TestimonialsAddiction takes lives, harms relationships and steals hope. Teen Challenge exists to breath hope and life into the hopelessness caused by drug dependency and the chaos that surrounds it. Let your heart be encouraged - you CAN live a life free from addiction. It's never too late to restore, rebuild and make a new start! Here are just a few stories of hope from those who have walked the journey from addiction to freedom.
Meet MarkIt was early 2005, I was two weeks out of prison. I had been living life at an ultra-fast pace and now after having been trashed by a life without restraint, I walked through the doors at Teen Challenge, Kyabram. Prior to my arrival, life had started off seemingly good as a missionary/pastors son. But after many different schools and location changes the struggle to fit in and gain acceptance drove me to quickly walk away from the words of my father and mother. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol naturally entered my life, as well as a strange sense of ambition and determination as I was asked to leave school. Finding an apprenticeship gave me some purpose, followed by studying martial arts and ultimately joining the army training with the special forces. After being discharged for abalone poaching off the coast of Victoria, I engaged criminality at the same pace I had everything else. Just a few years later, desperate and suicidal, I had arrived at the Teen Challenge program, I was done trying. Only 2 days after checking in, I called out to what seemed to me a distant if non-existent God…. "I don't even know if there is a God anymore but if there is, and if you can do something good with my life…..you can have it". The next morning I had an encounter with the voice of God that would begin the journey of breaking every chain, every addiction in my life.……..that was over 9 yrs ago - now I'm married to the woman of my dreams, Elise. We now have a beautiful son Isaiah Mark and a precious little girl Avalyn Pearl. We would like to thank Teen Challenge, Mal Doswell, Neil & Marcia Meyer and all those who faithfully support them for the facilitation of change in my life and the lives of countless men destined for freedom in Christ.
From left to right: Mark in the Army Pre TC / Mark in the program 2005 / Mark and his bride Aug 2008 / Mark and his little family
Meet HeathI was born in Adelaide in 1969. I was the 3rd of 4 boys. I have good memories of when I was young especially with my youngest brother Jamie and our pet Whippets, I love Whippets. However, as I grew up life began to wear me down. I was about 10 when I was abused and I was badly bullied at school though my teens. I kept it all secret because of shame plus I didn't want to rock the boat at home. I wasn't shown how to deal with the shame, loss of innocence and grief. I went on year after year dealing with it using sex as a pain reliever. I discovered and became addicted to pornography when I was abused; it was both destroyer and comforter. When I turned 18, I got my first car and discovered adult cinemas, sex shops, prostitutes and gay hangouts. I hit them hard for the next 20 years. I met my first wife about then and our daughter Alexa-Rae was born in 91. We divorced soon after getting married. I met and soon married Laura in '96. My brother Jamie died from leukemia in '98 and Laura and I divorced in 2000. I lived a double life in marriage and after. The first Heath was the Heath everyone saw - happy, in control, kind and yet aloof – he was the cover for the second; the sexually addicted, self-hating, depressed and ashamed Heath. I came to Teen Challenge in September 2007. The mentors & students helped me deal with the shame. Jesus used them to teach me about His grace. In 3 years that grace overpowered the shame that I lived with for 30 years. Thank you Teen Challenge for being there for me.
Heath and his bride Naomi June 2014
Meet DanielHi my name is Daniel. I've been at TC for just over a year. My story began as a child where a lot of physical and sexual abuse took place. This created deep wounds in my heart and soul. Fast forward a few years and I became someone torn between being kind, compassionate and loving to someone who was angry, destructive and manipulative. Sadly the latter took over when I felt the rejection from my father. I ended up heavily into drugs, girls, a lot of bad stuff and did not care who I hurt in the process. As the years went by things got much worse. It wasn't until I tried to take my own life where I realised I needed help. I reached out to Teen Challenge. Ever since then it's been an incredible journey. Through God's help and the Teen Challenge staff I have experienced so much healing and restoration. They showed me what love truly is. I am honoured that God even thinks about me let alone that he calls me his son. Even though things have been very bad in my life I truly believe that all things work together for good. Now I can help the broken and hurting and it's all thanks to Teen Challenge and God in my life!
Meet MiadHi my name is Miad. I'm 25 years old from Reservoir Victoria. I started using drugs at the age of 16 after leaving school. I started doing drugs and doing crime for approval and wanting to be loved by others. From the ages of 16 – 24 I was stuck in the cycle of addiction with Marijuana and Ice and found myself in prison. I didn't value life and was stuck in a darkness where I thought I had no hope and no future. By the age of 19 I had a son who was born while I was prison. I failed as a father. It wasn't until I had my daughter in February 2016 something hit me….enough was enough!! So I entered Teen Challenge Victoria straight from prison in Sept 2016. Since being at TC I'm learning the values of life and how to be a better father for my children and most importantly I'm learning to be a disciple of God….who saved me out of that darkness and has given me hope and a desire to serve in refugee camps. I am now a new person, fearfully and wonderfully made. No more shame….no more condemnation. Thank you TC and thank you God!
Meet JosephHello everyone my name is Joseph. I have been at TC for 17 months and I now feel I have a hope and a future for my life, thanks to the grace of God and Teen Challenge. I entered the program weighing 56kg and I cried for my first 3 days. I felt like a lost, scared and broken little boy who didn't want to live anymore. I have always felt alone and there was a void in my heart that no amount of drugs or pornography could fill. I felt no one could help me but I was willing to try anything to escape my hell. So as a last ditch effort I called Teen Challenge. God restored my mind, spirit and body to how he intended it to be and He has replaced my loneliness with love for Him and for others. I feel like a man for the first time in my life and I'm so blessed to have this grace. Thanks to God I can now dream again. I feel confident, strong and fit enough to overcome any hurdle in life knowing God is with me and he will never stop loving me.
Meet JustinHi, my name is Justin and I'm 25 years old, from Melbourne. Before coming to Teen Challenge I was traumatised and broken. I had no hope for my future and I had a big problem with ICE and was involved in a lot of criminal activity which led me to being in and out of jail for the last 7 years. I finally realized that it was time to change my life when I got attacked in jail, so I made the steps to coming to Teen Challenge; I arrived on the 15th August, 2016. I had no knowledge of God or how He could change my life. Since then I've been baptized. I can now see where he is working in my life to restore me and each day that goes by I'm getting more and more convicted by the Holy Spirit to do the right thing and make good choices. I now know that God has a plan for my future that is perfect and I will be devoted to serving God however He wants me too.
Meet AsangaMy name is Asanga Fernando and I'm 37. I came from a strong Catholic background. I was quite a successful business person and was married to a beautiful wife for 7 years. Because of the love and fear I had for God, He blessed me abundantly with a lot of good things in life. I was quite a wealthy man. At the age of 34, one of my old friends introduced me to this evil drug "ICE". From my first experience I fell in love with the drug and got heavily addicted to it. In 2 years I became a complete mess. I lost everything, including my marriage, and ended up having a lot of trouble with the law. I want to thank my sister Achini who repeatedly told me that I must go to Teen Challenge. Without it I'd never be able to have my life back. In August 2015 I came to Teen Challenge all broken and lost. This place has done an amazing job transforming me and has given me another chance in life through Christ. My family has welcomed me back into their lives and my wife has just started talking to me. I thank God and am forever grateful for Teen Challenge.
Meet AaronHey, I'm Aaron, I'm 29 from Launceston, Tasmania, and I've been at Teen Challenge for 10 months now. Before coming here my life was an up and down rollercoaster of addiction for 10 years. I was a very broken man, who had lost pretty much everything that I could lose thanks to drugs and the deceptive high that I use to crave after. I had many relationships that all failed and ended badly, my family didn't want to know me, and I was in no state to be any sort of responsible role model or father to my two beautiful sons. Finally, my life had reached crisis point as the ICE had taken over. I contacted Teen Challenge on the 15th June, 2015, and started my journey to get to know God. I now have a personal relationship with his son Jesus. I once was blind, but now I see, I now know the truth, and the truth has set me free. Thanks to Teen Challenge I met Jesus and He saved my life, I now live drug free, and have escaped the bondage of drugs that ruled my life. God has given my family back, and my relationship with my kids has never been better. Thank you God and thank you T.C.; thank you for teaching me how to be a real man and father
Meet ShannonHi, my name is Shannon and I am 19 years old. I came to Teen Challenge on the 2nd March 2015. I have battled with a porn addiction since I was 14 years old. I was watching it every chance I had, through this I lost my Mum's trust and also my Stepdad. I was losing jobs like it was nothing. The only reason that I was getting jobs was because I had no money to pay for porn. If it wasn't for Teen Challenge I would have been on the street homeless and without a family. Since I have been at Teen Challenge God has given me the strength to do anything. Like it says in Philippians 4:13 – Christ gives me the strength to face anything. This scripture has helped me face my fears and prevail in my struggles. So I thank you God for helping me overcome my addiction and I thank you Teen Challenge for saving my life.
Meet GlenHi, I'm 42 and I was a bad drug addict for well over 20 years, I would take whatever drugs I could get just to be off my face. I was a violent man who loved to fight a lot and thought it was normal. In my dysfunctional life I somehow managed to find my beautiful wife and have 7 children together, but I still always wanted to be off my face, I didn't know how to face life straight. Then I found the drug ICE, I thought it was good, well I must have, as I walked away from my family to pump it up my arm, but it wasn't long until I had lost everything and ended up in the psych ward with no hope, the ICE had destroyed it all. I contacted Teen Challenge and became a student, now my life is pretty good. God is doing awesome things in my life, I am drug free and I feel great. TC has changed my way of thinking and God has changed my whole life, He is restoring all the things I lost including my wife and kids. God is great, He's better than any drug, so thanks God and thank you Teen Challenge.
Meet JohnnyHi, my name is Johnny Le and I'm 25 years old. Throughout my childhood, I lacked confidence in myself and suffered from low self-esteem. Because I suffered from low self-esteem, I filled my body with all sorts of drugs such as heroin and ICE to make myself feel good. After about 9 years of abusing my body with drugs, I found myself in a dark and miserable place. All I wanted to do was to fill my emptiness, and the only way I knew how was to pump my body with poison. I finally came to the conclusion that I needed professional help, and this is when I found Teen Challenge. I entered the Teen Challenge rehabilitation program on the 21st of May. Since then, my life has totally changed. God has helped me work through all my old behaviours and attitudes and also given me the confidence to walk through life and not let difficult circumstances pull me down. I just want to thank Teen Challenge for giving me the opportunity to get my life back on track.
Meet ChristosHi my name is Christos and I am 38 years old. This is my second attempt at rehab. I came to Teen Challenge on June 11th determined to change my life. My life has been a struggle as a result of bad choices, these choices ultimately turned me into an addict. I succumbed to ICE and gambling. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a criminal nor did I ever get in trouble, I came from a good family. I got caught up with the wrong people, my life changed when I discovered ICE. Coming to Teen Challenge has literally saved my life. I truly believe I'm here by divine appointment. I have found God, I'm truly grateful now that I can serve Him. Thanks to Jesus I am loved and worthy to receive all of God's blessings.
Meet LukeHi, my name is Luke, I'm 32 years of age and I am from Frankston in Melbourne's south east. I have been at Teen Challenge for 11 months now. My life before I came to Teen Challenge was downward spiral. I struggled with not knowing who I truly am. I had a low sense of self -worth, fear of rejection and unforgiveness towards myself and others. I was a rebellious teenager, abusive husband and had a drug and alcohol addiction for 16 years. I hurt a lot of people. I would steal money and lie and deceive to fund my drug and alcohol habit. After my marriage fell apart I fell into deep depression and wanted to isolate myself from everyone. I don't know how I managed to work a full time job, but in the end I wasn't about to get a good night's sleep, eat or work. I would burst into tears when I would wake up or try and hold them back at work. I had countless breakdowns, and would fantasise the world and everyone would be better off without me. Each day felt like I was closer to death and I was about to give up for good. I decided I couldn't carry on like that anymore and I reached out for help in November 2013 and before I knew it I arrived at Teen Challenge. Since coming to Teen Challenge I have committed my life back to God and my growing relationship with Jesus Christ has influenced my recovery by knowing I am loved unconditionally no matter what I've done. I'm accepted as who I am with no fear of rejection and God has given me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I am learning now to have God at the centre of my life. He is doing his work within me and has promised to complete it. I am truly grateful for the restoration God has brought in my life. My mum and dad have their son back, my daughter Marli has the dad she deserves and my brother and sister have a brother they can rely on. Thank you God, He has turned my suffering into joy.
Meet SteveHello my name is Steven and I am 22 years old. I grew up in a broken home. My mum and dad had both come from broken marriages before they met and married each other. I have three step brothers and one step sister. Mum and dad are very emotionally cut off so I grew up looking for love and acceptance. When I turned 13 I found what seemed like love and acceptance in binge drinking and partying. I felt right at home getting drunk and partying all night long. It was not long before I found heavier drugs like speed and ectasy. I seemed like I had found everything I could ever need. From Friday to Sunday I could completely forget about the reality of my broken and lost state. It was not long before the party life was over I had graduated to the class of a drug called 'meth' (ice). In a very short six months I had lost everything….all of my possessions and my family were exhausted. They had got to the point where hey had nothing more to give. I had bled them dry. That is when I gave up! I got to a place where I believed that everyone would be better off without me. I was going to take my own life. God waited till the 11th hour and the 59th minute. He found me and led me to Teen Challenge, since then my faith has been growing stronger and stronger. I have not looked back. I came to Teen Challenge on May 27th 2013 and I have been bathing in God's love ever since. There is only one word that can describe the transformation that has taken place….'miracle'. From a junkie biker wanna be to a warrior of God's army that nothing will strike down. Almost 16 months on and I have finished the Teen Challenge program….that is a miracle in itself. I had started many things before and I could never finish them. I have been able to work through the lies that controlled my life. I have set my feet on a solid rock…..thank you Jesus!
Meet BryceBefore coming to Teen Challenge I struggled with Xanax, Speed, Ice, Alcohol, Marijuana and cigarettes. I was delusional, erratic, irresponsible, careless and reckless. I was a burden to my family and a social dropout that didn't love anyone, not even myself. I was an empty shell of a man fearing fear, constantly having anxiety attacks, persistent problematic phobias that entwined in my eating disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. I saw God as the fire and brimstone, lawyer type and I had tried to befriend Him many times but I lacked commitment and follow-through. After all, I thought, "If God loved me why He is letting me suffer?" Rock bottom for me happened every week. I was hospitalised for accidents and overdoses. Twice in a month, I was given the paddles and brought back to life only to awaken, pull the drip out of my arm and storm out of the hospital hating the world. A Pastor friend asked me once, "Do you want a better life?" I answered, "Yes!" I then started the process into Teen Challenge Grace Academy. The program has taught me how to love myself and appreciate life. I care for others and actively embrace God's future plans for my life now. After my mum recently passed on to be with Jesus, I felt a peace that through both of us knowing Jesus, that cancer had no power and she was pain free.Teen Challenge has given me a passion for the Bible and its truths, a loving heart towards myself and others and a passion to see the broken set free.
Meet StuartHi, I'm Stuart Ellis and I am 28 years old. My journey at Teen Challenge began 14 months ago. I came into the program raked with fear, shame and self-hatred. I had used everyone that loved and trusted me. My deceitful life revolved around drug abuse and a self-centered lifestyle. My downward spiral began at 16. I went to church but never accepted myself or allowed God into my heart. This led me to engaging in drug use to provide a place that I belonged. This took me away from Jesus for 10 years. One night after losing the last of my true friends by deceit and drug abuse I cried out to God and he literally told me to come to TC. I found myself at TC 2 weeks later. I was a wreck when I arrived. Since then I have developed an identity in Jesus and a desire to be the light of Jesus to others. I have had immense support from the TC staff and my Mentor. They have walked me through the ruins of my life and helped me repair my broken thinking. This place is amazing! God sent me here because it was the only way for me to get out of my mess and in his presence for longer than a church service. Without God & TC I would still be a wreck and totally bound. Now I grasp freedom in Christ and community. Stuart is now on staff as a part-time support worker.
Meet MattMy name is Matt and before coming to Teen Challenge I was a drug addict. I used meth amphetamines/ice, speed, marijuana and miscellaneous other drugs. I was not a nice person to anyone, I would rob anyone but my dealer and even once I found someone else to help me rob him too. I ruined almost all my relationships and had a bunch of different people out to get me at various times. I was a selfish mess, only caring about myself and my drugs. My lowest point was when I was sharing needles, stealing countless amounts of money from those close to me, including large amounts from my dad. I was getting incredibly close to being killed. My sister found out about Teen Challenge and mentioned it to me. That was the very beginning of my journey. Teen Challenge has helped me to see there is a better life. The weekly mentoring helps because I can go to my mentor when I am struggling and he helps me see what I'm blind to and show me what I'm not comprehending about my problems. I now seek Jesus instead of drugs. God has made me nicer, gentler and a lot more accepting and sensitive towards others. I was once very selfish, that is gone and I am becoming more enthusiastic towards helping others instead focusing only on myself. Now, I am trying to be more like Jesus and getting to know God personally every day.
Meet MarkHi Guys, my name is Mark Cornell. I am 44 years old and have been in the program for 10 months. I came from a family of ten kids, seven boys and three girls. My family was strictly non-Christian and growing up for me was confronting and brutal. My dad was a tennis coach and my mum, now deceased, was an old fashioned stay-at-home mum. Growing up for me I really never saw much of either of my parents unless I did something wrong and it was time to be punished. At the age of twelve my whole world got turned upside down. In the next three years, my brother Steven died, my parents separated and I found myself a ward of the State and in a foster home. I had three sets of foster parents from the age of fifteen to eighteen. Nothing stayed the same for me. Change was constant and without warning. The homes were run by the Lutheran Church and I had my first experience with religion. I went to church every week and began making friends, but I never had a relationship with God. It became important for me to get a job and be independent. I seemed to fall into great jobs with good companies. I ended up being employed by BHP to deploy a new operating system and then move into the operating side of the business. I met a good Christian girl (Jodie) and ended up married in 2002. This marriage lasted approximately 3 years and in that time we had two little girls (Amy and Lucy). I ticked all the success boxes in life but internally I was a scared little boy that never grew up. From the age of fifteen, alcohol had always had a major presence in my life and progressively my alcohol use got worse until it was unmanageable. My mum had been battling emphysema for about three years until eventually it took her life in February 2012. I got to spend the last few months of my mum's life getting to know her. Once she passed, I hit the bottle really hard and my whole life was out of control. I just wanted to die. I tried AA but that didn't work for me but through it I met a drug and alcohol GP who brought me some options if I wanted to fight this thing. These options ended up taking me here to Teen Challenge. I entered Teen Challenge the first time of the 20th November 2012. I struggled with giving up my self-will for five weeks before I left on 2nd January 2013. I spent the next thirty-three days in wilderness but something kept calling me back here as if I had unfinished business here. I re-entered the program on the 4th February 2013, completely broken. Since entering the program a second time I am discovering my true self for the first time in my life. I have discovered that not only am I ok but I actually like me. I have found that the void inside me that I have been trying to fill all my life can only be filled by God. I have started a relationship with God which seems to strengthen with time and the many challenges of recovery. For the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to what God has planned for me. I really can't thank Teen Challenge enough for this miracle in my life and for providing a sanctuary where I can grow and be safe. Mark now is fulltime staff member and is Operations Manager of all our Thrift stores.
Meet ShadyHi my name is Shady and I struggled with life controlling drug addiction and depression. Drug addiction controlled me from the age of 15. By 18 I was injecting heroin and doing crime. I got married in 2002 and continue on this path of destruction but had moved to an ICE addiction. Life was a mess and I had made it a nightmare for my wife. My parents migrated here from Lebanon and were very focused on working hard so I did not get the love and attention I needed as a child. I felt rejected and I felt that if I did not perform I was not good enough. I never had a great relationship with my father, so I would do anything to get his attention even if that meant rebelling. All I ever wanted was to spend quality time with him, all I wanted was acceptance and love. Before coming to Teen Challenge I knew of God but that was it. I thought I could do everything in my own strength. I could not trust anyone with my life but me. How could I trust someone that I could not see or hear or even know if he existed. My lowest point was in August 2013 where I overdosed on prescription medication and tried to end it all. My wife had had enough of me and wanted me out of hers and the children's lives. I was in a deep black hole that I didn't know how to get out of. In the end DHS and the police forced me out of the family home and my 11 year marriage was over. When I look back at it now, I can say God used DHS to get me here. Through my identity in Jesus Christ I have learned to accept, love and forgive myself for things that I have done. I have had hope put within my reach and I now can see a future. I came to Teen Challenge with the attitude "I will do anything to change". I know what I put into the program will determine how much I get out of it. God has shown me how to love, care and have compassion for others. My wife and I are more in love than we have ever been before. All I want to do now is to get to know God even better and walk in his will and purpose for my life. I use to operate out of negative attitudes and thoughts which have now been replaced with positive attitudes and thoughts. I was also self centered and now it is all about serving others. I would like to encourage anyone who may be thinking of coming to Teen Challenge….don't try to run from God because He will always get you where He wants you. Fight for each day, trust in God and He will give you hope and a future wilder than you can ever dream of. In conclusion, let me share how God has blessed me while being here at Teen Challenge: God has restored my mind and my body, God has restored my heart and my soul, He has restored my relationships and given me back the love of my life, my wife and children, I have confidence in myself again and I have hope and see a future for myself and my beautiful family. Shady
Meet DereckHi, my name is Derek. I am 30 years old and this my testimony about God's grace over my life because before I met the Lord my life was completely broken and without hope! I grew up as an only child to loving Christian parents. My rebellious behaviour began as a teenager. I was part of the wrong crowd. I was always in trouble at school and with the law and no matter how much discipline or guidance I received it wasn't enough to curb my behaviour. The acceptance and approval I was getting from my peers was too much. This caused a lot of friction in my home life. I moved out of home when I had finished school and at this stage of my life I was completely off the rails. Crime had become my life. I was involved with organised crime in car stealing rings and other illegal activities. I was partying and having adulterous affairs and all my relationships were corrupt and broken. I was involved with drugs. I worked for a drug dealer. During this time things turned sour where there were threats made, on my family's life and on my own life. There was a kidnap attempt on my life. I now armed myself with a gun because there was going to be conflict. At this point I was desperate and without any hope. Then through circumstances God used, I was caught in possession of a fire arm by the police. I was already on bail for the same offence. I was taken to remand till my court date. My life had hit rock bottom. Through this period I met the Lord and gave my heart to Him. By far, this is the single most important thing I have ever done in my life. From the moment I met the Lord I have never been the same. He poured out His love and grace on me. I was bailed to Teen Challenge where he called me to be. My life has completely changed. My life has been restored. My family life has been restored. I have been blessed abundantly. The most precious thing to me now is that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My life is now filled with hope.
Meet MichaelHi, I'm Michael. I am 25 and have been in recovery for 18 months. Before the program my life was a complete mess. I was brought up in a Christian home but at the age of 12 I started smoking. Once I started High School this was the way I seemed to make friends, by hanging around other kids that smoked. That same year I started smoking marijuana and that became an everyday habit almost straight away. Then over the next few years I started drinking as well and then by the age of 18 I threw amphetamines into the mix as well. My family were always there for me trying to help but I was very distant, angry and unpredictable. I started to get involved in crime as well and this just added to the destructiveness and brokenness of my life. I had lost who I was. The person I was brought up to be had been pushed down so far and silenced that I had forgotten who I was. I ended up at Teen Challenge and they helped me to work through the true life controlling issues that I had. They helped me to really put my finger on where my issues truly stemmed from. Without the support and help I have found here I would have never been able to change my life. No one else had the patience or knowledge to be able to help the confused and broken man I was. The staff here at Teen Challenge have always just wanted the best for me in life. The best gift they have given me was introducing me to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who has never left my side. Three days after coming to Teen Challenge I gave my life to God and developing a relationship with Jesus is the core thing that saved my life. He has constantly sowed hope into my life, and let me know I am worth so much more than my old life. I was a lonely scared boy screaming out for help deep down inside but over the last 18 months Jesus has really began to transform me from the inside. I hated everyone and myself before Teen Challenge but Jesus has given me a love that now enables me to experience true life. I have rebuilt relationships with my family and for the first time in my life am able to say I truly like who I am. God has given me a foundation to build a brand new life and a security to know that I can handle whatever comes my way.
Meet PaulBefore TC I was hopeless. I had moved residence 10 times in a one year! I was borrowing money for drugs and alcohol and not repaying. I was picking up cigarette butts to support my nicotine habit. I was roaming from place to place getting more desperate and destitute. I went to a church in Richmond and they told me about Teen Challenge. A few months later I arrived on March 19th, 2009. Immediately the craving for nicotine disappeared and I had the beginnings of hope and peace. Over my time here I have been through more testing than ever before; I've experienced torturous anguish and halleluiah moments of triumph and breakthrough. It took 645 days to complete the program, but I didn't count the days, I made the days count! I am now committed to a further 12 months to pursue the Servant Leadership phase of the Teen Challenge program. My new life is unrecognisable from the old life that I lived. I'm a new and free man! I am gob-smacking happy at how life is now and my relationships with God, myself, my family and my new friends. I am so thankful to God for my life, I will praise him all my days. Paul is now on full time staff overseeing various responsibilities within the Teen Challenge program.
Meet MarkI was born in Melbourne in 1970 to a middle class family. At age 7 my parents divorced which saw me move frequently and attend 9 different schools. When I was 11 my grandfather began abusing me and introduced me to gambling. Believing security was found in money, I devised schemes to get it. Trouble with the police at 15 had me move interstate to live with my dad where emotions were silenced and wounding words were spoken. Choosing to rebel, I ran away from home without sufficient life skills. Bad company led to smoking pot and injecting amphetamines. Criminal activity followed. Living on the streets with no direction I'd become a compulsive gambler and at 24 started using heroin. That same year a fight cost me my front teeth and my confidence. At 25 a diagnosis of lymphatic cancer required extensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Manipulating doctors for morphine and prescription pills soon became a daily habit for the next 11 years. Eventually, severe damage to my veins made it impossible to inject. At 38 my life was a mess and I was at my wits end. Withdrawal, paranoia, depression and sleepless nights then began. In desperation I sought God and headed for Teen Challenge. Psalm 34:6 sums it up "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." With a repentant heart, I clearly heard the God say "This is your last chance". Surrendering, God began to restore me. Over 2 years my senses returned, my teeth were fixed and my family reunited. Words of life resurrected me renewing my health and vitality. Learning I was forgiven, loved and accepted caused me to view my life from a different perspective. It is now purpose driven (Jeremiah 29:11-14) with a desire to reach men from similar backgrounds. Teen Challenge is the vehicle that introduced me to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which is undoubtedly the change factor in me.