Teen Challenge started in Brooklyn, New York in 1958 by Revered David Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was a young country preacher pastoring a church in eastern Pennsylvania. One February afternoon, Wilkerson read an article in LIFE magazine about seven teenagers who were on trial for murder. During a gang fight in Manhattan, these teens beat a young man to death. Troubled by what he read in the article, and sensing God wanted him to do something for the teens, Wilkerson made a trip from his hometown in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania to the urban area of New York City.
Sometime after this, Reverend Wilkerson resigned his church in Pennsylvania and moved to the New York City area to work full time with teenage gang members. This new work was eventually called “Teen Challenge.” Soon, Teen Challenge began to also offer help to those addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Since that day till now the Teen Challenge ministry has spread across the United States and in multiple countries around the world. Then as now, the ministry of Teen Challenge reaches out to troubled individuals and their families. Centers have been established for men, women, boys, and girls.
The rest of the story of Teen Challenge is told in the best-selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade. This book has sold tens of millions of copies and has been translated into 35 different languages. Another exciting book that is available, Run Baby Run tells of notorious gang member Nicky Cruz who was one of David Wilkerson’s early converts in New York City. Beyond the Cross and the Switchblade and The Cross is Still Mightier than the Switchblade also detail important early history of Teen Challenge.