Main Article – November 2017

Truly Thankful

By: Bryan Sampson

Last year, for the first time in my life, I got to spend my Thanksgiving holiday with my dad’s side of the family. It was a nice transition from the normal routine that I was in. I am always intrigued by the different ways that people celebrate holidays. The one aspect that I found most interesting was the prayer before the meal. Everyone (in this case 15 people) was asked to give thanks for something. As could be expected, the most common thing that was mentioned was being with family and in second place the food. It almost seemed like no one could think of anything original to thank God for. Though family and food are great things to have, ones which we should be very thankful for, I do believe that they are far from the most important things for which we should be thankful.

Paul writes in Ephesians “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3 ESV). Through Christ we have received every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. This sounds absolutely amazing, and something we should be extremely thankful for, yet if my family is any indicator of what most people will be praying for this Thanksgiving, then I fear that we may be missing what we should truly be thankful for. So what are these spiritual blessings you might ask? There are too many to number here, it will probably take all of eternity to discover every way God has blessed us, but here are a few to ponder and resonate on:

  1. We have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be Holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph 1:4). All because of His love he chose to give us a gift and make us something we could never become on our own. He chose to forgive us of our sins! By His grace we are saved. Even when we were dead in our sins, he made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5). We are not just physically alive but spiritually alive because of His grace and mercy. There is no greater gift that He could give us. This is an immeasurable gift because Christ is immeasurable and until this becomes a reality in our lives, we can’t be truly thankful the way we should. Lets take a moment to ponder all that we have been forgiven for and our need for God’s grace and mercy and let this fill us with praise and thanksgiving.
  2. We have been adopted as children of God through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5). With the most common prayer at my families’ Thanksgiving, giving thanks for family, it should be surprising that no one thanked God for bringing them into His family. How much more thankful should we be for our Heavenly Father? How much more thankful should we be that we were estranged and orphans but God chose to adopt us?  We are now heirs of the kingdom of heaven and when we realize just what family we have been adopted in, all because of His good pleasure, grace and love, then we can begin to be truly thankful to our Father.
  3. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7). Not only have we been forgiven for our sins, but God has given us freedom from that which has enslaved us. I pray we all are experiencing this type of freedom in our live’s today and are still aware of the slavery that God had freed us from. Just imagine the joy and thankfulness that filled the hearts of the African American community in the South when they received the news that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Imagine how thankful they were that they were set FREE! We should be experiencing this same freedom, joy and thankfulness. It isn’t hard to reflect at what our lives could be without the freedom that we have in Christ. As Paul writes “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (Jhn 8:36).

It is hard to be thankful for things that we aren’t experiencing isn’t it? Today let us take the time to meditate on these spiritual blessings and experience what God has done for us, so this Thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate it properly, being truly thankful for that which truly matters.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” – Psalm 95:2

 

Participant Highlight – November 2017

Name: Michelle Peltier

Age: 34

Hometown: Peoria, Arizona

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola Women’s Home; Graduated Home of Hope in Arizona, 2013

 Testimony in Brief: I grew up with a Christian background, but never personally knew the Lord. When I reached my 20’s- I made bad decisions and fell into alcohol addiction. At 29 years old- I finally found myself at rock bottom where I desperately wanted to change my life. I cried out to the Lord and He helped me! I was told about Teen Challenge and knew that was God’s will for me. I entered the program with restored hope and a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ!

What is the vison and calling God has given you? – I am now the Admissions Coordinator for Pensacola Teen Challenge Women’s Center. God has given me his blessing to help others receive life transformation and freedom from addiction, just as I had, through Jesus Christ at Teen Challenge.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? – ELP Level I and II have impacted me tremendously and continue to keep me focused on my walk with the Lord. One book in particular, Ordering Your Private World, taught me proper time management skills and I learned how to prioritize my personal life, so that it reflected that peace and order within my ministry. ELP is a blessing in that not only do I continue to grow with the Lord, but I have the privilege of sharing it with others.

Training Facilitator Highlight – November 2017

Name: Lauren Schiller

Hometown: Palatka, FL

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola Women’s Center; Graduate of Davie Women’s Home, 2014

Brief Testimony: Almost 5 years ago, I was a nobody going nowhere. I was suffering from a full-blown opiate addiction that was putting me in and out of jail, destroying all of my relationships, and quickly taking my will to live. As I went through the Teen Challenge program, I learned how to come before the Lord broken, empty, and ready to surrender…and to my surprise, that’s all He ever wanted from me. I completed the program in June of 2014 and graduated the following November. Soon after, I enrolled in Teen Challenge’s Emerging Leaders College where I learned how to work in full-time ministry and discovered a whole new depth of God. I now serve at Pensacola Women’s Center as the Program Assistant and ELP Training Facilitator. Had you asked me 5 years ago where I saw myself in the future, this would not have been an option. But God, in His perfect love, has opened my heart to the life He has intended for me to possess…And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What do you enjoy most about your role? – Daily having the opportunity to watch women who were once broken and hopeless develop a confidence in the gift of leadership God has placed within them. Being able to teach them, from personal experience, how to bring that gift into full fruition. The fulfillment they receive is always rewarding to witness.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? – We never “arrive” anywhere, so it is important to always remain intentional in challenging ourselves to grow. Working in the ministry of Teen Challenge, it is important to make sure we have that person in our lives who is continuously challenging us to reach our full potential in Christ. So in turn, we can lead by example for those who are coming up behind us to fulfill the position we currently hold.

Training Facilitator Highlight – October 2017

Name: Matthew “Bryan” Sampson

Age: 35

Hometown: Lexington, KY

Teen Challenge Center: Orlando Men’s Center & Training Coordinator SE Region; Graduated September, 2014
Brief Testimony: After 18 years of addiction I finally lost everything and had reached a point of desperation. Going to Teen Challenge I had little hope, but God…God used Teen Challenge to build me up into the man of God I was always meant to be. I now work as the Training Coordinator for the SE Region and am working towards my second Master’s degree in Mental Health. My desire is to raise up leaders within the region to be healing agents and leaders of Christ.
What do you enjoy most about your role? – The most enjoyable aspect of my job is to see people encounter the love of Christ. Once I begin to see this change I love engaging, encouraging, and helping them grow and develop into their new identity and watch Christ manifest in their lives.
Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  – In order to make the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God, we must be investing in the next generation to lead people in the will of God. Leadership and training are essential in becoming more like Christ and walking out a life that glorifies Him.

Main Article – CARE

By: Dustin Nance

If you have read a leadership book in the last 20 years then you have read something about how you must care about those you lead for them to want to follow you. This is not a new concept. Brice Maddock says, “The only two things that matter when we stand before God is our relationship with Him and our relationships with others.” Basically, did we love God and love people enough to lead them to Him. Those are the two greatest commandments according to Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40.

We know this! We know because most likely we have experienced both leaders that show they care and leaders that don’t. Why aren’t we better at this as leaders? I would argue that for some it’s a shift from the mindset of thinking about “what is best for me?” to “what is best for the team?” or “what is best for John Doe in this situation?”. However, I believe for most of us we just get too BUSY!!!! The truth is we let ourselves get so busy and stressed out with tasks, that we miss the most important opportunities to show those around us we care every day. In a world that is focused on “what is best for me?”, we as Christian leaders must put others before ourselves. We must show people that we care more about them than what they can do.

I think of my daughter Ellie; she is a tough girl. She has had to grow up around my son, Asher, but the other day they were dancing around the living room and Asher accidentally ran her over. She jumped up, ran into my arms and started crying. I know she’s not dying, her arms are not broken and really she’s not physically hurting that much at all. She just wants to know that Daddy cares that she got ran over. I found myself with a choice to make, tell her she’s fine and send her on her way, or wrap my arms around her, tell her I’m sorry she got hurt and that I love her. I chose to take the time and show her I care.

Unfortunately, I don’t always make the right choice in this situation. When staff comes to me saying a situation is hard, I feel a responsibility to tell them to grow up and get it done, change the situation or make it easier for them. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes all I need to do is acknowledge that it is hard, let them know I think they can do it and encourage them to keep pushing. Basically, I need to show them I care about them, not just that they get the task done.

Don’t get me wrong; I stand with Jon Gordon on this, “I believe in tough love, but love must come first. If your team knows that you care about them, they will allow you to push and challenge them to be their best.” You may have the authority to give tough love, but if you haven’t spent the time showing someone you care, they will not see it as love at all.

This is an important point for us to understand as leaders! It’s always a faster turnaround time with my daughter Ellie when I show her I care. Usually, she jumps right back up and goes at it again, but If I don’t, she walks around crying looking for someone else to show her they care. Not only does it take longer, but she will stop coming to me if I do that too many times. I want Ellie to come to me for the rest of her life, just as I want my staff too. It’s not coddling them to encourage someone and acknowledge a situation is hard and that you’re behind them and believe they can do it.

Take the time today to show your team you care!

 

Source: You Win in the Locker Room First, by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

Participant Highlight – October 2017

Name:  Tyler Graeff

Age: 26

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Teen Challenge Center: Orlando Men’s Center

Brief Testimony: When I was living in the world I was consumed with a lifestyle of sin. I was lost and broken and a door opened for me to come to Teen Challenge. While enrolled in TC, I rededicated my life to Christ. God began speaking to me, as He broke off the chains of depression and heroin addiction. I now live a life with more freedom, peace, and joy than I could ever have imagined.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? – God has called me specifically to Teen Challenge to serve Him in full-time ministry. My vision is to serve in this ministry and help broken men overcome their addictions and pain through the power of Christ in me.

 How has the ELP Program impacted you? – ELP is giving me the leadership skills that I need to help me become the leader God has called me to be. I’ve also grown spiritually, as I am learning more and more about God’s perspective on leadership. ELP is helping me answer the call that God has placed on my life.

Training Facilitator Highlight – September 2017

Name:  Trista Kincaid

Age: 42

Hometown: Dublin, GA

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin Men’s Center

Brief Testimony: I was saved at a young age and was fortunate to grow up in a (not perfect, but) Christian home. After college and working for many years in children’s ministry, I was honored to serve as a Missionary in Brussels, Belgium. Upon returning to the USA I met my husband, David Kincaid, who was serving at Teen Challenge in Fort Myers, FL.  I say that I “married into the ministry of Teen Challenge”. We are now blessed to serve as the directors at the Dublin GA Men’s Center.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I serve in several capacities at our men’s center (finance, events & ELP training facilitator). I love getting to work with our Emerging Leaders because this group represents the future of our ministry. There is an energy and excitement amongst these new leaders which makes me want to be a better leader!

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? Years ago, while working in Illinois, I had a pastor and his wife invest in my life a great deal. I know the influence they had in my life that shaped me into who I am today. I want to be that for others!

ELP Participant Highlight – September 2017

Name: Thomas Burton

Age: 40

Hometown: Lincolnton, Georgia

Teen Challenge Center: Graduate of Dublin Men’s Center, April 2017

Brief Testimony: 18 years of drug abuse & pornography.  As a result, my marriage was destroyed.  God has now restored my marriage and my life.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? God has given me a vision and calling for evangelism and executive leadership in Teen Challenge.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? – ELP has provided instructions and study material to help me to learn about God’s calling on my life.

______________________________________________________________________

Name: Erin Burton

Age: 38

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Teen Challenge Center: Graduate of Columbus Women’s Center, March 2017. Now serving at Dublin Men’s Center

Brief Testimony: I fell in love with Jesus at 8 years old, but was instantly consumed by death gripping fear due to hurt, abandonment, and loss. This lead to my first drug overdose at 15 years old. I was consumed by greed, control and lust. I walked out of God’s will and adventured right into the hands of the enemy…only to find Jesus Christ right in the middle of my despair and destruction. He faithfully pulled me out of a deep, extremely dark pit of depression, and placed me at Teen Challenge in Columbus, GA., While at Teen Challenge I received the true revelation of salvation. God’s grace changed everything. My body was healed, my heart was not afraid to love or be loved, my mind was completely renewed, damaged relationships were restored and I was made Kingdom bound. I’m now serving, wholeheartedly, with my husband as an Emerging Leader at Dublin Men’s Center in Dublin, Georgia.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? – My husband and I answered God’s call while we were both in the program at Teen Challenge. After being made whole in Christ, the vision of leading multitudes to Christ is now being breathed into existence.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? – The Emerging Leaders Program continuously improves and enhances my intimate relationship with the Lord. Through the Lord’s strength, He is molding, forming, and shaping me. The Lord is helping me to be a walking, breathing display of Christ.

Thomas and his wife Erin, now serve together as Emerging Leaders at the Dublin Men’s Center. They have also been reunited with their beautiful 3 year old daughter, Carly.

COMMITMENT

Recently, I was at a middle school seminar, where a motivational speaker was challenging students to become engaged in a small group initiative. He gave an illustration of a married couple who were relaxing poolside. It was a hot day and they were needing some relief from the sun. Naturally, they both decided to go for a swim. The husband, stood up and without hesitation cannon-balled right into the deep end. The wife, on the other hand, walked over to the shallow end of the pool, used the handrail and slowly walked her way into the pool using each step. After several minutes of contemplating and with about half of her body emerged in water, she turned around walked out of the pool and told her husband the water was too cold. This story seems like an average event, but it was used to show the dynamics of commitment. The husband’s reaction was one of being enthusiastically all in. The wife was hesitant and wanted to tip-toe into the situation, while over analyzing every step.

This scenario can be so common in our own lives. We see an opportunity or a challenge in front of us and we can make the choice. We can either dive into the deep end without doubt, insecurities and fear, or we can tip-toe our way around opportunity. One requires faith and the other relies on self.

In this context, we could highlight two kinds of commitment – personal commitment and commitment as a leader. Personally, this begins with your relationship to the Lord and the confidence of knowing what He has called you to. When these two things are solidified in your life, you are able to draw strength, especially when stepping into the unknown. This strength then has the ability to overflow and influence those you are leading. Leaders who make a choice to dive into their relationship with the Lord are able to lead others out of a strong sense of commitment. We live in a world where so many people make decisions based on their own interests. In doing so, we fail to realize the greater impact that our own “yes”, may have on others, not to mention the eternal impact! Your commitment hinges on souls.

In closing, let me leave you with this quote, “In order to ‘hold fast’ to something, one must allow oneself to be held to something. That commitment may be one of the hardest things to practice in a world of so much choice.” Today we have a choice. Will you choose to cannonball or tip-toe?
Article written by: Holly Williams

Source: You Win in the Locker Room First, by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

ELP Highlight – August 2017

Name: Katherine Kirkland

Age:31

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Teen Challenge Center: Southwest Florida Women’s Home; Fort Myers, Florida

Testimony: Before coming to Teen Challenge I was lost, confused and hopeless. I was overwhelmed with the world and things that had haunted me from my past. I was stuck in addiction with drugs and alcohol. I tried inpatient and outpatient facilities, but nothing seemed to work. I finally made the decision to come into Teen Challenge where I was introduced to Christ. I discovered a new identity and was able to surrender everything to Him. The Lord opened my eyes and softened heart and through Him I was given a completely new life.

What is the vision and calling God has given you? –  I believe the Lord is wanting me to help women that have gone through abuse and addiction. I want to help them out of the entanglement of death and help introduce them to Christ and proclaim His truth.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? – ELP has taught me a lot! The curriculum has given me insight for my future, by teaching me how to be an armor bearer to my leaders. It has also shown me how to support the Teen Challenge ministry, by always being available to the Holy Spirit. ELP also allows me to continue my education.