Teenage Treatment Center

Category: South Texas Projects

Imagine arriving at what appears to be an average four-story office building, but entering and finding it to be something entirely different. You’re greeted by caretakers who are, for the most part, rather husky and intimidating. They lead you through the barren hall, filling you in on the building’s history as you go; apparently it was once used as a mental hospital. As you journey up to a higher floor, you find that the upper three are closed off to the bottom floor; the reality of your surroundings is setting in. You’re escorted into the room where you’ll be giving your first class. The girls—all between twelve and seventeen years of age—are brought in, lined up in single-file. Roll call is taken in an unusual manner—they’re given commands to say their assigned numbers one-by-one.

This is the picture we experienced at this treatment center, which holds over 120 minors who were either taken from their families because of neglect or abuse, or had repeatedly gotten in trouble with the authorities. These youth are handpicked—the ones caretakers feel they can work with and help. The goal is to help the teens return back home or to find foster homes for them. Unfortunately, the reality is that ninety percent won’t be going back to the homes they once knew, and because of their histories they’ll be hard to place in foster homes. Most will live out their time in this treatment facility until they reach the legal age of eighteen and become independent—having to make decisions on their own and facing the consequences of those decisions on an equally lone footing. How important it is to help them and set them on the right path now.

We had decided that the topics for this class would be positivity and faith. We introduced ourselves, said a prayer with them, then began. They listened attentively for the first ten minutes, but when the topic of forgiveness came up, hands began to rise, followed by questions like, “How can I forgive someone who has hurt me so bad?” At this, many began to open up about being neglected and/or abused. We patiently answered their questions using concepts from the Word. We could feel the intensity of the challenges they were facing; some of the girls even broke down in tears as they struggled to share what was on their hearts. This was just the first class.

Six years later we’re still working with these young people, and it’s encouraging to see some of the changes in their young lives and to hear some of their reactions to the classes. These teens are so hungry for someone to show them a little love—the vast majority have eagerly received Jesus as their Savior and are regularly returning to our class for more input. We hope we’ll be able to continue to reach out to the teens here for years to come.

Here are some reactions from the teens:
“This class has really helped me to cope better when I’m feeling weak, depressed, or even stressed. I go to God and pray about everything I have on my heart, and after I pray, I feel so much better.”-Robby

From 14 yr. old K. at the Juvenile Center. She said she didn’t know how to pray & asked if she could write God a letter: Dear God, I really want to get to know You better. I know You & me have been off & on, but I need You to help me through this. I’ve disrespected You and am sorry for that. (FOR REAL!) I need Your help to get me through at least 4 more months here. I want to see my mom on Thanksgiving. That’s what I need Your help on. I really want time with her and to eventually tell her how I really feel. Can You help me? I really need support now.

“I really liked the “From Jesus with Love” books you gave us! My favorite thing to read is about God’s love for us, and I liked the “From Jesus with Love for Women”. I greatly appreciate you. Thank you!-Lucke

“This class brings me joy! So much joy!”-R.J.

“This class helps me a lot because I had a lot of worries, anxiety, and confused emotions, and I didn’t know where to put God in the midst of all this. I blamed God instead of trusting him for His help.”-Breia

“I’m learning that no matter what you do wrong, God will always love you and never give up on you.”-Jalicia

“I really like the “From Jesus With Love” books. When I feel like forsaking God they lift my feelings.”-Megan

“The book “From Jesus With Love for Women” lifts my spirit and makes me feel good about myself. The other “From Jesus With Love” books make me feel good in bad times. I think being here in this institution and reading these books has brought me closer to God. The books make me happy because I understand them.” -Raven

I grew up with an autistic brother that was 4 years older than me. My whole life he was mean and violent. I never knew what I did wrong but he would always beat me violently. I was so little, he was so big and strong. At 9 yrs. I went into foster care, then not only was I beaten; I was starved, sleep deprived, uneducated, molested, and worked to the bone. I was removed from that home and put in a home that I felt saved my life. They told me about God, but I didn’t listen. I was moved back home after two years, and again I was beaten. So I ran away several times. At 15 yrs. I fought back and put my brother in the hospital. I was arrested and put in Williamson County Academy Bootcamp. I found the right person to tell me the truth and he helped me forgive and move on.                      - Anita B.

My name is Jackie C.  and this class that I come to every week helps me learn more about God and the things I need to work on in my life. But what I love most about coming here is that I don’t understand everything about God, and they help me so much … and I love it. It’s also helping me stay strong while I’m away from my family. I thank you for taking your time out to come and teach me about God.

Don’t give up, Just keep your head.      God will always be with you.             So keep a Smile on your Face.

Thank you and God bless you.   I love you all.                    - Jackie C.

These classes have helped me learn to have patience, and I finally realize that there is a Lord in my life. I know this place is not a very good place, but if I would have never come here I would have never learned from my mistakes. I would probably be doing the same old stuff. But this place has helped me learn that I need to stop running from my problems. Please pray for my family and friends.                - Griselda H.

The Word of God has helped me to stay stronger and not give up and to believe and put my worry and struggles in His hands. Also (it has) helped me to know and understand that the Lord is there watching Me and He hears my prayers day and night – which is my cry for guidance, knowledge, strength, patience, and for my anger just to go away so I can be happy again and so I can forgive my family and have the courage to move on with my life without sorrow. Lord, my Savior, I know You’re there. Please answer me.               - Breanna M.

I have learned from these studies that God does love me and that He is listening, and that I’m not alone.         - Kayla M.

This class has helped me build my relationship with God. In my life I’ve had many fights, but I learned that I should have more patience and tolerance. Now I let a lot of stuff slide and roll off my shoulders. I used to put myself first all the time. Now I am putting God and my family first and I’m gonna work through this program and go home with them. I’m also gonna stop drinking and doing drugs because my body is God’s temple and He don’t want me doing that stuff.

-  Brittney W.

I learned that I do believe in God and I don’t give up. Also, (I have learned) to forgive those who do things to me and to pray for my sins.                        - Rachel M.

The Lord has made me realize that I can’t trust no one but Him because He is the only one who can keep a promise. Put God before anybody else because when it all comes down to it, He is going to be the only one for you.             – Mias

Well, I can say that throughout all these classes I have learned to forgive myself and others. Ya’ll have taught me to have courage and to move on after I have done all I can. All I did was stand because to me being thankful in my life is that letting my past go with all the hurt, pain, abuse, and hate in my life. I have learned to let it go and don’t turn back on it. Sometimes I wonder why we have love and hate, and to understand more about the Bible although I know it. But it don’t hurt to learn more.                             -Corrie S.

I’ve learned not to listen to what people say, only what God tells me and wants me to hear.             - Brittany R.

God has really changed my life. He gave me a second chance to live. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have in life.

-          Desiree S.

The Lord has taught me how to make the best of things even when I was put in situations I disagree with. He has taught me to accept what I cannot change.                     -  Talicia E.

This class has helped me look at things in a different way so that I’m not always thinking negative. I’ve learned to never give up – to keep trying no matter how many times you fall. Another thing is no matter if the world is not there for you, God will always be there for you. Everything you do matters.                      -  I.K.

I sometimes think of the classes we’ve had on being thankful and relate them to some of the things that happen to me here in this institution. They have given me control of my behavior.    - Amy (16 yrs. old)

These classes and all the Word we receive from you have changed my thinking towards God. They have helped me in choosing what road to take.   – Vita         (15 yrs.)

All that you have done for me has helped me, and reading these books you brought us has changed my life. Thank you for giving me these books.   – Ana (15 yrs. old)

This class has helped me to realize that I can have eternal life in God as long as I ask for it. And as long as I stay positive and work in Jesus, I will always succeed.    - Toby (16 yrs. old)

I thank you because this class has made me feel welcome.   –  T.M. (14 yrs old)

The Bible makes me understand how much the Lord suffered for us. And this class has made me see how kids suffer in other places, but they still pray to God and are thankful for what they have.        - David (16 yrs. old)