In today’s economy it is a challenge to keep Teen Challenge centers open and functioning, and establishing a new residential center is increasingly difficult. But the desperate and addicted continue to cry out for help. In many urban areas, small towns, and especially rural America, where Teen Challenge is not active, we must get the word out that we are here, we care, and have ministries that prove it.
Lifeline Connection provides a strategic solution for rural communities by offering referrals to centers and ministry groups for the incarcerated and drug court referees. Starting with nonresidential ministry can lay a foundation for establishing residential Teen Challenge centers in underserved regions. In other words, Lifeline Connection can also be a strategy in opening new residential programs.
Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge started in 1997 as an outreach of Memphis Teen Challenge, and today has a 20-bed men’s facility that is debt free. They continue to reach 120 participants in five surrounding counties through Lifeline Connection groups facilitated by 40 volunteers. Director Jim Forakis and his wife Amy struggled the first year, wondering if the ministry would actually “get off the ground”. But when they began using the Living Free training and curriculum and following a Life-Plan of Recovery, their perseverance was rewarded and good things began to happen.
By beginning the nonresidential ministry of Lifeline Connection, Jim and Amy began to build a team and learned much about helping the addicted and their families. They gained ministry experience that prepared them for the challenges of building and maintaining a residential ministry. The success of their Lifeline Connection ministry enabled the community leaders and board members to see the need to offer residential care and recovery. As a result, support came in, and miracles began to happen. What began as a struggling outreach in 1997 grew to a strong ministry in 2007—one that offers care for both the addicted and their families, with a strong emphasis on both residential and ongoing nonresidential ministry.
Training volunteers for ministry is an exciting opportunity for our centers. So many want to be involved, and Teen Challenge’s reputation and effectiveness draw those with a heart for the hurting. Lifeline Connection provides a good
opportunity for many who are not yet qualified or willing to work in the Teen Challenge centers. The Living Free training will prepare volunteers to become facilitators and Core Team members. Center Directors can establish strong relationships with these volunteers, who will become valuable allies in extending the influence, reach, and reputation of Teen Challenge.
The director and his team can develop a master plan for their region and offer appropriate groups such as Stepping into Freedom, a Christ-centered 12 step program and Anger: Our Master or Our Servant. These curriculums may be offered in county corrections groups and as court-referred groups. Other groups are offered to families of the addicted and other hurting people in the community.
Call Jim and Amy Forakis at (731) 926-0417 for more information on their experiences or to schedule Lifeline Connection/Living Free seminars. Gene Woods at Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas is also available to conduct training. You can reach him at (479) 640-1187.
May we be willing to “step out of the box” and increase the impact through new programs, both residential and nonresidential, truly “affecting the culture” in America for the cause of Christ.