He came into a Christian addictions recovery program thinking he could "put up with the God stuff for a year" in order to get sober, but today not only is he sober but he's passionately following Jesus and with hopes of ministering to others.

"It's been an amazing thing," Andre Bitchok says about the past 10 months he's spent in Adult & Teen Challenge's 4-tier program in Winnipeg. "I saw what was going on with a lot of the other guys in the program," he says, referring to how he's seen God change men's lives in the program. "The way they talk, act, the way they conduct themselves. They've been through what I've been through and I looked at how far they had come because of God and I thought I want that exact same thing."

Bitchok found himself at ATC in Winnipeg after a seven-year struggle with addictions which included alcohol, drugs, and gambling. He had tried to get sober several times in different programs and coming to Adult & Teen Challenge was what he calls a last-ditch effort.

It was Jesus that made the difference.

"I let him inside my heart, and once I did the transformation that's been going on my life is amazing," he says. "My expectations were, you know, just to get sober. But since I've been in the program I just want to serve God and I just want to further his Kingdom and help make this world a better place and help bring others to the Lord."

Bitchok encourages those who have people in their life struggling with addictions to not lose hope. "Don't give up on them. Keep praying for them and just let the Lord move in their lives and know that he'll work miracles."

A difficult walk, but worth it

The man who entered the program thinking he could "put up with the God stuff" is now clinging to Scripture as he journeys to sobriety. "I think my go-to verse right now is James 1:2-3 which says, 'Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.' When I first got there, I thought the Christian walk was going to be an easy one."

He says he saw the other men living a life filled with faith and assumed that God "was going to take care of everything" and things would be easy. He's learned that while God is certainly there in all circumstances, "there are tough times in life still, and that's o.k. Instead of looking at it in a negative way when I'm under pressure or I'm feeling a bit stressed or things aren't going the way I want them to, I just know that God is building up my character. He can work on me in those situations and it can make me a stronger man of God."

And, while a full year of "the God stuff" might have seemed a little long at first, Bitchok is now signing up for even more. Once he graduates from the four-tier yearlong program he plans to enter ATC's Surge program. Surge is an 18-month intensive leadership training program. ATC says that they invest in their young leaders to prepare them to extend God’s kingdom. Students "learn how to lead like Jesus."

Bitchok says the chance to take the program and help others who were once like him is an exciting thought. "It's going to be a great character builder for me. Just to be working with the guys who are coming in and in the same situation that I was in, and to be able to share my experience and grow alongside them - it's an exciting time for me right now."

"I'm all in"

"I remember when I first kind of found out about this surge program," Bitchok says, "I was young in the program and I thought, man, what kind of a crazy person would want to do another 18 months.  You know, like this is nuts."

The difference now, though, is that he's experienced first hand the transformative power of God, he says.

"But now that I've kind of experienced what's going on in my life I understand. And that's the biggest part of all this, is the experience, you know? It's one thing to have someone tell you but to actually have gone through it now you understand fully what God can do in your life when you just submit to him and let him take over."

You can hear the passion in Bitchok's voice when he speaks. He's found a new life in Christ and just in case there's any doubt, he says "You know, like I'm all in. I know that Jesus has called me to this and I'm ready for it"

He's realistic too about what lies ahead. "I know there are still going to be tough times ahead. But you know, like I said, count it all joy because it's just going to help make me into the man that he's called me to be."


The Be Part Of A Story radiothon will air on CHVN from December 7-9, 2021. Please listen and be in prayer about how you might partner with Adult & Teen Challenge to make more stories like Andre's possible.