Youth in trouble

Youth in trouble: What can Pastors do?

Resources for young people in need

Nikolaus Satelmajer, D.Min., is the director of professional growth for the General Conference Ministerial Association.

He is 14. Six years ago his parents' marriage broke up. The father left town and did not keep in touch. The mother remarried, and the relationship between the boy and his stepfather has not been the best.

"You are good for nothing" is the frequent, angry judgment of the stepfather. The mother can't do much. She tries to be less harsh on her teenage son but feels con strained to accept her husband's views. The son is puzzled. He feels he is not wanted at home. He recognizes that no one really loves him or cares about him. He feels he must leave home. But before he does that, he comes to see you, his pastor. What do you say to him?

She is 17. Her single mother tells you that the girl has a drinking problem. The girl has talked with her high school counselor and has attended self-help programs for alcoholics. But she has always gone back to drinking again. All her friends seem to do the same. She wants to quit, but is not sure how. What will you suggest to the girl and her mother as you sit in their home talking to them about the situation?

A 22-year-old tells you that for a number of years he has been obsessed with pornography. His relationship with a girl, whom he would like to marry, is affected by this obsession. "Pastor," he implores, "if I don't get help, I know my relationship with her will end. Where can I get help?" To which place will you refer him?

A woman asks you for help with her 18- year-old granddaughter. The teenager left her parents' home two years ago and has not kept in touch. But she does call the grandmother about once every two months. During the last call she told her grand mother that she needed help but that she did not know where to go for the help. The grandmother turns to you. What will you tell her?

Frequently pastors face difficult situations such as these. Often they involve youth and young adults such as those we just mentioned. There are times when pastors are able to provide the needed support. At other times pastors can enlist the assistance of church members who have the know-how, patience, and respect of young people. In still other cases pastors may also access community organizations that can provide meaningful help.

Assessing facilities

When you're assessing facilities that of fer help for young people in need, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • The program must have a strong spiritual basis. Spirituality should be not just a component of the program, but rather the foundation of the entire program.
  • The staff should have training and experience that qualify them to meet the varied needs of young people, particularly their crisis situations. The training needed de pends on the type of facility and the pro grams offered. Ask the contact person about staff qualifications.
  • The facility must function as a haven for young people, providing safety both from others who have hurt them and possibly even from themselves.
  • The facility should be licensed by an appropriate government agency or should have a satisfying explanation of why it is not licensed.

No facility is perfect, and the pastor should prayerfully and carefully assess a given service organization with the specific needs and characteristics of the particular young person in mind.

What facilities are available?

But what facilities are available? I have searched for facilities operated by Seventh-day Adventist individuals or organizations that are supporting ministries of the church. For the time being, the list is limited to only North America.

I have asked each facility to provide in formation about itself and its program. In most instances I talked with personnel from each facility. I also talked with some of the residents to get their perspective of the pro grams. These responses and interviews provide the basis for the summary given below. Here is an alphabetical listing:

Advent Home Youth Services

Serves 12- to 16-year-old boys with serious emotional and mental disabilities: attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia, and other learning and behavioral differences or difficulties. These students experience school dismissal, academic failure, petty crimes, substance abuse, family dysfunctions, negative peer influence, and other psychological and health problems. Contact Dr. Blondel Senior, 900 County Road, Calhoun, Tennessee 37309. Telephone: 423-479-2892; fax: 423-339-5986.

The Bridge

A residential treatment center for dependency disorders for males and females 18 or older. Many of the clients have acted in an addictive manner with sex, work, food, shopping, stealing, alcohol and other drugs, gambling, religion, relationships, etc. The Bridge supports the consensus that each of these issues is a primary compulsion and must be treated as such with abstinence. For more information, contact Jana Aiken, 1745 Logsdon Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101. Telephone: 502-777-1094; fax: 502-777-1062.

Drug Alterative Program

A drug recovery program for males 18 and older. The program centers on the be lief that all things can be overcome with one's ultimate faith in the healing power of Jesus Christ. It is structured in a way that follows the principles of Christianity: love, peace, order, respect, strength, cleanliness, and praise. To learn more, contact Cliff and Freddie Harris, 11868 Arliss Drive, Grand Terrace, California 92313. Telephone: 909- 783-1094; fax: 909-783-1098. Christian Family Learning Centers, Inc.

D.B.A. Hilltop Christian Center for Girls

For female teenagers with emotional, family, or school problems. Contact Ellen Crosby, P.O. Box 2153, 5340 Layton Lane, Collegedale, Tennessee 37315. Telephone: 423-236-5022; fax: 423-236-5023.

Miracle Meadows School

Accepts male and female elementary and secondary students who are runaways or with the following challenges: behavior disorders, dishonesty, defiance, disobedience, depression, anger, irresponsibility, spiritual hostility, poor social skills, and school problems. Contact Gayle Clark, Route 1, Box 289-B, Salem, West Virginia 26426. Telephone: 304-782-3628; fax: 304- 782-3660.

Life Changes, Inc. D.B.A. Positive Transitional Living

For males 18 years and older with substance abuse problems. For more information, contact David Swan, 245 Sunset, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Telephone: 313- 913-6060.

Project PATCH

A residential treatment program with emphasis on behavior modification. Accepts girls and boys up to age 18. Provides resource and reference information as available for those not seeking residential treatment. Contact Tom Sanford, 13455 SE. 97th Avenue, Clackamas, Oregon 97015 (ranch location: Garden Valley, Idaho). Telephone: 503-653-8086; fax: 503-653- 8265.

Fees at these facilities vary. Entrance fees, if charged, are from $100 to $1,500. Monthly fees range from $650 to $3,000. Each facility either provides assistance for parents on how to raise the funds needed or charges a sliding scale fee or provides scholarships. Asked about financial assistance, the director of one facility wrote, "We turn no one away."

These facilities cannot meet the needs of every young person who comes to the pastor for help. It is a list, however, that a minister can use as a resource. In some in stances personnel from these facilities may be able to direct you to other programs that are able to deal with issues for which they are not equipped.

In conclusion, your help is needed. We are asking Ministry readers around the world to send specific information about facilities with which they are familiar. In a future issue, we would like to publish a list that is more international and interdenominational. To be considered for the future listing, the facility should have a reputable, spiritually based program. Please send this information to Nikolaus Satelmajer, Ministry, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904. Fax: 301-680-6502. CompuServe: 102555,2473.


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Nikolaus Satelmajer, D.Min., is the director of professional growth for the General Conference Ministerial Association.

March 1997

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