Name: Tyler Graeff
Hometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Teen Challenge Center: Teen Challenge Southeast Region Orlando 2017
Testimony: I was once ensnared by the chains of addiction and mental health struggles. An encounter with Jesus Christ set me free. When I surrendered my life to Christ everything started to change. God has delivered me from addiction to narcotics, healed me of depression and the diagnosed PTSD from the trauma that I experienced as a child. I was once a broken man and I have found healing and hope in Christ, He has made me whole!
What do you enjoy most about your role: I enjoy seeing and working with those responding to the call of God upon their lives. This role has given me a newfound desire to build others up and to be challenged in my development as a leader.
Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable: It is essential that we remain teachable as leaders and that we are always looking for new ways to reach the lost of the world for Christ. God is equipping the saints for the establishment of His kingdom. Through leadership and training we are joining the ranks of God’s army!
Name: Mike Lasa
Hometown: Miami, FL
Teen Challenge Center: Teen Challenge South East Region Orlando 2017
Testimony: I came to Teen Challenge with a Christian upbringing which I chose to shun. That led to 39 years of addiction to alcohol and 3 suicide attempts. I was very successful in the worldly sense but was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. When I had lost all hope I was told of Teen Challenge. I decided that was my last chance and I enrolled in Sanford Fl. Teen Challenge. And this is where Christ began to transform everything about me.
Vision: God made it abundantly clear that He wanted me to stay here, intern, and then become a staff member in order to bring other men to our Savior and I now work in finance and have a caseload of men to mentor.
Through pursuing ELP, God has overwhelmed me with favor and blessings. All the praise goes to God!
The Main Event: Fear vs Courage
By: Bryan Sampson
We all feel it, some of us multiple times a day, others maybe once a week, but we all experience that tightness in our chest, the tingle up the arm, or the negative thoughts causing doubt and worry. No matter who you are, you are not immune to anxiety and you shouldn’t desire to be. Anxiety is a gift from God. God has given us anxiety for our survival, so we know when to fight, when to run, or when to freeze. The fight we engage in with our fears shouldn’t be to remove it, but to master it. God never intended fear to master us, but for us to have control over it. Stanley (2003) states that “wherever there is fear, there is opportunity. Wherever there is great fear, there is great opportunity” (p.59).
It is through mastering our fears that we can begin to see them as our moment of opportunity. It is through mastering our fears that we become the courageous leaders God is calling us to be. So how do we begin to turn our fears into opportunities and master them? Looking at the epic battle of David vs Goliath could give us great insight that can lead us to this triumphant victory.
- Fear the Lord. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence” (Prov 14:26). Do you know what set David apart from the Israeli army when facing Goliath? It wasn’t his leadership skills. It was that that He knew who His God was, He had the awe and reverence (aka fear) for God that no one else had. This fear of God gave David the courage (or strong confidence) to seize the opportunity God was presenting him. When we have the awe and reverence God deserves, then we will have the courage to master the fears that can hinder us from seizing the greatest of opportunities. Fear will find its proper place, in submission to our God.
- Stand on God’s promises. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). Fearing God may be the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7, 9:10), but believing His promises is how we activate that fear into courageous action. David knew that God was with Him and that He was going to give him the strength to triumph over the biggest fear of the Israelites. Still, it wasn’t enough for David to know the promises of his God, the promises had to become a part of His identity. It is when God’s promises get into our bones and become a part of our being that we are able to overcome the fear that is conflicting with the proper belief in God and in our identity.
- Be courageous not careless. “Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine” (1 Sam 14:70). Stanley (2003) points out that though David was extremely courageous, he also acted with great care, taking the time to choose the proper stones for his battle. Courage requires both confidence and caution and it is having this proper balance that we can proceed properly when mastering our fears.
What is it that keeps you from embarking on the impossible? What do you believe is impossible to do in Teen Challenge, at your center…but if it could be done, would fundamentally change your program? Let us pray for God to reveal to us the fears that are present, so we can take hold of the opportunities He is presenting.
Stanley, A. (2003). The next geneartion leader: Five essential for those who will shape the future. New York: Multnomah.