A unique celebration was held recently to recognise an inspiring group of former addicts who have turned their lives around.
The Teen Challenge 2014 Graduation was held at the King’s Community Church in Aberdeen on Friday, March 7.
The graduation was held to support two women and three men who have completed a year-long Christian addiction recovery programme.
The women undertook the course at Teen Challenge’s female residential centre, Benaiah, near Mintlaw, whilst the men completed the programme at the organisation’s male facility, Sunnybrae, near Fyvie.
Years of severe drink and drug abuse had taken its toll on the participants, including on their health, their relationships with family members and their career ambitions.
Over the course of the year-long programme, however, the individuals worked hard to rebuild their lives through participating in personal advice sessions, Bible-based studies and practical work duties.
One of participants who graduated last week was Julie Forsyth from Fraserburgh, who shared her story of how she has overcome addiction in her life. Julie told how 20 years of substance abuse, including heroin and crack, had wrecked her health and eroded her confidence.
Julie had tried rehab a number of times before Teen Challenge but had never been successful in escaping addiction.
Then, in November 2012, she entered Benaiah and, 16 months later, is now healthy, happy and excited about the future.
Commenting, Julie said: “I am so delighted to have come though Teen Challenge and graduate the programme. It hasn’t been an easy road to recovery but it has been so worth it.
“Drugs had completely broken me - spiritually, emotionally and physically - until I came to the point where I realised that my life was utterly out of control.
“I opened my heart to God though and He has transformed me, gently leading and guiding me through the challenges of the programme.
“Today, I am training at the Teen Challenge School of Ministry in England, as I want to be able to love, support and encourage other women who are in the same horrible position as I was just a couple of years ago.
“The future is looking great and I just can’t wait to see what God has planned for me.”
Area Manager of Teen Challenge North East Scotland, Gordon Cruden, commented: “It’s always touching to see families come along and celebrate with our graduates - men and women who not long ago were completely lost in addiction.
“We were particularly delighted to have so many people from across the north-east join us - we have a fantastic army of supporters.”
Teen Challenge’s graduation comes soon after another major development for the organisation, with the charity recently announcing that it is making it possible for struggling mothers to continue living with their children whilst complete the programme.
Gordon added: “Last month, we welcomed our first infants to Benaiah, where youngsters can now stay full-time, with our team of staff now able to support mothers as they work on their recovery.
“The centre can also accommodate pregnant women with addictions, providing them with the opportunity to get clean and work towards a life of freedom.”
For further information on Benaiah visit www.tcns.org.uk or call 01771 620 100. For more details on Sunnybrae, call 01651 891627.