When you choose to trust CEP with your finances, you create opportunities for real world impact. In the stories that follow, Alberto, Roque, and Javiar share their testimonies and thank Teen Challenge Puerto Rico, a CEP partner in ministry, for its crucial role in their lives. Today, these former drug addicts are devoted disciples. They are everyday people who have received an eternal reward.
Alberto grew up in a Christian family. His father prayed with him. His mother took him to church. But despite a pleasant home life, he battled an intense temptation to rebel. “I wanted to be bad,” he says. Outside the home, Alberto felt oppressed by the opinions of other little boys and girls. He cared deeply for his family, but wrestled with a longing to be liked by his peers. “I wanted to be cool,” he says. “I was living in two worlds.”
As Alberto grew up, one world began to overpower the other. When he was eight years old, he started smoking cigarettes. At age 12, he began using marijuana. Later, as a 14-year-old, he sold drugs to addicts. With each passing year, Alberto slipped further away from his family and his Lord. By his 18th birthday, he had become a gang leader. “I thought I had everything,” he says. Even still, Alberto was steeped in greed, chasing after more drugs, money, and power in a desperate attempt to fill the ache in his heart.
Eventually, Alberto found himself sitting in a court room, and, shortly after, a jail cell. For an entire decade, he had allowed sin to rule his life, consuming him in a cloud of selfishness and cigarette smoke. But even after years of wandering and searching for affirmation, he knew where to find true rescue. “I said to God, ‘Do whatever you have to do,’” says Alberto. In response, God led Alberto to Teen Challenge.
Today, Alberto is free. He’s no longer bound by drugs and pride. Instead, he radiates Christ. “God is using Teen Challenge to change my life—from a gang leader to a man of God,” he says. “The moment I accepted Him, I surrendered. I have to give Him the control.” Whether you’ve known Alberto for a year or a day, it’s clear that he is utterly overwhelmed by a deep love for his Father—his Savior. Now, Alberto wants to become a pastor and plans to evangelize all over the world. “God changed my life,” he says. “I know He changed it.”
“My whole life was all about drugs,” says Roque. After Roque’s father passed away, the 14-year-old became immersed in the pain of loss, and he turned to drugs for relief. “First, it was a curiosity. It was for recreation, pleasure, diversion,” he pauses. “But as I was experimenting with stronger drugs, that’s when my life became tied down.” On days when Roque had no money to fund his addiction, he felt anxious, and the pain he’d stifled would quickly resurface. “I didn’t have the resources to change,” he says.
In the midst of Roque’s struggles, Teen Challenge stepped in and became the support he needed to transform his life. As Roque sat in the bus on the way to his first church visit with Teen Challenge, his fight against drugs still held him captive. But the ministry was persistent in its pursuit of his redemption. “I asked them to stop the bus, because I needed to get high again before the service,” he explains. “They waited for me! I didn’t think they were going to wait for me. I just wanted to escape.”
By the end of the service, Roque was in tears. “The Lord spoke to me saying, ‘If you accept me, I will give back to you 101% of what the enemy has taken away,’” Roque announces. “Today, I can say that I received it all!”
Although Javiar was raised in a God-fearing family, he lacked a strong relationship with his father. “I was just longing for my father to say, ‘I love you,’” he says. In search of belonging, Javiar turned to his friends and quickly became consumed by Puerto Rico’s drug culture. “I started creating a dependency to it,” he admits. “It was a way to deal with my emotions.” The deeper he sank into drugs and alcohol, the harder it was to escape. He started dealing in the streets and breaking the law. “My family was desperate, so my uncle invited me to church.” During this visit, Javiar finally realized that he had a problem…but he still couldn’t shake the addiction. “Little by little, I got into a worse situation than before,” he confesses.
Eventually, Javiar was arrested and sent to jail. In a final, desperate attempt to save himself, he joined Teen Challenge. While there, Javiar not only reclaimed his life, but he also gained eternal life. “This has been a place where I can learn and get in the Word, for me and God to get into a relationship,” he stops, stares ahead as if deep in thought, then smiles. “God has used Teen Challenge to give a new purpose to my life.”