Finding Forgiveness and Purpose


Above: Sylvia with Cathy Gillott (Global Teen Challenge Missionary) at graduation.

Sylvia came from a dysfunctional family where both parents were alcoholics. Every night, her father would drink until intoxicated. Although she never went without food, shelter, or clothing, Sylvia felt emotionally abandoned and alone. A stocked bar was readily available at all times and would prove to be a temptation for Sylvia when no one else was around. She learned to replace the alcohol she consumed with water to hide what she was doing. During the December holidays, her family would go to the village where her grandmother lived. It was there that even the grandchildren drank alcohol and the family laughed about it. Drinking was a normal part of every family function.

At the age of 8, Sylvia and her younger brother were sent to boarding school where she was exposed to drinking whiskey. Sylvia remembers struggling at an early age with self-esteem issues and the need for affirmation. On her home visits, she would indulge in more drinking while spending time in the village. Looking for acceptance in high school, the group of popular kids she hung out with only made her feel more rejected. She started smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and drinking every day. Most of her spare time was spent in clubs partying, and Sylvia began seeking greater attention and affirmation from men.

By the age of 19, she was pregnant.  It was unacceptable to be pregnant while still in school, so she hid her pregnancy while arranging for an abortion. At the age of 20 she was pregnant again and had her second abortion. In that same year, her father developed kidney failure and died of cardiac arrest. This was a huge loss for Sylvia because she loved her father and felt like her world had collapsed. As a result, she fell into a cloud of depression and addiction took over her life.

The need to support her habit led her to steal and prostitute herself for money. Watching her daughter spiral out of control, Sylvia’s mother offered her an opportunity to join her in business. On the surface,

Left: Sylvia’s first day at Teen Challenge.
Right: Sylvia 6 months later in the program. 


Above: Sylvia volunteering at Teen Challenge.

“The greatest thing of all was that I could find forgiveness and love through it all.” 

it seemed to be a good thing as Sylvia worked aggressively and was financially successful. However, she was using the income to feed her habits. After a failed business partnership, Sylvia lost everything and was so ashamed that she cut ties with her family altogether.

Desperate for someone to tell her everything was going to be okay, Sylvia found herself in the arms of a man who told her all the things she wanted to hear but lead her to use heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. The marriage began to fall apart and he eventually threw her out.

With nowhere to go and no way to support herself, she began shoplifting and relied on prostitution and begging on the street to support her lifestyle. Now homeless, every day was a desperate cycle for survival. Living to use and using to live, her health began to deteriorate.

Over the next few years, Sylvia was in and out of prison for drugs and other crimes. After she was discovered naked in the streets, she was diagnosed with DIP (drug induced psychosis) and was taken to a mental institute. God used this breakdown to eventually lead her to Teen Challenge, where she found people who showed her that she was loved and her life had value. Sylvia found hope and purpose as she was introduced to a loving God who would minister to her heart each day. Just ten days after being at Teen Challenge, she gave her life to Christ and was set free from all the guilt, shame, anger, rejection, and addiction. She began to build an intimate relationship with God and discovered that He had a wonderful plan for her life.

Today Sylvia is a proud graduate of Teen Challenge who volunteers and serves others struggling with life-controlling addictions. Sylvia says, “Without Teen Challenge, I would be in prison or six feet under. The greatest thing of all was that
I could find forgiveness and love through
it all.”

270 Million People Struggle with a Life-Controlling Issue.

7 Die Every Minute

420 Die Every Hour

10,080 Die Every Day


One Man's Story of Redemption


At first glance, Dominique’s life seems fairly ordinary. At 36, he is married with a young daughter. He works at the Gospel Center, ministering to the people of Kigali in Rwanda. It’s a good life, a purpose-driven life, but remarkable? Not until you know the rest of his story.

Dominique spent his early years as one
of seven children in a loving family, blissfully unaware of the smoldering
hatred that lurked deep and dark between Tutsi and Hutu—ethnic names he’d never even heard.

Then in April 1994, war and genocide ripped his world apart. Dominique and his Tutsi family found themselves hunted by the Hutu, seeking protection in a government building along with other Tutsi families. But the militia attacked.

“The military were shooting and bombing us. There were blasts all around us. It was so loud,” Dominique’s face pinched at the memory. “I saw the machetes flash.


Over 800,000 people were slaughtered in just 100 days.

People were being killed all around me.” His father and three siblings soon lay lifeless among the countless dead. “I saw them murdered,” he said. He was only 10 years old.

Fleeing with his mother and three surviving siblings, they ran until they found shelter in another area. “We thought we were safe, but then the Hutus came to attack us. Five of every six Tutsi in Rwanda died and the rest of my family was killed. I saw it with my own eyes.”

Miraculously, Dominique managed to survive a second horrific massacre. He started to run, but a militiaman saw him and yelled, “Kill that child!” Within seconds, Dominique was struck with a machete, and was slashed on his head and neck again and again.

“I fell to the ground and pretended I was dead,” Dominique recounted. When the attackers turned away, he crawled under the dead bodies hoping not to be discovered. “For three days I lay there unconscious, bleeding underneath bodies. When I woke up, I crawled into a bush by a swamp.”

A week had passed when a Hutu grandmother found him. “I knew that would be the end of me,” he recalled. Ignoring the order to kill any Tutsi on sight, the Hutu woman risked her life to care for Dominique. “She cleaned my wounds, gave me water and food. She had mercy on me.”

In May, the Rwandan Patriotic Front overtook the Hutu, and the liberating soldiers moved Dominique to a hospital where he healed during the next three months. “I was safe, but I was wounded everywhere,” he remembered. “My cuts were very deep. When I would try to drink, the water would come out of my neck instead of going into my stomach.” Once he was finally strong enough to leave the hospital, he was taken to a village for orphans of the genocide. “All of us had seen horrible things. We didn’t smile. We didn’t laugh. We just hurt.”

One day some boys in the orphanage offered him marijuana. “That was the first time I felt some happiness,” Dominique said sadly. “I started using a lot of drugs because it masked the pain.

My anger and hatred toward those who had murdered my family drove me to try to escape through drugs.”

Dominique moved from the orphanage into a home provided by an organization helping widows and children to overcome the trauma of the genocide and reintegrate into society. He had twice escaped massacre, but the horror and pain still hunted him, preying on his spirit. As a result, he burrowed deeper into the bleak numbness of drugs and alcohol.

“More and more of the time, I was out of control,” Dominique admitted. “I lost all of my relationships, even within the refuge house. I wandered the streets as a drunk and as an addict.”


One fateful day on the streets of Kigali, Dominique encountered someone from Teen Challenge. “They didn’t ask me if I was Hutu or Tutsi. They just wanted
to know if I wanted to change,” he smiled. “They showed me a love I’d never seen before.”

Dominique wanted to stop using drugs, but feared that if he stopped, he would die. Full of trepidation, he became a student of Teen Challenge, and for the first time since he was a young boy, he began to reclaim a sense of peace.

Through Teen Challenge, Dominique found a new life. “Jesus set me free,” he exclaimed happily. “I have a peace and I have joy. I forgave with all my heart the people who did this to me.”

Dominique graduated from the program in 2016 and set about building a new life and a new family. For the next four years he worked with Teen Challenge, volunteering with intake, teaching, and conducting street ministry.

Today Dominique lives a drug-free life of service, sharing the hope he has received with others. “I want to serve the Lord,” he emphasized. He currently works for the Gospel Center, providing street ministry to help others find the path to peace.

He’s happily married and has a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, with Teen Challenge standing proudly as his extended family. So now you know. Dominique’s seemingly ordinary life is actually a miraculous triumph, a story of love, forgiveness and peace overcoming the atrocities of genocide and bondage of addiction.  “My name is Dominique and I am a miracle!”


“If Jesus had not saved my life, I would be dead by now.”

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Together we can bring hope to Teen Challenge students around the world. Now more than ever we need your support for our global affiliates in 129 nations. Putting hope within reach.



Recovery Fund

Global Teen Challenge was able to provide emergency pandemic relief funding and assistance to more than 80 Teen Challenge locations around the world through the faithful giving of our partners. The reports on this page are just a “snap-shot” of how your support has put hope within reach around the globe.

As the world continues to recover from the pandemic  hardships, we saw the need to initiate a Global Hope Recovery Fund to help provide recovery support for Teen Challenge affiliates in the coming months.

Thank you for your faithful support and partnership.


Jacobus Nomdoe, Africa Regional Director

As the continent of Africa was blanketed by COVID19 and in total shutdown, they responded by broadcasting a daily live-stream of prayer and  hope, aptly named the “Power Hour.”

As weeks turned into months, the need to address the new concerns became evident, and we started to pray and the ‘Hope Revolution’ COVID19 Support Group was born,” says Dr. Nomdoe.

The ministry consists of a Help Line that provides prayer support, a transportation service to deliver food parcels and medical supplies, and a taxi service for those who
are homebound.

“If people cannot find hope, then hope must find them.”



Women's Center

The pandemic brought financial hardship to the women’s center and they had to close their doors. However, with the generous support of our faithful partners through
the Global Hope Relief Fund, the facility was able to re-open, and with joyful faces of hope!



Food Distribution

While the Teen Challenge center has been restricted from receiving  new students, the staff continues an outreach of food distribution to a nearby refugee camp. “It’s an  absolute miracle how God has been multiplying our ‘five loaves and two  fish’ by many times over!”



Men's Center

Due to the pandemic shut down, the lack of customers caused a financial strain on both the moving company and landscaping service which provide necessary income for the center’s operation. The timing of the relief support allowed us to keep the facility open.


from Dr. Nance

We are excited to bring you this fall edition of UNLEASH the Hope — because while the world paused this year, addiction didn’t. In fact, in these challenging times more people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. In the coming months, the hope we unleash together will be more important than ever. 

In this issue spotlighting work in Africa, you’ll read how redemption can transform not only the lives of addicts, but their relationships as well. 

You’ll meet Sylvia, a mother whose addiction mirrored the battle she saw her parents endure while growing up. You’ll read how far she fell and how her life has now been redeemed, thanks to people like you. 

You’ll also marvel at Dominique’s story of survival. After his experiences during the Rwanda genocide, it’s easy to see why he used drugs to escape the horrors he witnessed as a boy — and it’s inspiring to see how Teen Challenge miraculously changed his life. 

Thank you for making these stories of recovery and redemption possible through your faithful support. We are honored to have you as Friends of Global Teen Challenge in our mission to reach every addict, in every nation.  


Jerry Nance, PhD


Matthew 25:40

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Putting HOPE Within Reach Around the Globe!

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Addiction does not discriminate. Over 270 million people struggle with a life-controlling issue. Boys, girls, men, and women around the globe are looking for hope.  

We have immediate opportunities for Teen Challenge programs in 33 unreached nations, but need your support. The average cost to start a program is $50,000. Would you or your church prayerfully consider adopting one of these nations? 

Every country has unique challenges. Your support will help secure property, start new programs, renovate, expand, develop leaders, or create a sustainable micro-enterprise.

The needs vary from region to region, but the cry for help  remains the same in every nation. Thank you for helping put hope within reach around the globe.



Pray for those struggling with
life-controlling addictions.

Use our secure online DONATE NOW to give hope.


Consider sharing our mission of hope with a friend.


1 Comment

  1. Snow Peabody on September 17, 2020 at 4:47 am

    Thank you Jerry, I love these updates!!

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