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Teen Challenge Ministry
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By Wanda Pratt

Teen Challenge came to First, Petrolia in June telling us about their program and explaining how drugs are such a huge part of our society today. Chuck McDougall, the development manager and Intern Co-Ordinator spoke using Psalm 116 as his scripture.

The Teen Challenge farm is in Lambeth—just south west of London and has 52 students and 16 interns presently. When the students come into the program, they are immediately put into a very regimented program of work, study and worship. There is no TV, no telephone, no computers for the first while as the students learn to focus on Jesus and on getting and staying sober and clean of drugs.

One of the students, John, came along too, and explained a bit more of his personal story. He is 47 years old and has two teen daughters. As one of the more fortunate ones, his employer is holding his job for him, so he will have that to go back to after the year long program. His personal verse is Psalm 117: 2.

McDougall explained further that the cost to have a student at the facility for one year is in excess of $40,000 and the funds all come in through donations from individuals, organizations and businesses. One unique way that funds are raised, is by accepting old cars and selling them for scrap. When a person is ready to enter treatment, there is a $1,000 entrance fee for the student. It can be paid by the student, a loved one, or a sponsor. When a new student arrives, they often have a loved one with them, but they must have made the decision for themselves and want to participate in getting clean and sober.

Most of the students that come to Teen Challenge aren't really teens any more—mostly they are between mid 20's to 30's and have lost much to their lifestyles. They can start treatment any time and don't have to wait for a start date (except during December). When someone enters the program, they are assigned a life coach to help them with emotional and spiritual concerns.

A lot of the classes focus on interpersonal relationships with family and friends as well as how to deal with failure. Since it is a faith based program, use of the scriptures is key as is going to chapel and daily devotions.

Some students leave the program before they complete the program then decide they want back in. In that case, they must wait at least 6 months.

There are other treatment facilities in the London area. All have varying degrees of success tackling this very difficult problem. Teen Challenge claims a 70% success rate 5 years after treatment which is much better than secular programs that have about a 5% success rate. This Teen Challenge facility focuses on men. A new facility is opening in Aurora Ontario for women. That one will have the same rules and program as the one for men.

The whole concept for these centres was designed by Dave Wilkerson, a troubled youth from New York who found Christ in the 1970's and reached out to others with similar backgrounds and problems. His testimony is found in the book "The Cross and The Switchblade" which is given out by Teen Challenge when they visit a church.






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