Sunday, May 4, 2008

Restoration & Transformation

Pastor Shannon opened with announcements that included a reminder that next week is Mother’s Day and there will be no Sunday School. Instead the men will be making a breakfast for all, to honor the mothers.

Our May 4 service was then turned over to the ministry of Teen Challenge Duluth.

Teen Challenge is an organization whose aim is to help drug addicts and others find liberation from their addictions through Jesus Christ. Founded fifty years ago in New York City by David Wilkerson, Teen Challenge has spread far and wide to wherever there is need.

The Teen Challenge center in Duluth houses forty men of all ages, united by their common need for restoration and transformation. Twenty of these men were with New Life Covenant today, and the other half at another church in this region. The men sang songs of God’s grace, and shared their personal stories.

What follows are a few of the testimonies which were shared with us today.

Dave was a business major, well educated who seemed to have good things going in his life. A 1983 skiing accident resulted in his requiring “oceans of pain medicine” for a short period of time. Afterward, he eventually became a heavy drinker. When his best friend, a former police officer, drank himself to death he likewise began a binge, starting down the same path as his friend. Recognizing the pattern in his own life that he had seen in his friend, he reached out to Teen Challenge, knowing that alone he was unable to turn things around.

Eric’s story began when he was young. At age ten Eric suffered from nightmares which kept him awake with fear. The demonic torment went on for two years until at age twelve he went to a Bible camp and accepted Christ in his heart. But over time, this influence diminished and in ninth grade he gradually became involved with drugs, including meth. The meth kept him from sleeping so that he could avoid the nightmares that had returned. His crimes caught up with him and in the end he had lost all to meth. With his arrest and probation violations, he turned to Teen Challenge for help. His future was transformed from hopeless to hopeful.

Michael shared how he began smoking pot and drinking in ninth grade. A combination of pride, depression and being alone characterized his life. After freaking out on LSD he was brought to Miller Dwan. He was given a choice between commitment to the hospital or submission to Teen Challenge. This proved to be the first step toward his personal liberation.

The choir sang a song about the prodigal son, concluding with the powerful affirmation, “I know there’s a place called grace.”

Jason’s story begins with being kicked out of school. His life consisted of drugs and drinking every day. He lived in an unclean room with rodents, maggots on the floor. His sixteen months at Teen Challenge have helped in his healing. Jason stated that the battle is for our minds.

Rob, age 22, said that his life essentially revolved around alcohol and partying until ten months ago when he entered Teen Challenge. He was broken, not knowing what to do with his life. He spoke with gratitude of God’s intervention in his financial affairs and shared how God spoke to him through the worship songs there. He likewise stated the role of the body of Christ in making this new life possible.

In truth, God’s amazing grace is amazing.

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