TF Highlight – August

Name: Storm Williams

Age: 21

Hometown: Morristown, TN

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin Men in 2016

Brief Testimony: I was a very lost and hurting young man before I met Jesus I had no hope whatsoever. To cope with the pain and emptiness on the inside I would use whatever drugs I could get my hands on, and whenever I could get my hands on them. This destructive life style had me in and out of mental intuitions and group homes as an adolescent and when I became an adult I was immediately homeless. I was planning to take my life one morning but instead that very day I found my life forevermore.  I gave my life to Jesus and he made away for me to come to Teen Challenge were he radically changed my life and filled every void I had and even more filled me with life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I love that I get to live out the great commission every day and make disciples who will eventually make disciples themselves. I think the most special part of this role is to be able to identify gifts and talents in the emerging leaders and to call those out of them and spur them in the direction to operate in those giftings.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? I believe it is a vital key in the gospel of Jesus Christ advancing to the nations. I believe God is sending men and women through our programs who will change the world and this will not happen if we don’t do our part in equipping them with the tools they need.

Participant Highlight – August

Name: Brent R. Herring

Age: 48

Hometown: Cove City, N.C

Graduated: Jacksonville Men’s Center, Fl. 2017

Brief Testimony: My first experience with painkillers came after I had my wisdom teeth surgically removed at age 17 and I received pain killers.  I remember wishing that I could feel like that forever, and from that time on I abused any form of narcotic I could get. I stole a prescription pad from one of the Physicians’ offices and was caught and charged with prescription forgery. I agreed to go to rehab in exchange for the State dropping all charges. That didn’t change my desire for narcotic painkillers and I began to raid family and friends medicine cabinets in their homes. My addiction got so bad that I took my mom’s Demerol capsules she needed after having back surgery. My addiction to painkillers continued to grow until I began overdosing because of the amounts it took to get me high. My tolerance had gotten dangerously high. After several overdoses which landed me in the hospital, I agreed to get help and enter Teen Challenge. I found out about Teen Challenge years earlier when I sent my Daughter through the program to overcome her addiction to Cocaine. After she graduated I remember feeling like I had my little girl back. I remember a definite transformation in her life that I remember wishing I had. I have now graduated, and have been free from addiction for over 6 months. I rely daily on my relationship with Christ to get me through struggles and hardships instead of relying on a pill. 

What is the vision God is calling you to? After being addicted for more than 25 years God has broken the chains of my addiction. In place of an externally poor self-image caused by rejection, loneliness, and self-hatred, God has renewed my spirit. I am now a child of God. Loved, accepted, and content with my life. God has placed the desire in my heart to serve others struggling with life controlling issues by loving them, respecting them and pointing them towards God for inner healing and restoration. 

How has the ELP program impacted your life? The ELP program is not only strengthening my relationship with God, but also giving me the tools to be a more effective leader.

The Light in the Shadow of Uncertainty

By: Bryan Sampson

Uncertainty sure can stir up a lot of different emotions. If you’re anything like me, you have come to realize that life has a lot of unknowns. I find it even more interesting that God intentionally designed our life to be full of uncertainties. This, I believe, is so we can learn to trust Him and become more dependent on Him. So, when looking at leadership experience should we expect it to be any different?

There are three ways to approach the uncertainties we will face as leaders. We can deny them; act like their not even there, we can fear and avoid them, allowing them to cause us to run away from our reality, or we can embrace them with prayer, humility, clarity, and courage, knowing that God goes with us in the shadow of the valley ahead (Psalm 23:4). Understanding the necessity and gifts that the unknown can bring can help us begin to change the way we see the shadows of uncertainties within our lives and ministries. As Stanley (2003) puts it “Uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape” (p.80), so the need to accept and embrace its presence in our leadership is essential.

First, we must realize we are not God, and thus not omniscient. We will never know everything and exactly what to do in every situation. Leaders don’t have all the answers; they are just humble enough to admit it, able to take an honest look at the situation, and willing to consult others when possible. We have to be okay with not knowing for certain how things are going to turn out and we can’t allow that to stop us from making the courageous decisions that lie ahead.

Second, we can’t think that we are going to eliminate uncertainty. We shouldn’t want to eliminate it. We should see it as an opportunity for God’s glory to be exhibited as we trust in His guidance and providence. We should see it as an opportunity for growth and prosperity. This can help us see why God wants us to be uncertain, it allows us to let me Him lead. It is in times of uncertainty that we are most desperate for God’s presence in our lives. It should be this way in our leadership too. The only way we can be the visionaries and leaders for the next generation is if we get comfortable with the uncertainties that will continue to grow as we continue to improve and advance as a ministry. We should actually be grateful because uncertainty is job security for a leader and proves prior success. The more responsibility and success you attain, the more uncertainty you will be rewarded with.

Lastly, it is imperative for us to learn now how to thrive in times of uncertainty. This is where we must develop the art of clarity within our leadership repertoire. Stanley (2003) describes it as “giving explicit and precise direction in spite of limited information and unpredictable outcomes” (p.80). The times of uncertainty are not times to play around, they are the times when we must be direct and clear with what we are aiming to accomplish and what everyone is supposed to do. Imagine a staff meeting where the art of clarity is being utilized or imagine your leadership where you are communicating with the utmost clarity and precision. What differences would you see? What can you do today to start being more precise and direct with those you’re leading?

Uncertainty is a crucial part of our reality. It is when we have embraced our reality that we can allow God to help us courageously lead others. Remember “the goal of leadership is not to eradicate uncertainty, but rather to navigate it. Uncertainty is a component of every environment that calls for leadership. Where you find one, you will always find the other” (Stanley, 2003, p.84).

Pray with me today that we become confident, clear, and courageous as we embrace and lead others through the uncertainties God ordains.

Works Cited

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

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!