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Evangel, Teen Challenge Partner on Landmark Survey

Evangel University and Teen Challenge USA are working together to conduct a survey designed to make the efforts of Teen Challenge even more effective.
Teen Challenge USA is preparing and planning for what we believe to be a Holy-Spirit inspired vision: Putting hope within reach of every addict,” states Gary Blackard, president and CEO of U.S. Missions Teen Challenge USA.

Blackard, who was appointed to lead Teen Challenge in January, believes that the Holy Spirit wants to do things through Teen Challenge over the next 10 years that will exceed all the miraculous accomplishments since its inception in 1960.

However, in following Ecclesiastes 9:10, which begins with, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, Blackard believes the first step to following the Holy Spirit’s plan to unimaginable success is to understand what about Teen Challenge is successful and what needs to be changed.

In August of 2018, Evangel University established the Center for Compassion, directed by Donna Washburn. As Blackard was seeking educational opportunities for his staff, Washburn learned of the desire Blackard had for an evaluating study.

“This fit right in with our reason for being as a compassion center,” Washburn says. “Evangel faculty and students have been conducting studies and surveys that require empirical, professional research for decades.” Washburn also teaches research classes at Evangel.

“When an opportunity like this outcomes research study is developed, you must ensure you work with some of the best in Christ-centered higher education,” Blackard says. “We believe Evangel University, its Center for Compassion, and its Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences are some of the best leaders in higher education with a strong passion for mental health and substance abuse ministry.”

Blackard believes that even though the survey will be landmark for the future of Teen Challenge, it’s only through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that a transformative impact can be made on a scale that is so massive.

“The need is exponential,” Blackard explains. “There are 270 million-plus addicts around the world, with 20 million in the United States.”

According to the survey’s research proposal, the project is intended to assess Teen Challenge program effectiveness by assessing the wellbeing of graduates after one year of graduation from a Teen Challenge Center. The analyses will identify success rates for students up to a year post-graduation, and potential variables impacting success. Some of those variables include: substance use pre- and post-treatment, employment status, church and Bible engagement, spiritual health, financial health, treatment methods, and others.

The distribution of the survey began July 11 to 76 participating centers and 867 individuals, with additional centers also considering getting involved. The participation window is set to close in mid-August.

“We have received a tremendous response from the field in participating in this study,” Blackard says. “Our leaders are passionate about our vision and mission and want to see tremendous impact and growth over the next few years.”

Washburn and her team are already receiving responses to the survey. “We plan on having numbers crunched and statistics ready for Teen Challenge evaluation by early September,” she says.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.