15 December 2017

Finding life beyond addiction

The amazing work that God started 52 years ago on the streets of New York through His servant David Wilkerson lives on. This legacy can be seen in the only Teen Challenge Residential Centre on the island of Ireland – Tiglin. Nestled away within 3,000 acres of forestry in the cut-stone buildings of Tiglin in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, God is transforming the lives of men and women, between the ages of 18 and 40.

Tiglin is staffed by a dedicated team of Christian men and women who implement the Godly principles of David Wilkerson’s 14 module Teen Challenge programme. This takes place over a 16 month residential programme. It is all overseen by a board of Christian directors, the most recent of whom hails from Belfast, Esther McCarthy. Esther is the daughter of the Rev. Eric Lewis, a former minister of Abbots Cross Congregational Church. Rev. Lewis is also a regular contributor in a teaching capacity at Tiglin.

Stories of destruction from drug and alcohol abuse continue to dominate our newspapers and waiting lists for rehabilitation programmes grow while funding for these projects gets reduced. However, we hold very tightly to the fact that God, despite all the doom and gloom in our society, is still in the business of re-building lives that were broken. We can join in the infectious talk of misery and focus on the very real and threatening lack of finances in society for programmes such as Teen Challenge or we can look and see just what can happen to someone when they trust that Jesus has the power to break the unbreakable and to transform their lives.

Bursting at the seams

In all, Tiglin Teen Challenge currently provides beds for 40 men and women who are experiencing difficulties due to addiction problems. Ambitious, you might say in this current climate, however we move forward knowing that at Tiglin God continues to work and transform lives.

Haggai 2:9

“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former saith the Lord of hosts and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.”

When guests arrive and visit Tiglin they often comment on two things which are so familiar to each staff member; the first being a real sense of peace and the other paradoxically being just how busy the centre is! The daily hustle and bustle is an encouraging sign that Tiglin as a facility is meeting the needs of the community. If you take time to step aside from the busyness you can talk to these men and women and learn of the dynamic changes that are taking place in their lives. These changes have come about as a result of meeting Someone more powerful than themselves, Someone who has taken them away from addiction and brought them into peace and freedom – His name is Jesus!

Testimony – Paul’s Story:

My name is Paul and I’m from Dublin. I grew up in a family of two brothers and three sisters. My parents separated when I was young due to violence in the home, which caused me to live without a father figure in my life.

Having no structure or direction led me into a life of crime, violence and drug addiction, which caused me to spend most of my adult life in prison. After spending many years in prison and graduating through the criminal underworld, I started to get involved with crime at a very serious level. This did not last long as my life was spiralling out of control.

In 2008 I ended up in Mountjoy Prison. I was in a desperate place, I was in front of the courts for seriously hurting another person and I was also serving an 18 month sentence for other crimes.

In prison I started to reflect on my life and the emptiness I was feeling was overpowering. I came to realise that God was the only person who could fill this deep emptiness inside of me. At that time I cried out to God in my prison cell and asked Him if He was real would He give me peace of mind, as I was living in torment. This is the moment when I believe that Jesus became real to me. Instantly I felt a peace like I have never known existed. I no longer had a desire to take any drugs and I quit my methadone programme in prison. I turned my back on the criminal lifestyle and looking back I can now see that God had come into my life.

From prison I was assessed to go to the Teen Challenge men’s centre to deal with any issues I needed to relating to my old life style. This was a huge challenge for me and it ended up taking me a total of 21 months to complete, but I can honestly say this was the most amazing experience in my life. This is when I started to understand and accept more deeply that Jesus was my Saviour and He had brought me into freedom. The sheer support and encouragement was amazing from staff and clients.

‘No Bucks’ Mobile Café.

Isaiah 55:1-2 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

The vision for the ‘No Bucks’ mobile café was inspired by the above verse and is an integral part of Tiglin’s outreach. The customised café bus can be found on the streets of Dublin outside the Roman Catholic Pro Cathedral. We bring a message of hope to people who feel hopeless, broken and who are caught in addiction. Tiglin Teen Challenge volunteers go out onto the streets with the love of God to reach these people with good news and see lives transformed from bondage to freedom.

“We want to bring a message of faith, hope and love to the lost”

One Mother’s Prayer.

For the past 6 years, Melitine has served as deputy manager of the women’s section of Teen Challenge. Her exposure to drug use and its effects on the Irish family began much earlier, when her own son became heavily involved in drug use. As a young lad on the school bus, Melitine’s son was offered hash. He was 13 years old. He spent the next 10 years going deeper and deeper into addiction, moving between the UK and Ireland and after so damaging his family relationships was asked to leave home.

When asked to describe her lowest point as a mother of someone trapped in addiction, Melitine said there was not just one lowest point – there were many. To recount a few, she said, “Every time I saw a new scar on his body, when he lived in a shed, each time he overdosed.”

After years of addiction, Melitine’s son’s life has been transformed. Due to the fact that there was no Teen Challenge facility in Ireland at the time, he attended a Teen Challenge programme outside of Ireland. He now works with Teen Challenge, helping other young men to find Christ and freedom from addiction.

Melitine’s advice to any parent with a child struggling in addiction is to, “always pray one more prayer. If we weep for our children, how much more does God love them? Even if things get worse before they get better, don’t ever give up. Don’t EVER give up!”

Our search for one hundred churches.

How can your church get involved?

Tiglin started as an expression of faith and love and continues to grow with the same principles at its core. We are living in difficult times that have brought many financial, practical and spiritual challenges our way. However, we embrace the coming months with anticipation knowing that we are not in control but God is. He will continue to provide somehow and we continue to trust Him with all our needs.

We believe that Tiglin Teen Challenge is a crucial part of what God is doing on the island of Ireland and our vision is to partner with 100 churches who actively believe in supporting this revival in Ireland. Our promise from God is that each of our students will represent transformed lives and will fulfill the prophecy of Haggai. This provides an opportunity for your church to have significant impact in what we are doing at Tiglin in the following ways;

Spiritual – Continued prayer support, guest speakers, and Tiglin visits to your church

Practical – Work Teams, Volunteer Outreach Teams, and Educational Life-skills Needs

Financial – 100 churches to give €/£100 a month (100 Club), 500 individuals to give €/£500 a year (500 Club) and sponsorship options e.g. sponsor one bed at Tiglin.

Please visit www.teenchallenge.ie for ideas or for more details.

“Standing shoulder to shoulder in the battle against addiction, together we can make a difference.”