Teen Challenge Put To the Challenge
edited: Sunday, February 03, 2008
By Mary E. Coe
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2007
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If Dwight ever needed a drink; he need one now. Will he get through this day without a drink?
The name is Teen Challenge, however, it is a substance abuse program for adults 18 and over.
I interviewed Dwight today. During the interview I learned how going through the program at Teen Challenge helped Dwight through one of the biggest obstacle in his life. Dwight started drinking and using drugs at a very early age; when he was in his early teens. He had a long hard struggle with substance abuse. He held it together enough not to get involved with gangs or selling drugs. He never committed any crimes against anyone else, or spent time in prison. He did have at least two DUI(s); drinking while driving, over a period of years. Even with the DUI(s); he didnít realize that he had a problem.
One of his friendsís had a long term illness. When his friend died at the early age of 38; Dwight drowned his feelings in alcohol. He felt that he needed a drink to get through it all. He couldnít handle going to the funeral and facing the sadness of his friendís family. Instead he stayed at home and had a few cans of beer.
In those days; the answer to his problems, pains, and sorrows, were found in a drink; or some other type of substance abuse.
One day Dwight found out about Teen Challenge. He decided to give Teen Challenge a try. Dwight had very long hair. His hair hung past his shoulders and down his back, when he drove himself to Teen Challenge office to register for the program.
He was very lucky; there were openings that very same day. The program was also free of charge. However, Dwight met his first and second big challenge. Male students could not have long hair. He would have to get a hair cut. Second, no students were allowed to have automobiles at the center. Dwight would have to park his car at a relative or a friendís house.
As much as he hated parting with his long hair and his car; Dwight decided he needed the program more. He parked his car at his parentís house. He went to the barber shop and got a short hair cut. And he went back to Teen Challenge; to register for the program. Dwight thought, oh well, I can grow back my hair after I graduate the program.
The first few weeks of the program were the hardest. There were times when he needed a drink so badly. There were times when he didnít think he could make it through the day without a drink. There were times when he thought about leaving; and if he had his car; who knows; he wasnít sure if he would have; just gotten into his car and drove away.
The students were free to leave at anytime. However, there were counselors the students could go to at any time to talk. So, instead of taking the easy way out and walking away from the program. Dwight talked about his weakness and problems with his counselor. They prayed on it. He had a lot of support and encouragements. There were, also, a lot of prayers and church going at Teen challenge.
Dwight stayed with the program. At the end of the four months, Dwight looked like a new man. He felt like a brand new man. He didnít stop there. He stayed with the program. He moved to the castle. It is really a castle. However, thatís a long story and another story. He was a student at the castle for nine months. It was hard work, and praying and going to church every Sunday. He enjoyed the church services; he found Jesus and God again. Dwight graduated from the program. He decided to stay on at Teen Challenge for the internship, which was another three or four months.
He had a minor set back and had to do restitutions. After restitutions, Dwight graduated from internship. He didnít want to stop there. He remained with Teen Challenge as a staff member. After graduation, Dwight was able to have his own car again. He picked up his car; however, it never crossed his mind to let his hair grow back.
He moved into a three bedroom house with two other staff members, they were also friends. A young 26 year old man was one of the three living in the house. The 26 year old was never a student or had a substance abuse problem. He grew up around Teen Challenge, going to their teen programs, to keep himself off the streets. When he got older, he started working with young children in the neighborhood. He worked with the childrenís program at Teen challenge. He was involved in the childrenís ministry. He was loved by many children and parents. He was Dwightís friend and house mate. Three of Dwightís children visited the children center and met both of Dwightís house mates.
Approximately three weeks ago, May of 2007. Dwight, the twenty six year old and a small group of men and women had plans for a three day conference in Azusa, California. The women were graduates of the Ladies Teen Challenge Program. They all worked together and were friends. They were going as a group. It was something like an Urban Youth Workers Conference.
That Thursday night, before the three days conference; the twenty six year old went out; probably to visit his family. His family lived only a few blocks away. Sometimes he would spend the night with his family. Approximately nine oíclock that night, Dwight went to the fast food store to get a burger and a Pepsi. On the way back about; a couple of blocks down the street, he noticed the familiar sight, he saw too often, in the area. There were police and ambulance bright, flashing, lights. There was another accident or somebody got hurt. Dwight went home, ate his food and got ready for bed. Tomorrow was the first day of the, week end, conference, so he wanted to get to bed early.
Friday morning, Dwight was in his room getting ready for the conference. The other man that shared the house with Dwight and the 26 year old knocked on the door. He said that there were rumors that their housemate was dead. The information wasnít clear to Dwight as to what happened or if it was really their young friend. Dwight went to Teen Challenge Center, which were only minutes away. He had to find out, for himself, what was going on.
The news couldnít have been worst; his young friend was dead. The police cars, the ambulance, bright, flashing, lights that he saw a couple of blocks away; the night before; was an auto accident; an auto accident that took the life of his friend. No alcohol was involved, this young man didnít drink. It was a freak accident that snatched his life away. The place was in chaos. It was hard to believe. Everyone was devastated.
Dwight was over whelmed. He didnít know what to do; or how to react. Their young friend couldnít be gone. He was only 26. Only two nights ago they were talking about their week end plans. He was a good person. He was involved in the youth ministry and such an inspiration to the neighborhood children. Dwight thought about all those children. How are they going to handle the news? He thought about this young manís family and his little brother. This was too hard and a lot to comprehend in such a short period of time. An announcement was made that the group trip, to the week end, conference was canceled because of the death of this staff member.
Dwight has never needed a drink as much as he needed one right now at this moment. He didnít know how to get through this. He got in his car. He didnít drive to the liquor store. He drove to the house and went to his room. He prayed and asked God to see him through this terrible ordeal. He asked God to show him what to do? He felt so lost and hopeless. He continued praying.
It came to him; what he must do to survive this day without a drink. He would go to the conference alone. Then he would visit his children and family who lived only blocks from the site where he would be. He knew he couldnít stick around the center. He didnít know how to handle everything. He had to fight this strong urge to have a drink.
Dwight got together enough clothes for the week end and took off. There was a lot going on at the conference. He kept himself very busy with little time to concentrate on the sudden death of his friend. During his two or three hours break; Dwight drove to his parent house to spend time with his children.
Back at Teen Challenge everyone was worried about Dwight. They didnít know where he had taken off to. His cell phone was off. That Sunday night, the last day of the conference, Dwight thought about checking his messages. There were several messages from his Teen Challenge friends and the women that worked with him; wanting to know if he was alright.
Viewing of the body was on Monday night; it was hard, but the people at Teen Challenge gave each others support. Dwight didnít have to turn to alcohol for comfort. He turned to prayers, and his friends and mentor at Teen Challenge.
The next day, Tuesday, was the funeral. It was sad and very hard. Dwight said the church was packed downstairs and in the balcony. There were many children at the funeral. He believed there were 700 to 800 people at the funeral. Dwight learned that he was much stronger than he thought he was.
Without going through the Teen Challenge program, he would not have been able to go through this kind of trauma without a drink.
In a crisis he didnít have to turn to alcohol or drugs. He found something much better and more solid. At the Teen Challenge Program, his life was restored in a way he never thought possible. The program is a faith based program and it works.
After five years of completing the programs 86% of the Teen Challenge graduates remain drug and alcohol free.
For more information on the Teen Challenge Program. Go to www.teenchallenge.com