Since mid last year I have had the privilege of working for an amazing not for profit organisation. It is one that has a true heart to see young people embark on a new way of life. Irrespective of where they’ve come from or what they have done, this organisation is dedicated to seeing them make good choices and get a fresh start in life.
Since Loving the World is about stepping outside of our own lives and looking into what is happening around our country and the globe, I thought it would be remiss of me not to take the opportunity to share with you all the hard, gritty work this organisation does and the transformations that take place because of their unwavering commitment.
The organisation I am talking about it Teen Challenge QLD. A group of people who are beyond passionate about seeing the drug epidemic over in Australia and the lives of an entire generation saved.
Their rehabilitation centres in Toowoomba take kids from as young as 16 that have some form of addiction (and what is truly saddening is we get enquires for kids younger than that). Whether it’s alcohol and drugs, self harming, eating disorders, gaming or a range of other addictive behaviour – there is always a common thread. Most go to Teen Challenge with depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness that have usually been triggered by circumstances outside of their control.
This is what truly breaks my heart about some of the stories I have heard since being at Teen Challenge. Stories of abuse, neglect, broken homes and broken families. A lot of people will shudder when they think of drug addicts. Often the perception is that those with drug addictions have simple made some poor choices, and while in a sense this is true – so often circumstance or environment can hinder them from learning the difference between a good choice and a bad one.
Teen Challenge is an organisation that takes loving to a whole new level. I am blown away daily by the passion and commitment I see, not just from those who work directly with the students but from the support staff, those who deal with the families, volunteers and the amazing Executive Director – Jo Hobbs. Apart from being an amazing woman of God, she is a strong faithful leader. Committed to the cause – Teen Challenge isn’t just a job for her, it’s a calling. The same can be said for all that work there. A mandate each one willing picks up everyday, knowing that their dedication, perseverance and faithfulness will see change in the lives of those that come to Teen Challenge.
The first thing students get told when they come through the doors is that they are loved. They have a purpose. Sadly, this is the first time some have heard this. The staff that work directly with them are amazing. Loving them regardless of what they have done in the past but all the while giving them strict boundaries. One of the most important thing kids need to feel secure.
Its real and gritty, and its amazing to see kids after they have been through the program, come out on a much stronger path. Making better choices for their lives, feeling like they could achieve anything. Family relationships restored, a career path in the pipeline. When you think about what the alternative would have been, the outcome is just mind blowing. They have purpose for their life and great dreams of what they want to achieve – there are no words to describe the impact being made.
For me, its a constant inspiration. Some students have gone on to do some great things. Past students now work at Teen Challenge themselves, using their experiences to help others. If they can rise form their circumstances, learn from their past and brave a new life for themselves, couldn’t we all?