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"Where in the world is Hungerford, Texas" you ask?  It’s a wide spot in the road near Wharton or approximately 45 miles west of Houston. The Center had acquired a school, complete with Gymnasium, class rooms, maintenance facilities and adjacent land. The school district went bankrupt which should give you an idea how poor the people in that area were. The site was ideal as a Rehab Center however. It was remotely located and there was not much that the residents could get into. Let me explain just a little about the program.

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Circa 1983 - Must have been serious times

It was called “Teen Challenge” and was considered a home mission field of the Assembly of God church. It took in all kinds of people with “life controlling problems”, including whole families. We had single men and single women dormitories, trailers and apartments for couples, a nursery, and trailers for the staff. There was also some livestock, including chickens, goats, pigs and horses. Altogether, we had around 200 adults, and maybe 40 children living there. Cherie and I along with the kids moved into one of the double wide trailers and went about the business of rehabilitating people.

This was a 24/7 job and you were always on call if needed. I was in charge of induction, prison and jail ministries, the Friday night Chapel services, counseling, and anything else that needed doing. Cherie concentrated on organizing the kitchen and started a thrift shop in the City of Wharton.  She also took over the ceramics shop and transformed it into a money making venture. Jennifer and Chris were being home schooled which left them ample time for other pursuits.

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Sr staff ladies planning session

Jennifer spent most of her time in the nursery helping the young mothers or in the mother’s apartments helping with the children. Those young moms in the program just loved her. She also volunteered as a candy striper at the Wharton Hospital.

Chris and his two friends formed a tight knit group and they were always off on some new adventure, building things, riding horses or fishing in the creek. Arnie was finishing off his last year of High School as a home schooler and was awarded with a scholarship to Houston Baptist University. He lived in a dorm on the HBU campus and later shared an apartment with several other students. He also played soccer on the HBU team.

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Jennifer the Candy Striper

Some of the fun highlights of our stay at the Hungerford campus, were the numerous trips down the Colorado River. I would take a bunch of the residents (that is what we called the people there for treatment) put them on one of our buses and let in upstream. We would float for hours braving the heat, venomous snakes and even the occasional alligator, and get picked up at our landing near Wharton. I also put together a soccer team and we would travel to play other clubs, churches or schools. Some of the banquets and special events we hosted in the Gym were always great fun too but there were also times of chagrin when one of the residents went a little crazy and had to be disciplined. We had quite a few

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Indiana Jones and company

that either probated or paroled into the program by the courts, and sadly some went back to jail or their former lifestyle of drugs and depravity. Five years of this just wore us out, and we left the center and returned to Columbia in the spring of 1987.

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