Transforming Lives, One Car at a Time
Why would a teen club have their kids out on Magnolia Drive on a weekday hawking car washes during lunch hour? I wondered this every time I drove by the Teen Challenge participants standing on Magnolia Drive waving car wash signs. I am never exactly running early to get back to the office, so I would always wonder what the deal was and drive on.
In December, Tenley and I were shopping at Old Navy at the height of the Christmas rush. Although I didn’t embarrass her at Old Navy at Christmas the way I had on Halloween (you got a 20% discount for screaming your best scream and I pulled out all the stops), I was drawn immediately to the blogworthy appeal of the young men singing carols outside of the store. When we were approaching them, she said something like, “just let me get to the car first if you’re going to take pictures.” Fair enough.
I noticed the similarity between the signs held by the singers and the car washers, and I started googling. I deduced that they were both involved with Tallahassee Teen Challenge. I posted the pictures of the carolers to Facebook, connected with the social media I could find, and inquired through the Teen Challenge website to confirm these guys were their guys (they were!).
Once I started talking to representatives of the organization, I learned this: Tallahassee Teen Challenge is a one-year residential Christian discipleship program targeted to intervene in the process of recovery from drug, alcohol and other life controlling problems. It is affiliated with Teen Challenge International. In Tallahassee, the participants are all men (despite the “teen” name); other towns have units of boys, girls, or women. These men have some seriously intense days. Up at 5 for devotional, classes and a meal, out by 8 a.m. to begin working, back in the evening after working all day, dinner and more classwork. In addition to the car care business, Tallahassee Teen Challenge Men’s Program partners with local business owners with a reliable work force that can meet unskilled labor needs.
Here is one participant's story:
I came to Teen Challenge because of a visit to the dentist.
My name is Nicholas Aylor, most of the people I know call me Nick. After my father died from congestive heart failure when I was nine, I toyed with drugs and alcohol as a way to numb my pain. I had been raised in a good home but I began to rebel and get involved with the wrong crowd. As I got older I got in trouble with the law and decided to try and build my life. I stopped using drugs, started a successful business, got married to my beautiful wife and we had a son together.
Then it happened.
I had to visit the dentist to get my wisdom teeth pulled. After the procedure my dentist prescribed painkillers and it all went downhill from there. I became addicted and when my prescription ran out I began searching for other ways to get more pills. My wife fell with me and we began abusing painkillers together.
Late one night, my wife and I lay on our bed in the dark and cried out in despair. We knew that we had become addicted. We wanted to be rid of the bondage that we had so foolishly allowed ourselves to get trapped in. We couldn’t do it on our own and we desperately prayed that God would help us to get free from our addiction.
God answers prayer in many ways. The very next day my two year old son was found in the street. He had wandered out of the house while my wife and I were in the garage and walked right out into the road. The police were called and they found my wife and I passed out on the floor of the garage. We were arrested and I ended up in prison. I was given the option to come to Tallahassee Teen Challenge and my wife went to the Ft. Myers Woman’s Teen Challenge.
This past Christmas for the first time in a year, I got to see my beautiful wife and son. My in-laws have forgiven me and accepted me back in their family- praise the Lord!
I will graduate from Teen Challenge in March, free from drug addiction! I look forward to what God has for my life.
Tim, Nick, Jonathan, and Shaun came to my office and washed my car for me, under the watchful eye of their supervisor Jonathan. They did a fantastic job and although they thanked me for being a blessing, I really think I was the “blessed” one, not just for the clean car but for having an opportunity to be a tiny part of their journey.
The Tallahassee Teen Challenge program is working hard to publicize its car care services. To help spread the word, they have offered two car wash/vacuum gift certificates ($25 value each) as giveaways on my blog! Just do one thing to enter:
1) Follow Tallahassee Teen Challenge Car Care on Twitter at @ChallngCarCare
2) “Like” Tallahassee Teen Challenge on Facebook at Teen Challenge Tallahassee
Please leave me a comment on my blog when you have done this (or if you already are following/liking). Please include your email address in the format [emailname at provider dot com (or org or whatever!)]
I would also love to hear any stories you have about someone who has made a positive life transformation (maybe that’s you!).
The contest will run through midnight Wednesday night (2/2/11). I will randomly pick two winners from the comments. The gift certificates will be accepted at the Teen Challenge permanent location on Tennessee Street, the Magnolia/Park Location, and the Kerry Forest location (Magnolia and Kerry Forest times/dates are publicized via Twitter). Many customers shop the fresh market at Shannon Lakes and Kerry Forest while their cars are washed (multitasking at its best!!).
The motto of the Tallahassee Teen Challenge Men’s Center is “Where Life Transformation Happens.” Let’s give them a chance to transform their lives as they transform our cars!
For detailed information on the Tallahassee Teen Challenge Men's Center, visit their website.