Gary’s story

Fitter and stronger in Christ

I am completing the Teen Challenge SA program for the second time here at Strathalbyn in 2022. The first time was in 2007 in Elizabeth, 15 years ago.

When I completed the program for the first time, it was wonderful. I learnt much about myself and life, but it was for the wrong reason. I was just turning 50 years old, hoping to win my wife back to be reconciled to her, and that did not happen.

So now, at the age of 64, 15 years later, and as a believer in Jesus Christ since 1982, I have never totally overcome the way I have used and abused alcohol.

I had been able to work and exercise hard all this time, up until two years ago, when I started to excessively drink alcohol in amounts that I really should not be alive. I became increasingly isolated; I stopped exercising and working and shut life out until it became difficult to hold down food.

At the rate I was going, my life would end soon, and the desire to live was leaving me. Some say you have to hit rock bottom, and I was close.

This time, I knew I needed to return to Teen Challenge SA. So, I contacted them, and within a short time, management accepted my application to go through the one-year program.

This time, it has been life-saving for me, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity to have a shot at living and finishing life well with the time I have left here being an older person.

I am now the fittest and strongest I have ever been … I have an energy and passion for living for Jesus!

The Strathalbyn facility is just exceptional, and the management is fantastic. The rules are firm but fair, and there are compassionate volunteers to help keep this program running. The complex is massive with a great gym, plus a one-kilometre walking or bike riding track that circles the property, which I have taken advantage of with thousands of kilometres achieved and still going. I am now the fittest and strongest I have ever been.

The journey for me this year is a miracle. I have energy and passion for living for Jesus, giving him the glory I lacked in how I lived my life before. God is good! I’m living now with desire – the desire to follow good things I can now achieve with confidence!

After nearly completing the 12-month program, God has opened some doors for me to enter, and in faith, if I stay faithful to him, all things really are possible. I have four adult children and five grandchildren who I love dearly, and I would love for them to see me live life as someone they can be proud of.

Volunteers are vital for the Teen Challenge SA program to function daily, and they are few. I would love to be a part of doing this in the near future – to give back to what God has done for me in my recovery and ongoing journey.