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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge

By Joel Kilpatrick in Riverside (11/16/03)

John P. Walters, President Bush’s “drug czar,” recently spoke at a Teen Challenge graduation in Riverside, Calif., to the largest group of recovering addicts he’s ever addressed.

“I came to visit this institution because … it represents what needs to be done across the country,” said Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Institutions that connect people to God, to religion, as well as those that connect them to services, are crucial to many millions of people in recovery.”

Seven hundred people attended the July 8 ceremony, which featured vibrant testimonies, prayer, applause, whoops and whistles. Since its founding in 1958, TC has become the largest, oldest program of its kind in the world. Last year, in Southern California alone, TC received 62,000 requests for help. Southern California TC serves 500 people in the residential program, and more than half of those attended the ceremony.

Walters listened as Daniel Lopez, 21, wearing a shirt and tie and gripping the podium with tattoo-covered hands, told his story, often through tears. Lopez lived with his grandmother because his parents were drug addicts.

“I thought nobody cared about me, so I took care of myself,” he said. At 14 he joined a “tagging crew” and adopted their heroin habit. He bounced in and out of jail. Counseling, recovery programs and methadone failed to help.

“I’d tried to get clean, but it had a grip on me,” he said. “I finally asked God, if He was real, to help me.” Lopez came to Teen Challenge and his inner pain faded away, he said. Now he’s clean, and plans to become an art teacher.

The group heard from David Fog, a 1991 graduate who once lived in a public park and believed he would never be free of his crack cocaine addiction.

“When I share my testimony, people don’t believe me,” he said, bright-eyed and grinning. He went through four other rehabilitation programs but said he “never breathed a sober breath” until he came to TC and “wholeheartedly committed” his life to Jesus Christ.

“That is the power in our sobriety,” he said. Today, he and his business partner operate a successful real estate office in Burbank. Fog serves as president of the local board of Realtors.

“For those who talk about substance abuse as a victimless activity, you have to have blinders on to not see the incredible destruction it does to users and to everyone around them,” Walters said in his address. The drug czar said he and the president are grateful for Teen Challenge.

“This is a place of hope that takes those who’ve been broken and hurt and those who love them and puts them back together,” Walters said. “This place does what other people only talk to me about, and the result is lives that are saved.”

Graduates pointed to the sky, acknowledging God. They ascended the platform to receive their diplomas from Walters and TC Southern California Executive Director Dennis Griffith.

Later, Ruben Gutierrez and his family shared their success story. At 17, Ruben became addicted to cocaine. “I didn’t have hope in myself,” he said. “I didn’t think I could be sober, but I desperately wanted to. I was trying to be accepted by all the wrong people.”

His mother, Lilly, said the worst time of her life happened when drugs took control of her son. “There was no love in him after that,” she said. “He didn’t care about anybody. Hugs and kisses were gone, ‘I love you, Mom’ was gone.”

His father, Bobby, said his son faced six years of prison time. “I told him this was probably his last chance,” Bobby said. “We knew in our hearts God would give our son back, and it was a battle, but God gave us the strength. Our whole family has been praying for this.”

Ruben came to TC one year ago and returned to sobriety. Now he’s respectful, loving and has plans to attend Bible college.

An atmosphere of thankfulness and joy pervaded a dinner afterwards. Even as the meal was served, young men pulled one another aside for spontaneous times of prayer, encouragement and hugs.

One speaker noted that after a year in TC a graduate has spent:

• 320 hours in church and chapel services,

• 377 hours in 30 different classes,

• 1,085 hours on work call.

“It’s an honor to be here to celebrate your miracles,” Walters concluded in his address. “I wish those of you who graduated my best. I will pray for you, and I ask only that you do the same for me.”

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