Adult & Teen Challenge offers faith-based recovery for women struggling with life-controlling problems like drugs and alcohol. Here, Intake Director Rachel Byrd tells us about the nonprofit’s past, and what’s on the horizon.
WHAT IS YOUR ORGANIZATION’S MISSION, AND WHEN AND WHY WAS IT FOUNDED?
David Wilkerson, an Assemblies of God pastor who left a rural Pennsylvania church to work on the street among teenage gang members and socially marginalized people in New York City, founded Adult & Teen Challenge in 1961. He is perhaps best known for later authoring “The Cross and the Switchblade” and founding Times Square Church. Adult & Teen Challenge started its first residential program in December of 1962 in a house in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1973, 12 years after the ministry began, Adult & Teen Challenge established a national headquarters. In 2020, Global Adult & Teen Challenge would have more than 1,400 accommodation centers in 125 countries around the world.
Adult & Teen Challenge in Mississippi has operated successfully for over 35 years. ATC offers freedom to women 18 years or older from addiction of all kinds — alcoholism, drugs, depression, anxiety, victim mentality, unforgiveness and many other strongholds that bind women.
Adult & Teen Challenge is a faith-based nonprofit. Our mission is to provide adults and teens freedom from addiction and other life-controlling issues through Christ-centered solutions. Through effective disciplines, mentoring, and life skills training, ATC and its affiliates have seen positive outcomes and radical life transformation throughout its 60-year history.
Our program lasts 12-18 months, and this timeframe provides ample opportunity for adults and teens to confront their destructive choices, self-sabotaging behavior and unhealthy views. It then gives them a safe place to establish a new “normal” – assured of the love of God and under the guidance of biblical principles. Through our Bible-based curriculum, students learn how to apply God’s word to their lives. They also learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, invite God to help them with their life-controlling problems and become more like Christ.
WHAT IMPACT HAS YOUR ORGANIZATION HAD ON YOUR COMMUNITY?
The impact our ministry has on our community is showing that the Lord can heal the broken and offer evidence of hope. We show the joy of the Lord and minister all over Mississippi and other states with dramas and powerful testimonies about the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR GAINED BEING PART OF THIS ORGANIZATION?
The greatest thing we have learned or gained is healing, freedom from life-controlling issues, gaining a relationship with Jesus Christ, restoration in families, purpose in life and the reality that God never gives up on us.
WHAT IS SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION THAT OTHERS WOULD FIND SURPRISING?
Something about our organization that students would find surprising is the amount of love they are shown. We accept them just as they are, and there is a family atmosphere at our center. It is a ministry that God uses as a vessel to save lives and as a discipleship program.
WHAT’S NEW OR UPCOMING WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION THAT YOU’RE EXCITED TO SHARE?
In 2021, we added a greenhouse and garden center. This not only provides food for our center, but students are learning life lessons about the importance of tenderness and consistency in growing fruits and vegetables, as well as determination to care for plant life.
We also are looking forward to our book launch in September. We were approached by a local author to share the victories of Teen Challenge graduates and their stories of overcoming a lifetime of addiction and destructive behavior. We partnered with a Gulf Coast publisher that is helping put our stories together and encouraging us to share the truth behind the book’s title: “There’s Hope Breaking Invisible Chains.”