I am 35 and from Menomonee Falls, WI. Growing up, I experienced a lot of brokenness from rejection and abandonment. I have battled a 20-year addiction. At age 23, crack took over my life. I have been in and out of Adult and Teen Challenge centers since 2010. In October 2020, I was asked to leave the program for disobedience, I hit rock bottom this time and experienced homelessness. I felt alone, shameful, and afraid. Four months later, I cried out to God and flew out to Southern California to do Adult and Teen Challenge there. God is making all things new! He delivered me from a poverty mindset. I have received his love and found my worth. He has given me a voice to help others just like me. Now I am doing an internship at the Los Angeles Women’s Induction Center. I love worshipping and teaching. Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” I am forever grateful to Adult and Teen Challenge for giving me a firm foundation.
Hi, I am Candace. I am from Fort Smith, AR and am 35 years old. I was 10 years old when I had my first beer with my dad. At age 12, we used meth together. Before the end of high school, I dropped out because I was a full-blown addict. My father died of a drug overdose and my mother drank herself to death. I became an orphan and in need of a new family.
I came to Adult and Teen Challenge in 2021 to find healing from my addiction after suicide attempts. I graduated and am now serving as an Emerging Leader Intern. This has become my new family, who treats me with unconditional love.
My name is Aidalee. I am from Waukegan, IL and I’m 26 years old. I was raised in church and was taught at a young age about the Lord. I loved my church and did anything I could to be involved. Unfortunately, during this time I struggled with abuse at home. I started smoking marijuana at 14 to cope. When I was 19, I was diagnosed bipolar and I turned from God and started drinking, partying, and using hallucinogenic drugs. I was barely surviving and towards the end I lost all hope in myself. I cried out to the Lord for help.
Adult Teen Challenge was my saving grace in 2020. I graduated and I’m now serving as an Emerging Leader Intern. I have hope in the Lord and joy for what’s to come! I will be attending bible school in the fall to follow my ministry calling.
Hi, my name is Jackie and I am 47 years old. I am from Chicago. Growing up I experienced all forms of abuse, which lead me to the inner-city streets at a very young age. I began using and selling drugs to numb my pain. In 2005, when I was pregnant with my son, I had an encounter with Jesus and it was the greatest love I have ever experienced. I stayed in an abusive relationship for my son and eventually walked away from God. Due to the abuse, I became addicted to opiates. I had another son, but my addiction continued. It caused me to lose custody and be incarcerated for 2 years.
Finally, I was ready to surrender, so I called Adult and Teen Challenge. It was the best decision I have ever made. I graduated in 2021. I have restoration with my sons and peace with Jesus. He is not just my Savior, but my Lord and friend – and that is my game changer.
I am 67 and from Milwaukee, WI. I used drugs and alcohol to fill emptiness and calm my depression and anxiety. Because of the consequences of my life choices, I didn’t want to live any longer.
I kept digging the pit deeper. I want to thank God for never leaving me. I want to thank my friends and family who care for me.
Adult and Teen Challenge taught me how to understand God’s love. I graduated from the program in March 2022. I never thought I would even make it into the program and now I am staying for a yearlong leadership internship.
My name is Rayeann and I am a graduate from Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge. I came into the program in January of 2018 addicted to Meth and Heroin. I was lost and hopeless so desperately seeking to be loved in all the wrong places. After years of treatments and jail time, God made a way for me to come into Adult and Teen Challenge. If it weren’t for this program, I would not have a relationship with the Lord today. I learned that God does not call the equipped, but the equips the called and just when I thought I had no purpose, God was calling me to something much higher.
After I graduated the program, I went out to Brooklyn Teen Challenge to serve. I had the opportunity to work for Long Island Adult and Teen Challenge where I was house staff, helped teach second phase class, and was one of the medical coordinators for a year. I am so grateful for that experience, as I got to get closer to God and got to do so many amazing things. My faith was strengthened. Once I heard they were planning on opening a center in my hometown, La Crosse, Wisconsin, I felt like God was calling me back here to be a light in what was once a very dark place for me. I am so blessed to be a on staff at this ministry and to be his hands and feet.
My name is Jacqueline. I am 37 and from Green Bay, WI. I am the proud mother of three boys! I came to Adult and Teen Challenge in 2019 in desperate need of a new life. Four months later, when the Lord was starting to do something in me, I walked out of the program.
Eight months after I left, I was battling addiction once again. Then I experienced an unexpected blow – my 4-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia. I knew that Jesus was the only chance for my life and his. I did whatever I could to come crawling back and He welcomed me with open arms.
Two years later, I have graduated the program and have been serving as an intern, and I haven’t looked back. Living for God and His will in my life has been a long, painful ride, but God healed my son and he is now alive and well. God used an absolute tragedy to draw me close to Him!
I was in many fights during junior high. In high school, I started doing LSD, Ecstasy and Cocaine. It was very easy to get. They sold it in the lunchroom. My violence escalated but because I was never beaten up I had a huge ego. The females were afraid of me because I had the reputation of being an intimidator. It’s funny because I only stand 4’11”. At 17, I joined the Latin King street gang. That’s when I started using guns. I began hustling marijuana. At 19, I had my gorgeous son Jakob Peter. Still in my mess, I got married to my son’s dad, at 20. Not even a year later we separated because I wouldn’t stop hustling drugs. I sold cocaine and marijuana to support my habit. I would smoke all night and drink all day. I eventually cooked up all my profit and ended up in debt to the Latin King Nation. I got kicked out of my apartment, bounced around for a while and my parents got me another apartment. One night when I was drunk and high, I pulled a strong-armed robbery, home invasion, burglary and got arrested. My parents bonded me out. I went on partying and got evicted from that apartment for the drama I caused. I moved back in with my parents. My son and I stayed there and I started shooting heroin. I was 23 and taking my son with me on drug runs. My funds were depleted and I began stealing from my parents. When they found out they kicked me out and my son started staying with his dad. Finally homeless, living out of my car, addicted to crack and heroin, I began hustling Lortabs and Xenix to support my addiction. After overdosing three times in three months, I broke down to my parents. They told me about Teen Challenge. I called and they had a bed available and got me in right away.
I came here expecting to get clean and have a place to chill for a year. I got so much more. I have an incredible relationship with the Lord and He has shown me so much. His compassion, grace, and mercy are breathtaking. His forgiveness is overwhelming. After all I’ve done, my parents still love me unconditionally and that’s how the Lord loves me too. I’m His child and He will never leave or forsake me. I’m grateful for the Lord plucking me out of Satan’s kingdom and putting me in His. Everyone that knows me is so proud of me and they can see the change the Lord has done. The best part is He isn’t through! He has so much in store for me. When I walked through the doors of Teen Challenge for the first time. I was a street thug and a warrior for my block, now they call me the prayer warrior! I used to serve the Latin King Nation now I serve the Almighty King of all the Nations! Thank you Teen Challenge and thanks be to God!
My name is Makenzie and I graduated Teen Challenge in May of 2013. In high school I got involved with the wrong crowd. I began experimenting with alcohol and drugs. By the time I graduated high school in 2011 I had developed a heroin addiction. For the next year and a half I went through living hell. I had become a different person and no longer had any control over my life. I was ready to die. But God had other plans for me. He began working on my heart and finally in May of 2012 I decided I needed a dramatic change in my life.
I got off of heroin and entered Teen Challenge in June of 2012. That year was very hard but very rewarding. God began to show me Himself and I began to fall in love. After graduating I did a discipleship training school with Youth With A Mission. way. It was a five month program that focused on getting to know God in a closer, more intimate way. We spent three months in lecture phase and then two months in Mexico on outreach. I graduated the school on November 7th, 2013. Now, I feel like the Lord is leading me to become a certified nursing assistant and then continue my education in missions. I want to be a full time missionary some day. God has been working in my life so much over the past year and a half. I believe He used Teen Challenge and YWAM to help save my life and redirect me to the wonderful plans He has for me.
I started using marijuana during high school to ease my pain. After graduating high school I started college and began living the party life. I met a group of new friends who introduced me to Xanax and it completely took over my life. It was a high that I enjoyed. My life started slipping and in November of 2011 I found out I was pregnant. I was so afraid because I knew I was bringing a baby into a relationship that was dead.
On July 23, 2012 I had my son, Matthew. I was filled with joy and happiness but I was overwhelmed with the many issues I was going to have to face. When Matthew was 6 months I was served court papers and my world came crashing down. It was such a difficult battle and I felt powerless when I got granted joint custody. I was disappointed in myself and felt like I failed as a mother. I didn’t know who I was anymore and in all honestly I didn’t care to live. In January of 2016 I was introduced to heroin. I overdosed many times and remember waking up in the hospital ashamed of being alive.
My mother found out about Teen Challenge through a friend and told me that I needed to go in order for me to have a relationship with my son. In February I decided to come to Teen Challenge hoping to change my life. I came in with a mind set of doing the program for only 6 months and I did. During my time here I was very quiet about my issues. I was embarrassed of opening up and having to face my problems sober.
In July I left the program determined to be a mother to my son. Within 2 weeks I relapsed and lost my family and most importantly, I lost my relationship with Jesus. I couldn’t believe I failed as a mother again. This was my lowest point in life.
I was on my own and it hurt to know that my family no longer supported me or even wanted a relationship with me. I fell to my knees and asked the Lord to help me. I knew I could no longer live this life. When I walked back in through the doors of Teen challenge, I knew this is where the Lord wanted me to be.
My journey here has been difficult but one of the best things I have ever done. He’s give me the freedom and the endurance to persevere. I am so grateful to know that I am a child of God. Jesus has restored me and renewed my mind. I’m very excited to see what the Lord has planned for me and I’m open to receive his promises.
Growing up I felt very alone. I was raised mostly by my older sister because my mother was in jail. I felt I had no one to talk to. I began drinking and using marijuana in high school.
At age 23, after the loss of a very close friend, I started experimenting with all kinds of drugs — cocaine, crack, meth, pcp, fentanyl, weed, methadone, subs, dabs, nitrous, pills. I would aimlessly wander the streets of Chicago late at night. Depression, anger, and pride were my fuel yet the hope that kept me together.
Eventually, I began dating a man who introduced me to heroin. He was extremely abusive. This was the weakest point in my life. I knew I needed help and remembered my sister telling me about Teen Challenge. She had heard about it from a friend who went through the program years ago. This is my life and by the grace of God I had enough. I decided to go to detox and a month later after I stopped a month of methadone, I came to Teen Challenge.
Now I can feel the pieces of my heart being picked up as God’s love flows down putting me back together. I am knowing a love so overwhelming and kind I cannot stand on my feet, but to my knees I fall. Being at Teen Challenge this past year, I learned that the labels others tried to put on me were not true. God has given me a second chance I will hold on to it and trust him with my life.
I graduated late last year and will be starting Teen Challenge Ministry Institute in South Gate, California in a few weeks. I sense God calling me to helping hurting people. The scripture I stand on is Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Pictured is Jannette at Spiritual Emphasis Week with Special Speaker Pastor Ron Auch, Jr.
As I got older, I became less and less involved in the church, and I saw more value in my friendships than I did my family. I began acting out and became involved with the wrong people, which influenced me to experiment with drugs. By the age of 19, I fell into a heavy crystal meth addiction.
I got into as much trouble as I could get myself into; It took 3 arrests within a span of 4 days to slow me down. I put myself at the brink of an overdose and finally prayed and asked God to stop my heart and take me home. God came to my rescue once again.
A family member told me about Teen Challenge, and it seemed that I had nothing left to lose, so I applied. I am now graduated from the program, and I can say without a doubt that I’m blessed. I am currently in the 6 month re-entry phase of the program and I am also Teen Challenge’s newest intern.
I will be working in the new Superthrift Store that will be opening March 1st. I aspire to help those who were just as lost and hopeless as I was, and what better place to start than the very place that helped save my life? God has been faithful to me, even when I turned my back on Him. Through the ministry of Teen Challenge, God has restored my life and given me the strength to be the person He created me to be.
The scripture I stand on is Romans 12:2—”Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
By the time I was 15, I was dating my boss and had a baby, started gambling, and dealing drugs. I was my best customer. For her first 12 years, my daughter was raised by my parents in Memphis. During this time I went into treatment, gave my life to God, and got baptized. I got into working and forgot about God and his blessings. Life came to a screeching halt in December 2002 when I got busted for selling crack cocaine to an undercover cop and was facing 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Three others charged in this case went to prison.
In jail, I learned about Teen Challenge. Since then, I have learned how to live according to His Word, how to depend on the Lord for everything. Today, I have been working at the “Robby Dawson” Home for Women for five years. I am grateful for how God has kept me close to him and free from addiction. I love praising God and working with the men and women of Teen Challenge in worship. Thank you for making a place like this available for people like me. I came to Teen Challenge after 35 years of drug abuse, The Lord saved me from 15 years in prison and has delivered me from drugs and alcohol. He restored my family. My daughter, Aisha, is 15 months away from getting her degree in nursing and my grandson Chavez (pictured working for the Lord at the 2009 Banquet) attends Parklawn Christian Leadership Academy here in Milwaukee.
“He called me from the far ends of the earth so that I may serve Him “Isaiah 41:9-10
By age 12, I was smoking cigarettes, drinking and smoking weed. With my dad owning a bar and our big family get-togethers, it was easy access.
I really didn’t think I had a problem until I went to college. All I did was drink every day. I left college after a semester and moved to Florida with my sister LeAnn.
LeAnn took me to her church and I got saved. I was on fire for God for about three years. When I turned 21, I made the decision to step out of the shadow of the Almighty.
I left Florida and went back to the Reservation to bartend for my dad. Alcohol really took me for a ride then. I just didn’t care anymore. My dad was forced to fire me when I went missing on a week long binge. That still didn’t wake me up.
On the run again, I moved to Colorado with a friend. I was doing good until I went out for my birthday. That night, I was introduced to the father of my child and to cocaine. Soon after, I had my daughter Brianna and left her father because he was physically abusive.
I met another guy and started to get my life back together. Then, one day, my dad took my daughter to visit the rest of my family for two weeks. After two weeks passed, I called my dad and asked where my baby girl was. He said, “You lost her. She is better off with me.” I started drinking again.
I met this guy at my work and he asked me to drive to Washington with him. They said he was driving 120 mph around a curve and he over corrected his turn. We ended up in a canyon outside of Oregon. They said we rolled 9 times. I didn’t have a seat belt on. I know God had me in His hands. I should have been dead.
I finally just got fed up with everything and asked God to help me. I called my sister in Wisconsin and asked if I could start my life over again. She said I could stay with her and that’s when she mentioned Teen Challenge. She told me it was a good program.
I have been here since July 22, 2009. I have been sober for almost five months now. It is all God and Teen Challenge.
At the end of my high school years there was an affair that ended our family. I ran off to college to start my own life, knowing I wanted to be nothing like my father. After work, I began drinking to relax and have fun. My drinking increased and everything crumbled. What I once viewed as strengths of mine—being an overachiever, working 2-3 jobs, and enduring failing relationships—were actually my weaknesses. I always ran from my fears, lacking spiritual and emotional stability.I lost my job and my relationship ended as my boyfriend grew tired of watching me drink. I became an emotional cripple. I had passively lived my life as a victim, instead of actively making good choices.
My family never left me or abandoned me, instead they found Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge allowed me to get away from the world; it was a place where I could walk out of my mess and get to a place of healing, freedom, and deliverance. I was able to let my defenses down. The more my family put their arms around me, the more I felt HIS! Once I could forgive myself I was able to forgive others. Christ saved me for a reason. I now want to live my life as His arm extended, to be His hands and feet. I stand on Isaiah 42:16: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them. And make the rough places smooth. These things I will do for them. I will not forsake them.”
Hi, my name is Cindy and I started drinking when I was thirteen years old. My parents had significant challenges but they loved me very much. I am responsible for all of my past choices. My mom became ill in my later teens, and by the time I was nineteen she was dying from cirrhosis. But that didn’t stop me from drinking and drug use. It progressed for decades, and never stopped. After my younger brother passed away, my drinking got worse. Within two weeks of his funeral I had two drunk driving tickets, which led to jail time and probation. I ended up living with my father who had been sober for thirty-six years. Though dealing with my stepmom’s and my brother’s death, he still helped me. I spiraled into a deep darkness. Caught in my own self-pity and self-hatred, it felt like I was suffocating. Every day I contemplated lying on the railroad tracks behind my dad’s house. He finally had enough and dropped me off at the Shopko parking lot. I was then completely homeless, drinking behind dumpsters and sleeping behind buildings, trying to hide from the world and everyone in it. I drank until someone found me. They called the rescue squad right away. It wasn’t the first time I was found unresponsive, but it would be the last. I woke up in the ER with a .5 blood alcohol level. The nurses told me I was lucky to be alive, butthat’s not how I felt. I was so angry and cried out to God asking Him, “Why won’t you let me die? Because I can’t live, I give up. What do you want me to do?”
Within weeks I was at Teen Challenge. This program has helped me to love God and learn to love and forgive myself. Isaiah 38:17 says, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all of my sins behind your back.” Now I know why it was so hard to live, because the Holy Spirit was not active in my heart. Teen Challenge was my firm place to stand. I am learning about responsibility and obedience to both God and man, working unto the Lord in everything I do. The love and support I have from my family, the staff, and women I live with is such a priceless and precious gift from God. I began my new life by doing the re-entry phase of the program and became full time intern staff at the Robby Dawson Home for Women on August 16. God has lifted me out of the darkness into His marvelous light.
Hi my name is Kourtney and I am 28 years old. I grew up in the south side of Chicago in a town called Crestwood. I have two brothers and one sister. I graduated from high school in 2006. Shortly after completing high school I became pregnant with my son, Tyler. Growing up, my family was dysfunctional. My parents split up when I was very young due to my mom’s addiction to alcohol and cocaine. I was raised by my father who was and still is an amazing dad. Growing up he worked 60 plus hours a week as a grocery store manager. He worked hard to care for us. I started drinking and smoking at the age of 14. My pregnancy was a very challenging experience. My son’s father was physically and mentally abusive which eventually led me to taking a variety of pain medications. It numbed me from all the pain. In 2010, I entered Everest College to become a medical assistant. Upon graduation I was a certified medical assistant. When I first started heroin my addiction got very, very strong. Once I started using heroin with a needle, it consumed everything about me. It was all I cared about. I was at such a low point in my life I would use right next to my son. My father finally had enough of all the chaos I was causing and kicked me out and wouldn’t allow me to see my son. A couple of years after starting on heroin two close friends I attended grammar school with came and got me and brought me to Milwaukee Teen Challenge.
Coming into Teen Challenge I struggled a lot. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it was worth every second. I graduated this past November at the banquet and the Lord has been so faithful. I am currently an intern at the Women’s Center and I am very grateful for what the Lord is doing in my life. His love has broken down all the walls that I have built up and filled me with so much hope, peace, and joy. Today, one of the many scriptures that I stand on is Joel 2:25 “I will restore to you all the years the locusts have eaten” and that is exactly what He is doing. He has restored me and my family. I’ve fallen in love with my son all over again. I’m finally excited for my future and I’m ready to be the mother God has intended for me.
My name is Michelle, I’m 39 years old. When I was 13 my dad left my mom for her best friend. My mom was drunk most of the time, and I was left to my own devices. I became extremely rebellious and no one could tell me anything. I began drinking at age 13 and doing drugs at 14. When I was 16 I became pregnant and had an abortion. I left the abortion clinic without a baby and without God. At age 17, I was put into my first secular rehab, 12 more would follow. At the age of 24, I was given my first prison term. In prison I was introduced to the gospel and accepted Jesus. My time in prison was blessed but when released from prison I didn’t have a clue how to live for Christ in the regular world. I tried desperately to live for God, but I had one foot in the world and one in the church. I wanted to serve Jesus, but I wanted to do it my way. My way, sadly, landed me with an 80 year prison term. Once again God’s mercy reigned down and I served only three years. After 3 years of being clean, I started using again.
For several months I begged God to let me die and realized I needed some real help. I surrendered and called my Pastor and to ask for help. He and my friends came and took me Teen Challenge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since coming to Teen Challenge my life is totally different because God has set me free. I no longer struggle with having one foot in the world and another in church. I find my strength and worth in Christ. I am not worthless. When I walked through the front door of the Robby Dawson Home, I was desperate and broken. Today, I am free and alive. Teen Challenge is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. Thanks to the people supporting this program, Michelle is now in her second phase in Teen Challenge Columbus, Georgia. Please pray for her as she moves forward with her new life in Christ.
When I was 31 years old, I had an emotional break down due to my childhood issues which led me to pop pills. The doctors prescribed the highest dose possible to help me function in every day life. I used pills as a way to suppress all of my emotions, fears, anxieties and anger. The hurt and pain I felt in my life brought me to Wisconsin Teen Challenge over ten years ago. At that time, the Women’s Center had just opened in Waukesha. Taking pills every day and emotionally eating left me with a huge void in my life and I was desperately seeking something to fill it. Through Teen Challenge, I was able to learn how to live for God and how to commit my life to Him. I love the new me! After graduating the program, a volunteer opportunity opened up at Teen Challenge in Rudolph, Wisconsin.
When I was child I was used for the production of pornography starting at the age of 6 and continuing for about five years. After sixth grade, I seldom went to school and had very little supervision from my mother. I was homeless off and on for many years. At the age of 14, I started going to taverns to drink. I quit school altogether in the ninth grade and started buying marijuana and reselling it for a $1 a joint. During this time I started selling my body. This opened doors to new relationships with pimps and gang members and then the world of cocaine. I sold cocaine to pay my bills which led to my own intense addiction. In 1999, I was evicted from my apartment and my belongings were literally thrown out on the street. I was homeless and slept in the nearest park. Then I started picking up men in bars so I would have a place to sleep. The second time I tried cocaine, I became hooked. I no longer used my prostitution money for rent but for my drug habit. I had three more children, all of whom went to different family members as I continued with my drug addiction. One day I put a .357 to my head and pulled the trigger. The bullet grazed my scalp severely damaging my ear drum but left me alive. When I became pregnant with my last child Keenan, I was homeless and used drugs throughout my pregnancy. During labor at the hospital, I disconnected the cords that were attached to me and went into the bathroom and smoked a cocaine rock. Keenan was placed in foster care but after five months was taken by my sister. I was tired of getting high, I wanted to stop but didn’t know how? I decided to go to the Mental Health Complex because I knew it was a safe place where I could get help. There, a Priest names Fr. Ralph who is also a nurse, told me that Jesus was the only one that could help me. He told me about a place where I could go get help and the name of that place was Teen Challenge.
I was discharged from the hospital on August 19th and entered as the first female resident in the Milwaukee Teen Challenge Women’s Center on August 20th, 1999. I am so thankful that God loves me and has forgiven me. I know he has a plan for my life. His word gives me hope and I believe he will restore to me hope and a purpose. Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge. God has made a difference in my life and by your support to this ministry, he will be made known to many other hurting, lost women in our city. All this time I believed that my life was only to get high and die. I thought God had given up on me. Today I realize that God was with me all the time. While I was in Teen Challenge, I was able to get my GED. Today I have full custody of my son Keenan, and work as a Shift Supervisor at the Milwaukee Women’s Center. I also am able to give back to Teen Challenge by volunteering three times a week at the Robby Dawson Home. I will be forever grateful for what God has done for me through Teen Challenge. Thank you to all who give from your hearts to Teen Challenge. Without God and your donations, none of this would be possible. I am confident of this, that the one who begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 Thank you and God Bless you all!!
She hid her drug use pretty good in our younger years. When I was 12, we moved to Illinois to take care of my grandmother, who had cancer. She ended up passing away six months later. My mom fell into a depression and her drinking and drug use increased. My brother began to sell drugs and my sister and I were greatly affected by this. When I was 14 years old, I began to smoke some weed. I liked the high and even more the feeling of acceptance. My mom seemed to have increased her drug use and every night there were always people over, so I began to stay up later and later. It affected school so much that I completely lost interest. At 15 I had to get my first job because the child support went mostly to supply of alcohol and drugs. I started seeing someone who was always in trouble and using methamphetamine. When I turned 16 I started using meth. I liked it, but heard it would destroy me like it did everyone around me. My boyfriend ended up getting sent to prison and I withdrew from everyone and turned to the comfort of alcohol. It consumed all my time. I had no job and was kicked out of my mom’s house. I dropped out of school at 17 and got my GED. When my boyfriend got out of prison we stayed with a friend until we got on our feet. We got a nice trailer and I bought my first car. Within the first month, David and I went on a one-night binge breaking into people’s cars for money. We sat in the county jail for months. They gave me a plea bargain that consisted of me going to Gateway Rehabilitation and three years probation, restitution, and one year of Teen Challenge.
When I was ten my mother and step father divorced and my life suddenly changed. My mom was raising five children by herself and started to drink. At 11 years old I quit going to church, was helping out around the house more. By 12, I washed dishes on weekends at the restaurant where my mom worked. By 13 I was experimenting with cigarettes then I tried alcohol and pot.
Our family was growing further apart I felt more alone. I started asking God why? Why did this happen to my family? I never understood and became resentful and angry and more involved with drugs and alcohol. At 15 I found crack cocaine. Immediately, I knew that was the drug for me. By 16, I was living with a friend trading sex for drugs. My mom came and got me and sent me to a rehab in Paducah, Kentucky. I got out in 30 days and went right back to smoking crack. Within 6 months I was back in rehab with a habit so bad I was stealing my family’s cars and money. I began driving cars while the guys I was hanging with burglarized homes.
At 24 I was introduced to methamphetamines. To support my habit, I worked and sold drugs. When I lost my job and got evicted I moved in with my boyfriend. We learned how to make dope and began selling and using. Once I left my kids in the car with a friend while I went into the courthouse. When I came out she was gone. My children had been turned in to the police. During the next four months instead of doing what I could to get my kids back, I kept getting high and felt sorry for myself.
My mom and I attended church every Sunday, where she was my small group leader. As a child I enjoyed Sunday school and was very involved in the church. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at 11 years old. Growing up, circumstances were strict. Seldom was I allowed to get out and do things. At 14 I was told I needed to get a job, so I started working at McDonald’s. The second semester of my freshman year I was introduced to marijuana. I would skip lunch to get high, and then return to class. By the time I turned 18 I was fed up with living at home. My dad and I did not have a good relationship, butting heads a lot. At one point we got into a physical altercation, which resulted in me moving out and leaving behind my younger brother and sister. Instead, I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents on their farm, and I stayed there the remainder of my senior year. After graduating in 2011, my boyfriend and I got our own place. Moving back to the city it was very easy for me to find the drugs I wanted, especially when things weren’t going right in our relationship; I ran to drugs for comfort. Our relationship lasted 5 years, ending in February of 2014. We still remained close friends, but my drug use got in the way. At this time, I decided to move to Texas, and from there up to Colorado to get away and start over. After only three months I returned to Fond du Lac. I was still broken and wore my heart on my sleeve. At this point God was not the center of my life, drugs were. I basically used whatever I could get my hands on. Again I chose to get involved with the wrong group of people. I found myself hanging out with a guy who claimed to be part of the M.S. 13 Unit Gang. I quickly became addicted to cocaine, and used crack here and there. Satan really had a grip on me. I was sexually abused and taken advantage of more than once. Searching for a way to hide the pain and my emotions, I began using Percocet, which quickly led to heroin.
I ended up getting Hepatitis C, but on June 24th of 2015, almost two months after being in Teen Challenge, my blood results came back negative. God healed me, without needing any medical treatment. The power of prayer is amazing! Looking back I have a better understanding of why my dad was so hard on me. I tended to be rebellious, and considering he’s a Marine, he didn’t tolerate much. Regardless of the things I’ve been through, I take full responsibility for my choices. I thank God and give him all the glory for sending the Holy Spirit to guide me back on the right path. I’m thankful and happy to be living my life for Christ again.
The scripture I stand on is Psalm 143:8 – “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
On June 3, 2016, I graduated from Teen Challenge. I am pictured in the second row, third from the left. Our speaker was U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. Thank you for supporting Teen Challenge and individuals like me!
“I felt as though my life ended as well and for a week I was paralyzed,” said Brown. “Right after he was killed someone told me they knew what would make me feel better and gave me drugs. At that moment my life was changed.” Brown’s family, friends, and work priorities fell by the wayside as her life spiraled further out of control. “I tried to do treatment but I would always return to my former behavior. I tried to slow down, but nothing would change.”
Brown’s family decided to step in and get her some help. After church one day they sat down and told her about Teen Challenge. Brown contacted the center in Montana and arrived a week later. After finishing the program, she returned to Milwaukee as a re-entry student. “I have had the opportunity to develop a true relationship with my Heavenly Father, give him my whole heart and learn to trust His ways. I am alive and have hope all because of Gods mercy and grace. I just want to give back what was given to me.” It is with your support that Teen Challenge is able to help women like Lesia, pictured above. Pictured are the Teen Challenge staff and students.
Amanda was raised in rural Iowa on a farm,“I learned a lot about farming, raising animals, gardening, canning, baking and responsibility”. At the age of 11, Amanda lost her identity, sense of security and innocence after being sexually assaulted. After this “My family began to fall apart. I was abused, a cutter, and could no longer bear my home life”. After Amanda’s parents separated, the repercussions of it took a toll on Amanda. She began stealing and drinking. At 20 years old, after several failed suicide attempts, she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
“I began to feel desperate, out of control and did not know who to turn to. A couple days later I met with a church friend. I was ready for a change in my life”. Although her behaviors suggested she wanted to die, the opposite was quite true – she wanted to live but did not know how.
Two weeks later Amanda walked into Teen Challenge. With a lot of hard work and determination, Amanda graduated from the Milwaukee Teen Challenge program in August 2013 and entered Brooklyn Teen Challenge School of Ministry, located at our original center in Brooklyn, New York. “I enjoy taking classes at the Brooklyn School of Ministry and interning at the office. My week is also busy with chapel, donor prayer, a coffee house and church.” Amanda has recently participated in a ministry outreach called “Don’t Walk By”, reaching out to homeless people in New York City, and spends time volunteering at a nearby nursing home.
By the age of 14, I was smoking cigarettes and marijuana, sniffing pills, and drinking at every occasion. After turning 16, I started a relationship that would last almost 9 years. We started sniffing cocaine, which eventually led to smoking crack. This drug was very addictive and seemed to demand my every thought. My life was a rapidly out-of-control downward spiral. By 17, I took a plunge into heroin addiction. My home life had gotten so bad that I got kicked out, my school expelled me, and I got arrested for marijuana. I was living with my boyfriend’s parents and thought life couldn’t get any worse. By 21, I was hooked on everything from heroine to ecstasy to methamphetamines to oxycontin. I felt desperately hopeless. In trying to find the exit from this cage, I cried out to God. I told Him about how hopeless I felt and about needing a purpose, and wanting to give up. Asking Him what His plan for my life was seemed like my final attempt in finding hope. I should not be alive today. By the grace of God, I have survived several overdoses and many accidents. I’ve had 3 seizures and stopped breathing a few times due to drug use. Those last few years of drug addiction and alcohol dependency proved to be the hardest years of my life.
I decided to get help. Praise God! When I came to Teen Challenge, I was broken beyond repair, or so I thought. Nick, my boyfriend didn’t make it. He passed away 5 days after I came into the Teen Challenge program from a heroin overdose. By the grace of God, I’m more alive than ever, and He wants me on the mission field caring for His flock. He has fully equipped me to do so. I had been in Teen Challenge for 7 months when God finally and completely delivered me from drugs and alcohol. I truly am a new creation in Christ and I no longer desire drunkenness or the high that I got from drugs. The only one I need is God. The scripture I stand on is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”
I struggled with a Crystal Meth and Heroin addiction for a little over seven years. This program helped me gain the tools to not only love myself and have faith in myself, but also on how to love other people who were always there for me. I grew up in a very good home with two very loving parents and a younger brother who had to see all this bad stuff happen to me. He was always by my side no matter what.
At the age of 13, my innocence was stolen from me by a man that my parents trusted and who I trusted. That’s when I started dabbling with pot. At the age of 19, I started dating a man who was both emotionally and physically abusive but I didn’t think anything was wrong with that because he had me believing that I wasn’t worth anything. This man introduced me to pain pills which eventually lead to Heroin and then to Crystal Meth. When I first came to Teen Challenge I didn’t understand how all these drug addicts were so happy.
On June 15, 2013, I was sitting at a table in the back yard with two other students and a staff member. They told me about this man named Jesus who could take all of my pain away, so I accepted Him into my life and ever since that day I’ve never been so happy. While at Teen Challenge I was also Water Baptized twice, and restored a lot of broken relationships. The scripture that I stand on is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.” I believe this scripture to stand true especially in my life, because I’m a new creation in Christ and everyday I wake up is a new adventure with Him. Since graduating Teen Challenge I’ve been enjoying my life at home in Pewaukee with my amazing family, my fiancée and his amazing family as well. I’m currently helping out at my father’s company, Investment Specialists, rehabbing houses until my next career opportunity presents itself. I am also looking into getting my Broker’s License this fall. If you or anyone you know is struggling with any kind of drug addiction check into Teen Challenge. It’s the best program out there due to the Jesus factor and it proves that Jesus is still in the business of Saving Souls.
Being a Christian was not easy for me. I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult. What was wrong with me? Was I evil? Why couldn’t I do it? The Lord showed me that when I became a new creature, the old me died; I was a new creation – but sin didn’t die; it will bang at my door until Christ comes. To get through a lot of my pain, I began to drink. At first it was fun; it felt free and helped me handle life. In reality it was me escaping life. The alcohol took over but for years I believed I could just quit. Hopeless, depressed and not caring if I lived or died I knew I needed help. My sister kept telling me about Teen Challenge. I had known about Teen Challenge, but could not see myself leaving my 15 year old daughter. Finally, it was me losing my life or fighting for it back. I knew I needed God, but was emotionally and spiritually dead by this time.
I went to Teen Challenge to take a tour and was walking down the stairway when the director told me, “Only the elite come here.” That gave me hope – I was in. My God swooped me up from danger, death, and most importantly, eternal death. Three days after being here I knew what happened to me. Simply put… disobedience, complacency, and spiritual laziness. One day, many years ago, I opened the door to sin and it rushed in like a flood. The devil almost completed what he set out to do – kill, steal, and destroy. But my God stepped in and said “NO!” I’m so extremely grateful with a true repentant heart to my God who sent me here and gave me a safe haven. In this time, I’ve not only been delivered of alcohol and hopelessness, but God is filling the blank pages of the chapters of Kathy Whitt’s life. No more will I run, but to the rock of my salvation through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.
Kathy graduated the full year program in January of 2008 and resides in Kenosha with her family. She is a gifted singer and is involved with her church worship team. Please pray for Kathy as she continues to move forward with her life.
I called my mom who lived in Chicago at the time for her help and she flew me out from Phoenix, Arizona to be with her. Thinking I would get my life back on track, things got worse. I started shooting heroin.
In 2011 right before coming to Milwaukee Teen Challenge, I overdosed six times, had multiple hospital visits and was paralyzed from the waist down.
After multiple conversations with my mom and pastor, I finally told them I would come to Teen Challenge, but I was only going to give it three days. I came in on a Monday and upon my third day (the day I was going to leave) I heard a sermon when we attended church and gave my life to Christ.
Things progressed for me in the program and I ended up being there for about eight months. My old ways of life started affecting my time in the program as I was constantly in trouble and being rebellious.
I eventually left the program early before graduation because I started a relationship with a man which was a huge mistake. We moved in together, were engaged and both began using again. The relationship turned for the worse as he began to physically abuse me. I never felt as far away from God as I did then. I felt like a slave and prisoner to my fiancé. One night while he was at work, I made an escape and never looked back.
After detoxing a few days, my mother helped me get away from the Chicago area by sending me to the Teen Challenge located in Long Island, NY. God has completely blessed my life in my time here and I want nothing to do with my past. I do not want anything to disrupt the plans that God has for me. I lived a life of disobedience and it was a destructive lifestyle. God is opening new doors for me I never even thought about before. The misery I went through is now my ministry to other ladies.
I am looking forward to the opportunity God has provided me with at the Brooklyn School of Ministry. I hope to minister and evangelize to others. I want to help women that were abused and struggle with addiction. I want to impact those who went through a time of darkness and despair like I did. The power of God is amazing and I want to tell them how their lives can be changed through His forgiveness and how family relationships can be restored.
God is rebuilding my relationship with my dad, whom has never been around, after a heart to heart conversation we had one night while I was in Long Island, New York. My focus is on my heavenly Father as He will never leave me! “My earthly father will never be sufficient for me, but you Lord will be”. God is opening doors for me to minister to my dad and he is listening.
I moved home to a very disappointed family. I was the smart one and I had failed myself and my family. My alcoholism got much worse and by the time I was 21 I was going to clubs five days a week and had many blackouts. After leaving college, I maintained a job at a bank for 6 years but lost it due to my addiction. I was able to quit drugs but not alcohol. I did most of my drinking with my mother and when their marriage fell apart, my stepfather blamed their divorce on me. It was my fault he said because I drank with my mother. My mother and I moved in together and our drinking got worse. My mother eventually got back together with my stepfather and I felt betrayed. My brother asked me to move to Tennessee with him and a new baby nephew, It was great at first but we just drank together too. I moved out on my own and fell into major depression and alcoholism. I went thru three jobs that year because I couldn’t get out of bed after a binge. My brother started going to church and accepted Christ as Savior. He quickly stopped drinking and became a very godly example.
On October 2, 2014, I was robbed and sexually assaulted. I felt like my family, especially my boys, would be better off without me. After the assault I tried heroin for the first time. I waited to die, but instead I came to in an ambulance. I remember being angry—I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t just let me die. I continued drinking, hoping my life would somehow end. While walking home drunk one night, I fell on some railroad tracks. I was told that the train stopped about four feet away from me. At the time, I wished the train hadn’t stopped. I entered Teen Challenge without expecting to finish the whole year. Until that point, I’d been addicted to many things, cut and burned myself, overdosed three times, and was in and out of abusive relationships. It was when I embraced the program that I realized I didn’t need drugs or anything else to feel whole. All I really needed, and always had needed, was Jesus. God has blessed me with an extremely caring and supportive family. Through everything I’ve done and put them through, they’ve never judged me or left my side. My boys are now 16 and 17. They know why I was in the program and are proud of me for completing it. My hope is that the paths I’ve chosen will help them choose to stay on the right track. The Bible says that many were called, few were chosen. I want to strive to be the person that God created me to be.
Being in Teen Challenge has taught me that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that my faith is strengthening. The scripture that most speaks to me is Deuteronomy 7:6: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”
My name is Carol and I grew up in Saukville and graduated from Port Washington High School. Growing up my dad was extremely and verbally abusive. Through it my mom told me to pray, read my Bible, and that I’m loved by God who is my true Father. I knew God in my head but not in my heart. I didn’t believe that Jesus could love me when my earthly father didn’t. I was filled with fear and anxiety; that turned into anger and resentment. I started smoking and drinking when I was 12, then any drug that came my way in my teens was mostly pills and cocaine. I had Hannah at 18 and Holly at 21. By this time, I’m addicted to oxycodone. I was doing things I said I would never do for my next high, was homeless, got my daughters taken away, I caught a felony, but I didn’t care it seemed that nothing would stop me. I was lost and I had no clue who I was. Every time I thought I was at rock bottom I just kept on getting deeper and darker in my addiction. I was 25 and pregnant; went to jail for a short time from there I went to rehab. I had my son in treatment, I named him Isaiah and I placed him up for adoption. When I got out I stayed sober for 9 months. I kept Jesus on a shelf and only prayed when I needed something. I put confidence in myself and became very prideful. I ended up relapsing and my addiction was back ten times stronger than it was when I stopped before. I started shooting heroin, cocaine, and meth. I did not care about anything or anyone besides what I could get in my veins next. The devil stole my identity and I didn’t know who I was anymore. I felt lost, hopeless, and didn’t care if I died. I ended up getting an infection and abscess in both my arms. I went to the hospital and had surgery.
From there I went to Teen Challenge. I completed the one year program July 2017 and have stayed on to serve at the Robby Dawson Home for Women as Program Intern. I just began my first semester of college to work toward a degree in substance abuse counseling. Psalms 18:19 says “The Lord rescued me; he led me to a place of safety because he delights in me“! When I came here it was hard for me to understand the love of God because my earthly father was anything but loving. God is kind and patient, he meets you right where you are. Whatever the enemy meant for evil in my life, God turned it around for my good and His glory. I know who I am now in Christ and nothing or no one can even steal that away from me. The scripture I stand on is Joshua 1:9 …be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Hello, my name is Jenna Treml, and I am from DePere, Wisconsin. I am a graduate of Teen Challenge Wisconsin. I currently serve as an Intern for Teen Challenge of the Firelands, located in Willard, Ohio. In December of 2016, I entered the Teen Challenge Robby Dawson Home for Women, located in Milwaukee just off 31st Street and Wisconsin Avenue. At that time, I was homeless and an IV heroin and methamphetamine user. Life for me was very dark and hopeless. In August of 2016, I had been arrested for driving under the influence of narcotics and was facing felony charges for possession of narcotics and a controlled substance. After this happened, I lost all hope for myself and for my life. Meth and heroine took everything from me. I was homeless, jobless, and I had absolutely no money. Finally, the time came when my parents and family were done with me. They told me that I had to get help, or I would no longer have them in my life. My family means the world to me, so it broke my heart to think of losing them. But I was not ready to give up drugs.
My mom heard about Teen Challenge and suggested it to me. From the moment I accepted God’s will instead of my own, my life hasn’t been the same. Teen Challenge was the hardest and most rewarding year of my life. I am eternally grateful for everything the Lord has done to restore my life, my family, and my health. I now know who I am in Christ and that I am redeemed and accepted and love. I stand firm in this truth today. In Teen Challenge, Jesus meets us in our place of brokenness. He enters the darkest and most difficult points in our lives, then he builds us back up and heals us from the inside out. That’s exactly what he has done for me! Every day I now care for and help the ladies here at Teen Challenge of the Firelands. As an intern, I work with people who struggled like me. Thank you for helping me when I needed help. Now I am doing the same for someone else.
She spent most of her time growing up in the streets, since her brothers were always drinking and selling drugs. Patty began using cocaine with her brothers and things quickly got out of control. She served time in jail, destroyed relationships she had, and was losing everything that was precious to her. With the lifestyle she was living, Social Services became involved and her children were not always in her care. The only thing she cared about was her next fix. In jail Patty picked up a Bible and started reading it. She prayed wholeheartedly for help and God heard her cry. Patty graduated in May after coming to the program two times. The first time she left and got in a horrible car accident and almost died. It is only by God’s amazing grace that she is here today. Upon completion of the program, she was accepted for re-entry. She has been working a job outside of Teen Challenge and also gives back her time to the Women’s Center.
I ran away from home for the first time when I was 12 years old. I used to go stay at my friends house, and I started to hang out with the “wrong crowd”. One night they smoked weed and drank. I was 13 years old and wanted to be cool, so I did what they did. When I became interested in guys, at 14, I started running away in the middle of the night to be with them. I started doing more drugs, more bad things, and hanging around with the Latin Kings from Aurora, Illinois. I met my son’s father at the age of 15, got pregnant at 16, and had a baby at 17. My son’s father went to prison and I was left to raise a child by myself. I had never had a job before. I just robbed people, broke into houses, or stole from stores, taking whatever I wanted or needed. But now, I had to change because I had a child to take care of. I did change for a little while, I had a good job and was clean from drugs until I got bored and went back to using. I was in and out of jail for fighting, stealing, and drug related reasons. In 2003, I was shot by gang members. They were not sure I would make it but by the grace of God, I did. In 2005, I met a man named Mike who gave me a job, a car, a cell phone, and a beautiful house to live in. It worked out for a little while until he found out all my money was going for drugs. Then, I took off for 3 days without calling or showing up for work. He packed up all my stuff and dropped it at my moms. Jobless again, I went back to stealing and got caught. My son was with me and I got arrested in front of my son, I knew it was time to change, not for me, but for him. I went to jail for 30 days to sober up and Mike bailed me out. The lawyer he hired talked to me about Teen Challenge. I said to myself, “You’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. Why not?”
I agreed to come to Teen Challenge hoping to change and I have, I now have the Lord in my life. I have learned to act like a woman and not a monster. My family even talks about God now. They see what God has done for me. But the most important part is that God has given me a second chance to live a Godly life and be a good mother. I am taking my son to second phase with me. Thank you Teen Challenge!
I started cheerleading when was five. It was my life! I was at the gym every free minute I had, striving for perfection! Cheerleading was my outlet. I absolutely loved it! My sophomore year my world came crashing down. My cheerleading career ended when I injured my back in a car accident. At the same time my parents got a divorce after 23 years and my uncle died of a drug overdose. I didn’t have a future anymore and I didn’t know why I was still living. I found out quickly that pills made me not feel anything at all. I started experimenting with every drug I could get my hands on. School was at the bottom of my priority list. All my time was consumed with drugs to the extreme. I had new friends every time I turned around. I was “living good” and loving it. I was always getting to know more druggies and their sources. I completely indulged in the drug game. I didn’t care about anything or anybody I lived for the next high. Sometimes that was the only reason to wake up in the mornings! You would think that almost dying one night from ecstasy and too much alcohol would open my eyes, but nope, I kept going. Neither of my parents wanted me near their homes, and my older brothers didn’t want anything to do with me either. The conversations with family consisted of, “We love you and you need help. I thought they had the problem, not me. I thought I was fine I had no idea how bad off I was. I constantly stayed in trouble, and selling cocaine became my source pf income, I was my best customer. I totaled three cars, went into inpatient and outpatient rehab, AA and NA meetings, and jail three times. This last time I was in jail, something clicked. I realized that in order for me to have a life, something had to change and it had to be me! I was ready for a new lifestyle. I was sick of pushing rewind, trouble, and no one to turn to – sick and tired … literally!
My mom had talked about a program called “Teen Challenge.” My uncle had gone through this program and died so I thought my mom and the Pastor were crazy. After I got out of jail, I called my Dad one night crying. With no money, no drugs, coming down from the night before, I was walking up the street with no place to go when my Dad showed up with a cop. This cop could tell I was on something. My choice was go home with my Dad or go back to jail. That’s when I realized what I had to do. On December 18th, I arrived at Teen Challenge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Lord brought me out of the pit and set me on a solid foundation. I now have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I have hope for a better life. Instead of waking up for the next high, I wake up to find out more about Jesus and who I am and who I can be! I can tell people how God has changed my life and how He can do that for anyone! I’m so thankful for Teen Challenge because it gives people like me an opportunity to turn our lives around with the Lord! Not only has He changed me and softened my heart but my family has sincerely forgiven me and they see the changes too! It feels so good to know that God is in control! Instead of looking for answers from people who tell me anything they think I want to hear. I now ask the Lord for answers in the Book of Life, the Bible! I have learned so much since I’ve been in Teen Challenge and I know that life is all about choices. God is definitely a God of many chances! I’m grateful and thankful to the Lord most of all but also to Teen Challenge and to my family for believing in me! Today I stand on the Scripture Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength!”
Before I entered the program my life was in complete disarray. I was hurt, broken, angry, and I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska. I had a great family. Everything seemed wonderful from the outside looking in, but that wasn’t the case. I can remember being extremely depressed as young as age seven. At age twelve, I was sexually attacked by an older boy. My mind was full of confusion. I didn’t understand why it happened to me. I felt disgusting and I was too ashamed to tell anyone. As a result of that incident, l developed an eating disorder that I struggled with for the next seven years. When I was fourteen, my family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma. l thought it could be a new beginning but the hurt within me just grew deeper and stronger. I was mad at God for the things He had allowed to happen in my life. At fifteen, I started smoking cigarettes and occasionally drinking alcohol. Soon, I was popping pills, drinking and smoking pot daily. l hated God. l hated myself. I just didn’t care anymore. My Dad was transferred to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin when l turned seventeen. I started drinking more heavily and I would disappear from my home for days at a time. Half way through my junior year of high school, I dropped out, bought a ticket and left Fond du Lac on a Greyhound bus back to my hometown of Grand Island, Nebraska. Within two weeks of arriving in Nebraska, I was smoking crank (methamphetamine). I lived from place to place. At one time I was living in the shallow end of a drained swimming pool. I couldn’t stand it anymore so I called my parents and told them I would get help. Of course, I never did. My grandparents let me move in with them and I did well for a while. I started dating a guy who used and I started up again worse than when I left off. I was using crystal meth. I turned into someone I didn’t even know. I hated my own reflection. When I first started doing drugs I did them to escape reality but before I knew it, doing drugs was my reality. I lived the way I wanted to until I figured out if I kept living the way I was living it wouldn’t be long before I was dead. I called my parents and said I would do whatever it took to get help.
A week after that I was on a plane on my way to Teen Challenge. My life has completely changed as a result of being in this program. I used to wake up and sob because I didn’t want to live. Now I wake up and thank the Lord for the life He has given me! I don’t deserve God’s forgiveness but He gave it to me anyway. I am not afraid of where my life will go from there because I know God has an awesome plan for me. I am excited to see what is in store for me after I finish second phase in Columbus, Georgia. I am grateful to God and thankful for the Teen Challenge program. If I hadn’t come to Teen Challenge, I don’t want to think about where I would be.
When I was five years old, I was left home alone at night. My parents were too busy with their own lives. I was left to watch and learn from my older brothers and sisters. I remember my brother always getting in trouble. I cried when my Dad got out the belt even if I was the one who told on him. I felt guilty for causing him pain even if he had hurt me first. I learned very quickly never to do the things he did. At 16, I moved in with my sister. I started smoking cigarettes, drinking, smoking weed, and using ecstasy. It seemed to be a lot of fun at the time, it took my mind off of my weird family, and I made a lot of friends in the process. By the time I was 18, I had begun smoking weed every day, drinking on the weekends, and also doing other drugs. I popped prescription pills during class just to get me through the day. I left for college thinking that life on my own would be much better, and if I wanted I could stop using any time. By the end of my freshman year of college, I had smoked pot, taken ecstasy, opium, mushrooms, hash, coke, prescription medication, drinking almost all week and was very miserable. I had done well in school so I thought I could keep doing drugs and drinking and still keep my grades up. After the first summer on my own I went back to school and was worse off than before. I was drinking every day, doing coke regularly, and taking Oxycontin once in a while, I was very depressed. l didn’t see a point in living. I had no family to turn to because we didn’t communicate. I wasn’t doing well in school. I was holding everything inside and had no self-control. My “friends” didn’t even want to hang out with me. One night l remember being drunk, taking a double stack of ecstasy, doing coke, and driving around town smoking weed. I wanted to crash and die but I got pulled over by a police officer instead. I thought for sure that this was the end of my partying. My parents were going to find out, the secret would come out and I could get some help. But he let me go and said, “Have a nice night.” Still depressed, I got drunk and passed out at a friend’s house. It was 4:00 a.m. and I began vomiting in my sleep while I was on my back. By the grace of God my friend had been up reading a book and came out to see what was going on. When she found me vomiting she pushed me over so I didn’t choke to death. Still depressed, I ended up smoking crack with some friends of mine. Crack was the one thing that I told myself I’d never do. This was the lowest I had ever felt before. The only time I got out of bed was to find weed and roll a blunt so I could go back to sleep.
One day I just couldn’t stand it any more and I cried out to God, “Lord, my way isn’t working. I hurt way too much. I just feel like dying. But there’s so much I haven’t done. Please help me Lord before I hurt myself any more.” Just then the phone rang and my sister heard the tone of my voice and asked, “What’s wrong?’ I spilled the beans and two weeks later God brought me to Teen Challenge. ln Philippians 4: 13 it says, ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Knowing this, God delivered me from drugs, alcohol, and depression. He’s restoring my family; he has given me a hope and a future. He has filled me with his joy and peace and helped me to graduate first phase after five long months. Julie finished second phase in Nashville, Tennessee in January 2005. She is currently enrolled in college in Minnesota. She has continued to do well.
As much as my family tried to hold me down and keep me safe I always rebelled and I guess I never realized why I had to struggle so much. Why was my life so rough? Why was my family broken? In school I was always the outcast. At one point in time, I remember that I even had rocks thrown at me. I never felt accepted until I was 17 years old and I met some people who I thought were the world to me. After I was surprisingly accepted into college, I had everything. I had a decent job so I could support myself. I had a great apartment, my family was happy for me and I finally felt like I was going to be all right, until I let my friends move in. At this time I was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. This is when my life started getting rough. Within a few months I lost it all: my apartment, my college career, and communication with my family. I thought if I got away for a while I could come back and things would be better, so I moved back and forth between Oklahoma and Texas. It was there, in 2005, that I was first introduced to crack and meth. My boyfriend at the time also introduced me to the life of hustling with gangs: the Krups and the Bloods. Eventually I ended up in jail, for what could have been a very long time; I could have been killed for the foolish thinks I did. But by God’s grace I was saved, I wasn’t killed or incarcerated.
My husband and I put God first in our lives for a long time. However, we began to move around a lot and somewhere in the moving, we seemed to get farther and farther away from God. We opened the door for Satan to step in and he began to steal our happiness and tear apart our loving home. Eventually my husband lost his job, we lost our house and almost lost our son to alcohol poisoning. My family began to be torn apart. I became very depressed and started drinking to help me sleep. Soon I had a serious drinking problem. From the outside, it seemed that I was functioning normally, balancing work, kids and home successfully, but on the inside I was in a terrible turmoil and a slave to fear and anxiety. My husband moved out and I lost the job I loved. I began to have suicidal thoughts that led to several attempts at ending my life.
In June of last year my sisters picked me up from the hospital and drove me to Teen Challenge in Milwaukee. I was in extreme mental and spiritual pain and very broken. Since coming here, Jesus had healed a lot of my pain and is healing my marriage, my family life and my addictions. I believe He has a special purpose for my life and I am learning to trust and lean on Him with everything. Galatians 6:9 tells me not to lose heart and grow weary, but to keep going and press through. With the help of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, I am gaining the strength and perseverance I need not to quit until my victory is complete. I stand on 1 Peter 5:10, which says, “And the God of all grace who called you to external glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore, support, and strengthen you and place you on a firm foundation.”
My name is Tiffany. I grew up around drugs and alcohol and started smoking cigarettes at 10 and drinking at 12. Eventually my whole family was getting high together. At 16, I started getting into heavier drugs, like painkillers and cocaine. I was also drinking heavily with my boyfriend, Jim. One day I went to pick up Jim and as we were driving through an intersection I was t-boned on the passenger side. Jim was killed instantly. I was charged with vehicular homicide and sent to foster homes while awaiting trial. I got two years probation but was not charged as an adult. After this, I began drinking heavily and using painkillers. I moved in with another boyfriend. After he went to prison, his mother and I became really close and she began taking me to church. I had never known that kind of unconditional love before in my life. I was astounded by how loving, caring, concerned, and compassionate she was towards me even when I got into trouble. She told me about Teen Challenge. When I got in trouble at school for taking too much cold medicine the principal recommended Teen Challenge and I agreed to go. I left Teen Challenge in Muskegon, Michigan after a month because I thought that I could do it on my own. Within a week I was back to my old ways.
When I came to Milwaukee Teen Challenge, I came with my mind set on completing. I had it in my heart and my mind to get things right with God. My goal is to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. As my spiritual mom would always say to me “God looks good on you”! My favorite scripture is, Isaiah 45:3 “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
Life was pretty good growing up in a private school. Upon attending public school my life spiraled down hill pretty rapidly. I attended numerous parties, after school dances and sporting activities. This is when I first experimented with heroin. When I was 18 years old, I fractured some vertebrae in my back and was put on pain medication and was introduced to narcotics. Narcotics and heroin solved a lot of emotions and trouble I was going through. My addiction intensified after being married to a controlling and abusive man for four and a half years. In July 2012, I broke down and confessed everything to my pastor and parents.
I arrived at Teen Challenge in August, angry, bitter and wanting nothing to do with the program. During a church service the pastor spoke on surrendering. I cried out to God at the altar call. I asked him why nothing had changed in my life since being in the program. God’s answer was simple: ‘you have to surrender your whole life to me.’ I have never felt such joy and peace as I did when I surrendered my whole life to God. He has now given me a love for others and a desire to want to serve them. After graduating from Milwaukee Teen Challenge in July of 2013, I accepted a one-year internship at Montana Teen Challenge Center. I wanted to give back what was given to me. I am a living and walking testament to God’s grace and mercy. I have stood on the scripture since I came to Teen Challenge that says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13.
“When I was four years old, issues with my family made me believe that my father did not love me. I thought I wasn’t important,” said Bighorn, recalling her childhood. From that point on Bighorn pushed her father away, believing he didn’t matter. “If the enemy can separate you from your earthly father he can pull you away from your Heavenly Father.” At the age of 17, Bighorn’s mother passed away from heart failure. crushed, Bighorn turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort. Now 42, Bighorn has been in and out of treatment centers, jails and prison. “Through it all the Lord was always trying to reach me and He would at times.” After prison, Bighorn came straight into Teen Challenge. “God has truly been blessing me through this program. The most important thing He’s taught me is the power of prayer. I will serve Him for the rest of my life. Praise God! My best days are ahead of me!” Janice completed the full year Teen Challenge program on March 29, 2012. Janice was then accepted to attend Teen Challenge Ministry School at Minnesota Teen Challenge. We are grateful for our partnerships with other Teen Challenges. Together we are re-building lives. Congratulations Janice!
I knew I needed to provide a good covering for my daughter. I started to attend a church where I felt I was getting spiritually fed but something was still missing. I wanted a relationship with my Father in Heaven. I was getting discouraged because I was feeling nothing. I soon stopped going to church, got married and shortly after had my youngest daughter Brooklyn. Life seemed okay but I still felt like I was missing something. After being introduced to narcotic pills for a second time something was different this time. It was like the enemy knew I had a void and that was his way in. For several years after I was being prescribed pills which soon was not enough. My addiction led me to signing my rights of my oldest daughter over to her dad so I could get help. Becoming more anxious to hide my pain, I had no one to turn to that I trusted. I did what I thought I could do best…more drugs. I eventually started to lie, manipulate, steal and destroy my life by allowing the enemy to have complete control. The only thing I had going for me was Jesus and I accepted Him into my heart. I remember praying and wanting alone time with God. He heard my prayers and began to lay out the path to Him. I moved to North Carolina to live with my mom and get help in an outpatient program. I ended up in jail and surrendered to God. My mom talked to a man named Larry who had graduated from Milwaukee Teen Challenge and that began my journey to the Cross! After attempting to get into the Teen Challenge in North Carolina, I was not accepted. With Larry and my mom’s help I was accepted into the Milwaukee Teen Challenge program.
Within a few weeks I arrived with ambition and also fear. I knew I was going to be away from my beautiful girls for a year and it would not be easy. I trusted God that if I stayed focused on Him, He would take care of everything around me (Proverbs 3:5-6). I have had such an amazing time getting to know my Creator through Jesus Christ. I have truly been blessed. My heart is for the lost, the hurting and the broken. I long to share God’s Word and show the love of Jesus to those that need it…All of God’s Children! I am on my way to North Carolina Teen Challenge where I will be doing an intern program and begin a new chapter of my life in ministry serving Jesus! Remember God is faithful and He will never leave nor forsake us.
In my life I truly wanted to follow God but I continued to struggle with relapse. My staff would always tell me that God had a plan and purpose for my life, but the shame and mistakes made it so hard to believe. All I could see was the person I was, but God allowed them to see who I would be in the future. Looking back, I gave God and my leaders countless reasons to give up and turn their back on me; but they never did. They continued to believe in the calling on my life even when I couldn’t see it. For that I am eternally grateful. I am 23 years old now and have more joy and hope for my future than ever before. I have allowed God to completely heal my heart and I believe that I am worth the good things He has planned for me. After I graduated Teen Challenge Wisconsin, I came to the Emerging Leaders College in Jesup, Georgia. This school is for Teen Challenge graduates who feel called into ministry. While in the program, God called me to be a missionary and the first country He laid on my heart was Swaziland. For two weeks this summer I have been given the opportunity to serve the Teen Challenge in Swaziland! God has continued to open doors and fulfill the promises He gave me in the program Swaziland Teen Challenge has programs for men and women, as well as homes for abandoned and abused children. These children are referred to them by the national social welfare office. Most of these children have been impacted by the AIDS and orphan pandemic in Swaziland. This Teen Challenge also has a Bible school, church, and vocational training center. After I graduate ELC, my future plan is to work with Global Teen Challenge. For the rest of my life I want to help those in addiction and hopelessness. God has promised me that all the pain and turmoil I experienced doesn’t have to be in vain. But if I let Him, He will use it for His glory.