A Modern Day Prodigal
One of my favorite stories in the bible is in Luke 15 when Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. Prodigal: recklessly wasteful or a person who wastes his means. This has been the reoccurring theme of my life. You are about to hear how my life directly lines up with this parable and how God has never stopped loving me.
My name is Michael Dunn. I am 25 years old and from a suburb outside of Philadelphia. I have been blessed with a loving family and grew up never knowing what need was. Also, as a child and young adult almost everything that I applied myself to came fairly easy to me. I graduated high school and was headed to Temple University in north Philadelphia.
"...the son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living."(Luke 15:13) Philadelphia was the fast life. I hit college hard with partying. Drinking and women was an everyday event. Then one night my friend introduced me to cocaine after a long night of drinking. It immediately became a necessity to partying. This eventually led to be a necessity to everyday life. I began to use cocaine everyday even if I wasn't drinking. If I didn't use I was completely miserable. This was a four year affair.
The continued drug use had me at an all time low. I was completely depressed and had no will or desire to live. There seemed to be no way out and no hope. When things couldn't get any worse Satan had one more poison dart for me. This dart was named heroin. I knew deep down in my heart that this would be my demise but part of me told me I could handle it and another part of me didn't care what would happen.
"He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything."(Luke 15:16) Two overdoses coupled with tremendous pain and suffering to me and my family and being mentally, physically, and financially bankrupt I had finally had enough. The bottom which my addiction led me to was sleeping on the street and digging in dumpsters and begging for food. I was tired and had nowhere to turn except to God.
I have tried to do everything to stop using. I have tried outpatient rehabs and inpatient rehabs. I have done detox and suboxone. I have also tried methadone. Finally, I attempted 12 step programs all which led me to no success. The problem was I was relying on myself and man to get me off the drugs.
My entire life I never believed in God and really didn't have any desire to change that. The end of January I was beat down so bad that the only option I had was to cry out to God. I left everything I have ever known including all of my family to give my full and undivided attention to God. I turned my life over to Jesus Christ and immediately God began doing great works in my life.
I came to North Carolina with a bag of clothes and a hope that God would change my life. I am leaving Teen Challenge with my health, nicer clothes than I came with and a complete trust in God. I wanted and prayed for a guitar and the Lord blessed me with two guitars. He also gave me the ability to learn quickly and write my own songs. I hope to start a band with people who love God and music as much as I do. I prayed to go back to college. While at Teen Challenge I was accepted into Greensboro College . Finally, the many years of pain and distance I put between me and my family has been mended in a way that I could never imagine. For the first time ever I can tell my father that I love him and not feel uncomfortable. I can also finally say that I love myself more each day with God's help.
The parable ends with a verse that I hold close to my heart. "But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."(Luke 15:32) I am finally found and for once I am alive.
Rolling onto the Teen Challenge Campus riding my Harley Davidson brings lots of smiles to the faces of our students and staff. I have loved riding motorcycles as long as I can remember. I have been blessed to be able to ride. There are times when I need to clear my head or just be alone with the Lord and I will hop on my bike and ride through the country side. I find it refreshing and rejuvenating.
Sharing the refreshing and rejuvenating love of Christ is my call. I have been blessed to lead mission trips into developing countries for over 17 years. It has been a blessing to bring hope and healing to those who are so desperately in need of help and a savior.
On November 1st, of this year, I took the position as the new Executive Director for Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge. I plan to work with the other great staff here, to bring hope and healing to young men right in our own area.
God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t see us as rich or poor, He doesn’t see our color, He doesn’t see our physical appearance, He doesn’t see what part of the country we are from……..He sees our heart. As long as He gives me breath, I will share His love and deliverance with those around me.
Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge has been able to bring hope and healing to hundreds of young men during the past 35 years. We want to continue seeing men set free by the power of Christ.
There is a saying I have come to love, it goes like this: “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” That’s why God gave the ultimate gift of His only son. It was love.
In the devotional book, Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado, in relation to gifts, the question is asked, Why do you? I’ve seen you searching for a gift. I’ve seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles. I’m not talking about the obligatory gifts...Why do you do it?...You do it so the heart will stop. You do it so the jaw will drop. You do it to hear those words of disbelief, “You did this for me?”
That’s why you do it. And that is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, ‘”You like it? I did it just for you.”
When you are quiet before the Lord and totally overwhelmed by His love and the gift of His son, remember He did it just for you. God gave His son for each of us and yet He gave His Son just for you. That kind of love is truly beyond our human comprehension. The simple verse, John 3:16, “God gave.” and 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His gift that is too wonderful for words.
Take time this Christmas to enjoy your gift!
Marriage Vows Renewed.....
Alumni, Tommy McCalvin and wife Heather renewed their marriage vows in the Teen Challenge Chapel this November. It was a great time of rejoicing as we witnessed a home that God restored through the Marriage and Restoration Program here at Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge.
A time of fellowship and eating followed in the dining hall. It was a wonderful opportunity to witness God's healing and grace.
Tommy and Heather informed family and friends that from now on they will celebrate their anniversary on November 15th.
To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done!
Fall Walkathon a Success.............
Each Spring and Fall we have a walk-a-thon. The men look forward to this time of being part of a fund raiser for Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge. It blesses me to see them want to give back to Teen Challenge.
The men in the photo below were our walkers. Many of you gave to the Fall Walk-a-thon. If you have not yet sent in your pledge, it's not too late. Mark the memo line of your check Walk-a-thon.
Thanks to all who sent in pledges and all who have kept us in your prayers. This is a partnership ministry. Thank you for being our partners. Together, we will see many men rescued and homes restored.
Year End Giving...
December 31st will soon be here and with it comes the final opportuity for you to make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution of cash, appreciated stock, or good used items for our thrift store. For stock transfers our Merrill Lynch representative is Mr. Ken Sale. He can be reached at 336 373-1711. Our account number is 746-04D54 and DTC #5198. Please note that all year end donations need to be received here or postmarked by 12/31/2010.