The Lord's Own Safety Net

As social programs fall away, fundamentalist groups like Teen Challenge are rushing to take their place.

At a time when most nonprofits struggle for funding, money is flowing to Teen Challenge. The Minnesota program's 1994 annual report lists some 1,000 donors, including hundreds of churches from Aitkin to Zumbrota, who contributed almost $410,000 in all. Of that, the group spent $262,000 on operations, including $70,000 on salaries for 21 staffers, and sank some of the rest into buying property. At the end of only its fourth year, its equity was worth $550,000, including more than $100,000 in cash.

"Our biggest problem right now is not having enough room," Scherber says. "We get 40, 50 calls a day for help. We could have 20 homes. And we only cater to those who are serious about getting their life in order." For the others--those whose idea of a new life doesn't include charismatic worship, or who simply can't get in (the program won't take the mentally ill or illiterate, for example)--there may still be hope: Teen Challenge's brochures offer a convenient form you can clip and send to have staff and students pray for anyone you named.

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