It was our first experience at Kingdom Bound, and it had been a rewarding day. My two boys had thoroughly enjoyed the rides and the water park at Darien Lake, while I had liberally partaken in the Christian concerts. Much like a parched man living in a dry and thirsty land, I couldn’t seem to soak up enough of God’s Spirit that poured out through the music!
When evening came, I collected my boys and we headed over to the much-anticipated Robin Mark and Newsboys concerts. We couldn’t help noticing another band, however, playing in another part of the park, for the music was loud enough to be understood clearly from almost any location. My curiosity soon got the better of me, and I left my boys at the tent where Robin Mark would be singing and made my way towards the music. What I found was outstanding. The message of this band was focussed directly at young people and anyone else who was experimenting with drugs. The message was this: God is better than drugs! Once you have experienced Him, you become addicted to Him for life and He brings you victory over chemical addictions! Wow! My heart did a double-take and wondered if I shouldn’t stay at this concert instead . . .
A week later, a group of young people from Teen Challenge visited our church. Their message was also simple and clear: The drug epidemic can be overcome through faith in God! God is better than alcohol and drugs!
Teen Challenge was founded in 1958, which, by the way, is the year I poked my nose into existence (I told you I was a dinosaur!). A young country preacher named David Wilkerson read an article in Life Magazine about a young man being beaten to death by seven teens, and he was badly shaken. He sensed a clear calling from God to aid troubled teens. After much prayer, he resigned from his loving church in Pennsylvania and moved to the Big Apple where he began working full-time with teenage gang members. “Teen Challenge” soon sprang up, offering help to anyone “addicted to drugs and alcohol.”
One dream, one vision! What a difference it has made to hundreds of thousands of young people! Teen Challenge has now grown to encompass more than 200 centers throughout the US alone, and over 1000 centers in 81 countries. It has definitely proven its effectiveness! And it’s no wonder! Teen Challenge’s success rate for drug and alcohol addicts is so phenomenal, especially compared to the success rate of 1-15% for secular drug rehabilitation programs, that it has attracted the attention of many politicians!
But what really surprised me when I met these formerly addicted young people is the mutual brotherly love that reigned among them. It is clear they are close to one another, and this special bond had been created through faith in the risen One!
What makes the difference?
After talking with several of the youngsters who visited my church, I had no doubt that these young people have fallen heads over heels in love with Jesus. Their eyes brightened whenever they were given the chance to talk about the One who gave them victory, and their contagious excitement filled their conversation. (Some of their fascinating testimonies can be read online at http://www.teenchallengeusa.com/testimonies.php ) No one who has talked to any of these young men will leave the encounter doubting the power of Jesus in individual lives. Jesus is alive and He is sharing His victory to anyone willing to experience His intoxicating love! All we have to do is accept His help!
The apostles John, Peter and Paul couldn’t help but boast about the victory provided to them by God Himself:
“You veterans know the One who started it all; and you newcomers – such vitality and strength! God’s word is so steady in you. Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.” (1 John 2:14 The Message)
“When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” (1 Peter 1:7 The Message)
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.” (2 Cor 2:14 The Message)
Is God better than drugs?
Ask the ones who have experienced victory through Him! I, too, was once controlled by addiction, and I can vouch that indeed no one is more awesome and exciting than Jesus who gave me victory! Come to Him and experience Him! You’ll have no choice but to fall head-over-heels in love with Him! He’s that awesome!
(To access the entire “Kingdom Bound Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)