Faith-based Addiction Recovery Testimonials to be Shared

Jason Olsson stands beneath a photo that shows his appearance before he began Teen USA’s faith-based recovery program and another that shows him today. Olsson will be among those sharing his testimony at Baring Baptist Church this Sunday. (Submitted photo)

By Lura Jackson

 

Facing and overcoming addiction is never an easy situation, but it is one which some families have had remarkable success. For Jessica Olssen and her father, Jason, Teen Challenge’s faith-based residential program has been exactly what they needed to assist in Jason’s recovery. Jason will be among those sharing their personal testimony at Baring Baptist Church on Sunday, September 30th.

Jason’s path of addiction is a familiar one to many who have experienced it firsthand or seen it through their friends and family members. “He was working in the mill about 15 years ago, and he hurt his back really bad,” Jessica explained. “He got addicted to painkillers. Over years and years, it just escalated.”

Jessica encouraged her father to attend Baring Baptist Church with her last fall, but she knew he would need focused help. “The track he was on wasn’t a good one at all,” she said succinctly. He was ordered to enter a program by the courts, but there weren’t many local options – prompting a necessary but still-difficult acceptance on Jessica’s part. “I tried to keep him as close as possible. He’s more like a father to my kids than a grandfather.”

In January, Jason began Teen Challenge’s residential program outside of Boston. Entering the program produced an immediate and dramatic effect on his well-being, Jessica shared. She’s been down twice to see him since then. “Seeing him each time that we’ve gone down, the changes that he’s made. It’s outstanding.” The program took a picture of Jason the first day he entered it, and he recently shared his testimony with his “after” picture shown right next to it. “I remember what he looked like, but just to see it there, side by side, it’s just amazing,” she said. “You can tell when you talk to him, too. His whole personality has changed in just a short amount of time.”

Teen Challenge is typically a 15-month program, but Jason has been doing so well in it that he is anticipating completing it in 12. Afterwards, he will serve as a mentor, a role he has already been fulfilling in Boston. While Jessica was visiting with him, she met one of his roommates, she shared. “One of the younger guys had said to me, ‘If it wasn’t for your dad, I wouldn’t be here right now. I would have been out of this program and probably back on the streets.’”

For Jessica, Teen Challenge and Jason’s successful adoption of its principles represent nothing less than the saving of her family. “It’s a life-changing program, and I’m so thankful that it came into my dad’s life,” she said. “He might not be here if it wasn’t for this program. That’s how I feel. I have his grandchildren, and I’m pregnant with his third grandchild. I want him to be around as long as possible.”

The testimonial will begin at Baring Baptist Church on Sunday, September 30th at 10:30 a.m., but everyone is invited to come early at 10 to meet the speakers and for fellowship.

 

To reach Teen Challenge Boston directly to find out more about their services, call 617-318-1380 or email director@tcboston.org. For immediate help from Teen Challenge’s Hope Line, call 1-855-404-4673.