Samoa has become the 121st country to officially implement the Teen Challenge programme.
The mission of Teen Challenge is to evangelize and disciple persons with life-controlling problems and initiate the discipleship process to the point where the student can function as a Christian in society.
Yesterday was the official launching of Teen Challenge in Samoa at Apia Harvest Centre Church.
The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang is the patron of this programme.
In his keynote address he said, “The official launching marks the unwavering commitment of the church leaders and hard work and determination of the chairman of Teen Challenge Samoa and its team.”
The Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration has partnered with Teen Challenge Samoa to help reoffending youth and signed a memorandum of understanding to honour their partnership.
“Today marks the Teen Challenge Samoa a milestone by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration and Teen Challenge Samoa to work in partnership to provide rehabilitation programmes to young offenders between the age of 13-35,” Papali’i said.
“Teen Challenge Samoa is going to prepare to work in partnership with the MESC on a MOU to provide rehabilitative programmes as well as prevention programmes to remove teens from early addiction to alcohol, smoking, violence.”
“I believe the task in counselling teens is indeed a big challenge for all of us who are involved. We can do it, nothing is impossible with God,” he concluded.
The Regional Director Asia Pacific for Teen Challenge, Reverend Jim and Cathie Lowans celebrated the milestone for Samoa.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Reverend Lowans said, “Teen Challenge in its nearly 60 years, has seen much success. Our success shows nearly 85% of those who go through the entire programme, which is a year long. They do not return to their addiction. There’s no other organization or ministry that has that success rate.”
American Samoa was the first to set up Teen Challenge in the region nearly a decade ago and since then, it has spread to Fiji and now, Samoa.
“We believe that with Teen Challenge established here, it will have a positive impact on the drug culture that is now growing in Samoa, ” Reverend Lowans said.
“Our goal is to work with countries, specifically with the church to have a desire to see a Teen Challenge established.
We don’t go into a country unless we’re invited whether it is the government or the church. Typically it’s the church that says, we want to establish Teen Challenge.”
“The reason we want to be in any part of the world including Samoa is unfortunately the use of drugs and alcohol and the addiction problems that are growing around the world. As Teen Challenge continues to grow we’re at a point where we’re in approximately 120 countries now.
We have begun to assign directors to the various regions of the world.”
Reverend Lowans also explained the inception of Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, New York.
“Teen Challenge was established in 1985, when a young 28 year old preacher by the name of David Wilkerson from the state of Pennsylvania in America, just felt a call to go and work with the gang members in New York City,” he said.
“He obeyed that call and went to New York City and one by one, the gang members heard what he had to say and the preachers who were sharing with them, and began to lay down their weapons of gang warfare and began to stop using drugs and became followers of Christ.”
From there, Mr. Wilkerson set up a dwelling in Brooklyn for those in the programme and the rest is history.
What started out in a borough in New York , spread across the country and eventually the world.
“We’ve seen many thousands of addicts who have seen their lives turned around,” he concluded.
The historic day concluded with the unveiling of the plaque to mark the occasion.