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.



ELP Participant Highlight – June 2018

Name: Tony Henderson

Age: 38

Hometown: Cottondale

Teen Challenge Center: Bonifay

Brief Testimony: I was raised in a Christian home but rebelled against The word of God by falling into a life of sex and partying. One day I became tired and asked God to CHANGE ME. It was at that point, that God picked me up and transformed my whole life, awakening the city in my soul.  I live now to do his will, not my will.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? To minister to the lost  and help  bring restoration to families.

How has the ELP Program impacted you?  It has shredded light on some issues to help me change mindsets and mentalities.


Training Facilitator Highlight – June 2018

Name: Vicky Syfrett

Age: 61

Hometown: I am a Mississippi girl but have lived in North West Florida for the past 26 years.

Teen Challenge Center: June 1st this year, I will have been at West Florida Teen Challenge in Bonifay for 20 years.

 Brief Testimony: I was raised in a Christian home but rebelled as a teen. Life spiraled downward until the only place I had to look was up. After the death of a dear friend, and myself not expecting to live to see the age of 30, I realized God was my only hope. At age 29, on March 1, 1986, I allowed the Lord to take control of my heart. Not just my heart but my eyes, ears, mouth, feet and hands. To go where HE said go and do whatever HE said to do. From that day my life has been one amazing journey. And I thank God, that He saw fit to allow me to minister at Teen Challenge and that HE isn’t finished with me yet!

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

As many in TC ministry, I have several roles. I enjoy working one on one with Middle school boys as a Facilitator and Dean of Students in our Learning Center.

I assumed the role of Training Facilitator several years ago while keeping up with student and staff PSNC’s, GSNC’s and CEU’s. I love photography, Crafts, Bible Journaling, reading and working with and encouraging all to pursue continued training.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  

There is nothing worse than being given a task to do and not knowing why or how to accomplish it. Training is so important, not only to the staff, but also for the student being ministered to. True Leadership is important.  Those following can see that you are responsible for people and things under your care. Work unto the Lord.


Training Facilitator – May

Name: Tyler Graeff

Age: 27

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!

ELP Participant Highlight – May

Name: Mike Lasa

Age: 54

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!

Main Article – The Main Event

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Main Article – Challenge the Process

By: Bryan Sampson

There is a saying within Teen Challenge that the T.C. stands for “Things Change.” We all have experienced this within our ministries. The implementation of a new curriculum, the change in our schedule or job responsibilities, the unveiling of new computer software, or changes in leadership will always be happening. Change is a part of life and is essential for progress, but our desire for stability prevents us from embracing it the way we should. Thankfully, we serve a God who give us the Holy Spirit to help us handle the changes He is initiating against our status quo. The Holy Spirit should create in us the courage and boldness to become agents of change, bringing the kingdom of God to all aspects of our lives. We must become the leaders that challenge the status quo and progress our departments and ministry forward.

With so much change taking place in our lives and ministries it can be difficult discerning what changes we should embrace and which we should resolve. One question to ask ourselves is whether the change is helping you progress or regress. Are the changes going to make you become better, more relevant, more disciplined, better aligned as a team, or more strategic in how you operate? These are questions we should be constantly asking as we determine how to challenge the process of the way we minister.

Leadership is more than just recognizing what needs to change; it is having the courage to act on what you see. Courage establishes leadership. Stanley (2003) makes it clear that “Next Generation Leaders are those who would rather challenge what needs to change and pay the price than remain silent and die on the inside” (p.51). So, what is it that needs to change in your program? In your department? In your life? What is it that God is speaking to your heart today that you can no longer keep silent about?

Pray today for an increase in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit to develop within you the courage to step out and challenge the process of the status quo, so that God may be glorified in your work and life.

Works Cited

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

Training Facilitator Highlight – April

Name: Kaitlin Vied     Age: 23

Hometown: Garden Valley, Idaho 

Teen Challenge Center: Columbus Girls Academy     

Graduate: Columbus Girls Academy, 2010 

Brief Testimony

Before I came into the program, I was lost and didn’t see any potential for my life. It was during one of our chapel services that God really grabbed my attention and my heart. Over the last few years, He’s been constantly challenging me to seek His heart further. I love how in Proverbs it says that it’s the pleasure of God to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings to seek it out. Everyday’s been a directed journey to discover new things about the kingdom.  

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I love seeing people equipped to fulfill God’s calling on their life. It’s beautiful when individuals see how God has designed them to lead in their own unique ways.   

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?

Ever since the first day I walked into TC I always heard about “the process.” I believe as leaders we walk through a refining and training process that brings out our giftings to honor the Lord, and our weakness that reflect His strength. We always are continually growing, continually walking through “the process”, and continuing to seek improvement. The training refines us as leaders, and as leaders we’re equipped to refine the training of those that we lead.