Teen Challenge came to Chattanooga 42 years ago teaching the same principles upon which the very first center was founded in Brooklyn, New York, twenty years earlier. Simply stated—an abundant life, free of life-controlling addiction, is possible through a living, breathing, relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, all these years later, Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth still teaches that very same principle. However, the drug culture and our society has changed significantly. According to The 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, only 1 in 10 Americans who suffer from substance abuse will actually seek help. And, even in the midst of this historic opioid epidemic, at least 40% of those who know they have a problem with drugs or alcohol refuse to stop using. In Chattanooga, one of the primary reasons we have had open beds for years is the daunting commitment to a 12-month long program.
While the recent quarantine forced us to discontinue taking in new residents, it also gave us opportunity for some serious self-evaluation. We came to the realization it is not the amount of time someone spends with us that is most important. To the contrary, we often see weariness and resentment build up over time. What truly matters is what they learn and who they meet here that makes the difference! If the time they are asked to commit to the program closes the door for them coming to us, we don’t get the opportunity to teach them about or introduce them to the One who is their Healer regardless of how long or effective our program may be.
Our A&TC leadership responded with a revision to the program that has tremendous potential to throw open doors that seemed closed to so many. We are now transitioning our 12-month-long, three-phase program into three separate 4-month-long programs that comprise our Journey from Addiction to Freedom initiative. The first-tier Crossroads Program will feature the same individual and group classes we have always offered in the first phase of the current program, but with a renewed emphasis on the Gospel itself. Once completed, the resident will be faced with the choice to continue on to our second and third tier Pursuit and Destination Programs based upon their individual progress or struggles. The advantage of The Journey initiative is threefold—the time commitment is more manageable, the responsibility of growth is placed upon the resident instead of on the program and, lastly, returning residents find themselves at A&TC because they truly want to be there.
It is imperative that those who faithfully support us understand that we want this ministry to remain at the forefront in the battle with addiction to stop the devastation it is causing in our families. For this to happen we must be honest enough to realize that it is the relationship with Jesus Christ that transforms lives and not necessarily the length of time someone may stay in the program. Our staff is energized and committed to the work of evangelism and showing the love of Christ to the “least of these” who are living without hope. I humbly request that you stand with us to the greatest degree possible both in financial and prayer support. May God richly bless you for your kindness.