Where does this story begin? For Jamal, it all started at Second Emmanuel AME Church in Compton. Growing up, it was his aunt who sent him and his siblings to the church, making sure they were there every Sunday.
As Jamal entered his teenage years, he found new friends, “Up to that point, I was into athletics and academics. They weren’t into either, but they seemed to be having a lot more fun. And there were the parties they seemed to have more fun at. And so they became pretty interesting.”
This eventually led him down a dark and destructive road, marked by criminal conduct and addiction to drugs.
Jamal confesses, “Along with those addictions, the behavior to accommodate those addictions got worse … It sent me down a pathway that became darker.”
Numerous incarcerations followed his addiction to crack cocaine and heroin.
It was during this challenging time that a cousin Jamal hadn’t seen in years reentered his life. His apparent transformation caught his attention immediately.
Jamal recalls, “When I saw him walking up to the door, I knew something was different with him.”
He learned that Jesus had played a significant role in his cousin’s change, and he was graduating soon from a program Jamal had never heard of before — Teen Challenge.
With his life still in shambles, Jamal reached a point of exhaustion, where his mother’s simple question, “Are you tired yet?”, struck a chord.
He started watching religious programming, exploring different faiths in search of guidance.
However, it was the memory of his cousin’s words that tugged at Jamal’s heart, “He offered to me, ‘If you ever want to change, let me know. And I’ll get you introduced to this man named Jesus.’”
Finally, Jamal made the life-changing decision to reach out for help. Through the intervention of his cousin, he found himself on the path to Teen Challenge.
His journey was not easy, and there were moments of doubt and struggle.
But within the program, Jamal experienced a moment of salvation that altered the trajectory of his life forever.
Jamal graduated from Teen Challenge in 1988 and went on to graduate from TCMI in 1990.
Shortly after becoming a Christian, God called him to plant a church.
Today he pastors First InnerCity Assembly of God in Los Angeles, near the church he grew up attending.
Jamal’s story is a testament to how the Holy Spirit transforms lives through the work we do at Teen Challenge.
As we provide a path to freedom from addiction, God is at work to bring healing and restoration.
Your generous contributions to Teen Challenge enable more stories like Jamal’s to unfold.
Will you join us in making a difference in the lives of people battling addiction? Together, we can build a future filled with God