Adult & Teen Challenge (ATC) is a faith-based non-profit With more than 200 residential centers within the US and Canada, . Its mission is to provide adults & teens freedom from addiction and other life-controlling issues through Christ-centered solutions. Through effective discipleship, mentoring, and life-skills training, ATC and its affiliates have seen positive outcomes and radical life-transformation throughout its sixty-year history.
“He was just a skinny preacher walking streets that the police were afraid to walk. He was there because he had a message for me. One day he had been telling me and the gang about how God is powerful. I told him, ‘Preacher, you shut up. God has no power. Gangs have power.’
Then I told my gang to go. We were going to get some power…in pills, in chicks, in some weed. We left and went to a basement. We put some music on and did just that; pills, chicks, weed. Fifteen minutes later the door opened and Preacher walks in and says, ‘Where’s Nicky?’ I put my girl in one hand and asked him what he wanted. He walked right up to me, put his hand out and said he wanted to be my friend. I didn’t want to be his friend. I stood up and hit him. I spit on him, beat him and pushed him up against a wall. The other gang members tried to get me to stop. I didn’t want to. I started to walk to the door when that Preacher got off the floor and said with tears running down his face, ‘Nicky, Jesus loves you.’
I didn’t want to hear that. Nobody loved me, but I had a feeling I hadn’t had since I was eight years old. I wanted to cry. I fought it. Preacher put his hands on the sides of my face and still with tears in his eyes, began to pray. I had never heard a prayer like that. He said he had been praying for me for two weeks. He asked God for a miracle that I might see that Jesus really did love me. It was the most beautiful prayer I had ever heard. I was still fighting the tears. I had to get out of there so I turned around to call everyone to go, but there they were kneeling on the floor crying. Some didn’t know what to say so they just called out,” Jesus”. I could not believe it. These were the most powerful men in New York, but they were crying in front of a more powerful God. I began to call out to Jesus there. The tears ran and ran. I laughed and cried and I knew for the first time that Jesus loved me.” ~ Nicky Cruz, Leader of the Mau Maus in New York
This is the beginning of Teen Challenge in 1958. One man believed Jesus wanted to impact the lives of the street gangs of New York City.
Little did he know that from the very beginning the bigger plan was to change lives around the world, freeing people from the life-controlling clutches of addiction and the destructive behaviors that ensue with the very same message that he started out with: Jesus loves you. He can transform your life.
Pastor Dave Wilkerson developed a program to address the challenges of addiction utilizing education, counseling, and the hope of new life through Jesus Christ.
The first impact of this new program was seen on July 12, 1958, when the leader of the gang, Mau Maus, Nicky Cruz, and another founding member, turned their weapons over to Pastor Wilkerson in exchange for a Bible.
Both of these men continue to be friends and ambassadors for Teen Challenge to this day. Their stories have been published in books such as Run, Baby Run, The Cross and the Switchblade and in a major motion picture of the same name.
Since that day Teen Challenge has grown to be a leader in the solution to the drug and alcohol crisis both nationally and internationally. Currently, there are 2000 centers worldwide.
Adult and Teen Challenge North Dakota, originally, North Dakota Teen Challenge, began in Williston, North Dakota in March of 2003.
Adult & Teen Challenge North Dakota is a long-term faith based recovery program. Its rapid growth and the need for the program’s service across the state prompted a move to a more central location.
A 175 bed former addiction center was secured for use and the program began operations in Mandan, ND in 2005 providing services to men only. The next year a Women’s and Family center was established in another building. In order to maximize available resources and conserve costs the Women’s Center was moved into the Mandan facility in 2008 where both programs continue to reside to this day.
Since Adult & Teen Challenge, North Dakota’s move to Mandan in 2005. More than two hundred families across the region are experiencing restored relationships. Mothers and fathers have been reunited with their children. Parents have regained their sons and daughters and communities have gained responsible citizens able and willing to contribute to the good of their cities.
These include contracting and partnering with community agencies, work
therapy programs for the students, and more re-entry services provided to help
graduates have a solid foundation before returning to their families and
Other avenues that Adult & Teen Challenge North Dakota is taking to bring awareness of the drug epidemic in our state include a program called
This curriculum was designed by Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge and is intended to inform teens of the dangers of addictions. It is designed to be taken into the public schools to educate students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and to introduce them to real people who have personal experiences with addiction and its consequences. In its first 10 months of active programming 52 presentations have been made to schools, group homes, and drug courts across the state. Almost 3,000 students have heard the message of drug awareness and prevention and that they do not have to face addiction by themselves.
This group travels across North Dakota singing, sharing stories of the life changing experiences, and inviting those who are struggling to consider the program.
The ND Transformation Project, “Living Free,” sponsored by Adult & Teen Challenge, North Dakota is a community based program intended to assist individuals and their families, before, during, and after the long term residential program. The curriculum and group activities continue to address issues surrounding addictions and the resulting consequences, provide positive alternatives to self-destructive behaviors and become a source of accountability for those seeking life-long sobriety. Currently there are active ministries in Bismarck/Mandan, Minot, Grand Forks, and Fargo with trained individuals assisting individuals, families and communities dealing with life-challenging life-controlling problems find wholeness in Christ. Contact Pastor Jeff at (701) 667-2131, extension 102, for more information.