"Addictions is the next pandemic and we want to be there to put hope within reach of people," says one of the pastors at Adult & Teen Challenge.  

Terry Thiessen is the Lead Regional Pastor for ATC in Central Canada, which includes all their locations in Manitoba. 

"This year we decided we're having non-banquet banquets. Basically, we're doing a worship service in different communities around Manitoba," says Thiessen. 

These Forward Tour events will take place in Steinbach, Pembina Valley, Brandon, Swan River and at Calvary Temple in Winnipeg.

"This year God has really led us to the word 'forward' as our theme. In Job, it talks about how the righteous move forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger. In Isaiah, God says don't dwell on the past. I am doing a new thing, think forward. We're in a new season of exponential growth and vision." (Thiessen)

While the drama happening is a light comedic production, it also leads to the hope found in Jesus Christ, no matter what a person has been through. 

"We're going to have a great night of drama, worship, and testimonies. We're really excited about that as we can have about 500 people and rush seating," says Thiessen of the Winnipeg event happening November 15.

New this year as a more regular event, ATC has started offering church services. 

"Every Sunday night we have church on Furby Street. We partner with other churches too and it's Adult and Teen Challenge doing church. There's a rawness to it, there are always testimonies and God's presence is the priority. We just want people to come and hear hope." he says.

New Programs

"About a year ago the Lord put it on our heart to extend our ministry beyond the walls of our centres," says Darlene Clark, the Ministry Manager in Winnipeg for ATC. "We launched the community offices in Steinbach, Winkler, Thunder Bay, and Brandon. We're working on some other locations."

These community offices around Manitoba are helping people who may not be ready to commit to a one-year program but still seeking help for their addiction. They also run groups for people with loved ones who are battling addictions. 

"We want to meet them where they're at. In Winnipeg on Tuesday nights, we have a group for women that is part of our Ready Now recovery program. Wednesday nights we have a group for men, and on Thursdays, we have a group for concerned persons."

Clark helps run these ministry programs in Winnipeg. The same programs are offered in Steinbach and Winkler right now with more locations on the way. 

"This was in God's heart long before He put it in ours. We're just happy that He chose us to walk this out and be that light in the community," she says. 

According to Clark, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot more people to turn to alcohol or drugs. 

"I think it's safe to say the statistics [of people battling addictions] has gone off the charts. With loneliness, isolation, and fear, all of these things contribute to life-controlling issues. If they're already in a place where they're feeling frightened it just adds to it. On the other side of that, the Lord really caused us to think outside the box."

ATC's community programs have been online as well as slowly opening up to in-person events as restrictions allow, but people are willing to meet in any way to find the hope ATC, and God, offer. 

"We need churches in Manitoba, and Christians in Manitoba to be praying for how they can support us in their prayers and get behind what we're doing. A great way to do that is to find out when this awareness tour is coming to where you are and come and see what God is doing," says Thiessen.