Seeds of Hope
After the death of his mother, loneliness and sorrow filled Akito’s early childhood. He struggled with understanding the meaning of life, and as he grew into his teens, in many ways he felt abandoned. For Akito, his family was not religious and he had no one to point him to God’s love and purpose for his life.
Depression and a lack of motivation in his high school years made waking up each day and attending school like a mountain looming in front of him. Quitting was on the forefront of his mind and Akito could see the unhappiness and disappointment this brought to his family. He knew his sister and father loved him, so he tried to make them his motivation to live. Over the next few years, Akito attended university as his father wished, but during his master’s program his father died unexpectedly. The loss of another parent was overwhelming and sent Akito hurling back down the same mountain that he was trying so hard to climb.
The pressure of finding a job to support himself became too much and he dropped out of school. Akito turned to alcohol to relieve his stress and gain courage. Although alcohol had a numbing effect, it was only temporary, and he soon grew more and more disconnected, pushing him into a deeper state of anxiety that ended in a total breakdown.
His sister, out of love and seeing the depth of his sorrow, took the initiative to find help and brought him to Teen Challenge. Initially, he was dissatisfied with being in a Christian-based program. He had gone his whole life without religion, and from his viewpoint, there was going to be no TV, entertainment, or fun. There was only a Bible to read. What Akito was about to experience, though, was hope. It’s when we are desperate, empty, and at the end of ourselves that Jesus whispers “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Teen Challenge has helped him find a peace in Jesus that surpasses all understanding.
Akito’s water baptism, his sister, other relatives, and friends came to support him. “I realized that there are so many people that want good for my life and want me to be happy. That really touched my heart.”
Akito is now serving as an intern, farming at a men’s center where they have established a sustainable income to help support the ministry. The average age of farmers in Japan is 70, so this program not only serves as income for the ministry and occupational therapy for the students, it offers a career skill that can support the lives and families of students once outside of Teen Challenge. “In Japan, there are many like me who didn’t finish university and couldn’t find a job. They are thinking that their life is over, but they can find hope just like I did. That’s why I am serving here. I am given a lot of responsibility here at Teen Challenge and I do my best to serve.”
270 Million People Struggle with a Life-Controlling Issue.
7 Die Every Minute
420 Die Every Hour
10,080 Die Every Day
TRAPPED TO TRANSFORMED
Seth grew up in a Christian home with loving parents. The presence of God wasn’t just around him, He knew and experienced the Lord in a personal way. Yet even with a good start in life, he lost his way and went down an addiction spiral until he was a cocaine addict, an alcoholic, and was taking up to 30 painkillers a day. He was brought to such a low point that, by his own account said, “Even my drug addict friends were telling me I needed to get help.” That’s when he heard about Teen Challenge.
In May 2011, Seth entered the Four States Teen Challenge Center in Missouri. On the first night, his body began to go through detox and he felt it was more than he could bear. Throughout that night, he cried out in agony, begging the Lord to intervene and help him. As he looked out on the horizon, he noticed the blackest sky he’d ever seen... a terrible storm with pounding thunder and lightning. The skyline felt like his mind in that moment, dark and tumultuous. When morning came, he insisted that the center director put him on a bus and send him home. When they reached out to the bus station in Joplin, they discovered the storm from the night before had actually been one of the most devastating tornadoes in American history. There would be no bus home and he was trapped.
Even my drug addict friends were telling me I needed help.
For the next several months, Seth was determined to work his way through the program, but it wasn’t an easy journey. Reflecting back on that time, he now says, “God’s grace and mercy were with me all along. He didn’t take away my suffering and pain, but He was with me as I went through it to the other side. I couldn’t see it then, but now Psalm 139:5 (‘You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me’) comes to mind when I think of that moment in my life. The Lord had truly hemmed me in, and I felt trapped, but His hand was always upon me.”
Seth says, "I often pray with island locals through our regular community outreach efforts."
The death spiral of addiction in Seth’s life was interrupted by an even more destructive storm—a tornado that forced him to stay put, leading him down his transformation journey. And his transformation didn’t stop at sobriety. After graduating the Teen Challenge program in July of 2012, he went to work at his home Teen Challenge center. After serving two years as the Intake Director and Choir Director, he was offered the opportunity to serve Global Teen Challenge on the tiny island nation of Fiji.
Seth’s challenging journey through addiction and sobriety, and the hard work he did through the TC program, uniquely prepared him for the challenges in Fiji. The same drugs that led him down his own dark path have wrecked the lives of many people on the small island. They need a place of hope, just as he did back in Missouri. After four years of working with the local pastor and the government, Fiji now has an officially registered Teen Challenge program. Twenty acres of property have been secured and a building campaign for the residential center is now underway. In what can only be described as a full circle moment, Seth is living out the love of Jesus that was planted in his heart at a young age, ministering to addicts in Fiji and sharing the good news of how God led him to sobriety.
During one of his lowest moments, Seth remembers taking downers to fall asleep after a cocaine binge. Right before he drifted off, he prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me die without doing one thing you put me here to accomplish.” Today, that prayer has been answered and multiplied as he lives out his purpose and calling in service of others through Global Teen Challenge. From being trapped in addiction, to trapped by a tornado, to living a transformed sober life, Seth’s story serves as a beacon of hope to anyone looking for a way out of addiction.
Together we can bring hope to Teen Challenge students around the world. Now more than ever we need your support for our global affiliates in 129 nations. Putting hope within reach.
AFRICA • ASIA PACIFIC • EURASIA • EUROPE • LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN • NORTH AMERICA • NORTHERN ASIA • SOUTHERN ASIA
Campus Coffee House
Teen Challenge has opened a coffee house in Kiev on the campus of a specialized school as a place for teens to meet and have candid conversations about drugs, alcohol and life. “If we give them hope TODAY, we won’t have to visit them TOMORROW in prison or a meth clinic.”
The new Teen Challenge center for men is ready to open when the lockdown is lifted. They have already planted potato fields as a sustainable business for the center. The staff and volunteers have been serving meals to the homeless during the shutdown from COVID-19.
Students have arrived at the new women’s center in Panama. The Teen Challenge leaders there were moved by God to start a program for these women. The inauguration service is temporarily postponed until the COVID-19 threat is lifted.
I am so grateful that we are able to share another exciting issue of UNLEASH the HOPE – with victory stories that we claim together in the region of Asia Pacific.
In this issue, “hope” has reached the island nations of Japan and Fiji, where God’s light has exposed the darkness for two young men struggling with the storms of life.
For Akito, the loss of his parents lingered over him for years. He fell into a deep depression and addiction to alcohol that could have easily claimed his life. Because of help from people like you, he made it through the doors of Teen Challenge Japan and found the hope and love he needed to escape inevitable destruction.
You’ll also meet Seth, who was trapped in the dark hold of addiction. In fact, after entering our program, the pain of detox was so severe that he quickly decided to leave. But on the day he planned to take a bus back home, God intervened and changed his destiny… from certain death in Missouri to a renewed life in Fiji.
As you read more about Akito and Seth and the impact we’ve had across the Asia Pacific and the world, know that none of these stories could be told without your faithful partnership in the work that we do.
Together we shine a light of hope around the world. Thank you for caring and helping us put hope within reach of people who are lost in the shadows of addiction.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters
of mine, you did for me.
Putting HOPE Within Reach Around the Globe!
Addiction does not discriminate. Over 270 million people struggle with a life-controlling issue. Boys, girls, men, and women around the globe are looking for hope.
We have immediate opportunities for Teen Challenge programs in 33 unreached nations, but need your support. The average cost to start a program is $50,000. Would you or your church prayerfully consider adopting one of these nations?
Every country has unique challenges. Your support will help secure property, start new programs, renovate, expand, develop leaders, or create a sustainable micro-enterprise.
The needs vary from region to region, but the cry for help remains the same in every nation. Thank you for helping put hope within reach around the globe.
HELP US PUT HOPE WITHIN REACH OF EVERY ADDICT!
GLOBAL TEEN CHALLENGE | P.O. BOX 511 | COLUMBUS, GEORGIA 31902 | PHONE (+1) 706.576.6555 | INFO@GLOBALTC.ORG