Adult & Teen Challenge brings hope to addictionBookmark this
Adult & Teen Challenge
Restoring lives through Christ
They’ve hit rock bottom and are seeking help. They’ve been court-ordered and are angry and in pain. All of them are tired of running. However they find their way, addicts are being called to Adult & Teen Challenge to experience real and lasting transformation through Christ. Adult & Teen Challenge is redefining traditional rehabilitation services by providing a yearlong, wholly Christian faith-based residential program to youth and adults struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and behavioral issues.
According to the Adult & Teen Challenge website, more than 27 million people nationwide reported misuse of prescription and illegal drugs, and almost three-fourths of all U.S. families are struggling with active addiction. In Texas, Bexar County remains the third highest for overdose deaths per capita.
Adult & Teen Challenge is redefining traditional rehabilitation services by providing a yearlong, wholly Christian faith-based residential program to youth and adults struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and behavioral issues.
David Wilkerson, author of the bestseller “The Cross and the Switchblade,” first started the ministry by saving gangs of young teens desperate for Jesus from off the streets of New York in the 1950s. Adult & Teen Challenge has grown to 207 recovery centers nationally. There are now seven campuses in Texas, with a 100-acre facility serving men and women in San Antonio. While there is a one-time admission fee, scholarships and donations ensure no one has ever been turned away due to finances. The employees include Adult & Teen Challenge graduates and non-graduates. Volunteers function on a part time basis.
One such graduate of Adult & Teen Challenge is Director of Development, Sarah Baughman. At 19, Baughman was court-ordered to the program, following jail stints and a battle with heroin addiction.
“This isn’t like a traditional 30- or 90-day rehab center,” says Baughman. “Secular centers treat addiction like a medical disease that has to be coped with and treated with medication your entire life. There is no freedom in that.” Baughman has worked with the center for ten years.
Baughman and other graduates attribute the program’s lasting success to the length of the program, its immersive faith-based approach, and its structured environment. One-third of the program’s participants accept Christ and a little over a third complete the program and recover from their addiction.
“Secular centers treat addiction like a medical disease that has to be coped with and treated with medication your entire life. There is no freedom in that.”
– Sarah Baughman, Adult & Teen Challenge, San Antonio Director of Development
The makeup of the staff also allows former addicts to demonstrate their transformation and help others with empathy and patience, while providing a judgment-free atmosphere. The staff follows Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:5 which say, “…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
The center requires students to undergo detox before residing on campus. Students are then assigned vocational training, daily chores and Bible-based curriculum, which includes scripture memory and self-reflection.
For the last five months of the program, students transition to a re-entry phase, which teaches and supports real-world skills and responsibilities. They find off-campus jobs, begin saving and tithing and begin paying a weekly “tuition” to the center.
Upon graduation, aftercare begins when participants can intern with the center to pursue vocational ministry for up to seven months, and stay at campus housing for up to a year. Graduates leave with a wealth of Bible knowledge, including 250 memorized scripture passages. Graduates can attend ongoing support groups and annual alumni reunion events. “The reunion events and social media allow us to check in with each other, and encourage and support others we may see slipping off,” says Baughman.
The adolescent program operates similarly and helps teens aged 12-17 battling addiction and behavioral issues, like fighting and acting out at school. They receive the same faith-based services as well as attend online school daily.
Baughman says the program is not easy, but it’s life-changing. “I wasn’t a believer when I came here and didn’t want to be stuck in ‘Bible jail.’ It was the first time I had ever read scripture,” says Baughman. “But, the program taught me to accept Christ, that the past was gone, and there was hope for me.”
One-third of the program’s participants accept Christ and over a third complete the program and recover from their addiction.
Shawn Lauger, admissions supervisor and program graduate agrees. Lauger says he was “on the run” for more than 20 years having survived an abusive upbringing and heavy drug use. He had tried everything to get clean before facing a series of events that led him to Adult & Teen Challenge. “It was one train wreck after another, from a DUI to breaking my engagement, to being homeless on the streets of Austin for a year.” Lauger, like many Adult & Teen Challenge students, was willing to get help when his mom suggested the program to him. “I got to deal with the deep-rooted issues of why I was choosing to use and why I wasn’t comfortable in my skin,” says Lauger. “It wasn’t just a program. It was the vehicle the Lord used to build a relationship with Him.”
“It’s a melting pot of different people, attitudes, and ages that probably would have never hung out with each other outside of this. I had never read a single book before coming here, and here I was reading and writing reports, but God stretches us,” says Lauger. “This is a tough program, but after being here awhile, I learned to no longer be dependent on my own discouraging emotions, but prayed for guidance to lead me in the direction He would have me go.”
Adult & Teen Challenge also offers the non-residential program, Lifeline, which provides group support and resources to families with a loved one fighting addiction. “It’s a blessing to see families restored,” says Lauger. Lifeline is also available to those who are reasonably functional despite their addiction, and those who have completed a long-term recovery program and need additional support.
The center recently surpassed 50 years of service in San Antonio and can serve more than 100 men and women on their campus daily. Adult & Teen Challenge also has a pod in the Dominguez State Jail, where 50 inmates are currently enrolled.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
– Isaiah 43:18-19
Going forward, the San Antonio campus plans to start a women and children’s program and to launch a Montessori School on the campus. The need is significant with Bexar County leading the state in babies born with drug withdrawal symptoms.
For families and individuals struggling with addiction and seeking help, Lauger says, “This isn’t a year you’re giving up, it’s an investment in yourself. You’re sowing seeds into fertile soil to grow and experience peace, joy, and freedom.”
Adult & Teen Challenge
3850 South Loop 1604 West
San Antonio, TX 78264
Be A Light.
Give. Adult & Teen Challenge’s greatest need is financial support. When you donate, you support student scholarships, housing, utilities, transportation, and Christ-centered curriculum to someone overcoming addiction. Visit www.teenchallengetx.org to donate. Sponsor. The center offers various annual events including a fundraising banquet and golf tournament. Contact the San Antonio office at (210) 624-2075 to inquire. Shop. Proceeds from purchases made at the Restored Thrift Store or online at www.atcgoods.com all benefit Adult & Teen Challenge of Texas. Students of the program create products sold at the T-Shirt Shop, Candle Company, and Wood Shop.
Thank you Lord, for this Anonymous Partner who generously gave to Adult & Teen Challenge so that we could feature this article in our February issue. With this generous gift we are able to help raise awareness for Adult & Teen Challenge and all they do to help the adults and teens in our community.