Indianapolis Teen Challenge
The main building is pictured above with the sign in front of it welcoming guests, residents and staff to Teen Challenge. The center was a good place to be and positioned in such a way as to
have good access to the town. We would take the guys out to eat sometimes as a group and to church on the bus, and it was not difficult to get around at any time that I could ever remember.
This was a very special place to minister and we thank God for it. It was here that our first child, Samuel Adam David Shaffer was born on May 22,1982. His birth created a small problem in
that all the residents of the program wanted to hold him, as well as the staff, and there were so many of them that it took an amazing amount of shuffling to make it happen. Look at Sam's page for more on his life.
After I finished the final three semesters of Bible college we were ministering in Indianapolis, Indiana working with teen boys and teen girls. The director there was Ken Isom, a man easy to work with and dedicated to serving the Lord. I was working with a good friend named Dick, and we sort of co-directed the boys home. Bev ministered at the girls home. We developed some good rapport with both groups. Keeping the boys and girls separated so they could focus on getting their lives together was a fun activity. We had teachers coming from the local school district to teach them at night, and they would always be trying to pass notes in the classroom.
I was the education director so I got to work with both groups.
Bev and I had a room in a building next to the boys residence, and it was sort of comfortable.
We all ate in the cafeteria and the food was good. One night we heard a noise in the room and turned on the light, and there was a tiny mouse sitting on his hind legs, with his ears up looking
at us. He looked so cute. The next morning Bev went into her purse to get a candy bar she had left in there and she found out why the mouse was making the noise we heard. The wrapper was
torn apart on the candy bar and the bar partly eaten. We learned a lesson that night, and it was funny. Eventually we got a tiny cat who ate mice.
I also drove the school bus to take everyone to church, and drive to special events and the other ministry activities. I quickly learned to handle one of those big yellow school buses.
One of the funniest incidents that happened there was when some of the boys were sniffing paint. The color they were sniffing was black. We knew it was happening so we called all the boys into the living room for a meeting and we asked if anyone wanted to confess. Two of the boys were sitting in the room and they had black under their noses above their lip. They openly denied any involvement along with everyone else. I quietly called both their names and told them to go look in the mirror, and asked them if they thought we were stupid. They got the discipline that they asked for, and that incident was closed.
Working with the kids was made much easier when their parents gave us the permission in
writing to discipline them including spanking if necessary. We had a young boy 17 who was giving us trouble, so I brought him into a staff meeting in the office and we began to question him and offer to pray for him. He was stubborn so I gave him a swat. He broke down and cried, and told us why he was so bitter and angry. His father, who was a Christian, had been secretly hiding a stash of Playboy and Penthouse and such magazines in their house and would be looking at them. The boy found them and lost faith in his father's claims to be a Christian. So when he was put in a Christian program he was offended by it. We were able to help him get past that and forgive his father.
A humorous incident was when one of the boys was going to get spanked and he found out
about it and put on extra clothes to pad himself. I was always in the habit of praying that God would give me just what they boy needed; not too hard and not too soft. The boy came into the office with all his padding on and leaned over to get the swat. I prayed and began to bring the paddle forward and it felt like another hand merged with mine and increased the speed and the force of the swat. All I know was that the boy jumped up in the air and hopped around the room yowling in pain. I found out later about the padding, and to this day I believe the Lord somehow gave me more strength and force for that swat knowing what the boy had done to avoid it.
There were so many trials and yet many rewards too as some of the kids came around and learned to help themselves and trust the Lord with their lives. Some of them graduated school and became intern staff either there or in other programs. That was one thing that made it all worthwhile.
One time we had a girl leave the program because she resented the disciplined program life demanded there, and she went out to the streets and began to work as a prostitute for the local pimps. At that time we did not know what she was doing, and one day she came back claiming
to be sorry for leaving and wanting another chance. The truth was that she was still working for the pimp and he sent her to see if she could get some more of the girls to leave and go to work
for her pimp. We found out what she was up to and got her out of there as quickly as we could.
I remember one girl that was incredibly stubborn, and she would not give in a bit no matter what happened to her. One day I got frustrated with her and got right in her face and told her how she was hurting herself and how much i loved her and was hurting with her. When she graduated the program she brought her dad and mom over to meet me and she told me that she loved me.
Praise the Lord! It is impossible to describe how tough it was trying to get through to her, and equally as impossible to describe how I felt, when after all the strain and inward struggles she put me and herself through, she would come to me and say I love you was overwhelming. That is
one more thing that made my entire stay there worth it!
One other incident that was really sad was that we had a staff member in the boys home who seemed to be a good Christian man and really hit it off with the staff and the boys. Nobody would have suspected him of anything because he seemed so genuine and real.
One day we decided to have a reunion of some sort and invited past residents to come and celebrate with us. That morning we had a staff meeting in the girl's home, and I had forgotten something, so I went over to the boys residence to get it. When I got there I heard someone crying, and it was one of the boys invited to celebrate our reunion with us. I sat down to talk
with him to find out why he was crying and he told me that the staff I spoke of before had been molesting him while he was a student there.
My wife and I both had felt that there was something going on with this staff member but we had no idea what it was so we just prayed and asked the Lord to reveal it to us. The Lord used this boy to let us know what was going on. When he told us about it I remembered that this staff member would kneel with the boys and put a blanket around both of them and act like he was praying with them. I never thought for a moment there was anything going on under the blanket.
I was blind to it, and he was able to get away with it for a time. I walked back over to the staff meeting, and that staff member looked me in the eye and said, "You know, don't you?" I told him
I did. We immediately released him from the ministry. Later he repented of it but was not allowed to be on our staff again. Later on he married one of the women working in the ministry. I don't know what ever became of that but prayed God would use that marriage to help him overcome any future temptations to lust for boys.
The pressures of that ministry got to me and I decided to run. It was through that experience and the pressure that I wrote, "I Set My Face;" a poem telling of how I ran to ministry with a desire to be powerful and overcome the enemy and how I ran and the Lord sat me down to teach me a few things before sending me out again. We ended up living above the house while waiting for a new ministry as a new couple was hired to take our place before we could secure a new position. It was a hard lesson for us, but one we are very grateful for. The next stop would be Kentucky Teen Challenge in Louisville, Kentucky.
Below is the poem I spoke about when I ran from the pressures of ministry.
I Set My Face
I set my face to do God's will
And bravely started out
Determined that I would fulfill
My pledge and never doubt.
I ran against the gates of Hell
Flags flying, sword aflame
Eager to face each obstacle
In Jesus' holy name.
The difficulties barred my way
Yet I, undaunted fought
Dethroning self and yielding all
At least that's what I thought.
But fierce, relentless conflict soon
Left me somewhat distressed
As pressure from the foe increased
And greatly 'gainst me pressed.
"This is too much." I cried aloud
For God to ask of man
And looking for a place to rest
I turned my back and ran.
The Lord in mercy carried me
Off the field of war
And set me down to rest and learn
And help me to mature.
You ran into the battle son
Before you could prepare
What you must learn I'll teach you
If you'll come to me in prayer.
You were impetuous and young
In spirit matters new
Before I send you out to fight
I'll make a man of you.
And for what seemed eternity
The Lord put me aside
And dealt with motives, attitudes
Ability and pride.
He taught me that my confidence
Must be in him alone
And many lessons I must learn
Before his work is done.
Now I have set my face again
And I confess with joy
A confidence that rests in him
Which nothing will destroy.
C R Lord © 1987