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. 

ELP Participant Highlight – April

Name: Domonique Merchant

Age: 31

Hometown: Los Angeles California/ Fayetteville Georgia

Teen Challenge Center: Teen Challenge Columbus Girls Academy 

Brief Testimony 

I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at an early age, and I have had to receive blood transfusions/ blood exchanges for 28 years. Before, I decided that I didn’t care about my life any more, and started to do drugs and drink alcohol to ease the pain. God chose me in my weakness to declare the works of the Lord. The Lord saved me from death and now I am able to pursue and love Him with all of my heart while teaching others how to do the same as well.  

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? 

The vision and calling that God has given me is to work and train troubled teens while in the future, possibly working in medical missions and anti-human trafficking as well.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? 

The ELP program has impacted me in teaching me how to be a better leader to my Teen Challenge students. ELP will also continue to teach me how to use the leadership skills in my future callings.

Main Article – The Process of Competence

The Process of Competence

By: Bryan Sampson

I won’t ever forget my second day in Teen Challenge. It was 90 degrees in Sanford, FL, the sun was beating down on me from every direction as it reflected off of the line of cars I was staring at. I was surrounded by a thousand dirty cars that needed to be washed before an auction took place. The first thing that crossed my mind was “what did I do? I have made the biggest mistake of my life!” Fast forward fifteen months later; I’m an intern, on the same car lot, with the same heat, but different responsibilities as I supervise the work crew. As I began to grow complacent wondering what I was doing on the same lot, doing the same thing, God reminded me of my purpose and showed me how far I had come through the process He ordained. It’s funny that while in each moment I would have changed so much, as I look back through this journey and I wouldn’t change one thing. God was using every situation to show me who I truly was while preparing me for my destiny. I discovered more about myself and my competencies by working in a variety of domains than I could have ever discovered by a personality or interest inventory. How do we know who we truly are and what we truly love to do if we don’t experience the good and bad positions of work that life can provide? The process of discovering our competencies and who we truly are in Christ should fill us with joy even if the particular job doesn’t.

Stanley makes it clear that though we may not always be in a position where we are working within our competencies we need to adapt the mindset to uncover the areas where we would have the highest probability of success (Stanley, 2003). This is something we must work toward and focus on. No position will ever be completely filled with responsibilities that we love to do or where we operate within our competencies all day long. That isn’t realistic. We all must answer to someone and be willing to complete the tasks assigned to us whether they are in our competencies our not. We owe it to ourselves, our ministry, and to God to embrace the process of discovering our competencies, learning about ourselves, and being patient and willing to do whatever is asked, so when God does open the door for our dream position we are prepared to walk through it.

Jesus says, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:26-28 ESV). There was a process that Jesus had to go through before He entered His role as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was Jesus’ joy to endure the process of sacrificially serving Himself to the point of death so that we could live but more importantly that He would be glorified! (Heb 12:2) Let us begin to walk with the same humility and anticipation that Jesus did as we grow and develop as leaders.

Are you willing to go through the process so you become competent and ready to walk you’re your destiny so that God would be glorified?

ELP Participant Highlight – March

Name: Glenn Thomas Forker

Age: 34

Hometown: Madisonville Ky

Teen Challenge Center: Western Kentucky Teen Challenge


Brief Testimony: I was homeless strung out fo 20 years and as broken as a man could be. I had gotten very close to killing myself and was living out of a hotel at a level of strung out I had never been too. My family had offered to help me if I would seek help. Thinking I was going to get over on them and stay high I agreed. But God had different plans. I pushed to come on a tour of this program and one year later here I am.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I feel like I am meant to share with people what has happened in my life, what GOD has done in my life. If I just give one person hope or am able to help bring one person to the Lord, every struggle I have been threw is worth it.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? ELP has taught me leadership on a level I have never thought possible. And most importantly it has taught me how to lead like a Christian man and to show people the word threw my actions

Training Facilitator Highlight – March

Name: Jeremiah Jeffers

Center: Graduate of Teen Challenge in Dixon, Ky.

I have been here for 3 years now, and I am working as a full-time staff member. Through the opportunity the Lord gave me through Teen Challenge, I now have restoration with my daughters and am building a relationship with them. I have purpose for my life today, and I love to work and help others. I am thankful for a personal relationship with the Lord and to know the power of His Word. Today, I am a living stone, a royal priesthood, and my life is now built on the solid rock and aligned with the true cornerstone of Jesus Christ. Today I have true life.

Main Article – The Next Generation

By: Bryan Sampson

Over the next year, we as a region will be mining through Andy Stanley’s “Next Generation Leader” to pull insights and wisdom that will hopefully improve our leadership skills, but before we get to the what we are doing it is always good to ask why. This allows us to understand the heart and greater purpose behind the training.

Why Staff Trainings?

To understand why we believe that our staff meetings should contain a training component we should hear Paul’s words written to the Ephesians “… and He (Jesus) gave gifts to men… and He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work in ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (4:8-13).

Unfortunately, there is a wrong way to do ministry. We have all witnessed this within our centers and at times have been guilty of it ourselves. It’s time to repent, get rid of the excuses, and take serious the growth, development, and sanctification of ourselves and our future leaders. We want the next generation of leaders to grow in the fullness of Christ, understanding how to do ministry in a way that honors Him. Our staff meetings provide excellent opportunities for us to equip the saints for God glorifying work in Teen Challenge ministries.

Why Next Generation Leader?

How should we measure success as leaders in Teen Challenge? Is it the bottom line of our centers’ financial statements? Should it be based on recidivism? Or maybe on graduation rates? While all of these would be good measures to understand the program, none of them can measure longevity and success.

Stanley states that “In leadership, success is succession.” If the people coming up behind us are not able to take what we have offered and build on it, then we have failed in our responsibility to the next generation (p.11). The only way Teen Challenge will be able to serve the generations that follow is by raising up leaders to fulfill the roles that are needed. We fail as leaders if we aren’t preparing our replacements.

We must realize that God is giving us pastoral leaders, teachers, IT professionals, counselors, etc… to grow, develop, and mature in Christ. We want to invest in those who are destined to leave the world a better place than they found it, a place where God’s will is done. As a region, we want to raise up the leaders within our program that are going to shape our ministry and our future for the better.

ELP Participant Highlight – February

Name: Shannon McDonald

Age: 31

Hometown: Ft. Myers, FL

Teen Challenge Center: Jacksonville Teen Challenge

Brief Testimony: The Ministry of Teen Challenge has forever changed my life, before entering the program I had no clue about my Savior Jesus, never saw a bible or set foot in a church. I was bound in addiction for 21 years always looking for something that was missing, only I never knew what it was. Today I’ve found it, and I am delivered and passionate about giving to others what God has given me through this ministry. FREEDOM!

What is the vision and calling that God has given you?

To work in street ministry and evangelism with women in prostitution and addiction.

How has the ELP Program impacted you? 

God is intimately shaping my Christ-like attitude and character through all the studies I am doing. He is also breaking my fleshly ways off me that hinder me in my leadership and giving me the wisdom and grace to change. He is aligning my heart with his for His people so I am not selfish and can do His will for His people and not my own.