Never Give up Hope, Never Quit Going After Jesus (Sep 2014)

Never ever give up hope and never ever quit going after Jesus. You see, I have been with Todd AdamsTeen Challenge since 2001 and held every position from Intern to Program Manager. I knew at a young age that I was called to ministry and preach the Word of God. My mother still has cassette tapes of me preaching from when I was seven or eight years old. I will never forget the day I was saved. It happened at a little Methodist church in north Mississippi when I was 13 years old. I knew without a doubt the Lord had forgiven me and His Holy Spirit had come to dwell in my heart. The problem was there was no one who came alongside me to mentor or coach me along this journey.
It wasn’t long after my salvation experience that I was introduced to drugs and alcohol. After my first marijuana joint I smoked I was immediately addicted and started down a path of darkness and chaos. Everything I used to enjoy, golfing, basketball and going to church started to drift away. For years my life was centered on getting high and learning how to manipulate and cheat my way through life. It almost became like a game to me seeing how many people I could fool and how good I could get at getting my way and serving my selfish desires.
I grew up around Teen Challenge and was very familiar with the program as my uncle was the Director of Memphis Teen Challenge. I remember on several occasions him coming to my house and offering to get me help. I often stated, “I’m not near as bad off as those Teen Challenge people.”  I ended up starting a termite and pest control company in Memphis because there was no way I could work for someone else and hide my secret life as well. My company was extremely successful for over 15 years as I had learned to master  living a double life and hiding  my problems from most people. Eventually my bad choices started catching up with me and I lost everything; my wife, my house, and my company.
I decided to enter Teen Challenge in 2001 as I really had no where to go or anyone willing to help. After 24 months, 4 centers in 3 states, I finally graduated the program. I had learned to conform to the rules and manipulate my way through the program. I never really had a heart change and I most certainty didn’t understand the true meaning of God’s grace. I was eventually hired on as a staff member and had no idea what I had signed up for. I tried doing everything in my own strength just as I had done while running my company. I didn’t read the Word of God and my prayer life was non-existent. Needless to say I had several relapses and restorations over the years and finally gave up on God. I blamed Him and Teen Challenge for all my problems. I moved back home to start another pest control company and continue running from God.
After another year of doing my own thing and being mad at God, and Teen Challenge, I ended up in the deepest, darkest places I never dreamed I could. I sat at the end of my bed many nights with a gun in my mouth, but thank God I could never pull the trigger. I ended up calling several Teen Challenges but was told I need to look elsewhere because of my past. I eventually contacted a friend at Pensacola Teen Challenge and the Lord opened up the door to another chance to get it right. I will never forgot my first day there. I walked into a nearby field and cried out to the Lord sincerely for the first time in years. I heard His voice in my spirit like never before; “stay the coarse and stop running.” I listened as well for the first time and made a decision to allow the Holy Spirit to perform surgery on my heart. I got honest with myself and started seeking the Lord with all I had. After several months in the program I signed up with the Emerging Leaders Program. I graduated the entire program again, finished Level I of ELP and am now the ELP representative as well as the Education coordinator at Pensacola Teen Challenge.
The Emerging Leaders Program is extremely near and dear to my heart because this is where I learned how important accountability is. This is also where I learned what boundaries meant and to never start serving a ministry rather than Jesus Christ. This is where I learned what it means to be a servant leader and what it means to lead like Jesus. I often tell people in my testimony today….. Jesus Christ saved my soul, Teen Challenge saved my life, and Emerging Leaders is teaching me how to walk in victory and lead others down the same path. Now I have several men at my church outside of Teen Challenge who are mentoring me and helping me to be more of a motivational speaker and coach. Coaching is my passion; I went to school to receive a degree in education so I could coach in golf and basketball. Now I coach youth at my home church and use those same skills to motivate my students. I have no doubt that I am called to Teen Challenge for life and now hope and aspire to direct my own center one day.
Written by Todd Adams (ELP REP Pensacola Men’s TC, Pensacola, FL) 

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