were a common occurrence. Eventually, I changed from a normal inquisitive, loving, caring son to a closed person in order to be safe and shut out the pain. I would just retreat to my room to drown out the sounds of screams and fighting. I turned to drugs as the answer to my inner pain. I had no income and yet I needed drugs, which took money. I would do anything to keep myself supplied and high. I became a drug pusher to sustain my habit. I belonged to the drug world. Then the day came, that I was arrested. I was charged with nine drug counts, eight felonies and one misdemeanor. I knew I had to seek help.
While in a detoxification center, I learned of a former heroin addict that graduated from Teen Challenge. I decided to give it a try. At first it was very difficult, I was torn between two worlds. My reality had been cocaine and staying high. Now I had to involve myself fully – mentally, physically, and spiritually. It was about one month into the program that I began to wake up to the gravity of my situation. I was facing a prison sentence of 78 years if I was waived to adult court. I was only 17 ½ years old! I still felt the pain of my home situation and at Teen Challenge I was learning why I felt empty. My heart was aching for something, and that something was God. I prayed, “Lord, I want you to wash my slate clean, and keep me from prison because I want to be able to join the Air Force. I want you to take me away from my home. Also, I want my own family one day, a loving home, a faithful and loving wife, and children. If you do this for me, it will help me to serve you for the rest of my life.” God knows the heart better than anyone. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and He has answered every part of my prayer. He influenced the decisions of the court to allow me to continue in the program. God also gave me a sympathetic and compassionate Judge who took an interest in me. I went to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to graduate the second phase of the program. During my stay, my court case was miraculously dismissed! I never had to return to my dysfunctional home. The Lord was blessing me through new friends in the church and a new wholesome life. ‘So if the Son sets you free you are free indeed.’ John 8:36. I was in Tucson, Arizona, when I applied to join the Air Force. I enrolled in college to meet the entrance requirements, with the help of my Arizona Teen Challenge mentor. God had not forgotten. I was accepted and have been serving my country now for 17 years. During that time, I was introduced to my beautiful wife Giana, in 2003, who is also in the Air Force. We have been blessed with three wonderful children, two boys and one girl.
My life has been made anew since 1995. Today, I am a Space Systems Operator for the United States Air Force, stationed in Washington, D.C. My responsibilities range from detecting sea-launched ballistic missiles and tracking satellites to assisting in rocket launches and space flight operations. However, through it all, the Lord does not let me forget the life that he brought me out of. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ 2 Corinthians 5:17. Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge Wisconsin. This is the place where my journey in Christ began!
In 1979 I joined the Hell’s Henchmen motorcycle club. That is when my partying days really started. Even the cops were leery of us. I started getting into trouble, doing drugs and going to jail on a regular basis.
In those days, it was an honor to get locked up. The club would put your picture up on the “wall of fame,” and was always there to help you and your family.
I was dealing drugs, guns, and explosives. I was a member of Hell’s Henchman for 17 years. I made Lieutenant and Sergeant at Arms. In 1996, the Hell’s Henchmen became the Hell’s Angels, the largest motorcycle club in the world, and also the most violent.
I got locked up for 18 months on a gun and drug charge. Four months after I got out, I was heading back to prison. I had the club behind me, but no family. Living the biker lifestyle isn’t a joke. I have a 30 year drug addiction and a 31 year biker lifestyle. In March 2010, I went to inpatient detox. I had to; I was drinking a gallon of vodka a day, along with a 12 pack of beer, and at least 3 grams of coke.
Between county jails and prison, I have spent 20 years locked up. I knew if I didn’t do something now, I would end up killing myself or someone else! I’m 52 and with a 20 year sentence on me, I’d be in my 70’s when I got out, I don’t want that. I have kids and grandkids I haven’t even met.
So I made some phone calls. One was Teen Challenge; I thought it would be for people in their teens, so I didn’t call them. Later, my mom told me about my uncle who was just as bad as me, if not worse. She said he went through Teen Challenge in California, and he’s been clean for 2 ½ years! I still had their number, so I called.
When I found out that it was a year program, I thought, what the heck. I didn’t get this way over night, and I know a 45 day or 90 day inpatient program isn’t going to work. So here I am.
I have a long way to go, but look how I acted for 31 years. Every time I went to jail or prison, I thought it was cool! I’ve been places and seen things that would scare the devil. I’m not glorifying biker life; I got 20 years of lockup time, that’s 20 years I can’t get back. I believe that I am right where God wants me to be!
When the program is over, I’m going to go back to school and get an Associate’s Degree and become a probation and parole officer, so I can help other people who are just like I was. Even with my record, I can be a P.O. and that’s what I really want to do with my life, help others!
Hi, my name is Brandon I am 24 years old. I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin with my two brothers and two sisters. As a child I excelled in both football and wrestling. What people didn’t know is that I started drinking at age 14 and smoking marijuana. As I got older those drugs became a gateway into a lifestyle of harder drugs. Towards the end of my senior year in high school I was using painkillers; I never really knew what addiction was at that time. Right after I graduated high school I ended up getting a call saying that my dad had committed suicide. Even though we were not very close, it still hit me hard. That’s when I started IV heroin use. For the next three years, my life was a blur of overdosing and going to jail. I didn’t think I could ever live any other way. My whole life changed one day when I discovered I had a warrant out for my arrest for the manufacture and delivery of heroin. On December 17th, 2015 my mother’s house was raided by local police and I was arrested. I was now facing a felony conviction and multiple years in prison.I ended up sitting 8 months in jail waiting to be sentenced. My cellmate encouraged me to read Romans chapter 7. I could apply Paul’s teaching to my own struggle with sin.
When I stood before the judge, I was granted a five minute recess to call Teen Challenge at 414/748-HELP. I am grateful to God they answered the phone. The judge agreed to sentence me to Teen Challenge. I graduated the program last year in August. ’m also currently enrolled in ministry school studying to get my credentials to be a pastor for the Assemblies of God. The Lord has called me to serve Him. After graduating the one year Teen Challenge program I started a nine month internship. On July 1st I completed the internship and started as an entry level staff member serving in the area of intake. As an Intake Staff Member I help many individuals each week enter the program. Many individuals we take in find out about our program when people reach out to them and let them know about our agency. Thank you for supporting Adult and Teen Challenge Wisconsin.
My name is Alex and I am from Shell Lake, Wisconsin. After completing high school in 2008, I enrolled in the United States Marines Corps. After attending boot camp in San Diego, California I was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan. I loved being a Marine and serving my country.
I really enjoyed growing up in Shell Lake. Shell Lake is a very beautiful tourist town with great outdoor actvities and good people.
My mother grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She did her best to provide for me and my sister. My father abandoned my mother just after I was born. At 9 years old I started smoking marijuana with my cousins. In high school I began to use LSD, cocaine and prescription pills.
I was discharged in 2011 after serving six months in prison. This was devastating. I was at my lowest point in life. In all of this I could not stop drinking.
I came back to Shell Lake, but everything just got worse. I was introduced to methamphetamine. I would sell meth to pay for my addiction. In February of 2014, a large police SWAT team showed up at my house and arrested me for the use and distribution of methamphetamine.
During this time my mom was encouraging me to accept the help that only Jesus Christ could provide. She told me about Teen Challenge. After being incarcerated twice, the jail chaplain helped me get into the program.
During this last year the Lord has helped me immensely. I am rebuilding my life in Christ. I graduated Teen Challenge Wisconsin last year and entered Brooklyn Teen Challenge School of Ministry in last month. My probation ended on December 30th and I started an internship at Brooklyn Teen Challenge January 1st.
Last week I got to meet Don Wilkerson who is President of Brooklyn Teen Challenge. I actually live where Nicky Cruz lived and take classes at the original Teen Challenge Center started by David Wilkerson.
Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge Wisconsin! Your support helps those struggling with addiction find freedom. It also gives individuals like me the opportunity to pursue training to help others!
Pictures: Alex in front of Brooklyn Teen Challenge. Alex with Craig and Jennifer Harper
My name is Phil. I grew up in a loving, Christian home in Madison. Attending church every Sunday and going to a Christian school taught me about God and the Bible basics.
I thought I was a good person and knew everything I needed to get by in life. As I grew up and became an adult I started to ignore God. Other things began to take priority.
When I began drinking I told myself it was only temporary. The only thing temporary was the fun part. I had been so anxious to catch up with all the things I thought I had missed that I did not see how quickly alcohol was taking hold of me.
My life became a never ending cycle of sobriety, binge drinking and drinking alone day and night. It was killing me. I lost my driver’s license, my job and my willpower. With two drunk driving convictions, several damaged relationships, and dwindling health, I finally realized how broken I was. My mom knew I needed help and talked about a place called Teen Challenge.
It is a miracle that I am still here to tell my story. I have always had family and friends support me through everything. Without their encouragement I don’t know what would have happened. I can now see that it was God’s grace revealing itself to me through their lives.
For about three years I was in and out of secular treatment programs and AA. They were helpful but failed to offer a permanent solution for my addiction to alcohol. When I came to Teen Challenge I found the permanent solution.
I didn’t understand what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ meant before that, but now I know and it has set me free from the control of alcohol. Letting go of my old life was the hardest part. I now desire to do His will and I am so thankful that He provided me with Teen Challenge to help turn my life around. I can see that God has a plan for my life and I am committed to serving Him.
Many things have been restored to me. I am currently a full time student at UW-Milwaukee and have made many new Christian friends. There is now tremendous hope and peace in my life. I look forward to helping others and sharing the greatness of God’s love and grace.
A verse that has given me strength and encouragement through the tough times is Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Hi, my name is Dan, I was born in Richland, Washington and grew up in a number of places mostly located on the West Coast. We had to move a lot mostly because of my step fathers job.
At the age of 15 I moved to Montana to live with my biological dad. My father was a pipe fitter who worked mostly in fuel processing. When I arrived in Montana my father bought a keg of beer to celebrate his son being home. Drinking quickly became a problem for me and within a year I moved back to my moms.
In the 10th grade I quit school to go work in Alaska at a company that processed fish.
In Thanksgiving of 2016 I lost a ten year career at COSTCO because of a dirty UA. I fell into a deep depression turning to my past time comforter, the bottle. By this time I also had obtained three DUI’s in Oregon, California, and Washington.
In October of 2016, one of my cousins was invited to the Teen Challenge Wisconsin Banquet with special speaker Dr. Ben Carson. After hearing about Teen Challenge my cousin recommended the program to me. On March 10th of last year I found myself arriving here in Milwaukee at the Teen Challenge “Center of Hope.”
During this past year in the program, I have memorized over 250 verses of scripture and successfully finished all of the required PSNC and GSNC classes. After graduation this month I will be flying back to Seattle to be with my wife and family.
In Psalms 30:2 David stated: “O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me.” Thanks for making a place like this available for me.
Alone one morning in my bedroom, I lifted my hands to God and asked him to help me. I heard about Teen Challenge through Christian friends. I was serious about change and ten days later I was a student in the Teen Challenge program. During this time, God spoke to me that He had been my Father the whole time, because I had never met my biological father. That’s when I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. I could not stop crying, but I wasn’t hurt at all. I am now a child of God and the violent attitude has turned to kindness. His love has filled my soul. Earlier this year I received credentials as a minister in the Assemblies of God. I plan to spend the rest of my life helping people and being faithful to the Lord’s call on my life.
A scripture that brings me strength is I Corinthians 15:58… “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
I am Michael. I am from Sheboygan and I am 32 years old. Starting from birth, I lived in multiple foster homes until I was adopted at age 4. My experience as a child left me with feelings of abandonment. As a teenager, I found refuge and drugs and alcohol. I became a full-blown meth addict at age 28. I hit my rock bottom in 2019 when I handed over my youngest son to my mom because I was being arrested. Sitting in jail, I surrendered to God.
I came directly to Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge. I have been sober for over two years now. I am in bible school working towards becoming a pastor. I am serving as an intern because want to lead other men in their recovery. My fiancée and I will be getting married and our family is being reunited. I am learning to be the father that God has called me to be.
My name is Jason. I am now 33 years old and a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. In my youth, I was a very hurt, depressed, and empty soul. My father left home when I was six years old. My mother had many abusive relationships. I had no fatherly guide in my life, and I always took second place to my mother’s relationships.
Degrading name calling, screaming matches, and dangerous car chases were a common occurrence. Eventually, I changed from a normal inquisitive, loving, caring son to a closed person in order to be safe and shut out the pain. I would just retreat to my room to drown out the sounds of screaming and shrieking with my pillow over my head.
I turned to drugs as the answer to my inner pain. I had no income and yet I needed drugs, which took money. I would do anything to keep myself supplied, and high. I became a drug pusher, to sustain my habit. I belonged to the drug world.
The day came, that I was arrested. I was charged with nine drug counts. I knew I had to seek help and while in a detoxification center, I learned of a former heroin addict that graduated from Teen Challenge. I decided to give it a try. I found it very difficult at first. I was torn between two worlds. My reality had been cocaine and staying high. Now I had to involve myself fully — mentally, physically, and spiritually.
It was about one month into the program that I began to wake up to the gravity of my situation. I was facing a very lengthy prison term, if I were raised to adult court. I was only 17 ½ years old!
I still felt all the pain of my home situation, and at Teen Challenge I was learning why I felt empty. My heart was aching for something, and that something, was God.
I prayed, ‘Lord, I want you to wash my slate clean, and keep me from prison because I want to be able to join the Air Force. I want you to take me away from my home. Also, I want my own family one day, a loving home, a faithful and loving wife, and children. If you’re there God, and you really care about me, then that is what I want. If you do this for me, it will help me to serve you for the rest of my life.” (Pictured above is Jason and his son, pictured to left is Jason and his family)
God knows the heart better than anyone. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and He has answered every part of my prayer. He influenced the decisions of the court to allow me to continue in the program. God also gave me a sympathetic and compassionate Judge who took an interest in me.
I went to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to graduate from the program. During my stay, my court case was miraculously dismissed! I never had to return to my dysfunctional home. The Lord was blessing me through new friends in the church and a new wholesome life. ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ John 8:36
I was in Tucson, Arizona, when I applied to join the Air Force. I enrolled in college to meet the entrance requirements, with the help of my Arizona Teen Challenge mentor. God had not forgotten. I was accepted and have been serving my country now for 12½ years. During that time, I was introduced to my beautiful wife Giana, in 2003, who is also in the Air Force. We have been blessed with two wonderful children.
My life has been made anew since 1995. However, the Lord does not let me forget the life that He brought me out of. I have so many people that I work with, attend church with, and even close friends who have not heard the tough details of my life from before my knowing Christ’s forgiveness. They see me as a man of integrity, one they can trust, and one who trusts in the Lord. If I do have the opportunity to share my full story, it is hard for them to believe it is true. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
It was during college that I began partying and drinking. I did not study or do any homework and as a consequence I lost my scholarship. I returned to Milwaukee and was at a party when I was introduced to crack. For the next 15 years it was the single most important thing in my life.
All my paychecks were going towards crack when one day while I was at work at McDonalds, I met a man who was a pastor. We began to talk and I told him what was on my heart and what was going on in my life. He prayed for me right there at work in the middle of my shift. I thought I would be instantly healed, but found out it was not that simple.
I continued to ask him to pray for me all the time at work. My birthday came around and once again I spent my last dollar on crack. I became depressed as reality hit me. I needed help and I needed it fast. I called the pastor to see if he knew of anywhere that I could go to get help.
He told me about Teen Challenge and Jesus Christ. I had nothing else to lose but my pride so I gave Jesus the chance that He had been waiting for all my life. Instantly He took the taste of crack out of my mouth and began restoring my soul.
Through Teen Challenge God has given me the hope and faith in Jesus necessary to commit my life to him. I have repented for my past sinful nature. Today, I am on staff at Teen Challenge Wisconsin. I have been faithfully serving as the Dean of Men for nine years. God has blessed with me with a beautiful wife and an opportunity to make an impact on the lives of our students.
The scripture I stand on is 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!”
God bless you for your support!
My family is one half Apache from Arizona and one half Winnebago Tribe from Wisconsin. It was in a little town of Odenton that a spiritual seed was planted in my life. Because I saw little of my father, it was through my mom that I got to know God but like all teens that want to fit in I saw all my faith in God go out the window. Like my father I started drinking. I lost my job and fam-ily. I lost my vehicle and landed my fourth DWI in Mary-land. As a result I was put on probation again and spent many weekends in jail.
As time passed I completed both my jail time and probation, but I still felt empty and lost. With the help of my neighbor I decided to get back into my relationship with God. I ended up in Madison, Wisconsin with a new job, friends, relatives and a new environment. But I still felt empty and lost in my heart. It all showed up later with my drinking. Through Rex, a friend, and my pastor from church, I got into Teen Challenge.
Since all my doors were closing in on me and I had no where else to go, I decided I needed to change. At Teen Challenge I got back into studying God’s Word and started over with my relationship with God. I started to grow spiritually. After completing a twelve month Teen Challenge pro-gram, I decided to start a new life as a new creation in Jesus. Having a spiritual foundation to build on, my relationship with God became spiritually strong. Through Teen Challenge I now know that as long as I work on my relationship with God and continue to follow His direction for my life, I will continue to grow spiritually. There’s no drink or drug in all the world that can fill that emptiness inside your heart. Just let go and let God!
Growing up, I found it hard to make friends. It got to the point I didn’t even care to make friends anymore because I figured we were just going to move again.
I started smoking weed in 9th grade and that quickly became an everyday lifestyle. It led me to do any drug I could get my hands on. I moved out of my mom and stepfather’s house when I was 18. When I was 19 I committed 6 burglaries to support my habit and luckily I got caught. I was facing a lot of prison time. This scared me so I decided to let go of my old friends, comply with the courts and get a job. The judge gave me grace and gave me $11,000 restitution and 3 years probation. I stayed clean for about 9 months and then started drinking socially. This unfortunately led me to drink every day. Alcohol also led me to seclusion. Often times, I drank alone. I got an OWI when I was 20. I violated my probation four times by drinking and got revoked. I ended up doing 7 months in Polk County which is where I got saved. When I got out, I thought I was strong enough to have a drink, but that quickly led to the same vomit I was in before I went to Jail. I used to wake up miserable not wanting to get out of bed. I knew the day would be the same as always and yet I would roll over and grab the bottle right away. I didn’t have the will to live. I prayed to God for a miracle and just 3 days after that prayer, He sent someone into my life who had graduated from Teen Challenge.
Now, I recently graduated Teen Challenge and I am no longer an alcoholic because I have been covered by the blood of the lamb. I praise God that He set up a safe Faith based program where people can get clean from their old ways and learn how to deal with life’s problems the right way.
I overdosed on LSD and spent some time in treatment programs. None of them worked. Shortly after I was arrested for drugs and facing 30 years in prison. It is not the future I had envisioned. I had been a very successful high school foot ball player from a great family. My parents kept praying and never gave up on me. They told me about Teen Challenge. If I continued down the road I was going, it was going to lead to death. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give future and hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). I entered Milwaukee Teen Challenge. The next four months, I was discipled and ministered to. I was taught scripture and work ethic. The next phase sent me to Cape Girardeau, Missouri for 10 more months. That is when I was considering leaving. I remembered where my choices left me, so I agreed to go. God continued working on me there. He gave me opportunities to share my story as we traveled to other churches.
I finished Teen Challenge and God gave me a heart for teens. I reside in Missouri and was blessed with the opportunity to be the youth leader at our church. I no longer work with the youth, but remain very active in the church. When God felt I was ready, he placed a wonderful woman in my path. She had an amazing son and we were married in the Teen Challenge Chapel in Missouri. We celebrated our 20th anniversary in March! There are several things that make Teen Challenge successful. First, it is the staff who pour their hearts into broken lives. Volunteers also give their time and talents to minister to the needs of others. The program relies solely on prayers and financial gifts from donors. The students in the program have to be willing to let God have control, while he molds them like clay into his image. Thank God for everyone that has a hand in this program. Please continue to pray for the student s and the staff that have given us so much. Thank you!!!! Photos: Roger is pictured above at a construction site and on the left with his wife of 20 years, Renea. The Lord’s Blessings Roger and Renea!
When I was about 2 years old my mom and dad divorced. As a result of this, my mother’s parents helped raise me. At that lime, my grandfather became a father figure in my life. When I was 13 years old my grandfather died. I felt as though God was punishing me. I became angry on the inside and rebellious on the outside. I thought his death was my fault. At age 15, I was arrested for the first time for underage drinking and curfew. This was the first of many arrests to come and the beginning of a miserable path. When I began college I was introduced to marijuana and cocaine. My drinking and drugs increased tremendously. After I received a DUI, my motives for going into a secular program were all wrong. All I wanted back in my life was my girlfriend and 7-month-old son. Needless to say it did not work out. I still felt like I was so empty inside. I felt like I was missing something in my life but I could not figure out what it was. About a year and a half ago my grandmother became very sick. She had the priest come to her house to read her last rights. This made me very angry, again I thought God is going to take someone else that I love away from me. After the priest left my grandmother’s house she was so happy and peaceful. Even though I didn’t know what made her that way I knew that I wanted what she had. That very same week I called my Pastor and gave my life to the Lord.
I finally got tired of feeling so miserable and unloved. My pastor suggested I enter the Teen Challenge program and I decided to go. The morning that I woke up to come into the program I realized that I had the same peace in my heart that I saw in my grandmother. Today, I love and care about myself. After being here for four months I’ve learned who the real David is through Jesus Christ. I always knew of the Lord but today I have a deeper relationship with Jesus. I am so grateful for this program!
One year after being born my mother married my stepfather, who at the time was a professing atheist. A few years later my Dad asked the Lord Jesus Christ to save him, and then he went to Bible school and became a Pastor. I was raised in a Christian home as a Pastor’s son, as I grew up and went to church faithfully. I was also president of the Youth group in our church. For six years I was a member of a Bible Memory club. I excelled in that and committed to memory of some 1500 Bible verses. Despite my Christian upbringing and even being a Pastor’s son I was still missing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In my desire to experience fulfillment in my life – I turned to alcohol, drugs, and immoral sexual relations. For the first few years, I enjoyed these pleasures but before I knew what hit me, I was hooked. I have spent the last twenty-two years in bondage to cigarettes, alcoholism, drugs, and pornography. They destroyed every area of my life. In those twenty-two years I lost a lot of things: cars, motorcycles, trucks, my license, a scholarship to college, over forty jobs, a house, friends, relationships, a successful delivery business, and worst of all, I was lost. My bondage has taken me many places: the East Coast, West Coast, Mexico, jail, five rehabilitation centers, and even the psychiatric ward. In many instances it has nearly taken my life and it almost cost me a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. On March 13, 1999, I finally said, “enough is enough”. I went to a pastor friend’s house and there in his living room I got down on my knees and repented to Jesus of all my sins. I recognized that the bondages were sins against God. I wept and cried out for God’s forgiveness, and he met me right there in the living room. I asked him to be the Lord of my life and to change me! He has forgiven me and taken away all the guilt and shame I felt. From that day to this, ever since I got up off my knees, l have not had any of the compulsions that have plagued me for the past twenty-two years. The most noticeable change was the instant release from a three pack a day cigarette habit!
God has since lead me to Teen Challenge. When I arrived on March 15, 1999, he began to teach me his ways. By reading his word and talking with him daily in prayer I was able get to know him more and more each day. God is awesome and he gives great gifts. He restored my wife and two children back to me! My life has fulfillment today, unlike anything I have ever known. Jesus is the Answer!
Tyrone was one of the first students to enter the Teen Challenge “Center of Hope” in July of 1994. Tyronne came to this new facility a broken man looking for help. Tyrone worked as a staff member at Mid America Teen Challenge in Missouri and was a tremendous example of what the Lord can do in the life of a drug addict. Tyronne was born and raised in Waukegan, Ulinois. Most of his early years he lived with his grandmother who loved him and brought him to church frequently Tyronne says she was an “Angel sent from Heaven.” In high school he played soccer, football, basketball, and wrestling. It was not until his senior year that he started smoking pot. Never did he think what this would eventually lead to. In 1990, Tyrone starting selling crack cocaine. His cousin was a drug dealer and helped him get started. Four years later he himself started using crack. Soon everything was a mess. During this trying time his wife left him.
One day Tyrone called Teen Challenge. ”The day I called you I was sitting in an empty house crying. I had sold my microwave and furniture for drugs. I would eventually have to sell my home and my two rental properties. The only things I had left were my TV, and my bed, and a kitchen table with two chairs.” After completing Teen Challenge, Tyronne worked two separate jobs. “I was driving a truck one day and felt like the Lord spoke to me to go and offer myself for staffing at Mid America Teen Challenge. This was hard for me because I really loved driving trucks.” At the center Tyronne worked with the men in the learning center and on various work crews. He also traveled to churches and preached in chapel services During a park outreach he met a school teacher named Audrey. She is now his wife and they live together in Cape Girardeau and have two children. We are proud of Tyronne, his family and the great miracle that has taken place in his life!
My name is Alvin and I am one of eleven children. I was raised in the projects on the south side of Chicago. My mother was a God fearing woman, my father was an alcoholic. When I was eight, my father left my family. My older brother molested me during my childhood. I know that God protected me and strengthened me during that period. He didn’t let the abuse affect my identity. I started smoking marijuana and using alcohol at the age of 13. My schooling was thus affected and my grades began to drop. I actually missed graduating high school by 1/4 % of a credit. At 18, I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where I served for 4 years. While there, I pursued my schooling and completed my GED. Two of these years I served in an elite fighting force in my battalion called “The Super Squad.” I traveled throughout the world to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Diego Garcia, and Mexico. However, because of my addictions I was finally kicked out of the service in 1984. I had been stationed in California so I continued to live there until 1987. After leaving California, I returned to Chicago and took with me a huge crack addiction. That’s when crack began to wreck my life. I remember the night I took my first hit, I cried like a baby for I knew I was in big trouble. Crack is the most addictive drug on the face of the earth. I smoked crack for 13 years. And I lost job positions with companies such as the Chicago Stock Market, a reputable dry cleaning company, and many others. But worst of all I ruined my marriage and my self-respect. While attending a local church in Chicago my Pastor became aware of my struggles. One day he handed me the telephone number to Teen Challenge. I put that number in my pocket and carried it with me for one whole year before I finally was driven to call. That was the changing point in my life.
I entered Teen Challenge on March 10, 1997, and I gave my life to God. I thank my God every day for giving me a second chance. My first day there God took away my 21-year desire for drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I originally joined Teen Challenge to get rid of my addictions but in the process I had fallen in love with Jesus Christ! He has given me true freedom. God had blessed me with two full time jobs, which at the time one of those jobs included being on staff at Milwaukee Teen Challenge as an intern where God used me to bless others. I also donated time to “Kids in the Hood,” (a Ministry that brings the word of God to inner city kids) and I tutored them in Math. Aside from that, I also did some volunteer work at the Rawhide Boys Ranch. God has also gifted me in writing and singing Gospel Rap music that is used to reach kids of all ages and colors. To God be the glory! I thank God and Teen Challenge for changing my life. “I am blessed!” “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 11 (Galatians 2:20) Alvin entered the re-entry program in Milwaukee Teen Challenge in May of 1998. After completing as a re-entry student he completed our Intern program.
I was kicked out of private school in 7th grade, out of another private school in 8th grade, and out of Nathan Hale public school in 9th grade. Eventually, I was sent to an alternative school called “Project Graduate”. Sadly enough, I did not finish high school at “Project Graduate”. I will hopefully obtain my GED soon. A lot of my problems in school were caused by my drug use. In 8th grade I started using pot with friends in my neighborhood. In 9th grade I worked as a cook for a short time at a nursing home in West Allis. During the time one of my older friends introduced me to oxycotin and eventually heroin.
I used heroin and every other drug almost every day of my life until I came to Teen Challenge. At the age of 16 I entered treatment after a near fatal overdose. Within a matter of weeks after treatment I was back on drugs. During this time I had dropped out of school and was going from job to job mostly working as a cook. After trying another five treatment programs and using methadone I went back to the Laurence Center wanting help. At this time the staff at the Laurence Center told me that they could not help me and that I needed a program like Teen Challenge. At this time my mom helped me enter Teen Challenge. She had told me to come here for many, many years. I entered Milwaukee Teen Challenge in March 2005 and graduated the 12 month program, and began an internship soon after. Thank you for your support of Teen Challenge. This Christ centered program has helped me to get free from Heroin for the first time in many years.
Teen Challenge Centers worldwide mourned the loss of Dennis, Executive Director of Southern California, White House Advisor.
Dennis grew up thinking that he did not have a particularly bad childhood, but looking back at it now, he realizes that he did. There were times when his family went without food and there was a time that they lived out of their car. He was introduced to marijuana at the young age of thirteen, which began some heavy years of drug experimentation. He experimented with everything but heroin even though his friends had begun to use it. Peer pressure eventually ran it’s course and Dennis starting injecting heroin too. He had a wife and a baby daughter at the time but heroin took priority over them. As Dennis descended deeper into his addiction, he lost his friends, his health, his dignity and his family. He was on probation, could not stop getting high, and his wife was moving out when the courts gave him a choice: prison or Teen Challenge.
Dennis phoned the number to Teen Challenge and the person who answered the phone told him that he too used to be a heroin addict and God had changed his life. Even though Dennis’ world was caving in around him, this gave him a “spark of hope”. In his first few days at Teen Challenge Dennis saw the Word of God become alive and active and he felt God map out a path for him. He graduated Teen Challenge of Southern California and became entry level staff, working his way to become Executive Director of Southern California. He received a call one day from a White House Staff Worker informing him of a new commission that the Bush Administration was forming to advise the president on drugs. They wanted Dennis to apply. He was accepted and became an advisor to the president. Dennis Griffith was a great friend of Wisconsin Teen Challenge. For many years he helped us with a variety of projects and events. Dennis has since gone to be with the Lord, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family as we say farewell to a very special friend.
Only the Lord’s grace kept me from dying. My brother found me and brought me to the hospital. Shortly after this event I entered Teen Challenge. God has been with me all my life, I just didn’t see Him. Satan was there as well and I saw him. I grew up in Milwaukee. At 13, I started smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and drinking. I never noticed the hooks sinking in because I was courteous, intelligent and had a measure of good ethical morals and was well liked. In my senior year, I missed graduating by 1/2 credit. It was the first of many failures. I had a pretty bad habit with no idea how to shake it. It cost me numerous management positions, all my possessions and my marriage. I stumbled for a few more years after my divorce and one day my pastor gave me the number to Teen Challenge.
The moment I came through the doors, the Lord took my desire for drugs and alcohol away. Poof! No cravings. Two days later he took a 21 year nicotine habit away. I had tried all my life to stop doing drugs. But II Corinthians 5:17 says that “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Behold! All things are made new.” After I finished second phase in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, I moved back to Milwaukee to be near my mother and my children. My father had died suddenly between induction and my going to second phase.
Juan was born in Fischer County Texas but grew up here in Milwaukee. He grew up in a family with three older sisters and two wonderful parents. At the age of 14 he started drinking alcohol. “Growing up in a large family it was pretty normal to drink alcohol at gatherings like anniversaries, birthday parties and weddings.” Due to his problems with alcohol, Juan had many issues with the law – two DUI’s, attorney fees, probation fines, court costs and automobile accidents. “I am standing here today only by God’s grace and mercy.” Four years ago, he lost his mother and depression set in. Grieving the loss of a loved one, Juan started drinking more to cope. His drinking began to get out of control.
Thankfully a very special family member referred him to Teen Challenge. Before entering the program Juan had given up hope. “With all my heart I asked God to remove the urge of alcohol from me and to change my life. Through this program and my new Christian family here at Teen Challenge, I have been blessed with a second chance and a new path with Jesus Christ.” Now a graduate of this program, Juan works at the Auto Donation Program as a extended training phase student. Juan continues to keep these two verses close to his heart: Proverbs 3:5-6 and Jeremiah 29:11-12.
Born in Guatemala, Thomas was adopted at the age of 10 months old and brought to America. He grew up going to a Christian church and school. “My whole life I was taught the word, but I never really listened to it. One of my friends introduced me to marijuana. Immediately I liked it and began to hang with the wrong crowd” Thomas’ behavior took a turn for the worse and he began to get in trouble at school. Pot led to alcohol, which really seemed to get a hold of Thomas. “When I drank I always got into trouble and wasn’t concerned about family or friends. I only thought about myself”. Despite his worsening struggle with alcohol, Thomas was accepted to attend the University of Minnesota. One month before he was to begin classes, he made some bad decisions while intoxicated and got into some legal trouble. “My attorney realized that I attended church and a Christian school, so he suggested I go to Teen Challenge. I came in not knowing anything about the program or what to expect”. Upon entering the program, Thomas began the process of submitting to God and learning new behavior patterns. “Many times were difficult, but I knew it was better to continue than to give up. Teen Challenge has taught me to exercise self-control, to be humble, patient, and obedient. Most importantly, I have come to know God better.” After graduation last week, Thomas returned home to live with his parents. He plans on going to college at Marquette or UW-Milwaukee and pursue a degree in nursing.
My name is Clint and I am 25 years old. Growing up I had many issues in life that I often hid from my family and others. I was a very quiet person who spent almost all my free time playing video games and watching horror movies. When I entered high school, I started using drugs to deal with my depression and for a while they helped tremendously. At first, I started drinking and smoking pot, which eventually led me to dabbling in prescription pills After 6 years, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I tried everything to find happiness and began getting into occult practices, but nothing ever gave me that peace that I was searching for. After committing a few felonies and multiple misdemeanors, I found myself broken and suicidal. A past graduate named Amy told me about Teen Challenge and, after some persuasion, I agreed to come. After two weeks here at Teen Challenge, I surrendered my life to God’s will and I finally found the happiness I had been desperately searching for. God has completely restored my life and my family. I owe my life to God and will serve Him until the day I die. I feel like I am a whole new person and I am quite happy today. Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge—it has saved my life!
When I was 19, I tried marijuana for the first time. It still shocks me how quickly I became totally dependent upon drugs. By age 21 the focus of my life was getting high and partying. I worked during the week and partied al I weekend. This lifestyle made me feel empty inside. I began to question if this was all there was to life. By age 21 the focus of my life was getting high and partying. I worked during the week and partied al l weekend. This lifestyle made me feel empty inside. I began to question if this was all there was to life. the drugs and alcohol I could with the money I had. I spent $600 and went on a three day drug and alcohol binge. Sunday afternoon I was smoking the last of the marijuana I had bought. I was looking at going back to work on Monday and felt empty, discouraged, and depressed. I had thousands of dollars of credit card debt, a car payment, and a house payment all overdue and I had spent my whole paycheck on drugs. I needed help so I called several hotline numbers and tried to get set up for detox. The soonest they could take me was .two weeks and the latest was as long as four months. I couldn’t wait that long. I was desperate. I went to work to ask if they would give me some paid time off to detox and they handed me my pink slip. I began to freak out. I went to my friend’s house and when she opened the door she took one look at me and said, “What’s the matter, Scott?” Those words pushed me over the edge and I began shaking uncontrollably and hyperventilating. I fell to the floor and rolled up in the fetal position and wouldn’t respond to anyone. After I calmed down I called a pastor who prayed for me.
At that moment I totally surrendered my life to the Lord. I repented and when I stood up I was as light as a feather. Two weeks later I was in Teen Challenge. I entered the program on Friday. The following Sunday I was ready to quit. I called home and my brother answered the phone. I told him that I didn’t want to stay in Teen Challenge. He said, “Just a minute, I’ll get Mom on the phone.” That’s the last person I wanted to talk to. She cried for 45 minutes and finally I said, “Okay! I’ll stay.” It was a long and hard month and I decided I was still going to leave. I called my Dad at work and told him to pick me up on Interstate 45. The only way I knew to get home from Teen Challenge was to take the freeway by way of foot. The only way I knew to get home to Racine was to take 45 south to 894. So that’s what I did. I started walking. I didn’t know it was illegal to walk on the freeway. My dad came whizzing across two lanes of traffic and picked me up. He drove me directly back to Teen Challenge. As we sat in the office with Pastor John, Donn pointed out that I was free to leave; I was not involved in the court system. Dad said, ‘Well, let’s take a look at your options, Scott. You signed your car over to me, so you don’t have a car. Your house was already in our name and we sold it, so you don’t have any place to live, and you don’t have a job.” When I looked at it this way, I realized I really only had once choice to make. At that moment I decided instead of skating through this program and going back to my stupid life I would apply myself to getting the most out of it. I went to second phase in Pennsylvania. When I was leaving after ten months, r looked back and knew that I was leaving a very important phase of my life. I was going back into society and would have to put into practice what I had learned. I didn’t know what I would be doing or, really, where I was going but I knew that no matter where I went, I would not be going alone. I would be under His protection. I had learned that being a Christian was far more than praying or going to church every Sunday. It is a lifestyle and a lifelong commitment to Christ. It’s something I will be doing until the day I die. Scott graduated from Teen Challenge in 2004, and later went on to work on staff for two years.