The Wrong Place at the Right Time

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A Story of Redemption

While driving back to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, I’m doing my best to avoid the grandiose holes in the road. To call them potholes would deny their reality. I knew the next stop would be particularly difficult. One more winding mile of road and I would arrive at a place my mother had told us about as children… the “Killing Fields.” Many of my relatives were slain there in the horrifying Cambodian genocide that massacred more than 2,000,000 people during an oppressive regime.

I grew up in this area, the son of a construction worker and an educator. We were a strong family and at 14 years old it seemed I had the world at my fingertips. I was well-liked at school by my teachers and fellow students, and was one of only three people in the village who had a motorbike to ride to school.

The next year, however, life was forever changed when my aunt got into some serious financial trouble and needed money. Our family sold everything to help her... including my motorbike. At my young age, it was devastating to me. Too ashamed to return to school, I started hanging out with dropouts, visiting the brothels, smoking, drinking and doing drugs. I had found new ways to be popular.

At 16, I was determined to prove how dangerous I could be, so I started a gang that lasted eight years. Everyone knew who I was, including the government, and I felt both feared and respected. But as tough as I wanted to appear on the outside, my heart remained soft toward my family. When my sister was in a terrible road accident, I stayed by her side at the hospital. The doctors thought she may never walk again, so my mom prayed to Buddha daily, offering sacrifices for her to be healed.

One day while Mom & I were sitting with my sister in the hospital, a young Christian man named David mistakenly walked into the room looking for his friend who had just been admitted. Mom was instantly impressed with his kindness and the peace that came in the room when he entered. We struck up a conversation, and soon David was stopping by every day before he went to see his friend.

As we came to know each other, I confided in him that I thought I was dying of HIV and wanted to do something to make my mom happy before I died. David suggested that I enroll in Bible College, and, because Mom wanted me to have what David had, she and I both agreed.

On the first Sunday of the semester, all the students were excited to go to church. I was confused. I’d never seen people worship with such joy in a religious service. There was a skit where the man playing Jesus said, “Your sins will be forgiven and you’ll be washed as white as snow.” I thought, “How is this possible? How could I be forgiven for everything I’ve done?” But when the altar call was given to accept Jesus, I couldn’t get to the front of the church fast enough. It was as though the burden I was carrying was immediately lifted from me and I no longer felt weak or sick! Afterward, I ran all the way home to tell my mom what had happened.

Right away she saw the physical difference in me and exclaimed, “Who is He that can change my son? Show me your God. I want to serve Him too!” The very next Sunday, Mom met Jesus! Later I realized that what Psalm 37:23 says was true in my own life: “A person’s steps are directed by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.” When David stepped into the “wrong” hospital room, it changed my life, my mother’s life, and transformed a family of broken, hurting people into His servants.


The Killing Fields
Mom had always believed that if she was a good person, Buddha would bestow his kindness on her. But when the Khmer Regime, an oppressive government group, took over her village as a teenager, everything changed.

“I can remember that day like yesterday when they paraded through the streets,” she told me. “We lined the roads and cheered, because we didn’t know what was coming next. The regime marched us from the streets of Phnom Penh far outside the city to small villages that I can only describe as concentration camps. We were grouped into teams of 15. My group, all strangers to me, was dropped off with soldiers in a rice field where we were ordered to plant. Those who asked questions were taken away and we never saw them again.

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One day the soldiers told us they needed seven volunteers to plant rice in leech-infested water. Since we were given the option to volunteer, we thought there might be a reward... maybe an extra cup of rice? But after we were done, they just laughed in our faces. I climbed up the bank and, laying on my back, cried profusely, asking ‘Who will come to my rescue? What have I done to deserve this?’ Just then, I saw a bird fly above me and it looked so free. I thought, ‘I no longer remember what freedom feels like.’” It wasn’t until years later that my mother would experience true freedom... in Jesus Christ.

As I stepped out of the car and walked slowly toward the Killing Fields, I remembered the unidentified skulls in the memorial museum and understood that though death was there, death no longer has a hold on our lives. What the enemy meant to destroy, God has redeemed and restored.

After Bible College, Vuth wanted to work for the Lord and became the director of Teen Challenge Cambodia where he served for 5 years counseling other men who were in trouble and struggling with addiction. His mother also volunteered at the women’s center during those years and today they both remain in ministry, sharing the miracles that God has done in their lives.

Addictions Know No Gender
GTC Women with Children Programs
Sad woman becomes happy and free. People letting go of fears, sa

While the chains of addiction can devastate anyone, it’s women who have greater challenges in seeking help — especially women with children. That’s because the stigma attached to addiction can be stronger for women, who generally are expected to be pillars who hold a home together.

The combination of denial, fear and shame prevents many women from looking honestly at their drinking or drug use as a problem. In addition, women face different barriers to getting help than men. For women with children, the fear of being an unworthy mother and losing custody of their children keeps them from talking about their addiction or seeking the help they desperately need.

When we discovered that most women would seek treatment if they didn’t have to leave their children behind, it became our goal to create a Global Teen Challenge program that would provide a safe place for both mothers and their children during recovery. This also requires more specialized staff and training to support the unique needs of women.

Thanks to faithful friends like you, today Global Teen Challenge is actively expanding our programs for women (and women with children) facing addiction. Your support helps us facilitate:

  • Finding more recovery center locations, arranging funding to purchase more properties and doing necessary renovations to the living facilities, if needed. Some of these locations are located in the inner city, but many are strategically placed in rural areas that are remotely conducive to long-term recovery.
  • Training program leaders so that they can be best equipped to handle the unique needs and situations that occur while hosting mothers and their children while in recovery.
  • Developing customized program curriculums and implementing online support and training for both student and the staff.
  • Identifying sustainability initiatives to help women develop skills to produce income – including sewing, making jewelry, handmade soaps, and candles. Other micro-businesses for women’s centers include farming, raising chickens, honey bees, cleaning services and retail thrift stores to name a few.

  • Today Teen Challenge is blessed to operate 59 women’s recovery programs in the USA, 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 in Europe, 9 in Africa, 7 in Asia and 4 in Eurasia. As addiction continues to spread around the world and destroys families and communities, we invite you to partner with us in continuing to replicate these “houses of hope” around the world.

    "7 out of 10 women struggling with addiction will consider rehabilitation
    if they don't have to choose between getting help and leaving their children."



    Self Contained Greenhouse

    Rwanda Teen Challenge’s new fungi-culture sustainability project has discovered that the hanging containers, when activated, cultivate mushrooms that grow right out of the prepared soil in the containe



    Women's Centre

    The Patricia Hope House in Surrey, BC makes custom handmade soaps, jams, aprons, and jewelry to sell and promotes them at local events to help support and sustain the women’s centre.



    Custom Painted Beehives

    Teen Challenge Winiarczykowka in Poland has engaged the local school children to paint their recently obtained beehives. The sustainability project, called “Life Challenge,” is also designed to bring the community together through the children’s participation.



    Men's Centre Flooded

    The Chilliwack Men’s Centre was evacuated during a recent flood. Unfortunately their 399 chickens had to be left behind. As long as the power stays on, they will automatically be fed and watered. The good news is that everyone is safe. Thank you for all the prayer

    Angry at God

    Meagan's Story of Hope

    I came from a broken family and was raised by my grandmother. I was molested at the age of 9 years old and that’s when I began isolating myself from people, family, and the world. I hated myself. I was then raped at the age of 15 and started using drugs to help me cope with the trauma. I felt dirty and unworthy. I questioned God.

    megan before

    Asking Him, “Why me? Why did you allow these terrible things to happen to me?”

    I found myself in two rehabs, but each time I would relapse and run back to the drugs. Nothing helped the pain I felt inside. I hated myself and everyone around me. Until I found Teen Challenge Pretoria in December 2020. From the moment I stepped into the center, I knew there was something missing in my life. I was welcomed with love and began to see hope for my life. I made peace with God and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. God lifted me out of the deepest pit and gave me a brand new life. No more feeling unworthy. I was washed clean. If God was willing to do this for me, He surely can do it for others. Believe

    AFTER_Africa Meagan

    A WORD

    from Our President

    The start of a new year can mean the start of a new life chapter for many of us. I think about the new lives and the new futures God creates in the men, women and teens in our 1,400 programs around the globe. As I reflect over the past year of how we were able to expand our reach to help more people struggling with life-controlling addictions — especially women with children — it simply fills me with so much gratitude.

    As we move into 2022 with a new rallying cry of “Putting Hope in Reach…Together!” Because it’s only together — with the combined prayers and support of friends like you — that we can meet and exceed the ambitious goals for growth we’ve set for the year ahead. As you read the stories in this issue, know that more people like Vuth from Cambodia, Meagan from Africa, and Doug from Alberta, Canada were waiting for the hope that God’s redemptive love could only bring. There’s so much good work ahead of us, and we are so happy to have you beside us on this journey.

    Steve Trader
    President / CEO

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    Romans 15:13

    “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    Driving in Circles

    This is a simple story of how faithfully God pursues each and every one of us! The shepherd will leave the 99 to search for the one lost sheep, knowing that the enemy is waiting in the shadows to kill, steal and attack the weakest one of the flock. God, however, has a plan for everyone, including Doug! This is his story.

    Doug had agreed to get help, and his dad put him on a bus in Edmonton, Alberta headed to the Chilliwack Teen Challenge Men’s Center in British Columbia, a 12 hour ride. Suzanne, who was expecting his call upon his arrival, was scheduled to pick him up from the bus station at 8:30 in the morning. She never heard from him. She tried calling his cellphone but got no answer. She called and called again, but her calls went straight to voicemail. As the incoming buses were now gone and no one was waiting at the station, she realized that there was a problem.

    After driving in circles, she decided to leave when she sensed the Holy Spirit saying to her, “No, turn around. I want you to drive around the parking lot again.” She obeyed and this time noticed two men, who looked homeless, sitting off in the distance. She rolled down her window and said, “Are either of you Doug?” One of them looked up and

    answered, “Yeah!” “What’s your last name?” When he gave her the answer she was hoping for, she felt relieved and thankful that the Lord had helped her find him.

    After they were on their way, Doug apologized and said that he had accidentally left his phone on the bus. Stranded with no way of contacting anybody, and nowhere to go, he meets a guy on the corner who says, “Hey there, you look lost. Let me help make your day a little better,” and offered him a hit of crystal meth. When Suzanne found him he was high, and recalled thinking to himself, “Wow... God really must be looking after me.”

    For the first few days at the Teen Challenge men’s center, he went through withdrawal in the detox process, but then began attending classes and heard the other men talking about Jesus. After a few days, he decided that he wanted to know this Jesus for himself and, alone in his room, got on his knees and said, “God, the God that’s in these people, I want to know You too.”

    The next Sunday, he attended the Men’s Recovery Church. The pastor extended an invitation to anybody who wanted to be baptized. Doug jumped up and yelled loudly, “Yeah!”

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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 world.


    Putting HOPE Within Reach of Every Person Struggling with Addiction.


    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.


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