I Can Dream Again
By Jimmy Jack
Long Island Teen Challenge
Excerpts from I Can Dream Again by Jimmy Jack
Chapter 1 – The Broken Dream
Tragedy in Manhattan
Most of Billy’s veins were already destroyed and had collapsed from constantly sticking needles in his hands, feet, and arms, so it was hard to find a good vein. I helped Billy tie off his upper arm with a belt, and he frantically searched for a good vein. I held his bicep to get a vein. He finally penetrated a usable vain and then shot three bags of heroin into his arm.
Within seconds, the very thing I always feared came upon us. Billy looked at me in panic and utter shock as he said, “Jimm—...!” He fell out of the van before he finished getting my name out. I realized he had overdosed. The bags we bought must have been uncut, pure heroin. That’s how people die.
Billy was on the street turning blue in front of my eyes. He wasn’t breathing. I jumped out of the van in panic and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. With my hands on his chest over his heart, I was pumping his heart up and down, crying and screaming, “Come on, Billy!” His heart stopped beating and he stopped breathing. I lifted up his limp, lifeless body. I smacked him, hugged him, and tried to make him walk. We both fell to the ground.
Billy was closer to me than a brother. Now it looked like I had killed him. “Billy, wake up! You can’t die! You can’t die!” I screamed. “Don’t do this to me, Billy! Wake up!”
We knew addiction was a monster but never thought we would feel the sting of its poison. Now facing the reality that I had held the arm of my best friend to inject the deadly poison into his vein while he overdosed, I had to ask, “Who is the monster now?” Here we were, lying in the gutter of New York City—two young men in our twenties living life on the threshold of death. Now it had finally arrived. Our potential was destroyed, our dreams broken, and seemingly all hope gone.
Chapter 8 – Boy, You Have A Messed Up Family
War Zone at Home
My parents were consumed with helping the poor and needy. At the same time, they were just trying to make it with nine children of their own. Arguments and fighting were an everyday routine. Having three kids of my own now, I can only imagine the stress on my parents, especially as I consider the pressure of all nine of us running wild.
The breakdowns in an environment of rage, with both parents emotionally checked out, medicated beyond caring, created an atmosphere that drove most of us out as quickly as we could. Some left home early which led to 15 divorces, children born out of wedlock, abortions, and addictions of every kind in my family, over 60 members of my family and friends had been transformed by Jesus Christ through Teen Challenge.
Another thing that contributed to our terrible reputation was the bias against interracial marriage. I have six African-American, three Hispanic, one German, one Polish, and one Irish brothers-in-law. I have only five sisters. Marianne, who passed away, only married once. I have Jewish, Spanish, Polish, Italian, and German sisters-in-law, and all kinds of mixtures between. Add to that our two Moroccan and two Chinese cousins and an assortment of religions from Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. At present, several of my brothers and sisters are single, and I am sure the “Jack United Nations” will continue to grow.
Add to that chemistry, alcohol and drug addiction, eating disorders, rage, lust, promiscuity, and fear, and there was a combustible mixture that led to the dysfunction of our family. The consequences of our lifestyle not only affected my immediate family, but also 37 nieces and nephews, some of whom are racially mixed.
Chapter 9 – Look What The Lord Has Done
Preserved for a Purpose
November 4, 1984 was a miraculous day for me at Brooklyn Teen Challenge. I had been spiritually blind for 26 years when I knelt by that chair in the chapel and asked the Lord to come into my life. I awakened to the spiritual realm of the kingdom of God. When we went out in the yard to exercise early the next morning, I was hung-over and could have stayed in bed, but I got up because I was a different person. Something had touched me—God was in my life. The workout consisted of stretching, jumping jacks and jogging around the house several times. As I joined the men, I looked around and saw everything with new eyes.
For the first time in my life I could truly see. I saw people walking by and said to myself, Look, there’s people! I wonder if they know God?!?! With new vision in my heart, I rejoiced at everything I fixed my eyes on ... the tree (there was just one of the property), the brick buildings, a pigeon, a rat (remember, we were in Brooklyn).
The greatest revelation exploded in my heart when I realized that God had saved me and preserved me for a purpose. Right then, I realized that life was more than just eating, drinking, getting high, having sex, making money, owning a car, a boat, a business, or a house. Life was about purpose and restoring broken dreams. I knew God had a specific destiny for me. Suddenly, I had a burning desire to press on to embrace everything God had for my future.
Chapter 12 – The Teen Challenge Miracle
We named my dog TC, but his birth certificate records his real name—Teen Challenge. Some of you must be thinking: You must really love this ministry to name your dog Teen Challenge. I guess it has had a miraculous impact on your life to name your dog after it. My reply is that Teen Challenge has been instrumental in reaching my entire family and friends. I love the ministry of Teen Challenge.
In 1986, just 2 years after I entered Teen Challenge, David Wilkerson said I had a messed-up family. My family now has a historic testimony: The Jack family is widely known in the Teen Challenge world as having the most family members go through the program. All eight of my siblings and my mother either went through a Teen Challenge residential program or through one of its outreaches.
Mending Broken People
Teen Challenge climbs over racial and denominational barriers to minister to people who are in desperate need. When Jesus came to earth, He broke through the walls of tradition. He took the church out to the highways and byways. He took the church to the people.
Teen Challenge is the Bride of Christ getting outside herself to pick up what society has labeled as lost, hopeless, and dead. Teen Challenge is touching men, women, and families who were once prostitutes, heroin and crack addicts, thieves, scoundrels, and outcasts of society. They are transformed into students, educators, businessmen, evangelists, pastors, and missionaries. They not only become citizens of the kingdom of God, but also soldiers of the Cross.
Teen Challenge is the arm of the church that invests monies, talents, strengths, gifts, and efforts not into buildings, cathedrals, or comfortable cushions, but into helping hurting people and mending broken lives.
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Jimmy Jack's life began in turmoil. His mother and father were both committed to mental wards, and drug addiction consumed Jimmy Jack's life for years to come. He learned how to use drugs at age 10 and then was consumed by hard core drugs in the streets of New York City, and through that, entered into a life of crime, addiction, and reckless living. One night Jimmy and his best friend, Billy went to the New York City to buy 4 bags of heroin. After Jimmy snorted a bag of heroin, he helped his friend shoot the rest in his arm. Billy overdosed and his lifeless body lay in Jimmy’s arms. After many unsuccessful attempts to revive him through mouth to mouth resuscitation, Billy was gone. The paramedics came and tried to revive him as Jimmy cried out to God, saying, “I'll become whatever you want me to be God, just don't let Billy die!” Miraculously, Billy came back to life. Shortly after, Jimmy entered Brooklyn Teen Challenge and his life was miraculously transformed.
Under the leadership of David and Don Wilkerson, Jimmy went on to graduate from Central Bible College in 1989.
In 1990 Jimmy went on to establish Long Island Teen Challenge, which now has five residential homes for men and ladies. 2004 marked the birth of Rock the Block, a cutting-edge, culturally-relevant urban evangelistic street ministry featuring contemporary gospel music, praise, dance, drama and preaching. Rock the Block is an International Evangelistic Outreach reaching the youth of today. In 2008, Jimmy Jack published his first book, I Can Dream Again, his life story.
Through the many lives which have been transformed from the ministry of Teen Challenge, the Coffee House Outreach and Evangelism Crusades in Long Island and New York City, Jimmy founded Freedom Chapel in Amityville NY. In 2009 on Easter Sunday the new Freedom Chapel International Worship Center was built to meet the growing needs of our mission.
Today, Freedom Chapel, Long Island Teen Challenge, and Rock the Block are thriving under Jimmy’s leadership. Jimmy Jack has founded Teen Challenge centers in Dominican Republic, Albany, New York and helped establish Teen Challenge Tanzania through an Evangelistic Crusade in East Africa. Jimmy is also the Director of Brooklyn Teen Challenge along with Don Wilkerson.
Today Jimmy Jack travels the world bringing the message of hope to the lost through Evangelistic Crusades and Outreaches and Leadership Conferences. Jimmy and his wife Miriam live in New York with their three God-loving children—David, Dionnza, and Dominique who are a part of this Evangelistic Ministry.
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