Nine varieties of one-of-a-kind soups will be available for tasting along with other goodies, over 200 items will be up for bid, and all proceeds will help some young men turn their lives around to be productive members of society.

Teen Challenge of the 4 States will host the Soup Bowl and Silent Auction this Saturday, June 14, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Civic, 109 W. Main St., Neosho. Janie Rogers, administrative assistant, said nine participants are entered in the Soup Bowl competition.

“Those businesses are Access Family Care, BioEthics, Three Rivers Real Estate, Hometown Bank, Medicalodge, Freeman Neosho Hospital, Simple Styling, Rocking P Farm & Seed, and Neosho R-5 School District,” she said. “The community will be voting on three different categories: the best soup, best decorated, and the most unique soup.”

Rogers explained that all paying customers will receive tickets with which to cast their vote in each category. In addition to all the soups to sample, she said those attending will be treated to a dessert and beverage.

Rogers said this is the first year Teen Challenge has hosted the Soup Bowl; and added that the 4 States has been very generous with donations for the annual silent auction to help raise funds for the organization.

“Several restaurants, including Red Lobster, Golden Corral, Long Horn Steak House, A-Q Chicken down in Springdale, [have donated]” she said. “We have resorts: Eureka Springs has an inn there that has given us an overnight stay. Ginger Blue Bed and Breakfast has given us two overnight stays. We have spa treatments in Joplin as well as in Neosho. We have three R-C airplanes which are going to be live auctioned off.”

Rogers said several higher ticket items will be sold at live auction, including two design watches. Other items on the auction block include minor league baseball tickets for both the Springfield Cardinals and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, dental services, car detailing and oil changes, Branson tickets and original art. She said La-Z-Boy has donated furniture, several small appliances have come from Jarden Consumer Solutions, and there are antiques and collectibles.

“We’re really excited!” Rogers exclaimed. “We have just been poured, showered with donations! The Four States has always been very generous to us, and we’re just thankful for that.”

Rogers said all funds raised will go to further the mission of Teen Challenge of the 4 States. She said there are several rehab centers, and many of their students have been in different types of programs.
“But this one, the difference here is it is faith-based, and we share the love of Christ for them and that’s what makes the difference,” she said. “It’s a heart change, it’s a lifestyle change and that is what has been so successful in the overall success rate.

“These men also are learning to serve in our community, they go out and do different types of work details, and that’s part of the program. Some of them are professional men, and so we utilize that and we try to teach them how to be a servant out in the community. And the community has really helped in taking them in and offering them different jobs to teach them good work ethics as well.”

When the men first come to Teen Challenge, Rogers said the heaviness upon them is apparent.

“They’re just completed downtrodden,” she said. “You can tell the lifestyle they have led, and the hopelessness that some of them feel.”

She said it is willing program: no one is made to come and no one is locked down.

“They have to be willing,” said Rogers. “And they are. They’ve come to the end of themselves, and that’s exactly where God would want us to be, to the end of our self, because that’s what Christ is about, is wanting us to die to ourselves so that He can give us life. That’s where these men are: They are at the end of themselves.”

Rogers said when they come into the program and have accepted the Lord, the transformation of their countenance is like night and day.

“Some of them I don’t even recognize, it’s like, ‘Who are you? Do we have a new student?’ So there is such a freedom and a release of this hopelessness, it brings hope to them,” she said.

A volunteer since Teen Challenge came into the area 21 years ago, Rogers said she came on staff in the last two years.

“It’s been a passion for me because I have a son that is in addictions, and so watching these men, I tell them, ‘The Lord is my hope.’ They give me hope as a parent seeing what the power of God can do in their lives,” she said.

Rogers said all of us know someone who is leading a life of addiction.
“And it’s not just drugs and alcohol. Life itself can be so controlling if we allow it. They say this is a rehab for drugs and alcohol, but actually I’ve always thought of it as it’s a refuge. And I tell these men, ‘God has set you apart just for Him.”’

Rogers attributes the faith-based feature of the program to its tremendous success, touting a success rate of 83 to 85 percent.

“When you accept the Lord and live for Him, you’re no longer living for yourself and those pleasures that you do,” she said.

She said the first five years after someone decides to rehabilitate are the hardest. With Teen Challenge, Rogers said they are secluded for 14 months in a controlled environment away from temptation.

“So once you get out – that temptation – that’s where the faith comes in,” Rogers said. Teen Challenge students are taught, “none of us can do this on our own: it’s the power of the Lord.”

Tickets for the Teen Challenge of the 4 States Soup Bowl & Silent Auction on Saturday are $10 and are available in advance from each of the participating businesses or from Teen Challenge on Missouri Highway 86, east of highways 59/60. Tickets will also be available at the door of the Civic.