September – TF Highlight

Name: John Arnold

Age: 26

Hometown: Manitou, KY

Teen Challenge Center: I graduated from Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge in 2015. I’m currently on staff at Teen Challenge Men’s Center, Dixon, KY.

Testimony: I had a great upbringing as a child in a supportive loving home but early in my teenage years I chose to consume myself with the things of this world. I entered Teen Challenge in September of 2014 broken, depressed, desperate and addicted. During my 12 months at TC I encountered God and He revealed Himself to me like never before. It is 100% His credit for the changes He has helped me make in my life and I continue to make daily. I am extremely grateful that He restored me and am excited for the future He has for me. Romans 12:1!

What do you enjoy most about your role?: I enjoy being able to first hand witness God impacting others’ lives the same way He impacted mine. It’s humbling to be in a position to help lead others to new levels of leadership and discipleship.

What do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? Leadership training is essential for the Kingdom to expand! We all have to teach and learn from one another to more effectively carry out our purpose for Him.

September – ELP Highlight

Name: Zac Mullins

Age: 31 years old

Hometown: Lexington, KY

TC Center: Pensacola TC 2016

Testimony: For the past ten years I was lost trying to find my place in the world. I was using copious amounts of drugs and using everyone around me to fulfill my selfish desires. I was asked to participate in Pensacola TC and reluctantly decided I would go to try and change my life. I found God in those first few weeks and He has forever changed my life.

What is the vision and calling God has given you? To help others that struggle with the same life controlling issues that I have struggled with in my life.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? The program has shown me how to stretch and push myself beyond my mental and spiritual limits that I thought existed. It has constantly caused me to look at and reassess how I present myself and engage with other people.

Main Article – The Essentiality of Coaching

By: Bryan Sampson

Take a moment and think back to your childhood and recall that teacher or coach who made a big impact in your life. Does a specific person come to mind? For me it was Mr. Stowe, my eighth-grade basketball coach. I won’t ever forget Mr. Stowe because he made such a profound impact on my life. What made Mr. Stowe so impactful on my life? It wasn’t that he had the greatest techniques and skills, it wasn’t even that he was an excellent coach, no, what made him the greatest coach of my life was that I knew I needed him to teach me so I could improve to be a better basketball player. I knew he cared, I respected him, and I needed him, so I absorbed everything he offered. The coaches’ impact can only have an effect if we are aware of our need for them. Sadly, most of us don’t believe we are in need of anyone to coach us in things outside of sports. Stanley (2003) makes a great observation when he states “In the world of leadership we have a tendency to operate under the misguided assumption that because we are leaders, we don’t need to be led. Once we are recognized for our ability to “perform,” we think we don’t need outside input in order to enhance our performance” (p.105).

To be the best next generation leaders we can be, it is essential to enlist the help of others to evaluate us and help us see how we can improve in our leadership skills (Stanley, 2003, p.106). This must become a priority if we are ever going to meet our full potential. To think that we can just coast through life only comparing ourselves against other people would be an erroneous assumption which would have detrimental affects to our growth and development (sanctification). We have a tendency to measure ourselves against the people around us and not asking the critical question of “how am I measuring up to my potential?” How can we become all God created us to be if we aren’t aware of our own potential? This is where a coach comes in. A coach will take us to the next echelon in our leadership development, as they will help us measure ourselves against our strengths instead of against someone else’s. A coach will know what we are capable of and will push us to our limit. The only question is do we want it? Do we want the feedback and critical insights that can help us reach our full potential?

So take a moment and honestly examine yourself today. Do you feel the need for a coach in your life? Why or why not? What may be preventing you from seeking the feedback from a respected colleague or leader?

The great news is that you can start today, just simply ask another respected leader or colleague for honest feedback on how you have been performing, teaching, mentoring, holding meetings, etc… I pray we all can walk with the humility needed to receive the feedback and insights that can radically shape us into the next generation leaders God is calling us to be for His glory and purpose. 



Stanley, A. (2003). The next generation leader: Five essential for those who will shape the future. New York: Multnomah.

Main Article – Clarity in times of Uncertainty

Article By: Bryan Sampson

Take a moment and imagine yourself being an Israelite. You just wandered the desert for 40 years. Your feet hurt, your lips are dry, and you long for the land of milk and honey you have heard so much about. Then you get word; it is time. It is time that for you, as a people to possess the promise land. Everything inside of you jumps with joy, as energy pulsates through your body, your heart starts pounding, your feet stop hurting and you run to your leader Moses and ask what are we going to do!? He explains to you that you are now the leader of the people as he goes off to die. Charged with the order to bring your people into the precious promise land you begin to wonder how you even begin this journey. What do you do? How do you begin? The LORD has commanded you to be strong and courageous, but what about all of the uncertainty?

These are questions we can find in our day-to-day lives frequently. How do we start…? What about…? If this happens then… It can go on and on. Uncertainty has the ability to paralyze a person. It can also shatter progress and growth, preventing essential changes from taking place. As a next generation leader, we cannot allow this to happen. In these times of uncertainty clarity is paramount. Stanley states, “If you are unable or unwilling to be clear when things are not certain, you are not ready to assume further leadership responsibilities” (Stanley, 2003, p.91).

So, how did Joshua respond with the uncertainties they faced? Joshua was clear “prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to begin to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.” (Josh 1:10-11).

            People – “But what about the river? How are we going to cross it?”

            Joshua – “I’m not sure, be ready to leave in three days.”

            People – “What are we going to do when we get across?”

            Joshua – “I’ll tell you when we get there, just be ready in three days to move out”

Today I challenge you to be crystal clear with the vision and purpose God has for your role and ministry with those you are leading. Communicate in a way that shows confidence. Don’t allow uncertainty to prevent you from being clear and taking a chance. Allow it to be the opportunity for greater levels of trust and commitment to form. Remember what Stanley (2003) says, “People will follow you if you’re wrong. They will not follow you if you’re unclear” (p.89).

Let us pray for the courage needed to communicate as precise and clear as possible, so those who follow will not be lead astray and we will achieve the purpose God has set out for us to possess.

TF Highlight – August

Name: Storm Williams

Age: 21

Hometown: Morristown, TN

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin Men in 2016

Brief Testimony: I was a very lost and hurting young man before I met Jesus I had no hope whatsoever. To cope with the pain and emptiness on the inside I would use whatever drugs I could get my hands on, and whenever I could get my hands on them. This destructive life style had me in and out of mental intuitions and group homes as an adolescent and when I became an adult I was immediately homeless. I was planning to take my life one morning but instead that very day I found my life forevermore.  I gave my life to Jesus and he made away for me to come to Teen Challenge were he radically changed my life and filled every void I had and even more filled me with life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I love that I get to live out the great commission every day and make disciples who will eventually make disciples themselves. I think the most special part of this role is to be able to identify gifts and talents in the emerging leaders and to call those out of them and spur them in the direction to operate in those giftings.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? I believe it is a vital key in the gospel of Jesus Christ advancing to the nations. I believe God is sending men and women through our programs who will change the world and this will not happen if we don’t do our part in equipping them with the tools they need.

Participant Highlight – August

Name: Brent R. Herring

Age: 48

Hometown: Cove City, N.C

Graduated: Jacksonville Men’s Center, Fl. 2017

Brief Testimony: My first experience with painkillers came after I had my wisdom teeth surgically removed at age 17 and I received pain killers.  I remember wishing that I could feel like that forever, and from that time on I abused any form of narcotic I could get. I stole a prescription pad from one of the Physicians’ offices and was caught and charged with prescription forgery. I agreed to go to rehab in exchange for the State dropping all charges. That didn’t change my desire for narcotic painkillers and I began to raid family and friends medicine cabinets in their homes. My addiction got so bad that I took my mom’s Demerol capsules she needed after having back surgery. My addiction to painkillers continued to grow until I began overdosing because of the amounts it took to get me high. My tolerance had gotten dangerously high. After several overdoses which landed me in the hospital, I agreed to get help and enter Teen Challenge. I found out about Teen Challenge years earlier when I sent my Daughter through the program to overcome her addiction to Cocaine. After she graduated I remember feeling like I had my little girl back. I remember a definite transformation in her life that I remember wishing I had. I have now graduated, and have been free from addiction for over 6 months. I rely daily on my relationship with Christ to get me through struggles and hardships instead of relying on a pill. 

What is the vision God is calling you to? After being addicted for more than 25 years God has broken the chains of my addiction. In place of an externally poor self-image caused by rejection, loneliness, and self-hatred, God has renewed my spirit. I am now a child of God. Loved, accepted, and content with my life. God has placed the desire in my heart to serve others struggling with life controlling issues by loving them, respecting them and pointing them towards God for inner healing and restoration. 

How has the ELP program impacted your life? The ELP program is not only strengthening my relationship with God, but also giving me the tools to be a more effective leader.

The Light in the Shadow of Uncertainty

By: Bryan Sampson

Uncertainty sure can stir up a lot of different emotions. If you’re anything like me, you have come to realize that life has a lot of unknowns. I find it even more interesting that God intentionally designed our life to be full of uncertainties. This, I believe, is so we can learn to trust Him and become more dependent on Him. So, when looking at leadership experience should we expect it to be any different?

There are three ways to approach the uncertainties we will face as leaders. We can deny them; act like their not even there, we can fear and avoid them, allowing them to cause us to run away from our reality, or we can embrace them with prayer, humility, clarity, and courage, knowing that God goes with us in the shadow of the valley ahead (Psalm 23:4). Understanding the necessity and gifts that the unknown can bring can help us begin to change the way we see the shadows of uncertainties within our lives and ministries. As Stanley (2003) puts it “Uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape” (p.80), so the need to accept and embrace its presence in our leadership is essential.

First, we must realize we are not God, and thus not omniscient. We will never know everything and exactly what to do in every situation. Leaders don’t have all the answers; they are just humble enough to admit it, able to take an honest look at the situation, and willing to consult others when possible. We have to be okay with not knowing for certain how things are going to turn out and we can’t allow that to stop us from making the courageous decisions that lie ahead.

Second, we can’t think that we are going to eliminate uncertainty. We shouldn’t want to eliminate it. We should see it as an opportunity for God’s glory to be exhibited as we trust in His guidance and providence. We should see it as an opportunity for growth and prosperity. This can help us see why God wants us to be uncertain, it allows us to let me Him lead. It is in times of uncertainty that we are most desperate for God’s presence in our lives. It should be this way in our leadership too. The only way we can be the visionaries and leaders for the next generation is if we get comfortable with the uncertainties that will continue to grow as we continue to improve and advance as a ministry. We should actually be grateful because uncertainty is job security for a leader and proves prior success. The more responsibility and success you attain, the more uncertainty you will be rewarded with.

Lastly, it is imperative for us to learn now how to thrive in times of uncertainty. This is where we must develop the art of clarity within our leadership repertoire. Stanley (2003) describes it as “giving explicit and precise direction in spite of limited information and unpredictable outcomes” (p.80). The times of uncertainty are not times to play around, they are the times when we must be direct and clear with what we are aiming to accomplish and what everyone is supposed to do. Imagine a staff meeting where the art of clarity is being utilized or imagine your leadership where you are communicating with the utmost clarity and precision. What differences would you see? What can you do today to start being more precise and direct with those you’re leading?

Uncertainty is a crucial part of our reality. It is when we have embraced our reality that we can allow God to help us courageously lead others. Remember “the goal of leadership is not to eradicate uncertainty, but rather to navigate it. Uncertainty is a component of every environment that calls for leadership. Where you find one, you will always find the other” (Stanley, 2003, p.84).

Pray with me today that we become confident, clear, and courageous as we embrace and lead others through the uncertainties God ordains.

Works Cited

Stanley, A. (2003). The next geneartion leader: Five essential for those who will shape the future. New York: Multnomah.

TF Highlight – July 2018

Name: Phill Parris

Age: 40

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

TC Center: Prayer Mountain Boy’s Academy (Griffin, GA)

Graduated From: Teen Challenge of Greater Cleveland (Intake)  – April 1998; Teen Challenge Training Center, Rehrersburg, PA – December 1998

Brief Testimony: I was raised in Buffalo, NY and grew up in the Church of God in Christ. As I got older, I became involved in a gang and drugs. On November 11, 1997, while sitting in jail, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I went to Teen Challenge of Greater Cleveland where I was discipled and learned more about a relationship with God. It was there that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, water, and received a calling into ministry.

I have been married to my beautiful wife, Sarah, since 2001. We are both ordained Assemblies of God ministers. She is a Chaplain in the USAF and I am currently working on a doctorate with SAGU. We have served together in various ministry capacities. We have four awesome children – Jaala, Micaiah, Raygan and Raymond.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe God has called my wife and I to lead leaders. 

How has the ELP program impacted you? The ELP program has impacted me by strengthening a sense of community for me and helping me to step out into God’s calling in a greater way. ELP has challenged me in several different ways.

ELP Participant Highlight – July 2018

Name: Josh Neese

Age: 43

Hometown: Marietta, GA

Teen Challenge Center: Prayer Mountain Boys Academy

Brief Testimony: I was lost and seeking fulfillment through drugs and alcohol. I was rescued by God and was immediately convinced that a long-term Christ centered rehab was God’s way of building my foundation. Since graduating I have given my life back to His service in rehabilitation ministry. I am truly blessed!

What is the vision and calling God has given you? To combine recovery and Christianity with a singular purpose!

How has the ELP Program impacted you? By helping to continue my learning with books I wouldn’t have read or been exposed to. 


Main Article – June 2018

Expressions of Courage

By: Bryan Sampson

Courage. Do we have it? How do we know? Has it simply be translated to boldness in your mind or is there more to it? In TCSE we talk, train, and teach a lot about courageous leadership. I believe this is for two reasons: First, for most of us courage has to be developed; harnessing the courage of Christ is a process and part of our sanctification. Secondly, without it we will never become the God-glorifying leaders Christ is calling us to be. To be an agent of light in this dark world we must become a courageous leader.

As Christians we are not intended to go through life and not lead. We should be leading others to Christ, leading our families, leading in our churches, leading in our jobs and ministries, and leading ourselves in a way that magnifies the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. The thought that “I am a better follower than leader” should only be accepted in certain contexts and never become a part of our identity. We are ambassadors of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, so we must see the saliency of having courage for such a position (2 Cor. 5:20). 

So what are some expressions that a courageous leader exhibits? Stanley (2003) gives us three expressions of courage that are essential for those who aspire to be leaders worth following:

  1. The Courage to Say No. How disciplined is your life? Have you bought into the belief that doing more is going to bring you greater success? This is a pitfall for most, myself included. It can be difficult to turn away opportunities. But remember, as Mike Nappa puts it, “opportunity does not equal obligation”. Having the ability to identify and focusing on the few key things is a hallmark of great leadership (p.69). Don’t allow the many good opportunities to divert your attention from the one opportunity that has the greatest potential (p.70). Don’t fear missing an opportunity, fear missing the moment you’re currently in.
  2. The Courage to Face Current Reality. We can’t escape our biases but we can become aware of how these will skew our reality. Falling into the trap of putting a positive spin on everything will serve the purpose of feeding our ego and self-esteem, but in the long run it will only cause us to lose sight of what is really happening around us. As Stanley puts it, “If you don’t know where you really are, it is impossible to get to where you need to be. What you don’t know can kill you” (p.73). Courageous leadership begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications. I encourage you to study p.74 and review the seven commandments of current reality Stanley puts forth to help yourself live in reality.
  3. The Courage to Dream. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, sucked into the monotony of how things have always been done. Complacent. If there is one attribute we never want to lose as we mature, it is the ability to dream. Dream about what you could be and should be and dream about what our ministry could be and should be. When was the last time you let your mind wander outside the boundaries of what is and began to create a mental picture of what could be“Dream no small dreams, for they stir not the hearts of men” (p.79).

There is no bigger dream for our generation than to put hope within reach of every addict. Such a move from God will only be made through those who are operating in the courage that only Christ can give, so pray and begin to express it today!

Stanley, A. (2003). The next geneartion leader: Five essential for those who will shape the future. New York: Multnomah.