Think of some of the major innovations we have witnessed over the last 50 years:
- Smart cars, phones and homes
- Personal computers
- Xbox, PlayStation and Wii (remember Atari?)
- MP3 players and iPods
- Laser and robotic surgery
- Online shopping and banking
- Bar codes and scanners
Try to imagine a week without email, social media, google, GPS (anyone else miss reading maps!?), angry birds and candy crush, your TV remotes and power tools (love my drill!). Could you do it?!
But these changes are not restricted to the world of technology. The drug and alcohol rehabilitation industry has seen plenty of changes as well: a rapid rise in the number of and different types of clinics, treatment centers, outpatient programs, and support groups; improved medical interventions and holistic alternative medicines; and exciting new developments in the field of mental health.
Teen Challenge ministries is no exception to the changes sweeping across the board. In the early years we were reaching out predominantly to heroin addicts mainlining and alcoholics. In the 80’s and 90’s, cocaine and crack took center stage. Today, many of our residents come to us addicted to prescription pain killers (not to mention pornography and video games).
We no longer permit entrants to detox at our centers (liability issues), nor do we issue meal misses and other forms of corporal punishment to those refusing to comply with the rules of the program (a good change). Many come to us having been diagnosed with various disorders and take prescribed psychotropic drugs (e.g., antidepressants, anti-anxiety, etc.). These are new things for us.
We’ve also changed in that we offer a much wider range of services. While the heartbeat of our program is still Christian discipleship, we offer vocational, social, and psychological services as well. We are building partnerships with other ministries and organizations for the sake of providing a more well-rounded approach as we seek to increase our “redemptive potential.”
With all these changes, however, one thing has remained unchanged over the years—our belief that the root of all addiction is ultimately spiritual. Human beings are sinners by birth, separated from God, with an inward bent toward evil. Our only hope is found in Jesus, the one mediator between God and men, who died on the cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven and reconciled with this holy God. This justification (infinitely better than any “rehabilitation”) is received by faith and brings both peace with God and a new nature that desires righteousness. This is the “cure,” and it is glorious! The late David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge and author of The Cross and the Switchblade, called it the “Jesus Factor.”
This is the reason we do not qualify for any federal, state, or local funding and, for that matter, most organizational grants. We use the “J” word without apology. It may not be politically correct. It may brand us as intellectually stunted and narrow-minded. But as the Apostle Peter put it, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We believe this with every pore of our being.
This is the hope, healing, and help we offer men and women. May God be praised!
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of
everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”(Romans 1:16)