Teen Challenge was launched in 1958 from a small office in Staten Island, New York. Pastor Wilkerson conducted street rallies on "gang turf," meetings through which many gang leaders and members were converted. Through this program, many street-hardened young men and women came to Christ, allowing God's Spirit to transform their lives.
In 1960, the Teen Challenge headquarters relocated to a large Georgian house at 416 Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn. The residence provided protection for drug addicts and gang members, as well as beds and shelter for troubled and homeless youth.
In 1958, many people thought David Wilkerson was crazy to try taking the gospel to drug-addicted teens in New York City. Today, few of those critics are willing to question the success of the Teen Challenge ministry.
Teen Challenge has grown to include 173 residential programs and numerous evangelism outreach centers in the United States, and 241 centers in 77 other countries. The program's cure rate of 86% has been recognized and substantiated by the U.S. Government's National Institute on Drug Abuse. All Teen Challenge centers operate autonomously.
Teen Challenge graduates include former drug addicts, alcoholics, gang members, prostitutes and others with life-controlling habits. Today, many graduates serve as ministers and missionaries throughout the world.