The ongoing debate about who is the best – Christian rehab versus Secular rehab

drug free

by Jennifer Valentine-Miller

Apart from working as a Receptionist I spend my spare time promoting media concepts relating to social awareness. I believed then, and still believe today, that working towards the good of others enhances the profile. One of my assignments required undertaking a field research on behalf the Christian rehab versus secular rehab campaign. The written outcome had to be based around my quantitative and qualitative data findings in favour of Teen Challenge London which is a Christian rehab. At first I found this task both daunting and challenging.

The centre is the leading Christian rehabilitation and treatment clinic which is for men only. Despite that, it still made sense to research about the success of Teen Challenge London simply because I was working for them as a volunteer outreach worker. My role was to serve both men and women with serious addictions. As well as that, I witnessed first-hand one of the success stories of Teen Challenge because I met my then friend and now husband whilst serving and ministering on London’s streets.  My husband can testify that the Christian rehab is better than secular rehab because the Holy Scriptures, for example, can heal an addict in a way that helped him overcome his addiction and also emerge as better human being.

Also an independent research conducted in the United States informed us that over 70% of Teen Challenge graduates have remained drug-free.

When I worked for the NHS Primary Care Trust it was their responsibility to provide public health outcomes within the local area. Drug misuse continues to have a negative effect on the health, well-being, and quality of life of too many people. It also drains public resources. For example, crimes related to drugs cost the UK ÂŁ13.3 billion every year – and according to go a Gov.UK policy document – prison is not always the best place for offenders who misuse drugs.

Over the winter season many churches open up their doors and provide hot meals for the homeless in aid of their local homeless charity. As well as that, the charity helpline UK-Rehabs, have trained addiction counsellors who man a 24/7 confidential help-line throughout the week, they too understand that the Christian rehabilitation centre is not for everyone.  On the other hand, there is the typical secular clinic for example, The Priory, who will help the recovering addict go through detox followed by 4 to 12 weeks of intense psycho-therapeutic treatments that help him or her deal with the psychological and emotional issues associated with addiction.

As part of this debate, UK-Rehab quoted by saying that they would lean towards the Christian rehab because “the Christian centre offer one clear advantage over secular alternatives: and that is a sense of purpose.”

It also makes sense to recommend a Christian rehab especially if an addict was unsuccessful in their attempts of detoxification in the past.

For the person who is just trying to recover from an addiction – that person just needs to find the right group.

My qualitative research consisted of conducting interviews and questionnaires for a small sample of residents at Teen Challenge. They confirmed that a Christian rehabilitation centre would be their first choice. Though the programme can be very challenging, members of staff are always there to give constant support. The solid foundation developed through the Christian teachings allow those on the programme to develop a gifting and skill which they never realised was there. Today, there appears to be thousands of young people trapped in addiction, and by God’s grace a Christian rehabilitation centre like Teen Challenge will continue to reach out to the vulnerable in our society because they know this is God’s heart for our nation.


Mandy’s story…

by Mandy Fenn-StoneMandy Stone

Hi,  you are probably thinking to yourself, “what is all this about?” – well stop thinking and let me explain. Well to start with, my name is Mandy (but most people call me Dee for short). I am a member of St. Margaret’s Parish Church and due to the help and support from the Church and finding my faith I am now a survivor of Self-Harming. The reason why I am trying to raise awareness within the Churches about Self-Harming is because I was a Self-Harmer for 14 years. It started when I was about 14 years old and I stopped 4 years ago. A lot of people tried to help me but couldn’t stop me from hurting myself.

Seeing me trying to kill myself bit by bit was hurting many people around me. It was a long hard road for the people because I started going to Church with my foster brother and it took a lot of prayer from a lot of people. On the 20th January 2002, I was christened and shortly after I took part in an Alpha Course and was later Confirmed.

For many reasons I rebelled against Christianity and the Church for about 9 months.

I had reached rock bottom when I let Jesus into my life and have not self-harmed for 4 years, so for 14 years of self-harming and with all the help that obviously failed around me, the night that I asked Jesus into my life and to take over, he did and my life was just tops. I still had my ups and downs but I never felt the need to hurt myself any more. I knew that Jesus was me every day.

To me, if it wasn’t for the Church, their prayers and for telling me about Jesus, I wouldn’t be here telling you all about this. So that is why I feel that that Churches can help self-harmer’s to come out of it and to have a life beyond their belief. I have been doing a lot of research on Self-Harming and this is what we have come up with:

Approximately 142,000 Hospital admissions each year in England and Wales are the result of Self-Harming (Mental Health Foundation, 1999). Some of the reasons that they have come up with for this happening are;

CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES: Sexual Abuse 40% Bullying 30% Neglect 25% Emotional Abuse 25% Parental Divorce 20%

ADULT EXPERIENCES:  Rape/Sexually Abusive Experience 25% Lack of Support 25% Abusive Relationship 15% Even children as young as seven years old deliberately cut, bruise and burn themselves in secret. The Mental Health Foundation say that each year some 24,000 teenagers self-harm so badly that they are admitted to Hospital. In the last month, Childline has seen an alarming increase of almost 30% a year in the number of callers who injure their own bodies according to the National Inquiry into self-harming.

The Charity received 4,300 such calls in 2003/4. More than 60% cut, bruised, banged their heads against walls, pulled their hair out or burnt themselves. Many children harm themselves up to 10 times a day and some say it is the only way they can deal with the pressure that daily life triggers – these pressures include Bullying, Abusive Parents, and Parental Divorce.

There is also some evidence that self-harm is part of a group activity and children are being pressurised into doing so. Self-Harming behaviour does not necessarily mean the person has been abused. It could be because somewhere along the line they did not learn good ways of coping with overwhelming thoughts or feelings. It does not mean that the person is sick or disgusting or as some people say – “sick in the head”. It is just that they have never learned positive ways to deal with their thoughts/feelings. Most people who self-harm tend to be perfectionists, who are unable to handle intense feelings, are unable to express their emotions verbally, have dislike for themselves and their bodies and can experience severe mood swings. They may turn to self-harming as a way to express their feelings and emotions, or as a way to punish themselves. You may be wondering why someone would intentionally harm themselves.

Self-harming can help someone relieve intense feelings such as anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and emotional pain. It has been proven scientifically that the body releases a chemical called Seratonin which when released, leaves the body feeling calm. Many people who cut themselves do this in an attempt to try and release all the emotions they are feeling internally. Others may feel so numb that when they see their own blood when they cut, it makes them feel alive because they usually feel so dead inside.

Some people find that dealing with physical pain is easier than dealing with emotional pain. Self-harming is also used as a way to punish themselves. If they were abused they may feel ashamed, guilty and blame themselves for the abuse, which in turn causes them to feel the need to punish themselves by inflicting pain on their bodies. Some people have such hatred for themselves and their bodies that they will carve demeaning names into their skin as a way of reminding them of how terrible they are. It is like when I think back to my self-harming and the way that I would be feeling. It is like the anxiety of my inner battle was becoming unbearable, I wanted to let something out. The anxiety would have been so easy to give in to, whereby then I would again lose all awareness of my surroundings and myself.

I would cry and look desperately into my eyes reflected in the mirror, wanting to know the answers to the way out of my mental prison. I began to cut myself in anger and hate my own body. I was sure that I had feelings but they didn’t seem to show. I became very violent towards myself. The world around me was becoming as unforgiving and intolerant as I was to myself. I would lay down after a violent outburst and fall asleep, very drunk. Sometimes I would wake up in another part of the room, hiding from something in the room which only my sleeping mind had seen, so I would get up, have more drink and drugs and cut again to stop the feelings. Then I would lie there in silence until it was light. There was so much silence in my head and everything else seemed a thousand miles away. My energy was gone, I would stare at the ceiling of my bedroom, the silence inside my head was so loud. The more I kept to myself, or kept others at a distance, the clearer things become. I would return to this state and would only then feel I was being true to myself.

Having Jesus in my life now has made me look at things in a very different light. You see, to be an anybody, anywhere is to look into the eyes of someone who matters to you and know that they don’t care what or who you are, where you have been or what you have achieved. To be an anybody, anywhere is to look into those eyes and know that if you see love there, then you have earned it. Not for being a walking achievement or an interesting case or a social inspiration or a charity case, but just for being you. That is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. A loving and understanding heart, not someone that is looking at what you did, He looks at what you will become. I have now found the best friendship and a sense of belonging and the love that I have always longed for. The mask that I had hidden behind for so long has now gone and I am no longer a label but a child of God. 1 John 4.18: – There is no fear in love, perfect love drives out all fear. So then love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. We love because God first loved us.


If you look at it from a Christian side you will see that self-harming was going on 2000 years ago when Jesus healed Mob. Mark ( 5:2,5 ).  As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was met by a man who come out of the burial caves, there this man had an evil spirit in him and lived among the tombs. Nobody could keep him chained up any more; many time’s his feet and hands had been chained but every time he broke the chains and smashed the irons on his feet he was too strong for anyone to control him. Day and night he wandered among the tombs and through the hills screaming and CUTTING HIMSELF WITH STONES. You see even then, people didn’t understand and found it frightening.

Doing Good Across the Pond


I love to hear that Brits are doing well in America. I have had some good links with Americans and have studied hard to work alongside them. What ever I have achieved has pleased them as a nation, but it hasn’t surprises them because we should not forget that they are the ones that invented entertainment; even in the form of evangelical outreach. I love everything American but I don’t forget that I am British. What I loved about working with American organisations is that they entrusted me with many talents. And from that I have gained more: “Well done, good and faithful one! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many”. (Matthew 25:21)

Words Pressed: A Short Biography

“Many say that words cannot express all things – Words Pressed tries to say it all with dignity. With meticulous attention and creativity I can only believe that my presentation will make a leaf become a tree and petals take the shape of a mountain.”

Currently available on Amazon

Words pressed

Words Pressed: A Short Biography “Completely one of the best publication I have actually read. Indeed, it is perform, nonetheless an interesting and amazing literature. Your lifestyle span will likely transform when you complete reading this book.” (Mrs. Agustina Kemmer V)


This is an extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)

Addictions come shrouded in various cloaks. Whether it be pornography, gambling, smoking, shopping, work, or the most illusive (as well as the most popular of all) drugs.

I am always delving in and out of Psychology Today which continually refers to addictions as a disease and also an “act that has harmful consequences”.  A disease is a malaise contracted from society which gradually has an adverse affect on ones body and mind.  These harmful consequences soon spread into our homes, the workplace, amongst our children and family.  Many live in denial believing they can prevent and control this disease. However, at what point does an individual say that they actual want to be set free from what it is that bounds them?  Possibly it is at that time when realisation hits a certain organ in our body e.g. our brain which then tells the heart that there is a need to regain a structure in life in order function like everyone else around us. There are many testimonies to tell and much to be admired; however none can be simpler than that of:

Reverend Stephen Derbyshire (senior pastor): “When I was at senior school, I became very disillusioned with life.  At around the same time I became friends with a group of boys that were experimenting with drugs. Before long I was dabbling in the same drugs and two years later I had my first injection of heroin.  I was soon injecting a few times each day. After spending time prison I hit rock bottom. At my lowest point, I cried out to God from a place of desperation and said “if you are real, reveal yourself to me.”  I now realise that God heard my prayers because from that point of despair I started on a journey of discovery.  One day, I went to a small church and heard how Jesus had died upon the cross to set me free from a life of emptiness.  Although I heard this before, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time in my life.  The minister offered to pray for people and I went forward.  As he prayed, I experienced an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance.  Since meeting Jesus, I have never felt alone. I have found a true sense of purpose.  Following Jesus is an amazing adventure and I have never regretted the night I made the decision to surrender my life to Him.”

Addicted by Stephen Derbyshire – available on Amazon

Prayer for Salvation…..



by Jennifer Valentine

“Dear Lord, I am sorry for bad things I have done in my life and ask You to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I ask you to come into my heart, help me with my problems and help me to follow you.  Amen”

City Gates WOMEN’S OUTREACH and The Way Out Project Regularly goes out on the streets of East London, reaching out to and spending time with the women who live and work on the streets.

Having the Power to do good means: Conquering Depression

 Our God wants us to live a productive life, demonstrating simple acts of kindness. Every problem in this world is caused by selfishness.

For example the ex-footballer Gary Speed and senior national Welsh manager had everything going for him. Though. it may have been a dreadful meeting that may have led to his death. Money, talent or fame is not the answer for celebrities, especially in time of need. It would have been so different if a great individual like Gary Speed was to meet a Christian who was genuine with the goodness of God coming through them. As a human being, someone like Gary was more than likely devastated by the lack of praise they received. It could have been so different if he had met a Christian with that good news. This would have told him that no matter what people may say to you, Christ the living God loves you if only you give your heart to Him.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)
Jennifer Valentine (2012)

A Firm Foundation is Key

It was a difficult week ……

City Gates Christian Centre had its topping out ceremony less than a week before it fell.  Plans for re-building is now more than a year behind schedule.

“Not so long ago we were celebrating the topping off service,  and looking forward to a new building ready for Autumn 2012 and today I am talking to you about the demolishing of our church.” The Senior Pastor went on to say that to the Recorder, “the fact that there were no casualties was the best news; praise God. I fully believe that the Master was in the midst when the building fell to a crashing halt. I believe that when the builders left an hour early because lighting visibility turned dark and also surprisingly llford town centre was  very quiet for that time of the day, He was orchestrating so that there would be no fatalities. How we as a church respond to this is the key element. We will not suffer financially and we pray for investigations to be over quickly. As a membership our foundation is strong and we have a church to build.” Senior Pastor, Stephen Derbyshire

The building collapsed at around 4.30pm on Tuesday 31 January 2012

Remarkable the only injury was a twisted ankle.  It would be inappropriate to speculate on what caused the collapse.  Eyewitnesses have said it was a “miracle” no one was killed following the collapse of the building. All 22 workers on site were quickly accounted for following the collapse and no one was found inside the wreckage.

(Pictures by Paul Bennett: Newham Recorder)

4 years on…

city gates

(Picture: City Gates Christian Centre)



Going out with someone is what it says it is.  Having made a date, selected a time and venue, and also asked what do you fancy to eat?  You are hopefully going out with someone as opposed to spending an evening indoors.  If only though, going out with someone was just exactly that.  Many have been doing this for years to find at the end of the day that is all it is.  Today the few disgruntled 40 plus individuals who have not even ventured beyond that. Their decision is to go back to school and start again at a more mature level (I hope this makes sense).   When the time comes for a youth leader to release their clutch from a young person so that the veer into education, the work place, or even the mission field; I hope they (the youth leaders) are not fooled into thinking that this young person does not have another agenda roaming through their minds. This is an issue that needs to be faced and addressed.

Do we pity the poor 20-something in our society?  Today’s Christian in the 20 plus age bracket are bombarded by a media and culture that urges them to have uncommitted sex at any opportunity, and on the other by a Church that tells them sharply that they should not. There are loads of books out there advising those trying to navigate the romantic pitfalls of modern society in a Christian way. But are they any good? Help is out there, apparently, in the form of Christian dating books. Do they hold the key? With contributions from various aged 20-something and authors Helen Coffey & Jamie Cutterridge © Christianity Magazine (2012), the aim is to unlock the most wanted to know questions on how to find that perfect date.

1. Look in my own church. This is a slightly unnecessary tip, because if you have got to the point where you are reading 20 First Dates for inspiration, you have probably considered (or dated) and dismissed every single man at your church. Even so, I went so far as to purchase a date with the only eligible bachelor at our church. We had a charity auction of promises, and the guy offered Italian lessons. I ended up bidding my entire month’s food budget, but I won. ‘Maybe we’ll get married in Italy!’ I thought
but our second lesson brought me down to earth with a crash when he brought along the (non-Christian) girl he was dating. Cancel the Italian chapel, return the imaginary wedding dress, get back the deposit for the caterers when the time comes around etc…..

2. Friend’s recommendation. Yes, I went on a blind date. Well, for me it was blind – he had the advantage of picking me from the line-up of single girls my friend showed him on Facebook. He was perfectly nice (as any friend of my friend was bound to be), but there was no spark. Or so I thought. Apparently for him there were sparks aplenty; he could not understand how I didn’t feel ‘it’ too. There was an awkward conversation, my friend was put in an awkward position; awkwardness really was the watchword of the whole encounter.

3. Internet dating. This has had a makeover in recent years and is no longer considered the haunt of people who don’t have good enough social skills to meet people ‘normally’. I dipped a toe in the water, going through the cringe-making process of writing a profile, uploading photos and waiting for someone who didn’t come across as an axe murderer to drop me a line. I went on quite a few dates, and met quite a few nice people. The only problem I found was that dating this way is like interviewing for a job you’re not even sure you want – the position of future girlfriend/wife – and it takes all spontaneity and romance out of the proceedings. And, as with everything Christian, the girls outnumber the boys.

4. Meeting with someone by not dating? This is based on the idea that you should not be in a relationship with anyone unless you are seriously considering marrying them. Therefore instead of dating, you begin courting someone on a path that very clearly leads to the altar. The problem for me is that I don’t think I could start thinking about marriage before I started going out with someone. Nor do I think it’s sinful or a waste of time to have a relationship when marriage is not the intended goal from the outset. But the idea of embarking on something with the distinct aim of not playing games with each other is refreshing. In fact, it sounds amazing – not wondering if you’ll ever hear from someone again, not having to pretend you’re not that fussed when you can’t stop thinking about them.  This is impossible to do, unless the man in question is from the ‘courting, not dating’ school of thought.  And how do you establish that date before you have even been for a drink?  Well, you can’t!

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)


Status, Power or Influence

When I moved to the Essex borders over 13 years ago my local church was not covered by the Pope, or the Arch Bishop, in fact the overseer was and still is the General Superintendent of the Evangelical League of International Ministries.   My impression upon my new church at that time was not a favourable one.  They stressed that sports men and women belonged on the pitch, and if you came from the thrones of the theatre then you were be told from start that the church is not a stage – therefore I may not have a part to play here. The idea of travelling from church to church and house to house in order to find spiritual enrichment did not appeal me. So I chose to find my place within my local church; with the intention of leading one day so that I could be an influence.  Well, why not? No one was interested in what titles I had won and no one knew or heard of the films I had appeared in; or even if I had won an Oscar. These were situations I have found myself having to accept “keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” 1 Peter 3:16. Having succumbed to the fact that I just didn’t know how sell or deliver my own achievements successfully, I accepted to promote the success of others along with my own testimony. In fact we all have a testimony.  After much contemplation I tried to bring to mind those who played a formative part in my earliest years. It quickly became clear that not one of them had status or power within the life of the local church. Yet their influence was immeasurable.  I have been blessed by the many guests who have visited my local church.  Many of them I knew or still know as sportsmen and women from the film industry who would never have dreamed of being seen on a platform or behind a microphone. Their testimonies left an indelible impression.

I ask myself many a times, what is my role within the local church? And the same answer comes back which is to let members know your place within the body of Christ (which is the Church).  The best education I can give is to serve well with all my heart, and all my might. The best education is caught rather than taught. So where does this leave me now? Perhaps to recognise three things:

The first might be to recall and reconnect with those who played a positive role in our lives and let them hear our gratitude.

The second might be to pray for a conduit of affirmation and encouragement in the lives of others.

The third would be that, if ever called to make the choice, always to choose influence over status and power.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)