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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Teen Challenge: Making a Difference

By Christina Quick
June 29, 2014

Substance abuse is an epidemic impacting virtually every member of society. With each passing second, drug and alcohol abuse costs the United States $6,120 in health care, lost worker productivity, and criminal justice expenditures, according to figures compiled by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

For those trapped in the throes of addiction, the cost is even greater — and far more personal.

“I lost my apartment, my possessions, my fiancé, and all hope,” one former drug user wrote. “At my lowest point, I found myself in a box behind a dumpster as I cowered in the corner getting high.”

This young man is one of many who found healing and freedom at Teen Challenge, a global ministry that combats life-controlling habits with the life-changing hope of the gospel.

“I’m now a new man,” he wrote five years after graduating from Teen Challenge. “Through the ministry of Teen Challenge, God brought me closer to Him, showed me how to live for Christ and gave me the foundation I needed to continue building my relationship with Him. God saved and changed me through Teen Challenge.”

Such stories are frequently lived out at Teen Challenge of Southern California, which last year served more than 200,000 men, women and children through resident and outreach programs.

Known for its beaches, mansions and celebrities, Southern California is also rife with poverty, gang activity and drug peddling. In 2007, almost as many people in California died from drug use (4,178) as from motor vehicle accidents (4,306).

More than 500 men and women currently participate in Teen Challenge of Southern California’s residential recovery programs. The ministry operates eight centers in Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Fresno and San Diego counties. These centers provide Christian discipleship classes, individual advising sessions, vocational training, basic computer classes, GED certificate courses, and curriculum designed to help students reintegrate into society.

The one-year ministry begins with three months in an induction center followed by nine months in one of two long-term centers.

Some students go on to attend Teen Challenge Ministry Institute (TCMI), a yearlong Bible school that prepares them for ministry. The school combines classroom instruction with practical training in ministry settings, particularly in inner-city locations. Many TCMI graduates are now credentialed Assemblies of God ministers serving as pastors and Teen Challenge staff members throughout the country.

Teen Challenge of Southern California also engages in substance abuse prevention, operating multicultural outreaches for at-risk children and families. Teams of staff members and students travel to schools, churches and other public settings to spread the word about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and gangs. The teams use a variety of presentation methods, including skits, puppet shows, music and testimonials.

Teen Challenge Kids serves thousands of children in Southern California through after-school learning centers, mentoring, kids and youth clubs, camping and other recreational and cultural opportunities.

In addition, Teen Challenge of Southern California participates in global ministry efforts and has helped establish centers in Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. (Teen Challenge is an international ministry with centers in 102 countries around the world.)

Ron Brown, executive director of Teen Challenge of Southern California, recently led a team of students on a missions trip to Romania. An Air Force veteran and former deputy sheriff, Brown also serves as missions pastor at The Mission Ebenezer Family Church, a multicultural Assemblies of God congregation in the South Bay.

CHRISTINA QUICK is a freelance writer and former Pentecostal Evangel staff writer. She attends James River Assembly of God in Ozark, Mo.



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