Jamaica Gleaner / When United States pastor John Steigerwald started Teen Challenge Jamaica (TCJ) in 1997, it was with the expectation that the Jamaican chapter would do what the organisation does right across the world: change lives.
Twenty years on, Steigerwald is happy with the work being done locally and returned to be part of the four-day celebration to mark TCJ’s anniversary in St Ann.
“We responded to the call, and God did only what God does: – works miracle after miracle of transforming lives one person at a time. He is good! God has been good to TCJ and will continue to accomplish His purpose over the next 50 years,” Steigerwald said in his message to mark the anniversary.
At last Thursday’s graduation of 13 men who completed the one-year rehabilitation programme at the institution, a testimony from one of them, Orlando Gordon, stirred emotions and represented the miracle that Steigerwald spoke of in his message.
The audience at First Assembly Church of God in Ocho Rios heard the story of a man who was changed by the power of God.
According to Gordon, he grew up with his grandmother as his parents were away working most of the time.
“Before coming to Teen Challenge, I was addicted to alcohol. I started experimenting with drugs pretty early. From about nine, 10 years, I start smoking weed,” Gordon testified.
“When I was 14, I lose my father and I take up alcohol and started pimping. I stopped going to school and I end up on the streets.”
He started to hustle and steal to make money, making “some nice change” in the process. His addiction got worse as he then had the money to support his habits, he revealed.
“Then I started to lose my sanity. I started losing my friends pretty early, age 18, 19. I got involved in witchcraft, and stuff. I reached a very low point. I was broken,” Gordon admitted.
Gordon said that at that point, he was introduced to Teen Challenge but was sceptical at first.
“I was introduced to Teen Challenge at a very broken stage, where it didn’t make much sense to me when I came on the property. But after a while, I got exposed to the Word of God, and I started to accept it as truth.
“I feel changes started to happen on the inside. My concept changed, my thinking changed. I feel freedom from the inside coming out because my mind was really corrupted.
“At Teen Challenge, I started to be in the presence of God. I started to find purpose in my life. God started to speak to me and I, started to get visions. I can say I am a friend of God now because I know that God loves me and everything that I’ve been through it, was for His purpose.”
Gordon has pledged to use his experience to help others before ending with a quote from Romans 8 verse 30.
Gordon’s story is one of many shared over the years from men and women who have been touched by God’s miracle after registering at Teen Challenge Jamaica, headquartered in Ocho Rios.
Executive director, Anthony Richards, in his message marking TCJ’s 20th year, said that the main objective of the organisation is “to provide a sterile, serene, and stable Christ-centred environment that will facilitate new habits, routines and the process of growth that will create restoration, wholeness, and empowerment in the life of the student.”