I entered Teen Challenge Nov. 14, 2012. I’ll never forget that day as I began a new direction in my life… a direction that I have not deviated from that has altered me forever.

Life before Teen Challenge was almost not worth living. I welcomed death, I even hoped for it. In my eyes I was not worth saving. I thought I was on my own and had to do it on my own. I used whatever I could and whomever I could. I was always masking the problems and never facing them. George and his staff took away all my masks, all my patch jobs and exposed my problems. They showed me what a life with Christ was by living it themselves. They forced me to come face to face with my issues. I learned that recovery is never faster than healing and true value comes from love.

God has picked me up out of the lifestyle of death I had created for myself and placed me on a path of wholeness and life. Teen Challenge has given me my family back. I now get to see the upbringing of my three-year-old little brother. I’ve been able to reconnect with my little brother and younger sister just in time to see them off to their next chapter in life. My relationship with my father has grown in ways I never thought possible. Life for me now is an adventure! I wake up each morning excited to see what the Lord has in store for me!

I continue to experience and find new ways TCC prepared me for what’s to come, not just to be prepared but to overcome situations with confidence. Through the discipleship and mentoring at the Ranch, I received skills, knowledge, maturity, work ethic, discipline and wisdom. They broke each character trait down to its core allowing each lesson to be applicable in any situation. They didn’t just teach me how to talk it – but to walk it…with understanding. This has prepared me for every situation I have encountered. Anyone can memorize what keys to hit on a piano to play a song but you’re limited to just that song. Those who understand music at its core and how it is created can apply that knowledge to the comprehension of any song no matter its difficulty. Discovering my identity in Christ and learning how to follow Him has radically changed my life.

Little did I know, life at the Men’s Ranch prepared me for what has been the most dramatic experience of my life. Ten months ago, I found out my girlfriend and I were going to have a baby. One choice, one moment of weakness can change your life forever. Soon I was faced with holding myself to the standards of my faith and including my girlfriend in all our new decisions – how we carried ourselves and how we faced this task together. We chose to keep the child, get married and move to Texas to follow her dream of working with youth. We have faced many trials together and are better for it. I am glad to say we are now the proud parents of a baby girl – Bridget Ann Barnes, born, 7lbs 2oz. We will be married by the end of the year. I have begun my training in Diesel Mechanics and am considering becoming a certified welder.

I also see how Teen Challenge taught me how to be a father. Despite the fact I have a lot to learn, I’m confident by understanding of the underlying basics I will be more than able to learn as I go. Words cannot express how thankful I am for George and his staff at the Ranch. I often find myself using parts of teachings and the many sayings engrained in me. They have saved my life and will impact the countless lives I will come into contact with.