Teen Challenge

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Teen Challenge is an organization founded 1958 by David Wilkerson, an evangelist in the Assemblies of God church.

His book, The Cross and the Switchblade[1], tells of how he left his small-town Pennsylvania church at the urging of God, to try to reach teenage members of gangs in New York City with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The book is also in part about the born-again conversion of former gang member Nicky Cruz, and in part about how Teen Challenge came to be founded.

Today, there are two Teen Challenge organizations, Teen Challenge USA headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, and Global Teen Challenge headquartered in Columbus, Georgia. Teen Challenge USA is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination; Global Teen Challenge is a separate organization and is non-denominational. Teen Challenge works on drug and alcohol recovery and outreach to at-risk youth such as gang members.

The Christian group Teen Challenge reported the following:

Teen Challenge claims of a 70% cure rate for the drug addicts graduating from their program attracted the attention of the U.S. Federal Government in 1973. Most secular drug rehabilitation programs only experienced a cure rate of 1-15% of their graduates. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, funded the first year of this study to evaluate the long term results of the Teen Challenge program.[2]

Teen Challenge has a number of studies that indicate the high effectiveness of their drug treatment program compared to other programs.[3] Studies indicate that consumers of secular counseling psychology programs show hardly any benefit at all for alcoholism.[4][5] The Apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Corinth indicated that Christians were able to overcome being drunkards through the power of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:9-11).


  1. Wilkerson, David. The Cross and the Switchblade. 1963
  2. http://teenchallengeusa.com/studies2.php
  3. http://www.acadc.org/page/page/2495014.htm
  4. [1]
  5. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/5/75/abstract