Great Lakes Men’s Success Stories

Alex

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.

 

Justin

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!

 

TJ

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.

Jacob

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.

Bob

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!

Jason

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!

Rick

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!

Brandon

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. 

Levi

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!

John

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.

Roger

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!

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We can also help you in your search for other addiction treatment, substance abuse treatment, therapeutic schools, Christian drug rehab, treatment centers near me or low-cost addiction treatment. These Midwest alcohol rehab centers will specifically target alcoholism. Adult & Teen Challenge centers are long-term addiction recovery programs that are affordable, solving addictions for men in Wisconsin and Illinois, from the Chicago area, to Milwaukee and Madison, including Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Elm Grove, Butler, Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha, Germantown, Pewaukee, Rockford.

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