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Northwest Arkansas Teen Challenge Ranch Testimonials and Reviews
“On November 2nd, 2012 our son Peter, vandalized five churches in our little community in Northern California. He had been spinning out of control for several months prior to this, running away from home for days on end, lying constantly, doing all manner of drugs, angry and depressed. He was put on suicide watch on one occasion and attempted to destroy himself with an overdose another time. In late January 2013, Peter tested positive for opiates and THC, and a thorough search of his room turned up a letter stating that he understood Columbine and he wanted to see all the student and teachers at his high school covered in blood. He was arrested for making terroristic threats against the school, threatening his father’s life, and resisting arrest.
His removal to Juvenile Hall gave us time to a temporary reprieve from his reign of terror, during which we found Teen Challenge Boys Ranch of Northwest Arkansas on Google. We called Monday, February 4th, he was accepted into the program that afternoon. On Tuesday, we went to court where he was charged with resisting arrest and threats of great bodily harm. (They didn’t file the terrorism charge to avoid tying their hands in sentencing). He was sentenced to house arrest (with the probation officer working behind the scenes to help us in getting Peter to Arkansas) to begin in several days time to allow us to line up our flights to NW Arkansas. Thursday morning we picked him up from Juvenile Hall in Eureka, CA, that afternoon we flew to Northwest Arkansas. The following Monday we left him at the Teen Challenge Boys Ranch in Morrow, Arkansas. This was one of the more difficult things that we have ever done as parents. But in the long run, the best thing we could have ever done for our son.
When we left Peter at Teen Challenge, he was seething with anger but he knew he did not have any other options. For the first two months of the program he went along with all that was asked of him but still marinating in rage. The staff was so impressive, their patience, love and joy impacted Peter deeply. He had a major turn-around two months into the program and was willing to take responsibility for what he had done and make the necessary changes. Shortly after this he spontaneously wrapped his arms around his father and told him, ‘Thank you for putting me in Teen Challenge, it saved my life.’ We honestly did not think we would ever hear those words from his mouth, or ever get a hug from him.
Today, Peter is attending classes at the local Community College and getting prepared to attend an outdoor leadership training school in preparation for international work. He has been home again since late October after being released to us several months early by the program. We love having him home and enjoy every day with our son who is almost literally ‘returned to life.’
We are convinced that he would not be where he is today without his time at Teen Challenge, it has been especially important for him to have completed the whole program. In the first phase he learned how to follow the rules, in the second phase he learned how to get along with his peers in the third and fourth phases he learned how to be a leader. This is where we saw some of the biggest changes in him. Everything he had learned in the first two phases was put to the test. Most of the time he passed the tests but on the occasions where he failed, he was in a loving, grace-filled environment that helped him to gain the most from his failure. The final phase of the Teen Challenge program solidified everything that he had been taught. We can not emphasize enough the importance of completion of the full program. In our opinion, early removal for all reason short of successful completion would be something a parent would regret forever.
Thank you for your consideration.”
– Brian and Louise H. (parents)
“We needed help for our son. We tried everything we knew to do to no avail. The schools kicked him out, wanting nothing to do with him. The doctors wanted to hospitalize him, sedate him into compliance. His anger and aggression were dominating our home and our lives. We lived in fear of him and for him every moment of the day and night. We knew we couldn’t do it without God’s help – but things were getting worse. Our first call to Teen Challenge Ranch rekindled the hope we had that our son could overcome, that God had a plan. Turns out that plan was for us to bring our son to Arkansas – twelve hours away. The entire staff, through the Holy Spirit, ministered to our son over the next eleven months. The Reconnect Weekends helped restore our relationship with our son and helped us prepare to have him reunite with the rest of the family. We now have our son back, the son who was always there – just hidden beneath all the yuck that consumed his life (and ours). The programming works because of the willingness of these special people who allow themselves to be used by God to impact the lives of troubled boys and hurting families. It is a true blessing to have found Northwest Arkansas Teen Challenge Ranch for Boys. They will always be a part of our lives.” – Todd L. (parent)
“What can I say about Teen Challenge Ranch? I guess it would start with life before Teen Challenge Ranch. My son was struggling and spiraling down into the pit no matter how much love and support I tried to give him. He would try one thing after another, trying to make himself feel better about himself and looking to all the wrong people to connect to. I remember something I would say to him over and over again. I would say, ‘I feel as though I am the only one trying to get you better! You need to begin to try harder than me.’ What I didn’t understand was I could talk and talk, try the same thing over and over, then end up worse than before.
“My youngest son was involved in drugs quite heavily; he was cooking meth as well as shooting up and abusing prescription pills, beginning at the age of 14. Ultimately he ended up running away and was subsequently found and detained in Brazoria County Texas, which is close to Corpus Christi, Texas. Please keep in mind that we lived in northeast Oklahoma at the time, so he made it quite a ways from home. At some point along this journey I decided that I could not give him the help he needed, and as hard as it was to admit to myself, I did not want him to come back home once I picked him up from the juvenile facility in Texas. I spent the better part of a week researching male adolescent facilities online and spent many many more hours making phone calls trying to decide where to place him. Obviously I chose Teen Challenge of Northwest Arkansas. Taking him there was what I considered to be the hardest thing I had ever done. That was until I started to receive his letters over the next 30 days. What I soon found out was that LEAVING him there would be the biggest challenge that I would ultimately end up having. I am thankful that God gave me the strength to do so!
He is not the same boy as 2 years ago and this is very hard for me and my entire family or anyone who knows him to imagine. I will not say that he is the same person he was before he started using drugs either, because he is so much more now. I used to say thank you profusely to all of the staff at Teen Challenge Ranch for helping him overcome everything, but he has been gone from Teen Challenge Ranch for over a year now and he continues to grow personally as well as spiritually and the Teen Challenge Ranch staff is no longer there. I have come to the conclusion that what TC Staff did was lead Drew to Christ, and focusing on Christ is what has saved my child from what was sure to be him being dead or in jail by his 18th Birthday. He turns 19 in exactly one week and I can hardly believe it…for many years I have heard the phrase “All things are possible through Christ”. Now when I hear this or say it myself, I actually believe it.
There will never be any words that can express my gratitude to each and every staff member at Teen Challenge Ranch for having the patience to slowly (and I’m sure at times, it was painful for them, because my boy is a very headstrong young man) lead my son back from the dark depths he found himself to be in. But somehow through their leadership and believing, they did!!!! For this, I thank God every day for leading me to Teen Challenge of Northwest Arkansas!!!” — Shelli O. (Parent)
Ellen Rose (child in photo) will never know the life her dad lived before. At age 16, Drew was an intravenous meth user and meth cook. He says that he had given his life to drugs—he would have done anything for them. His mind was full of confusion and chaos. He had been awake weeks at a time from his meth use. His mother cried nearly every night over the situation her son was in. She tried to get him help, but Drew explains that he manipulated her to get out of having to go anywhere. After running away to a city nearly 8 hours from home, his mom decided to place him at Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch.Drew was out of control when he came to Teen Challenge. He rebelled against the staff and the rules and stayed in trouble most of the time. After several months at Teen Challenge, God broke down the wall to Drew’s heart, and brought him to a place of surrender. Drew refers to the story of the shepherd who left the 99 to find the one lost sheep. He will tell you that he was that lost sheep. When he tells his story, he says that he didn’t deserve it, but God still loved him.
After 12 months at Teen Challenge, Drew went from Teen Challenge to YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and completed a discipleship training where he met Sarah and they later married. A year later, Ellen Rose was born. Drew is currently a ministry leader at YWAM and has led several overseas mission trips. He is now a husband to Sarah, a father to Ellen Rose, and a son to one proud momma. All Ellen Rose will ever know is that her daddy loves Jesus. That mother who spent many nights crying over her son’s addiction knows that God has done a miracle in her son, and gets to see it in the eyes of her little granddaughter.
Drew will tell you today that he was the one lost sheep that Jesus went after. When Drew tells his story, he says that he didn’t deserve it, but God still loved him. Today, he is drug free, saved, and loving Jesus. God has done a miracle in Drew’s life, and his mother who used to cry every night is now filled with pride and joy over her son.
God is doing miracles at Teen Challenge Ranch in Northwest Arkansas. We have so many reasons to be thankful. I want to share with you the story of a family that faced tragedy and brokenness, but is today rejoicing over what God has done to bring healing to their family. God used Teen Challenge to help restore a son that was lost in drugs and delinquency.
Jorge’s life started spiraling downward after his father died. The stable loving family he had known was broken apart by tragedy. Jorge stopped caring about anything. He tried to fill the emptiness in his life with drugs and partying. The drugs soon began consuming more and more of his life. He began stealing from family and selling drugs in order to fund his drug habit. By the age of 16, Jorge found himself in jail and facing criminal charges. In a moment of desperation, he called out to God from his jail cell. He asked God to some how change his life and help him.
His mother Maria was desperate to help her son. She knew that he needed help, but did not know where to turn. Thankfully, a friend told her about Teen Challenge. She hated the thought of being separated from her son for a year, but she loved her son enough to make the sacrifice to place him at Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas.
Jorge came to Teen Challenge Ranch in 2008. Even though he had called out to God for help while in jail, he was not very happy about being sent away from home. This is actually pretty common. Many troubled boys are anxious for God to help them out of their mess, but they don’t really want Him to change anything about their lives-at least not at first.
Jorge held back for the first couple of months at Teen Challenge Ranch. He was slow to allow God to really work in his life. He spent several weeks watching the staff and other students. He really began to notice a difference in their lives. The staff seemed to have a deep sense of joy and peace in their lives, and the students around him were changing dramatically as they opened their lives up to God. The difference in their behavior convinced Jorge that Jesus Christ really does change lives.
After two months of waiting and watching, Jorge finally surrendered his life to God. Day by day, he grew closer to the Lord. He developed an incredible passion for God and for other people. Jorge would spend time praying and fasting that God would use him as he went out with some of the staff and other students to share his faith. Jorge regularly gave up his free time on Saturday to participate in these voluntary outings.
Jorge’s life is radically different today because of what God has done through the ministry of Teen Challenge. This young man who once did not care about others now actively shares his faith, and prays fervently that God would use him to impact other people’s lives. Today, he is in a missions training ministry called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). He hopes to go to South Africa soon and work with AIDS victims and their families. From drug dealer to missionary in just a year and a half…To God be the Glory.
There is something I think you should know about Jorge and his family. Jorge’s father had been the main provider for his family. After he died, the family lost most of their income and Maria was forced to work 2 and 3 jobs at a time just to make ends meet. They would never have been able to afford what it costs to put Jorge through Teen Challenge. Jorge’s life is changed today, because friends like you gave to this ministry and helped to make his time at Teen Challenge possible.
Jorge and his mother have much to be thankful for. God has forever changed their family through the ministry of Teen Challenge.
Chad was 15 years old that day when he stood before the judge. He had committed repeated offenses and was about to be sent to a state psychiatric hospital. His mother, however, asked the judge for permission to send Chad to Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas. He agreed and Chad soon found himself a student at Teen Challenge.
Chad struggled at first during his time at Teen Challenge Ranch. He knew that there was a God, but he had serious doubts as to whether God would really do anything in his life.
Chad still remembers the day and place where God broke through to his life. He was walking down the dirt road that runs in front of Teen Challenge. He cried out to God and the Holy Spirit began to speak into Chad’s heart and mind. Chad received Christ and God began to do an incredible work in his life. Chad graduated from Teen Challenge. He went through many struggles but never forgot what God had done in his life at Teen Challenge.
Today, Chad is a student at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. He teaches bible and intervention classes regularly at a Christian recovery program for men near his home. He plans on entering into full time ministry following his graduation. He and his wife Angela were married in July of 2007.
Russell was 16 years old when he entered Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas. He had a serious temper, 2 felony charges, and was the third generation in his family to have serious drug problems.
Russell came to Teen Challenge resistant and full of anger. His first weeks at Teen Challenge were very difficult, and he was frequently in trouble. As Russell explained it, he “grew a lot through failure.” But throughout even his worst days in the program, Russell was constantly being presented with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Eventually, Russell committed his life to the Lord, and slowly but surely the incredible transformation began. The angry young man transformed into a kind and gentle man of God.
After graduating Teen Challenge, Russell became very active in missions. He attended a missions training program and has helped to spread the gospel in Honduras, Mexico, and India. He is also a graduate of the Mt. Zion School of Ministry and is now serving as a staff member at the very Teen Challenge where he first received Christ. He and his wife Bethany have two boys, Joseph and Jackson.
Chris did not get an easy start in life. He never knew his father, and his mother was a drug addict. He was in and out of foster homes throughout his young life. Eventually, his grandmother took custody of him. He said that at that time in his life, he was angry and getting into fights. He never felt like he fit in with others at school.
Chris eventually got into more serious trouble and was sent to Teen Challenge Ranch. At first, he thought that it would be like any other placement he had been in before. He soon found that things were different. The staff really cared for him and spent time investing in his life. One of the staff actually became like a father figure to him and was someone he was able to confide in and turn to for counsel.
Chris received Christ at a special youth event while at Teen Challenge, and it was at Teen Challenge that Chris’ life took on a new direction. After graduating Teen Challenge, Chris returned home and finished high school. He joined the Army National Guard in 2000 and has been on active duty since 2005. He spent two years in Iraq and carries the rank of sergeant. He is currently on active duty in the U.S. While stationed at home, Chris was able to attend college. He graduated with degrees in both criminal justice and psychology.
Paul was raised in a loving Christian home with good parents. Unfortunately, this did not stop him from seeking acceptance from peers, and Paul eventually became involved with drugs. His life and relationship with his family deteriorated to the point that the police had to be called to his home because he was out of control and had become physical with his father.
Paul finally saw that he needed help. With the assistance of his family and friends, Paul found his way to Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas. It was there that he recommitted his life to Christ, and soon after, God called him into the ministry. He began sharing his testimony regularly with the Teen Challenge ministry team and even had an opportunity to preach at a youth service while still a student at Teen Challenge.
After graduation from Teen Challenge, Paul returned home and finished school. He went to college and then seminary. He has continued preaching and reaching out to others with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Josh was 7 years old when his parents divorced. He remembers this as the time that he started getting into trouble. He was filled with anger at his father after the divorce, and he did everything he could to get back at his father and to make his father angry. It was in middle school that Josh got into drugs and alcohol. He was known to everyone as the party kid. Things were out of control and not getting better. Even the times he spent in a Juvenile cell or on house arrest did not cause him to change his behavior. His parents finally made the decision to send him to Teen Challenge. Josh shared that when he found this out, he was mad. He had no intention of changing his life at Teen Challenge. He was determined to just get through the program and go back to his old life style.
When Josh entered Teen Challenge, he found a very powerful presence of God that he did not expect. It was at a special impromptu prayer service that Josh’s life was dramatically changed. The prayer service took place after one of our daily morning chapel services. It was optional for students to attend this extra event. He remembers feeling God tugging on his heart to go. He finally went and he said that he received prayer after prayer after prayer. It was there that he realized, “I need God in my life.” Josh committed his life to the Lord that morning. He shares that he felt a huge weight lift off of his shoulders. Since that time God has instilled a deep confidence into Josh’s life. Instead of being filled with hate and worry, he says he is now filled with love for others. He has a heart for helping other people and even feels a call into ministry. God has taken Josh from “troubled partier” to “future preacher.” What a difference the Lord has made in Josh’s life.
Joe was adopted at age two by loving parents who sought to raise him with Christian values, but that didn’t stop him from turning to drugs and delinquency. He was in the 7th grade when he started using drugs. It was at this point that his life started going downhill quickly. As his drug use continued, he grew more and more out of control and frequently ran away from home. Even a near death accident was not enough to cause him to change his life. His drug usage and running away continued.
Once while staying with his grandfather, Joe ran away to San Francisco. His grandfather later picked him up at the police station and took him back home. Upon their return, they began arguing and Joe threatened to kill his grandfather. The threat was taken seriously and Joe soon found himself standing before a judge facing charges. Joe’s parents asked that he be sent to Teen Challenge. The order was given and Joe was brought to Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas.
It took a while for Joe to embrace Teen Challenge’s help. In fact, he ran away his very first week in the program. Joe tells the story of sitting in the chapel about a week after he was returned to Teen Challenge. Conviction was heavy on his heart and he knew that something had to change. By the end of that chapel, he was pouring out his heart to God with tears coming down his cheeks.
Although Joe’s journey has been filled with difficulty and struggles, he openly shares that God is the only option worth choosing for his life. He knows that he no longer wants the destructive life of drugs that he once had. He wants to follow God with all of his heart. God has done a transforming work in Joe’s life. With God’s help he has learned greater patience and self-control. He has recently began playing the guitar and is already leading public worship and singing praises to God. After completing Teen Challenge, Joe re-entered public school and has joined the soccer team. He continues a drug-free and full life. This young man’s life has been forever changed by God’s incredible grace.
“Why does God want anything to do with me?” That was the question that Eric struggled with when he thought about all of the things he had done.
Eric began using marijuana and pills in middle school. He eventually progressed to the point that he was taking drugs intravenously. His parents placed him in various detox programs and psychiatric facilities in an effort to get him off of drugs. Even though Eric’s dad was a police officer, they were at a loss as far as what to do for their son. Eventually, they made the choice to place Eric at Teen Challenge Ranch of NW Arkansas.
Eric had a difficult beginning at Teen Challenge. He says he was constantly in trouble and once even ran away from the facility. He struggled in this way for the first 3 months of the program. One day, while Eric was sitting in his room, he realized that he was sick of the way he was living. He was tired of hurting his family and of constantly getting into trouble. He reached for his Bible, opened it up, and just began reading. From that point on, he started going to the chapel services at Teen Challenge with a different attitude. He started listening to what the speakers were saying, and he began feeling God’s Spirit pulling on his heart. Finally on March 7, Eric turned his life over to the Lord. He was done doing things his way. He explains that his way “was stupid.”
As previously mentioned, Eric struggled with the question, “Why does God want anything to do with me?” He knew that he had sinned a lot and was ashamed of all he had done. One night, he talked with a staff about this struggle and the staff member gave him this verse: No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13 NLT)
This verse helps Eric whenever he struggles with guilt or shame. He has memorized this verse and uses it to help him focus on moving forward with God and looking forward to each new level God has for him.
Eric says that he is now much less selfish. He is hungry to serve and really appreciated the opportunity to help the tornado victims in Joplin, MO. God has done a great work in Eric’s life. Eric says that if he hadn’t come to Teen Challenge and found the Lord that he would either be in prison or dead today. He is thankful for this new chance at life and especially for his new relationship with God.
Parent and Student Comments
“It was the best decision we have made in our entire life. Our son’s life was saved from destruction on this earth and for eternity. The education was the finest he could have gotten anywhere. He became a self-disciplined student with motivated study habits and finished with a 3.9 GPA. He now has the desire and compassion to serve in his community and church, as well as tutoring and mentoring younger kids.” – Parent of Former Student
“We had tried everything we could think of for our troubled son — tough love, Christian counseling, traditional church activities, and homeschooling. But all were to no avail. The program taught John self-control, physical work and teamwork, leadership skills and integrity. John received love, discipline, forgiveness, and persistent mentoring from dedicated staff members. It was a God-send for our broken family…restoring our relationship with our son. It is a place of hope, a place of love, and a place of renewal.” – Parent of Former Student
“I prayed by my bunk for the first time. I confessed my sins and gave my life to Jesus in that prayer. I regained the relationship I once had with my parents. I developed respect for authority, a work ethic, and learned how to love myself and others. Now I strive to make God proud of me.” – Former Student
“God used you in a mighty way in my life. What this program did for me is something that I cannot put into simple words, but I can say that I met Jesus Christ.” – Former Student
“If you want to change and don’t know how or where to begin I suggest you try Teen Challenge. My life has never been better. I am a graduate and I could not have done it without my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have never found more love anywhere, I was loved until I learned to love myself. I have learned so much about who the Lord has created me to be. I cannot praise Him enough.” — Former Student
“Teen Challenge saved my son and my whole family in the process. I will praise God every day for your work.” – Parent of Former Student ( a former atheist)