Hundreds attend Teen Challenge annual banquet Saturday

Sunday, April 15, 2012
The Teen Challenge Mid America Choir sings during the Teen Challenge annual banquet Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

The annual Teen Challenge International of Mid-America banquet brought a crowd of more than 740 to the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau on Saturday.

Teen Challenge is a long-term, residential, faith-based program that ministers to men of any age with drug, alcohol and other addictions. The local center has 150 students and tries to help around 330 men each year.

During the banquet, students at the center gave testimonials about how Teen Challenge has helped them.

Randy Lott, 36, of Metropolis, Ill., said he began drinking and using drugs at 13, and his problems got worse about two years ago.

"Things got out of control," Lott said.

He said he was arrested for manufacturing meth and was facing 15 to 60 years in prison. Lott said his sister would send him Bible verses and he would throw them away. One day she sent a verse from Isaiah 41:10 that he said made him ask God for help.

Lott said his time at Teen Challenge was a 14 month vacation with God.

He will be entering the center's new Teen Challenge Mid-America School of Ministry.

After completing an induction phase of four to six months at another Teen Challenge International facility, students age 16 and older, enter the Teen Challenge Mid America facility in Cape Girardeau with a commitment for a period of 10 months. During this time the staff works with the men, trying to build a foundation of spiritual, academic and vocational principles.

A former jumpmaster for the 82nd Airborne, James Jones, 36, of Morristown, Tenn., said he was addicted to drugs for 13 years.

"I lost my family, home, car, kids," he said. "I was homeless on the streets. ... My family had washed their hands of me."

He realized he was either going to die or end up in prison. He said he cried out to God asking for a way out because he could not do it alone.

"Teen Challenge is an excellent opportunity for men to step back from the world and to get their lives straight," Jones said.

Teen Challenge centers offer vocational training as part of their students' recovery including Teen Challenge Total Lawn Care, Teen Challenge Builders and Teen Challenge Small Engine Repair, and a woodshop where students learn woodworking skills.

The Rev. James Bolin, executive director of Teen Challenge in Cape Girardeau said the local center has a success rate of 76 to 85 percent one year out of the program.

For more information, visit www.teenchallengemidamerica.com.

Pertinent address:

1333 N. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

303 MATC Lane, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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