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Adult & Teen Challenge Mid-America

Is Teen Challenge just for teenagers?

No. Teen Challenge began as an outreach for troubled teens in the 1960’s but has expanded over the years to include men and women of all ages. The name “Teen Challenge” has remained. There are some Teen Challenge programs just for teenagers. The average age for most adult Teen Challenge programs is in the upper 20’s.

For what kinds of problems do people go to Teen Challenge?

Teen Challenge is a program for people with life controlling problems. That is, Teen Challenge is not only for people with drug or alcohol problems. Other problems include any problems that make it difficult for a person to live a normal life that is independent and self-sustaining. Examples include: inability to sustain employment and living skills, criminal lifestyle, moral and sexual problems, etc.

Is a normal life free of drugs and alcohol and other life controlling problems really possible?

Absolutely! God has promised that when we invite Him into our lives He will give us a brand new life, a life that is full of joy and purpose.  (John 10:10) Thousands of people who have gone through Teen Challenge have completely changed their lives through Jesus Christ.  He has promised this to you too! There is no one who is “too bad” for God or a “hopeless case” to God. Jeremiah 29: 11 says,  “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Can I go to TC if I do not have a life controlling problem?  That is, can I go for the discipleship? 

Although we feel we offer an excellent discipleship program, because of the great need for available beds, the Teen Challenge program must be reserved only for those who recognize they have a life controlling problem. We recommend programs such as Master’s Commission or Youth with a Mission for those looking for a good Christian discipleship program.

What costs and other requirements are involved in getting into Teen Challenge? 

Most Teen Challenge induction phases have an application fee, usually under $200.00. There also may be costs involved for the various medical tests required in the application process although most tests can be obtained at a public health facility. Most induction phases and the training center at Cape Girardeau, MO do not have any other fees. Because Teen Challenge operates primarily on the generous donations of concerned individuals and it costs approximatelly $900 per month to care for a resident, we urge friends and family to help in your support whenever possible. If you are receiving any financial income (for example, Social Security Disability) or if you have financial assets, you may be required to donate toward your stay. Insurance companies do not pay toward expenses at Teen Challenge.

What are the steps in getting into Teen Challenge?

Contact a Teen Challenge induction center and express your interest in enrollment. Request they send you an application. (Applications for a few induction centers are available on this site on the on the "About Us" page)Arrange for a face to face or phone interview if needed or required. Fill out the application completely and mail it or FAX it to the induction program you are applying for. Send the application fee if required. Get the required health tests. Usually these are for Tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV (AIDS virus), and hepatitis. (At public health institutions these often take as long as 2 weeks so it is important that you get the process going quickly.) Usually, as soon as the induction receives your application they will put you on a waiting list. You may call them and ask them if they received the application. At that time you can ask how long the waiting list is, what items are needed and what is not allowed, and what arrangements need to be made for transportation to the program when accepted. 

How long is a stay at the Teen Challenge program and why is it so long?

A person enters the induction phase and remains there 4-6 months depending on his progress. When the staff at the induction center determine the student is ready, he is transferred to the training center in Cape Girardeau, MO for 10 months. No perspective student should apply for the program unless he is committed to remaining in the program until successful completion.

Can I enter the program for a shorter time if my problem is not so great?

Teen Challenge has a set curriculum, similar to that of a school, that all students are required to complete on a set time table. Therefore, all students are required to complete the entire program regardless of the nature of their life controlling problems.

Can I go to the training program in Cape Girardeau, MO directly without first going to an induction center somewhere else?

Going to a Teen Challenge induction phase (“home center”) is required before a student is allowed to come to the training phase in Cape Girardeau. Successful completion from an induction center and a referral from that center is the only way we at the training center in Cape Girardeau will accept students.

Can I go to the induction phase only without going on to the training phase in Cape Girardeau, MO?

No, both the induction and training phases are necessary and required.

What is the difference between the induction phase and the training phase of the program?

The induction phase introduces the basics of Christianity and provides a closely supervised atmosphere to prevent substance abuse. The training phase in Cape Girardeau continues the Christian discipleship process and addresses the possible contributing factors to substance abuse. Students are usually given a little more freedom and are not as closely supervised as they prepare to re-enter society.

What are the different induction centers that send students to ATCMA and how do I choose which one is right for me? 

The center in the St Louis, MO area takes young men 18-30 years old. The centers near Cleveland, OH, and Hot Springs, AR usually take men of any age. All these send students to the training center in Cape Girardeau on a regular basis. Other programs for both men and women plus those for girls and boys under the age of 18 years can be found at the National Teen Challenge web site

I heard a person can go to Teen Challenge as an alternative to going to jail or prison.  How do I go about doing that?

There are a number of ways this could happen based on the court system and the nature of your case. Generally, after you are sure you want to go to Teen Challenge, you should contact your lawyer or public defender and inform him of your desire. Share your applications, brochures, and the Teen Challenge web site with your attorney so that he can be informed that Teen Challenge is a reasonable alternative to jail or prison. He will need this information to convince the court. If you, in fact, committed the crime you have been charged with, discuss with your attorney the possibility of pleading guilty with the agreement that the court would consider sending you to Teen Challenge. The plea agreement must include a statement saying that you agree to successfully complete the entire program. You will not be accepted if your plea agreement states you will be here a certain amount of time. If your plea agreement does not include a statement requiring successful completion, you will not be accepted. It is at the sentencing hearing that Teen Challenge is considered by the court.  Send or bring a copy of the agreement to Teen Challenge. If you are not guilty of the crime you are charged with and plead not guilty, all your court hearings must be completed and a verdict must be made before you can enter the program. If you are already sentenced to jail or prison, usually there is nothing that can be done to get into Teen Challenge until you have completed your sentence or are approved for parole. Since there are many questions regarding Teen Challenge and the courts, it is best to call Teen Challenge to discuss your individual case.

What programs are available for females and men under 18?

A list of these programs is available at the National Teen Challenge web site ( or by calling the National office at (417) 581-2181.

Can I get into Teen Challenge if I have sex offenses, use medications, have physical, mental or emotional limitations, etc.?

Many of these special situations can be accommodated. You will need to contact the individual induction centers regarding their abilities to do so.

Do I have to be a Christian to go to Teen Challenge? 

No. We understand that many people come from all types of backgrounds and beliefs. We only ask, if you decide to come to Teen Challenge, that you are open to God and what He wants to do in your life. Give Him a chance to show you that He is real and that He loves you no matter what you have done.

Will being hepatitis, STD, TB or HIV positive prevent me from being accepted into Teen Challenge?  

In most cases you will be welcome if you seek proper treatment and you can fully participate with all aspects of the program without a great deal of medical treatment. 

I heard Teen Challenge is affiliated with the Assemblies of God which is Pentecostal.  Will I be required or pressured to change my denomination if I go there?

All are welcome. Our mission is not to convert anyone to a denomination. Our purpose is to help people find the freedom and deliverance from life controlling problems through the power of Jesus Christ.

How is Teen Challenge different from other substance abuse programs?

We believe in the life changing power of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Although many other methods of assisting people who have problems are valid, we find that they cannot compare to the effectiveness of a relationship with God. Therefore, we do not use 12 step programs, medications, psychological methods, etc. Instead we use Bible instruction, prayer, worship and a practical Christian lifestyle.

What options are available to me after I have completed Teen Challenge? 

After successful completion of Teen Challenge, there are re-entry programs available to assist re-establishment in society. Others go to school and vocational training or back to work.

Can I leave the property, and how much freedom do I get?

Because of the importance of keeping our students from being in a position of temptation until they are strong, students are not permitted to leave the property while enrolled. There will be a few off property family visits and passes home. Although Teen Challenge does not lock anyone in and do not have fences to prevent one from leaving, you will not be allowed to leave the property without being discharged from the program.

Why can’t I smoke or use other nicotine products at Teen Challenge?

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug.  Its use is in itself an addictive behavior which can lead back to other addictive behaviors you are wanting to conquer. Most students find that our tobacco free environment aids greatly in withdrawal from nicotine. More importantly, God Himself will give you the strength to overcome the cravings of nicotine. Note that nicotine gums, pills, patches, etc. to aid in withdrawal are not allowed.

Can I ‘detox’ at Teen Challenge?

Most applicants try to avoid use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco while waiting to be accepted. They usually do well once they are in the drug-free environment of Teen Challenge. If you believe you will have a serious problem with withdrawal without medical assistance, we encourage you to go to a detoxification facility before entering Teen Challenge.

What are the employment opportunities in Teen Challenge?

Committed Christians who are successful in their lives and believe God is calling them to help people who have life controlling problems are needed. Contact the National Teen Challenge for employment opportunities and requirements.


"The ministry of Teen Challenge International, USA has helped countless individuals through its 40-year history." - John Ashcroft