Name: Samantha White
Hometown: Bristol, Connecticut
Teen Challenge Center: Jacksonville Women’s Center
Brief Testimony (3-5 sentences): I was saved when I was a young girl and surrendered my life to full time Christian ministry as a teenager after returning from a missions trip to Central America. Since then I’ve not looked back from the call to serve the Lord with my life. I now have the immense privilege to be the Director of the Women’s Center here in Jacksonville and am currently serving as the Training Facilitator as well, raising up the next generation of leaders.
What do you enjoy most about your role? Seeing women answer the call that the Lord has put on their hearts and seeing them be stretched as they take on more responsibility and in turn grow through the stretching. Women who walk through ELP become such strong women of God!
Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? There are so many tools available for individuals to grow in their leadership, whether someone is at Teen Challenge or not. But if we at Teen Challenge fail to provide the training that is readily available we aren’t doing our very best to steward the lives of those who feel a call to ministry. At Teen Challenge we have the opportunity to first and foremost offer hope when a student walks through our doors, then to guide them to recognize their significance in Christ, and then we have the honor to be able to raise them up to be the men and women God is calling them to be. ELP is such an important piece in the process of life transformation for those who feel called to ministry!
By: Bryan Sampson
Why is it such a battle to be who God has called us to be? I remember the transition from being a student into an intern with Teen Challenge Orlando like it was yesterday. A fierce conflict between being a friend and being a leader to the student body ensued in me. I was met with many internal and external challenges as I tried to maintain my friendships but also lead with boldness and courage. Needless to say, I was not enjoying being an intern as my need for approval from both the students and the staff was negatively impacting my work. I soon realized that it is impossible to please everyone and do my job with integrity and excellence, so which do I choose? Please the students or please the staff? To my surprise the answer was neither.
The solution was to find my identity, acceptance, and value in my relationship with Christ first and foremost. Trying to be who everyone else wanted me to be was robbing me from being who God created me to be. E.E. Cummings writes, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” (Witt, 2018, p. 68).
I don’t know if you share in my struggle of people pleasing, but I know that we all live in a world that wants to block us from walking in our true identity with Christ and tempt us to chase after illusionary idols to find value and meaning from people and things that do not satisfy and only discourage. This is the battle we must fight against everyday if we are to become the men and women God is calling us to be. Think of the impact of a team where each member is solidified in their true identity where peace, courage, and God’s glory reign supreme and self-centered struggles and ambitions cease to exists!
Meditate on the truth that Christ came to remove the burden of legalistic, people pleasing pursuits where our “being has become our doing” and He wants us to enjoy the reality that “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Once we identify with our son-ship in Christ, then we can fill every earthly role for His glory and watch Him bring transformation to our teams and in through our programs.
Witt, L. (2018). High Impact Teams: where healthy meets high performance. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Name: CJ Hutto
Hometown: Eufaula, AL
Teen Challenge Center: Jacksonville women’s center, graduated January 2019
Brief Testimony: My Grandparents raised me because my Mother and Father cared about drugs and alcohol more than me. That caused me to feel like I was not good enough to be loved. At a young age I was molested by a family member and I quickly turned to food. Food was my comfort for a while and then something in me changed and food became my worst enemy. I found myself bound by an eating disorder. I just wanted something to fill the void inside of me so I started looking for love in all the wrong places. I got involved with a guy and he introduced me to drugs and I then understood why my Father was so caught up in that lifestyle. Soon later I was sitting in jail all by myself thinking of all the mistakes I did to get myself there. God showed me mercy. I deserved to sit in jail but God had a plan for me. I came to Teen Challenge and my life has done a complete 180. God has delivered me from my chains and has set me free!!
What is the vision and calling that God has given you? God has been speaking to me about becoming staff at Teen Challenge. I know I want to help people become what God has called them to be. Wherever God leads me, I’ll go.
How has the ELP Program impacted you? Since being in ELP I have grown so much. I am growing as a leader and women of God. I am so grateful for this program!