Sunday, February 8, 2015

Teen Challenge Guests at Local Church

David Wilkerson - Founder of Teen Challenge

Sunday morning I visited First Assembly of God, Oroville, CA where the service was blessed by a choir from Teen Challenge and testimonies from a few of the choir members. 


The Director spoke about the life changing power of Jesus Christ to change lives and turn hell bound individuals toward a new way of living.


You may have heard of Teen Challenge and their amazing success record of recovery from addiction due to their focus on Jesus Christ.


(Some facts from Wikipedia)  In early 1958 David Wilkerson saw a photograph in Life Magazine of seven teenagers who were members of a gang in New York known as "Egyptian Dragons." He later wrote that he felt the Holy Spirit move him with compassion and was drawn to go to New York in order to preach to the gang.


On his arrival, Wilkerson went to the court in which the teenagers were being prosecuted. He entered the room and asked the judge for permission to tell them something, but the judge ejected him.


Upon leaving, someone took a photo of Wilkerson, who then became known as the Bible preacher "who had interrupted the gang trial."

 Soon after this, he began a street ministry to young drug addicts and gang members, which he continued into the 1960s. 


Later in 1958, he founded the program Teen Challenge.


David Wilkerson gained national recognition after he co-authored the book The Cross and the Switchblade in 1962 with John and Elizabeth Sherrill about his street ministry.


The book became a best-seller, with over 50 million copies in over thirty languages. 


It is included in Christianity Today's "Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals."


In the book, Wilkerson tells of the conversion of gang member Nicky Cruz, who later became an evangelist himself and wrote the autobiographical Run Baby Run. Nicky had been the president of the gang "Mau Maus", and he and his friend Israel Narvaez became Christians after hearing Wilkerson preach.


In 1970, The Cross and the Switchblade was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Pat Boone as Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as Cruz.


How Does Teen Challenge Operate Today?


It is a Christ-centered, faith-based solutions for youth, adults, and families struggling with life-controlling problems, such as addiction.

Teen Challenge is holistic – meaning that we are concerned with the body, mind, and spirit of those who come to us for help. We endeavor to help people become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, and spiritually alive.  Teen Challenge, offers a chance to start over, become a new person, live a godly life, and find freedom through a restored purpose and an eternal hope. We do this through classes, individual study, personal mentoring, work ethics training, and involvement in the Christian community.

Adult Programs

Despite the name, Teen Challenge works extensively with adults. Most adults who arrive at our doors bring with them a tragic history of substance abuse and other life-controlling problems. At Teen Challenge, the journey to sobriety includes attention to the spiritual needs of those who seek our help.

With a focus on the practical applications of Christian teachings, adults not only learn how to change deeply entrenched, self-destructive behavior, but to discover a new identity in Christ that makes these changes possible.
Adults who come to Teen Challenge not only receive a holistic approach to recovery from life-controlling problems, but acquire a new value system that honors family, takes responsibility for community, cultivates a positive work ethic, and helps them become productive, healthy members of society.

If you know someone who would benefit from this Christ centered program check out a program near you on their home page.



  1. I've known a few people who have attended Teen's a good program. It provides the stepping stones people must continue to use once they get out.

  2. Hazel, i didnt even know Teen Challenge still was around. The book "Cross and the Switchblade" greatly impacted me as a teenager. Thanks for pointing the way and I'm going to see if they are operating locally so I can support them.

  3. I loved those books! I'd forgotten about them... that's what this country needs again. The calling of God to go to the lost right here among us.

  4. I was connected to Teen Challenge for years. One is still less than a mile from our house. The founder of that one was in a church I attended way back then. He's in Tennessee now. BUT shortly after my salvation...about a year...I had the book of "Cross and Switchblade" in E. St. Louis, and was reading it on the floor in the apt bathroom, b/c my roommate needed to sleep longer in the morning. It grabbed me very strongly and I was just shy of 22. THEN he came to the St. Louis area to speak at a church and I was able to go there. For years I read and re-read the book and read other books of his. Miraculously, when his church was in the downtown portion of New York, and his people were out there to spread pieces of the Word around and give Bibles, Dave and I were there while in a way the airports had been confused and backing up to get us to England and to Uganda in time. When we walked around that part of town since we had another day before our plane be leaving, and this group was there, I basically just told them we didn't need anything from and that we were going Uganda. The stopped spreading around, the laid hands on us, and prayed over us for the trip to Uganda and how and what we could do there. What a rejoicing situation!!! No one at our church in Omaha had prayed over us, b/c they didn't understand why we were going. Those young-ish people, in the January time, in a very famous portion of the downtown area, were a huge blessing to us. I have other books of his, including his sightfulness of the spiritual world situations and how the demonic stuff was coming more strongly into our world. Anyhow, when you brought him up, I couldn't not tell you too much. But I Dave and I truly were supporting that for years. Sorry if I talked too long and said too much, but for at least 30 years the Teen Challenge was a very strong portion of my life. Loved your sharing. Bless you.


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