Main Article: This Christmas Season

Merry Christmas from the Training Department! 

In the excitement of things surrounding Christmas: the lights, gifts, time with family, and chilly temperatures, chances are there will be times of reflection happening over the next week. Taking time to recognize God’s hand throughout the year is very important. Things may not always be picture perfect; while many are rejoicing and thankful, some may be struggling during the holiday season. Either way, we all have much to be grateful for.  God sent his only son, Jesus Christ to this earth and we get to celebrate his birth and ultimately his sacrifice for us. Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and redeemer was born to be our atoning sacrifice.

Reconciliation with God is found through Jesus Christ. Jesus was born in a manger, a place of humility. He met creation in one of the lowliest of environments. His birth is symbolic of God meeting us in our dirty, broken places. Serving in teen challenge, those in our care and many of us come from the broken places. This means that Christ came for us, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. Jesus Christ was the ultimate gift to us, The Way to reconciliation with God the Father. When we accept this free gift from God, we begin a new relationship with God, one that is righteously restored. 

Celebrating Jesus’ birth means celebrating a new life. Being born again is made possible through faith in Jesus. This Christmas we get to celebrate the newness of life! God provided all our needs and gave us the greatest gift of all, His son Jesus Christ. During this season, take time to reflect on your life and family, as well as the birth of Jesus. Remembering the reason for the season will help us keep a Godly perspective during this exciting time of the year.

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and your families! 

John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

TF Highlight December

Name: Joshua Kreacic

Age: 29

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Teen Challenge Center: Teen Challenge Orlando 2018.

Brief testimony:

Substance abuse was always apart of my life, both directly and indirectly. I was adopted and struggled with acceptance after I found out my biological father abandoned both me and my twin sister due to his addiction that later took his life. By God’s grace I have survived multiple drug overdoses, and ultimately running from His call on my life. Within the last three years, I witnessed the hellacious impact drug addiction can have on a family when I lost both my mother and brother to drug-related incidents. I surrendered my life to His will and have committed myself to help bring those the loving truth of Jesus Christ to people I can truly relate to. The peace and purpose in my life today is what I have been searching for this whole time. 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The most enjoyable thing about my role here at Prayer Mountain is creating an atmosphere where growing in Christ is a chosen priority that produces intimate, and effective discipleship. 

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?

Leadership and training are the key ingredients that contradict the state of complacency. Through ongoing training, we are provoked to focus on the future, allowing God to separate us further and further from our broken past. It is the spiritual treadmill that keeps our hearts beating in showing others a deeper love than what this world has to offer.


Participant Highlight December

Name: Leo Hall 

Age: 53

Hometown: St.Louis, MO

Teen Challenge Center: Graduate of 20 years from Rhersburg, Pennsylvania Teen Challenge

Brief Testimony:  After being held captive by sin and the power satan, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, that once existed in my past. My favorite scripture, 1 John 3:8  tells us that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Money, homes, children, nor my wife, were not able to rescue me from the power of the beguiling demons that held me captive. Jesus is the only one who has been able to set me free..THANK YOU JESUS! I now serve at Prayer Mountain Boys Academy. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? God has given me a vision for the worldwide spreading of the gospel and the salvation of souls. 

How has the ELP Program impacted you? ELP has shown me the importance of serving others as I’m being lead by the Holy Spirit each day.

TF Highlight November

Name: Jason Peltier

Age: 33

Hometown: Upland, California

Teen Challenge Center: 
Graduated: Teen Challenge of Southern California   Riverside, California 2013
Graduated: Teen Challenge Ministry Institute 2014

Brief Testimony: 

I went through a 10-year meth addiction that led me to a life full of pain and despair. Living this life landed me in jail for multiple crimes, but most of all it took all sense of joy and happiness out of my life. In 2013, God led me to Teen Challenge and was introduced to the One who provides true joy and happiness.  Christ restored everything I had once lost and has blessed me 100 times fold beyond anything I could have imagined for myself. Today, I serve at Teen Challenge Pensacola so that I may help spread the Good News to the ones who were once hopeless like me.

 What do I enjoy most about your role?
The best part of my role is being able to witness the ELP students grow and transform into the leader God has called them to be.

 Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?
Both leadership and training are totally invaluable without each other. Every organization, business, church, and teen challenge needs strong compassionate leadership, as it is the very core of what makes it successful. Without strong leadership then everything under it may crumble. The Emerging Leaders Program has something special at the core of its leadership and that is Jesus. What makes leadership training valuable is the emphasis on discipleship.  We should always be in training mode as disciples, allowing God to continue to grow and groom our day to day leadership.

Participant Highlight November

Name: Jonathan Davis

Age: 21

Hometown: Moses Lake, WA

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola Men’s Center 

Brief Testimony:  Growing up I had a void that I tried to fill with drugs and alcohol. When I dropped out of high school, I became a daily meth user breaking the law in order to get drugs. It became a vicious cycle. When I tried to quit on my own, I was faced with shame and guilt from my sin. God brought me out of my mess and took my shame in exchange for His joy and my void has been filled with an undeniable love from Christ. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe God is calling me to become a drug counselor. 

How has the ELP Program impacted you? I am growing into a position of leadership through ELP.

Main Article: Growing Christians, Not Just Leaders


By Tyler Graeff

How would our lives look if we focused more on being a Christian than our position in ministry? The majority of believers would agree it’s more important to focus on being individual followers of Christ than it is our positions. However, for those who have been in ministry for an extended amount of time, it’s not uncommon to begin intertwining the two. Some days, I take my eyes off Christ by focusing only on ministry work and a shift begins taking place inside of me. In that drift, I may begin to lead on empty. 

As leaders, the importance of helping our team be better Christians is crucial. Our walk with Christ is more important than our work for Christ. We can gauge the spiritual formation of a team and ourselves. In positions of leadership and as everyday followers of Christ, our sanctification cannot be ignored. Every one of us can encourage the growth of those we serve and serve alongside by setting aside time geared towards spiritual development. In doing so, we begin to untangle the two. 

Witt gives us a few ideas that might stimulate our thinking on how to raise our spiritual temperature:

  • Open the word. Read a passage and talk about it. Share a verse that God used to speak to you. 
  • Dedicated times of prayer.  Rather than the obligatory opening or closing prayer, why not consider a prayer meeting to intercede for the needs of the ministry?
  • Fasting. Fasting can be a rich or powerful experience when done as a ministry or a team. Fasting specifically for a need or opportunity can be a wonderful way to galvanize your team.                                                                                                     
  • Silence. Consider starting a staff meeting with a couple of minutes of silence. Silence allows us to slow ourselves down, to become quiet before the Lord, and to better discern His still, small voice.  

There are plenty of other ways we can raise our spiritual temperature. Don’t be afraid to try something new. What would it look like if we focused more on being a Christ follower rather than being the next great leader in ministry? Could it be possible that in the overflow of our spiritual development it would begin to affect our growth as leaders? 

Ambition to become better leaders should flow from a place of humility and a heart to bring God more glory through our lives. Let us always remember that we want our capacity to be great leaders to come only from the overflow of our relationship with the Lord. 


Participant Highlight October

Name: Caroline Denham

Age: 37

Hometown: Florence, SC 

Teen Challenge Center: Dixon Kentucky July 2018

Brief Testimony:  I came back into TC almost 2 years ago ready to get whatever it was I had missed the first time. The Lord helped me to understand who I really was and to understand who I really was and that he had a plan for me. His plan is far better than any I could have for myself, and I have learned to trust Him and to wait on Him, no matter what the circumstances. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe I am here to share my knowledge of the word and the revelation that God has given me.
How has the ELP Program impacted you? I am learning, each month, how to be a more efficient teacher and leader, and that my own spiritual state plays a huge role in this.

TF Highlight October

Name:  Brittany Cottuli

Age: 25

Hometown: Camden, DE

Teen Challenge Center:  Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge Graduated in 2015

Brief TestimonyWhen I came into Teen Challenge nearly four years ago I was completely broken and lost. Over the last four years, I have learned to how to find myself and who I truly am in God. Through ELP I have not only been able to grow closer to the Lord, but I have learned that I am a leader. ELP has helped me to become a better leader while keeping the Lord in the center of my life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I enjoy everything about my job, but what I enjoy the most is that I get to show these women the love of God and to show them the right way to be raised up so that they can go out and share the love of the Lord with others.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  I believe that they are valuable because they can become life-changing for anyone who is trying to grow in their relationship with the Lord. I feel as though it is important to expand the idea of leadership so that our students can see that it goes far beyond just the walls of teen challenge. 

Main Article: Inviting an Uncomfortable Conversation

By Tyler Graeff

Of our three core values, the one that challenges us most in our development as leaders is Continuous Improvement. We should always be taking personal inventory as well as seeking feedback from others so areas of improvement can be identified. Often times until topics are discussed in an uncomfortable conversation, we may not know where we need to grow.

In Chapter 26, Witt talks about inviting and receiving uncomfortable conversations. “Hold on Witt, you mean that we are supposed to invite these kinds of conversations and embrace them?” During my early stages as a leader, I found it difficult to receive and participate in those tough conversations. Especially those that were a reflection of my performance and character. It was a natural tendency for me to become defensive, and the root was insecurity.

Witt says that all of us struggle with some form of insecurity, whether we would like to admit it or not. Everything in us wants to resist having those hard conversations because of it. If we are striving to model our core value of continuous improvement, we must embrace having those uncomfortable conversations so that we can grow and help others in our sphere of influence grow.

In the midst of uncomfortable conversations, I have needed to remind myself of who I am in Christ. The good news is that my shortcomings are no surprise to God. He already knows our weaknesses and at the end of the day, the truth is we are gloriously saved and on our way to heaven. So why wouldn’t we welcome conversations that could help us grow?

One cannot simply remain the same when accountability is invited in the picture, there will be some kind of a shift or challenge presented within ourselves. Having these conversations within a team begins to challenge us to cultivate a culture of honor and honesty. Witt leaves us with a challenge when we are faced with an uncomfortable conversation: Lean in and embrace the conversation and consider the opportunity to grow.

Below you will find a good model for leading uncomfortable conversations:

Pray through your own anger and initiate the contact

  • Don’t let emotion lead you. Wait until you’re objective, but deal with issues before they get bigger.
  • Don’t wait for the other person, scripture beckons you to make things right whether you are the offender or the offended.  

Hold a Fact-Finding Meetings

  • Explain what you have seen and/or heard and how you see & understand it
  • Then ask them to explain how they see it
  • The meeting may be more of a clarification than a confrontation.

Listen and allow them to respond

  • You must stop and allow them to respond. They may present a new perspective that will help you both.
  • They may also throw up on you, listen anyway. Give them time to process and answer

Establish forgiveness and repentance, if necessary

  • Connect the issue you are correcting with who they are in Christ
  • Don’t conclude the meeting until issues are clear and resolved and forgiveness is extended, even if it ends with them being in the wrong or leaving

Pray and affirm your appreciation as you close your time together

  • Always close these times with prayer. Give them hope, and remind them of their place in God’s heart and yours

Main Article: The Big Brother Syndrome

By Tyler Graeff

In the past decade, there are a number of words that could be used to describe our culture as a nation. Witt, suggests the word “entitlement” as being one of the top descriptors, particularly for the younger generations. You may have opinions about that, but regardless, we are a part of an incredibly selfish culture. One where self-promotion, pride, and entitlement have become cultural norms. As believers, God has set us apart, however that doesn’t exclude us from falling into some of these cultural norms.

In Luke 15 we see pride and entitlement demonstrated in two different ways in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The first son who squandered his inheritance was entitled to the inheritance that his father gave him. He just demanded it, before it was actually time to receive it. The second son demonstrated entitlement when his brother returned home. His father invited him to come inside and celebrate but the older brother responded by saying “Look! All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could have fun with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him”. The older brother felt as though he were entitled to more because of his obedience to his father. To argue his case, he was quick to boast in his accomplishments and point out his younger brother’s shortcomings.

As believers, everything we do is for Christ! If we boast in anything, it should be in His great power, not our own. When we get to heaven, we are not going to ask the Lord, “Where are my crowns?” They are going to be cast at the feet of Jesus. A hard truth we must come to terms with is that in this life we are not entitled to anything. We may never see all the promises of God until they are fulfilled in heaven.

Let us examine our hearts and see if we have given into self-promotion, pride, or entitlement. John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” A few practical things to help combat this in our lives could be to find ways to serve those around you, rejoice at their successes, and stay rooted in the fact that any success you have in your life comes from God.