Teen Challenge was started in Brooklyn, New York in 1958 by Rev. David Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was a young country preacher pastoring a church in eastern Pennsylvania. One February afternoon, Wilkerson read an article in LIFE magazine about seven teenagers who were on trial for murder. During a gang fight in Manhattan, these teens beat a young man to death. Troubled by what he read in the article, and sensing God wanted him to do something for the teens, Wilkerson made a trip from his hometown in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania to the urban area of New York City.
Some time after this, Rev. Wilkerson resigned his church in Pennsylvania and moved to the New York City area to work full time with teenage gang members. This new work was eventually called "Teen Challenge". Soon, Teen Challenge began to also offer help to those addicted to drugs and alcohol. Teen Challenge has grown into one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind in the world, with 199 centers throughout the United States and can now be found in 83 countries around the globe.
Teen Challenge came west in 1961 in San Francisco and was legally incorporated in Northern California in 1964. Street rallies and evangelism were conducted in San Francisco during the early years. Teen Challenge ministries sprang up throughout the Northern California area over the next several years. Teen Challenge Centers were opened in Sacramento in 1965, Oakland in 1967, San Jose in 1971, and Nevada in 1998. In San Jose, Teen Challenge operates the Alum Rock Women and Children's Center, one of only two centers in the nation that accepts women and their children. The Asbury Family Center, also in San Jose, is the only center in the entire United States that allows the entire family unit to receive ministry all together. The Oakland Men's Center is located in the East Bay, and an Adolescent Boys' Center is located in Reno, NV. Our most recent Teen Challenge addition is the men's center in Vallejo, CA.