The Adult and Teen Challenge was started in 1958 by a preacher, David Wilkerson in Brooklyn, NY. After reading an article in LIFE magazine about 7 young men who had committed a terrible crime, he wanted to help addicts and gang members with a faith-based approach.
Wilkerson’s vision and work have grown into over 1100 centers. Alabama is home to four of those centers.
It wasn’t until Blake Brasher, graduate and intern of the Alabama Adult and Teen Challenge entered the program which aided him in fighting his 14-year heroin addiction.
“When I got in my late 20s, I started experimenting with pain medications and stuff. It led me to a heroin addiction. I was in and out of jails and prisons. My life was full of darkness for years,” said Brasher. He previously had been through 7 other recovery programs, but they weren’t successful.
His brother, Jesse graduated from the Challenge in 2013 and witnessing his transformation inspired Blake to pursue his own.
“My brother went to the Challenge in 2013 so every time I would go see my family they would say “Listen bud you need to get it together.” My brother’s life transformed so they kept throwing this seed in my head like you need to go to the Teen Challenge, you need to get some Jesus. I felt like I’d been running around in the wilderness for 40 years,” Blake stated
It wasn’t until January 2020 that Blake made the final decision to turn his life around and on March 9th, 2020, he entered the Challenge’s recovery program. He expressed the overwhelming feeling of freedom when he arrived at their men’s center.
“When I got there, I felt like the presence of the Lord was standing at the steps with his arms wide open and all these weights had been lifted off of my life,” said Blake tearfully
He praised the staff at the Challenge for their loving attitudes and helping in his transformation. There is love but also order and discipline when individuals start to stray. The people that work there do it because of the calling on their lives not only for the money. He ultimately credits Jesus for changing his life.
“I’m so grateful for that so grateful for the cross and what Jesus has done. I should be in a ditch somewhere, but God pulled me out of that. He speaks to me constantly about what He’s gonna do you know, it ain’t over with,” Brasher beamed
One central theme that individuals at the Challenge will receive is that in Lord you become anew. Their theme verse is 1 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
“You know people come there broken looking for answers and it’s Christ Jesus,” Blake expressed
Brother Ken Schroeder, intake counselor for the Alabama Adult and Teen Challenge testified about Blake’s transformation. When he first met Blake through a family engagement, he didn’t have much hope for him due to the intoxicated state he was in. Brother Ken’s opinion changed when Blake entered the program.
“I saw a totally different Blake, to see that he wanted to change even though he had some pride issues you could see him trying to humble himself. God has taken that heart of stone that he had and replaced it with a heart of flesh, a soft heart,” Schroeder said.Their program is growing at such a steady pace that they have started the process of raising money for a 3,000 square foot chapel to be built at their Selma Men’s Center. It will be equipped with multiple classrooms and a chapel for speaking engagements so individuals like Blake who are seeking help will be able to attain it.