Putting Hope Within Reach

Putting Hope Within ReachTeen Challenge Women’s Home is a residential discipleship program located in Davie that helps women break off the destructive chains of drug addiction and alcoholism that ensnare them. According to Teen Challenge literature, there are over 278 million drug users worldwide. Sadly drug addiction shatters lives, but Teen Challenge works with adults, youth and families to help them pick up the pieces by offering life transformation to individuals through Christ-centered programs.

Rick Fernandez, executive director of Teen Challenge in Davie since 1988 and a graduate of the program, explained they are “home to up to 16 hurt, abused women – mothers, wives, daughters. Some of them want to run, but they know they are in a fight for their life.” Each woman has committed to change her life and Teen Challenge equips them to be successful, productive members of society.

Hope within a year’s reach

In addition to their 12-month, faith-based residential program for women, they also provide referrals for men and teens, crisis counseling, community outreach, and a teen drug awareness and prevention program entitled Stay Sharp, which is presented in church youth groups and schools. With plans for expansion that include additional counseling offices, classrooms and more space for group gatherings, Teen Challenge is currently fundraising for the $250,000 project. They will host their Annual Banquet and Silent Auction on Thursday, September 25 at 7 p.m. at the Signature Grand in Davie.

How it began

Now a world-wide organization, Teen Challenge was launched in 1958 by Pastor David Wilkerson, who held street rallies on “gang turf” in New York through which many street-hardened young men and women came to Christ, allowing God’s Spirit to transform their lives. By 1960 Wilkerson established a residence in Brooklyn that provided protection for drug addicts and gang members, as well as beds and shelter for troubled and homeless youth. The best-selling book The Cross and the Switchblade is the account of this early ministry.

Today Teen Challenge has grown to include 173 residential programs in the United States and 241 centers in 77 other countries. The program’s cure rate of 86% has been recognized and substantiated by the U.S. Government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The process

Donna Fernandez, who is also a graduate of the program and serves as executive director with her husband Rick, explained that the girls commit to a 12-month discipleship program. During this time they are taught life and relational skills such as anger management, effective communication and relapse prevention. They receive educational help to obtain a G.E.D., acquire office and computer skills, practice landscaping and maintenance, and learn practical household skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting and money management. They also receive a great deal of counseling, group support and family or marital guidance.

Their stories

Through choir and drama, the women often share their personal stories of life change through inspirational presentations. Singing the Matthew West song “Hello My Name Is” the women lit up as they sang “I am no longer defined by the wreckage behind…I am a child of the one true King.”

During an inspiration presentation at the home, Sally, a 31-year-old woman, said she entered the Davie program after years of sexual and physical abuse, battling depression and fear. She shared that she had learned from her parents to hide her emotions, “putting on a mask.” At Teen Challenge Sally said she “got the mind of Christ and learned Biblical principles. I gave my emotions to God and began to develop healthy relationships.” Applying Song of Solomon 8:6, Sally shared that “like a seal over [my] heart,” she’s found “God’s love is stronger than anything else in the world.”

After graduating from the program in 2011, Michelle did well for a while then slowly slipped into old patterns. With no one to care for her 6-year-old daughter, Rick and Donna agreed to take her in while Michelle was restored. “Since coming back, Michelle said, “My commitment to God is so deep. He has been so faithful even though I turned my back on him.”

Graduation

Upon graduation, counselors work with each woman to help them transition back into daily living, helping them make decisions that are best for each individual. Some receive assistance finding housing while they get a job, some return back to their homes and families, some will go on to an internship working with Teen Challenge throughout the U.S. or they may choose to attend classes in the Teen Challenge Emerging Leaders College in Jesup, Georgia.

Recently two women from the Davie home graduated from the Emerging Leaders College receiving associate of arts degrees in theology and are now working in Christian ministries.

For more information about Teen Challenge or for tickets to their Annual Banquet and Silent Auction on Thursday, September 25 at 7 p.m. at the Signature Grand in Davie call 954-476-0809 or visit davie.teenchallenge.cc.

For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/

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