In 1958, Rev. David Wilkerson, the pastor of a small church in rural Philipsburg, PA traveled to New York City to intercede in a court case for six gang members. Along with a mix of drug related changes, the teenagers were on trial for murder of a 15 year-old boy. Rev. Wilkerson’s journey to New York and his faith-inspired intervention seemed to end in failure as he was tossed out of the court room and not permitted to see the young men.
As the months passed, Rev. Wilkerson’s expulsion from the court room laid the unique ground work for what happened next. Believing the police were against both the gang members and Rev. Wilkerson, the gangs came to see him as an ally not an enemy. This turn of events created an opportunity for him to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and see men and women experienced something life altering. Momentary change however, is not always enough for permanent life change. It was not enough for someone just to “find God,” they need to grow in that new found relationship with God. That is where permanent life change was going to be found, in a relationship with God. Out of this series of events, Teen Challenge was birthed into a ministry that reaches out to gangs and individuals trapped in an addictive lifestyle.
History of Teen Challenge Philadelphia
Teen Challenge Philadelphia was founded in June of 1964, six years after David Wilkerson began Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, New York. Ministries were operated from Germantown, West Philadelphia and Chester, PA. The most known location for many years was the building at 1620 North Broad Street in North Philadelphia.
The current location of the Men’s Induction Center in Germantown was purchased for a little over $40,000 in 1970 and has been in operation ever since. The Women’s Home, also in Germantown section of Philadelphia was donated to Teen Challenge by Mary Heckler in 1968 and has also been in constant operation since.
In 1977, the Teen Challenge Training Center in Rehrersburg, PA incorporated the Philadelphia locations into its footprint.
In 1984, the Philadelphia Men’s and Women’s Homes both became licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Drug and Alcohol Programs as a Non Hospital, long term Residential Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs. We currently have forty two students we minister to daily.
In 2009, we added a Second Phase to the Women’s Program, now known as the Omega House. With this addition we now have the ladies with us here in Philadelphia for a full 12-14 months. The Philadelphia Men’s Home is a four month Induction program and subsequently our men transfer to the Teen Challenge Training Center for an additional ten months.