March TF Highlight

Name: Mike Van Bibber

Age: 69

Home Town: Kansas City, Missouri

Teen Challenege Center: Kansas City Girls Academy

Brief Testimony: I accepted Christ at age 12.  Called to work with young people, I was an educator for 42 years. At retirement God called me to serve at Teen Challenge. When seeking a new position, I decided I no longer wanted to work with “kids”. God obviously had other ideas for me. What a blessing to work with the young women at Teen Challenge.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I enjoy working with a team whose main concerns are leading students to the Lord and keeping hope within their reach.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  We are all leaders in the sense that we are example setters for those around us. Our training inspires us to grow stronger in the Lord while helping us to gain new insights and skills that allow us to be better leaders for our students.

Main Article – Super Synergy

By: Bryan Sampson

Who doesn’t love a good superhero? With their amazing powers, personal struggles, and a moral purpose, all mixed together with a dash of humanity, what isn’t there to love? Do you know what all of the greatest superheroes have in common? It isn’t their powers; it isn’t their purpose; it is that they knew they could be more powerful and have a greater impact if they worked together as a team. The Justice League, The Avengers, and my personal favorite, The X-Men all came together because their creators knew that nothing could be more powerful than a team of the most powerful.

This truth comes from our God, our Creator, who abides in the Trinity, the most powerful and synergistic team that could ever be known. Our Creator wants us to not just read about, or study, the impact of a powerful team. He wants us to experience it. He wants us to experience the synergy that comes from a healthy and high performing team. He gave us His Spirit so that we would have power, not for individual gain but for His team and purpose (Acts 1:8). I believe this is what God had in mind when He states to the Corinthians “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement” (1 Cor 1:10). God knew the power of the church, the power of believers coming together with one mind, one spirit, and one purpose. This is the only way that His power and kingdom could be present in this very dark world. He knew that divisions and individualism would only lead to self-autonomy and pride, with an impact that would-be minute at best. Jesus died for the church, for His team, let us not individualize it to the point where we create “silos” and keep out those God desires us to join with. He wanted you to be a part of His team. If we are going to truly be the vessels God uses to bring life transformation to those struggling, then we must begin to see the purpose of the power and team God has blessed us with.

Just being a part of a “team” isn’t enough. We must begin to strive for synergy within our teams. If synergy is the “interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects” (Witt, 2018, p. 28), then how would you assess your team currently? Do you believe there is the right combination of health and performance on your team? Are you producing a more powerful effect individually, if so why? What can you do today to help your team produce the synergy God desires and your team needs, to manifest His power and create the greatest impact for His kingdom?

 

Works Cited

Witt, L. (2018). High Impact Teams: where healthy meets high performance. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

February Participant Highlight

Name: James Michael Cox

Age: 30

Hometown: Marco Island, FL

Teen Challenge Center: Fort Myers 2018

Brief Testimony

I spend nearly a decade living successful in the eyes of the world, but my spirit was dead. My party lifestyle and opiate addiction slowly grew into a life dependent on heroin and cocaine. Having known of God, but never knowing God, he brought me to Teen Challenge and reintroduced himself to me. This time, I met him halfway, and my life has been one giant miracle ever since. Opportunities and blessings in the lives of my family and I, continue to show.

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

Dean Sikes said, “What you overcome in life usually becomes your platform in life.” Jesus has called me to extend my season with Teen Challenge into an internship. I can relate to broken individuals with no passion, purpose, or God in their lives. My calling is to put aside my selfish desires, and help others.

How has the ELP Program impacted you?

This program has aided my understanding of how to live abiding by Christian principles. Leadership skills, boundaries with relationships, and confidence in the Lord, are all becoming realities for me very quickly. If anyone knew me 14 months ago, the previous sentence would have been perceived as laughable.

February TF Highlight

Name: Chris McKinney

Age: 26

Hometown: Crossville, Tennessee

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola 2012

Brief Testimony 

When I arrived at Pensacola Teen Challenge I was broken and hopeless. I needed a change in my life. My mother was graduating the program the Sunday before I went into the program and through her testimony I came to know Christ! God has used this ministry to change my life and has called me to serve with Teen Challenge. I am grateful each day for my beautiful wife and son. God has restored my entire family and made me a new man! Without TC I would be dead, in jail, or still bound in addiction thank God for this wonderful ministry!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy getting an opportunity to pour into people’s lives, especially our Emerging Leaders. Being able to watch God move in their hearts and develop leadership within them each day is amazing.

 Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  

I find it valuable because it is, in my heart, the center of discipleship. It is part of the Great Commission! It is part of God’s plan and it encourages people to understand that God has something special for their life. Training and leadership are also vital to develop consistency, excellence, and a standard that would match the stewardship level God wants us to have in the ministry of Teen Challenge.

January TF Highlight

Name: Lauren Schiller

Age: 30

TC Center: Currently serving at Pensacola Women’s Center; 2014 graduate from Davie Women’s Home

Brief Testimony: For several years I was bound by a deep addiction to opiates that was putting me in and out of jail, destroying all of my relationships, and quickly taking my will to live. As I journeyed through the Teen Challenge program, the Lord gently began dealing with my heart. He gave me vision, purpose, and hope – things I have never experienced before. My life today is simply a product of the redemptive love and power of Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do I enjoy most about my role: Having the opportunity to watch women who were once broken and hopeless develop a confidence in the gifting God has placed within them. Being able to teach them, from personal experience, how to bring that gift into full fruition. And the fulfillment they receive is always rewarding to witness.

Why do I feel leadership and training are valuable: We never “arrive” anywhere, so it is important to always remain intentional in motivating ourselves to learn and grow. Working in the ministry of Teen Challenge, it is important to make sure we have people in our lives who are continuously challenging us to reach our full potential in Christ. So in turn, we can lead by example and help equip those who are coming up behind us to fulfill the position we currently hold.

January Participant Highlight

Name: Sydney Winder

Age: 23

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Teen Challenge Center: Pensacola Women’s Center

Brief Testimony: I grew up in a broken home and had to grow up fast. I hung out with the wrong crowd and fell in love at a young age. I became addicted to heroin at 17 and by the time I was 20 I was a full-blown IV heroin user. A few months after my boyfriend died, I got arrested and made the decision to turn my life around. I have been in Teen Challenge for 11 months now and my life is completely changed. It’s not about sobriety anymore, it’s about eternity.

Vision/Calling God has given you: God has placed a desire in my heart to help other girls ou tof addiction and into a new life. A life that they can be happy with, where God is the main focus.

How has ELP impacted you? ELP has really helped me to see my strengths and talents, and also showing me how to channel them in the right direction.

 

Main Article – Team Paradigm

By: Bryan Sampson

When you think of your own personal growth and development what areas come to mind? Is it more courage in your leadership, better academic discipline, or maybe better organizational skills? While these are all great areas to develop, one area that is just as imperative, that rarely gets discussed, is being a better teammate. We don’t see team greatness as an individual issue, but one for the group. This is a common and dangerous error.

The truth is that great teams begin with great individuals (Witt, 2018). There is no greater team than that of the 12 disciples. What made them such a great team? Each one of them were submitted under their master. They all had one common goal, fulfill what Jesus commanded “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). They all knew that their personal relationship with Jesus, abiding in Him was where they would get the power to accomplish what Jesus commanded (John 15:5), but also that Jesus brought them together to work as a team to develop a larger team, which we call the “body” (1 Cor. 12:12-31).

And so it is with us. If we want to be a part of greatness, to have the greatest impact, it will start with taking a look in the mirror and focusing on our personal relationship with Jesus, abiding in His presence and becoming great yourself. The team you are a part of will not become great because of a new leader, new staff, or better students. It will become great as soon as soon as you strive to be a great team member and when you believe that personal greatness is not intended for personal gain, but for the benefit of the body and God’s kingdom. Buying into the idea of team, not individualism, to care more about team cohesion than autonomy is essential if we are to put hope within reach of every addict and to glorify God through our lives and ministry.

I challenge you today to examine yourself. Are you more concerned with your own individual performance and success than that of your teams? Is it a challenge for you to help out other departments because you want to make sure your area is succeeding? Do you feel division between departments or team members? Let’s pray for our eyes to be opened to the revelation that Jesus died for the Church, to make a team that operates as one body, that can impact this world with His truth and His love. To do it solo is to be outside God’s will and design. Let’s pray for greater team unity and cohesion as we labor together with one heart, one mind, and one spirit.

“God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers and sister, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree together, so that there may be no division among you and you may be united in mind and conviction” (1 Cor. 1:9-10).

Works Cited

Witt, L. (2018). High Impact Teams. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Main Article – The Christmas Season

By: Dustin Nance

It is the Christmas Season! A season for many that is filled with Christmas trees, gifts, wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, family and fun. One that is marked by family traditions, it’s my favorite time of year! My parents have always made Christmas a big celebration. Lights on the house, a big Christmas tree and some great food. However, something I have come to appreciate as a parent, is they never let us forget what the true meaning of Christmas was. They made traditions that helped us connect the fun and family time to the sacrifice God made for us.

One of my favorites was decoration day! It would start with all of us getting everything down from the attic. Then we would get a tree, set it up and put all the lights on it. Then my father and I would do all the decorations outside while my mom and sisters set up all the decorations inside and made all of our favorite finger foods and sweets. Once we finished our tasks we would help each other get everything done except decorating the tree. Then we cleaned up and got dressed in nice clothes. My mom would set out the nice china and we would sit in the living room close to the tree and talk about the year, things we were thankful for and the meaning of Christmas. Then we would get food and decorate the tree together. I look back with such fond memories about the time we spent together as a family.

My parents have always kept the true meaning of Christmas at the center of all that this season brings with it. Another tradition that they did and we continue to do as a family is on Christmas morning, before we open presents, we eat breakfast together and then we all go in the living room and my father reads about the birth of Christ. Then we’ll pass out gifts and watch as we take turns opening gifts, sharing the joy of giving with each other. With eight adults and nine grandchildren full of excitement, our time together can be far from perfect, but we enjoy the chaos together!

Wherever you are this Christmas season, take time to recognize the gift God gave all humanity. The gift of His Son, the best gift we can ever receive. He sent Jesus as the atoning sacrifice. Be sure to slow down and take time to read the Christmas story and reflect on the impact of God’s great gift in your life and on the world.

Have a Merry Christmas and New Year!

Luke 2:1-20  –  The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

December – TF Highlight

Name: Christie Ganpat

Age: 31

Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Teen Challenge Center: Graduated Davie Teen Challenge 2016/ Works at Lakeland Teen Challenge since 11/2017

Brief Testimony: I was raised by divorced parents and believed that my mom never loved me and walked out on me. I spent a good part of my life searching for love in all the wrong places and from all the wrong things. When I was truly at rock bottom I walked through the doors of Teen Challenge and found love in the right place and that was the unconditional love of God. I’ve never looked back and I know that God is with me wherever I go and that His love never fails!

What do you enjoy most about your role? I enjoy being part of the journey. I feel honored that God chose me to help others become the leader God has called them to be.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable? Leadership and training are important because we should always be in a place of learning and growth. Without those things we would never improve and we would never reach our full potential.

December – ELP Highlight

Name:  Debbie Provost

Age: Forever Young with Sparkle!

Hometown:  Phoenix, AZ

Teen Challenge Center:  LGA

Brief Testimony:  When I was younger, I grew up in the church as my parents were Sunday School teachers; but as time passed and I grew up, rebellion, alcohol & drugs; and the negative influencers took over my life and I fell away from the church and God.  After years of chasing the wrong things, hitting rock bottom in a very dark place in mental, physical and emotional pain; I cried out and demanded God show up and take all the pain away. My cry was actually for Him to end it all; but instead, He gave me a new beginning.  I learned that He had never left me, and that He had always been there trying to get my attention back. He met me in the darkest time of my life and His presence was so strong; I began chasing after Jesus again and I don’t plan on stopping.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you?  God has given me the ability to be a good listener and hear what others have to say when they feel no one else is listening.  He has also given me the inspiration to speak His words into their lives so they see God first in everything they do.

How has the ELP Program impacted you?  It encourages me to want to be challenged, after all when we are challenged, we are able to grow and learn.