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Stories

Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada has been part of countless lives.

Your support helps make the testimonies of our graduates possible. Their recovery is supported through the generosity of people like you. 

 
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Dustin Adams 

I grew up in a divorced household and at an early age I turned to drugs and alcohol as a way out of the hurt and anger. My parents loved me and did everything they could to keep me away from drugs, but I was already on my way to addiction. At the age of 16 I was free-basing OxyContin and shortly afterwards I was introduced to heroin. During the seven years I spent abusing opiates, I went through several rehab programs and ended up in jail with three felony charges. As a result of my poor decisions, and if I didn’t change my life, I knew I was facing a life of prison, or death. That’s when I found and entered the Teen Challenge program.

Living at Teen Challenge, I have learned to love myself; this was something I never thought possible. I have learned to be content in every situation, whether good or bad. God has changed my life in every possible way, restoring every broken relationship, and canceling a five-year felony charge. I am committed to studying the Bible and my heart longs to help young people who are lost and broken. I plan to continue growing in my Christian walk so I will be able to introduce and mentor young people in their relationship with Jesus. I also plan to enroll at a Bible College to invest in the gifts God has given me and to reach hurting people.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fail. But those who hope in the Lord he will renew your strengths you will soar on wings like eagles you will run and not grow weary and we will walk and not grow faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:30

 
 
 
 
 Theresa and her three boys have new hope after she got the recovery she needed at Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada.

Jason Bae

A few years ago, the Director at Teen Challenge Las Vegas got a phone call from Trinity Life Center in Downtown Las Vegas. There was a homeless man with a shopping cart, who kept sleeping in their courtyard. The pastor couldn’t get him off the ground, but was able to ask if he wanted to get help. When the Director arrived to Trinity Life Center, Jason was laying on the ground with a hat over his face. After a conversation, Jason said “yes” to being interested in a program that would change his life. After pushing Jason’s shopping cart behind the dumpster, the Director put him in a vehicle and drove him to the Teen Challenge Las Vegas Men’s Center.

Jason was sleep deprived, malnourished, and had been using meth. He had been homeless since he lost his business, his home, and his family abandoned him. He had previously been admitted to a psychiatric facility for mental psychosis caused by meth and sleep deprivation.

Currently, Jason is an Intern in Teen Challenge, doing God’s work and helping to save the lives of hopeless drug addicts like himself. He hopes to see others set free from their addiction, always keeping a heart to serve.

Jason believes that everything that happened to him in the past, for better or worse, was for a greater good. He is being transformed into the person God wants him to be.

“I believe it’s all about the condition of your heart,” says Jason. “I try to have a Christ-like attitude; being kind, humble, meek, and spreading the good news. God is amazing. He used my hopeless lifestyle to bring me to a place where I could realize that God is alive and Jesus Christ loved me so much that he died for my sins.”

 Theresa and her three boys have new hope after she got the recovery she needed at Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada.

Theresa

I wanted to belong somewhere, and ended up finding myself in the wrong crowd, trying to fill the void I felt inside. I was 17 years old when I first began drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot, and in a couple of years I was addicted to methamphetamines. I got married when I was 19, and had three boys. Years later, when my husband hurt his back at work, I started waitressing to support my family, but he would gamble and spend our money away on cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. He refused to work, and became angry and manipulative, threatening to take the kids away from me if I didn’t sell my body. He was so abusive and I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able function without drinking heavily and smoking meth to numb the fear and pain. The abuse continued and got worse until I finally got up the courage to leave, realizing that I needed to escape and take my children with me. My heart, spirit and mind were broken.

But God saved me. He helped me understand and admit that I was being badly abused. I needed a place to live with my boys. I wanted love and acceptance, and now I understand the love of Jesus. Since coming to Teen Challenge, I learned I have the power to choose the right path for my children and me. I am learning how to have healthy relationships, and I have plenty of support to know how much and how deeply I am loved and valued. My hope is to draw closer to God, for my children to know and trust the Lord, and to live a life of impact for God’s glory. I want to dedicate my life to help others who are enslaved in fear to abuse and human trafficking.

 Stephanie being baptized as a public declaration of her faith in Jesus. Her commitment to her faith is possible only because of the recovery she experienced at Teen Challenge and the relationship she developed with God during her time in the program. 

Stephanie 

I had a pretty good childhood, though my parents went through a divorce when I was only 3 years old. I grew up enjoying family vacations and staying active, but at the end of my middle school year, I told my mom that I had been sexually abused by my dad. His family did not believe it happened, and I felt so alone, so I began to smoke marijuana to forget about my emotions. I had been dating a guy, but broke up with him when I moved out of state. Then I met another guy and began a very unhealthy relationship that lasted 10 years. During this time, I started smoking meth, dropped out of college, stole from my parents, and was eventually abused and exploited by my boyfriend. I was out of control and finally decided I needed help, so I reached out to Teen Challenge.

I have now been in Teen Challenge for a year, and God has really changed my life. My family is becoming restored with my dad, and we are working on our relationship. I feel renewed and free from the guilt and shame of the abuse and poor choices in my past. I have hope for a future that I know will not be full of failure and disappointment. I really want to help people who have struggled the way I have in abuse and prostitution. I want to make a stand for righteousness, and plan to gain more experience in some kind of mission work. I thank God for rescuing me from the mess I was in, and I owe my entire life to him.

“—for we walk by faith, not by sight—” ~ II Corinthians 5:7

 
 
 
 
 Scott Nessel with his family, including his wife, Sarah and their two children Gabby and Caleb. 

Scott Nessel

Scott was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, California. Growing up, Scott was very active in the community and excelled in athletics. He graduated high school with a football and academic scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan University. Scott received his Associate degree in Communications from Moorpark College in 2002.

After high school, Scott started experimenting with marijuana. This led to experimenting with other drugs, including cocaine and crystal meth. What started as a social activity turned into a self-destructive pattern. This pattern began to control his life. This isolated Scott from those who loved him most. In 2010, after several years of this self-destructive behavior, a longtime friend led Scott to Teen Challenge. When he arrived, Scott felt that he had no family, no friends, and no hope.

It didn’t take long for Scott to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. That relationship changed his way of thinking, and Scott began to rebuild his character and work ethic. Scott was no longer serving the personal needs and desires of the flesh. He was working as unto the Lord and was serving something beside himself. After surrendering to Jesus, Scott embraced Teen Challenge and graduated the program in 2011.

After graduating, Scott worked at Capital Christian High School for two years. Then God called him back to Teen Challenge where he worked in the Development department.

In 2017, Scott returned to East Bay Teen Challenge as the Program Director. He moved into the Director’s position in October 2017.

Scott's wife, Sarah, graduated from Teen Challenge in 2015. She now is on staff at the Alum Rock Women's and Children's Center. The couple has two children: Gabby and Caleb. 

 David Davis with his family: His wife, Kari, and their two children, Emma and Malia.

David Davis 

David struggled mentally and emotionally as a child. He had been sexually abused and had an absent father who spent almost all his life in prison. From his early years, David felt the void that this trauma left in his life. David hid his overwhelming anxiety, depression, and dark secrets behind a fun-loving smile. He learned to pretend that life was great.

David barely graduated high school and started having run-ins with the law. He was arrested twice, had a failed attempt at college, and a dishonorable discharge from the United States Navy. Drugs were destroying every part of David’s life.

At the age of 20, he was living in a house without running water or electricity, where methamphetamines were cooked and sold daily. It was here David experienced rock bottom. He woke up one morning and with a moment of clarity decided this was not the life he wanted.

That very day, David accepted the possibility that the God he read about as a child could be the answer to a better life. At Teen Challenge he began a relationship with Jesus for the first time in his life. From there, everything began to change.

The young man without self-esteem, self-worth, or motivation transformed. David found himself inspired with vision for his life.

David spent four years at Teen Challenge. He completed the one-year program, followed by a six-month internship. He interned in the Development department and helped with graphics and advertising. He continued to work as a staff member until 2005.

In 2006 David married the love of his life, Kari. They began building what most would call “the American Dream.” David and Kari both had great careers, a home, two cars, and everything but the white picket fence. They were the worship leaders at their home church, and very involved in the community. They also had their two beautiful daughters, Emma and Malia. But, eight years later they still felt a void.

During a worship service, David and Kari heard God clearly. Six months later, they sold everything, quit their jobs, and moved 2,000 miles across the country. Most of their family and friends thought they were crazy to leave everything behind and head for Sin City. But they didn’t see it that way.

The bible says that where sin abounds, grace abounds more. David and Kari had been given a vision for Las Vegas; the City of Grace.

 
 
 
 
 David Davis with his family: His wife, Kari, and their two children, Emma and Malia.

Kari Davis 

Kari grew up in the Assemblies of God church, and had always known about Teen Challenge through church. While attending Indiana University and pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, she got connected to the ministry. Her Missions Team Director introduced her to Randy & Dana Rowe, and she completed an internship during the summer of her junior year.

Kari enjoyed her internship experience and planned to return after graduating. She spent a couple of years in San Jose assisting with development, the choir ministry, and the Women's Center.

After she married David, the couple decided to return to her hometown. As their marriage started she wanted to be closer to her family. During that time, she worked for the Department of Children's Services, the Vigo County Court Alcohol and Drug Program, and lead the outreach ministry at their local church. These experiences all prepared Kari for what she does today with Teen Challenge.

David and Kari felt called to return to Teen Challenge full-time and began plans to begin ministry in Las Vegas. At that time, it was the largest city that did not have an operating Teen Challenge program.

Kari and David have chosen to dedicate their lives to this ministry, and cannot picture doing anything else.

 
 
 
 
 Jered's family will grow up in ministry with Teen Challenge, just as Jered did. The mission of reaching those who need hope the most and offering a path to recovery will be lived out through Jered and his family.

Jered Rowe

Jered comes from a family with a legacy of commitment to Teen Challenge. His grandparents and parents were all involved with the organization since before he was born.

During his high school years, Jered assisted with coaching Pop-Warner football. He moved on to college at Evangel University where he double-majored in Theology and Psychology.

In the summer, Jered worked part-time for Teen Challenge. He went on to become a full-time teacher and adviser. After college, Jered worked as a supervisor for Starbucks, coached high school football, and worked as a youth pastor. In April 2011 Jered took on the role of Director at the Reno Adolescent Boys’ Center in Sparks, NV. Over the past seven years he has worked diligently to stabilize the program. He is now seeing growth due to his time and efforts.

Jered recently became a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is continuing his education in Counseling through Light University.

Jered has a heart for encouraging young men. He has a particular love of ministering to those struggling with addictive and behavioral problems.

 
 
 
 
 Jered's family will grow up in ministry with Teen Challenge, just as Jered did. The mission of reaching those who need hope the most and offering a path to recovery will be lived out through Jered and his family.

Kelly Rowe

Kelly fell in love with Teen Challenge as a volunteer in 2012, after she saw several young men's lives tranformed. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Human Development in Family Studies with a focus on Adolescent Development from the University of Nevada, Reno.

After graduating she went on to work in with teens in several different roles. She has been a substitute teacher and a Case Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She had an 11-year career with the Juvenile Detention Center in the Reno area after finishing as a Senior Juvenile Detention Specialist. Kelly has spent several years volunteering at her home church in areas including children's ministry, young adult leadership, as well as spending several years on the church council.

Kelly fell in love with Jered Rowe when they met at Teen Challenge when she was a volunteer. They married in 2013 and now have two beautiful children, Jeriah and Kaira.

Kelly's desire was to work in the ministry of Teen Challenge along with her husband. That dream came true in February 2018 when she began working full-time as the Program Director.

 
 
 
 
 Steven and Sophia Gonzales are happy after enjoying recovery from alcoholism as a couple. 

Steven & Sophia Gonzalez

Steven and Sophia Gonzalez had two very good reasons to get a divorce: infidelity and addiction. On the surface, the couple looked like they had everything going for them. Behind closed doors, it was a different story.

Steven had an uneventful upbringing. His hard-working parents provided for their kids. Though they had alcohol in the house, it sat right next to the soda and Steven never gave it a second thought. He tasted alcohol when he was 13, but it was during his freshman year when he started to cross the line.

"I took a hit of marijuana and got hooked immediately," Steven remembers. "I quickly became more interested in getting high than doing my school work, so I dropped out."

He moved to Texas to get away from the "pot heads," but turned to alcohol to replace what was missing in his life. "At the age of 19," says Steven, "I had already received two DUI's, neither of which slowed down my drinking."

It was then that he met the love of his life, Sophia. Sophia had no idea that Steven was a ticking time bomb-- ready to go off at a moment's notice. His drinking kept increasing but she didn't realize how bad it was getting... Until she started getting calls from the hospitals and the police saying they found Steven passed-out drunk.

Together, the couple decided to get marriage counseling while Steven went through a 30-day rehab program. 30 days was as long as Steven could last without a drink. After rehab he immediately started drinking again.

To make matters worse, Sophia began an emotional affair with their marriage counselor. "I thought I could handle this emotional affair I'd begun with our counselor," says Sophia. "I figured that after a while I would feel normal and my conscious would die. But it didn't."

She had flashes of hope when she was with her children, but the reality of the situation would show up again. Thoughts of suicide became a part of her life.

"I literally had to kneel down, look my three children in their eyes, and recognize I was filling my own needs instead of theirs," she says.

The couple was hanging by a thread, and the futures of their children depended on their choices. Sophia broke off the affair with the counselor, and turned to alcohol to numb the pain. Both Steven and Sophia were drinking away their marriage.

By the grace of God, the couple stumbled across information about the Teen Challenge Family Center in San Jose. When they arrived at Teen Challenge, Sophia felt as if she was waking from a coma. "I wondered where I was, and how I got there," she says.

"Honestly, my plan was to come here for six months, or until I got back on my feet. And then we'd move on," recalls Steven. "I had no hope for real change, but God had other plans for me and my family."

Counselors and Teen Challenge graduates provide successful recovery to hurting people in their communities. The Christ-centered professional counseling offered through Teen Challenge works. Steven and Sophia are living proof.

Today, Steven, Sophia, and their children have a hope and a future together. They are now Directors of the South Bay Centers for Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada.

 Dr. Randy Rowe is the Chief Executive Officer for Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada. 

Dr. Randy Rowe

Randy has worked with Teen Challenge since 1979. He started ministering in Denver, CO as the Director of a 40-bed facility. It was there he saw the high value of helping people turn away from their destructive lifestyles.

Randy has a Ph.D in Christian Psychology from International Seminary. His BA is in Biblical Literature from Northwest College, and his MA in Psychology and Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado. Additionally, he is an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God.

In 1984, Randy and his wife, Dana, founded a Teen Challenge Christian Academy in Wyoming. They served 45 students with a residential Junior High/High School education program. Watching confused teens gain control of their lives was amazing. They expanded operations to South Dakota where he helped revitalize an existing program.

In 1996, Randy and Dana took the opportunity to lead the Teen Challenge organization in Northern California and Nevada. They brought the region to a new level of effectiveness and growth. They also opened new centers in Humboldt County, CA, Reno, NV, and Las Vegas, NV.

In 2017, Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada opened a new Adolescent Girl's Center in the Nevada territory. This is a dream come true for Randy and Dana who have been praying for this property for years.

Under the leadership of Randy as CEO, Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada has grown to include six residential centers, two thrift stores, and numerous outreaches. Randy also serves on the Board of Directors for Global Teen Challenge.

 Dana Rowe is the Chief Development Officer for Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada. 

Dana Rowe

From age four, Dana has served the Lord. While attending Northwest University she met Randy Rowe. The two married in April 1980 and now have two sons-- Jered and Jeremy. Today, Dana is the Chief Development Officer for Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada. 

Dana has dedicated her life to Teen Challenge. Together, Randy and Dana have worked with Teen Challenge since 1979, ministering to adults, teens, and their families. Dana has her BA in Education with a Minor in Psychology, and she is also a certified teacher.

The Lord has gifted Dana with insight, understanding, sensitivity, and compassion for ministering to others. She has a special ability to work with those struggling with the devastation of drugs, alcohol, and abuse. She has often seen the healing power of God in the lives of those who have been victims of abuse. Many hurting people may be afraid to discuss their abuse because of what others may think or believe about them. However, through Jesus, healing power is available.

In 1984, Randy and Dana established the Teen Challenge Christian Academy for teens 12-18 years old in Wyoming. In 1996, they moved to the Bay Area and began leading Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada. They have been expanding that ministry since.

In 1998 the couple founded the Reno Adolescent Boy's Center, followed four years later by the Men's and Women's Center in Eureka, CA and a program in Las Vegas.

Randy and Dana have assisted with the opening of four centers in India. They have also added several centers outside of their region: The Native American Men's Center in Trinidad, CA, the Vallejo Men's Center, and the Manila Philippines Boy's Center. The most recent addition is the Adolescent Girl's Center in the Nevada territory, which is a dream come true.

Today, Teen Challenge NorWestCal Nevada includes six residential centers, two thrift stores, and several outreaches.