Provision Beyond Addiction through Adult & Teen Challenge Dallas
Daren and Heidi Walker, who lead Adult & Teen Challenge Dallas, not only emphasize the spiritual aspect of addiction, but are working to address the medical, psychological, and physical side as well.Sitting inside a Texas Whataburger, Fred had nowhere to turn. The loss of his mother and two grandparents within two years had led him to turn to meth as a way to cope with his overwhelming grief. In desperation, Fred reached out to a friend who urged him to go to the Adult & Teen Challenge center in Dallas. Fred agreed and enrolled in the program, during which he was set free from his addiction and decided to rededicate his life to the Lord.
Now, Fred works as the intake coordinator for the center, alongside U.S. missionaries with Adult & Teen Challenge Daren and Heidi Walker. “He has been set free and now he’s helping others get set free,” Daren says.
The Walkers say that they have seen the Lord provide students like Fred with freedom from addiction countless times, often guiding the students to repentance. Reflecting on their own life’s journey, the Walkers say that God has constantly provided for them as well.
“It is crazy to look over our lives and see what God has done,” Heidi says. “He has not only opened doors for us but has also given us everything we need to walk through those doors.”
Prior to becoming U.S. missionaries, the Walkers were missionaries with AG World Missions (AGWM) in Mexico and Guatemala for 13 years, working as directors of ChildHope, which serves children in poverty throughout Latin America. Eventually, the Walkers felt God lead them to step down and return to the United States. They still felt called to missions but were not sure where God wanted them.
Daren and Heidi’s eyes soon began to open to the vastness of the addiction epidemic in the United States. “I felt God tell me that He was the only answer for this massive problem,” Daren says. As time went on, God put a burden for those experiencing addiction onto the Walkers’ hearts.
The couple credit their time with AGWM for giving them a multicultural view into the addiction epidemic. “The pathway for these drugs was through the countries we worked in, but the majority of the consumption is in the United States,” Heidi says.
An unexpected call from Paul Ecker, the retiring director of Adult & Teen Challenge Dallas, led Daren to accept the role as his replacement after prayerful consideration. Both Daren and Heidi pursued U.S. Missions and became fully appointed missionaries in early 2023.
“We have seen God be so faithful in every area of our lives and ministry, and we knew He would be faithful in this as well,” Daren says.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 150 people die daily due to overdoses from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. While the addiction epidemic may appear insurmountable, the Walkers know that God is bigger than any issue we may face.
“Prayer is essential,” Heidi says. “If we can address the spiritual aspect, we can witness a major transformation.”
Challenging the misconception that addiction only affects those in poverty, the Walkers have encountered individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those who are wealthy and high performing in their career fields.
Daren says, “Drugs do not respect race, social status, or economic background. This is not just a ‘poor person’s problem.’ Addiction is rampant everywhere.”
Additionally, Daren says that many people are misguided in their idea of how people get involved in drug and alcohol abuse. “Some people think that addicts become addicts just for fun,” Daren says. “Often, it stems from a deep hurt.”
Michael, a student at ATC Dallas, was driven to addiction after both of his parents passed away; his mother through a fatal overdose and his father by taking his own life. A prison counselor prompted Michael to join Adult & Teen Challenge. While he had minimal knowledge of the Bible upon entering the center, it did not take long for the Lord to work in his life.
After seven months at the center, Michael gave his life to the Lord and he began to pursue the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Michael felt called to ministry following salvation and hopes to return to prison after his graduation from the program, this time to tell others about Christ.
As executive director and operations director of Adult & Teen Challenge Dallas, Daren and Heidi have been working to strengthen and expand the program. In the past year, they launched a lawn care service and coffee roastery to provide students with work opportunities. Additionally, in 2024, the Walkers are planning on establishing a training facility to teach the men marketable skills like woodworking, technology, and mechanics. The Walkers also launched a school of ministry using Berean ministerial studies to help educate the men in their program who feel called to ministry.
Heidi explains, “We want everyone who comes through our doors to realize that they have potential and to give them the resources they need to fulfill that potential.”
The Walkers have seen God’s provision go above and beyond for each project. From building a $100,000 barn to store their lawn care equipment to a $40,000 van donated to the center to $27,000 to launch Reclamation Coffee Co.
“It is unbelievable what God has done in the past year,” Daren says.
Still, the program’s expansion is not done. The Walkers want to continue to minister to students on every level. They are in the process of creating a more holistic program through partnerships with professional counselors and physical trainers to work with the men.
“There is a medical, psychological, physical, and spiritual side to every issue, especially addiction,” Daren says. “We want to meet and provide for all levels of the issues these men are experiencing.”