ELP Highlight Nov 2015

Name: Matthew B. SampsonBryan Sampson

Age:  33

Hometown: Lexington, KY

Teen Challenge Center:  Central Florida Men’s.  I have been on staff for 6 months. I graduated in September 2014

My Testimony in Brief:   I let drugs and alcohol consume every aspect of my life. I let the ways of the world guide me on a path of destruction allowing me to feel no remorse for anyone. Jesus still loved me! He loved me so much that he died for it all, just so I could be reconciled to Him. Through His love I have been able to love others.

 The Purpose and Calling God has Given Me:  He has called me to bring people out of darkness, to be a testimony of his power and love. I will be working with Teen Challenge as I continue to grow and educate myself; becoming the best vessel for the Holy Spirit to operate through.

The ELP’s Impact on My Leadership:  The ELP program has brought what was once a timid, quiet voice and turned it into a lion! I’m now a leader who serves his fellow brothers and will do whatever he can to see them succeed, leading them to victory in Christ.

From the Rep’s Corner

Inside the Soul of A Honest Disciple

If I could ask Jesus one thing right now it would be, “Did ministry ever make you think you were crazy, losing your mind or even that you weren’t even really the Son of Man and all the rejection and ridicule you faced was beginning to tear you down and doubt the truth?

You see I have many titles, many responsibilities, many expectations, many who call onThe empty soul my name more than they have ever called on the name of Jesus. All these humbled glories proceed to feed my flesh, leaving my soul empty, apart for the rest and sanctification of Christ. I look into the crowd of needs, each calling my name, each yelling their disappointment of expectation, many of which I have flooded my own brain with, and sadly my Spirit too.

You see a heart planted so deep within me, that sometimes it’s so blinded by the desire to please God and see Him glorified that it forgets the navigation of His pursuit to fulfill me. He says “slow down,” He says “stop,” He says “ENOUGH!!!” It’s this cycle that affords me such fulfillment and satisfaction, that now I realize, that’s what I am worshiping. It is in this realization that I am grieved and the God that I thought I saw standing over me in applaud is actually on His face weeping for me and my soul. He is weeping and interceding that I would slow down and come back to Him. That I would come back to intimacy, He is not looking for a quick fix, He won’t even show up for it. I find in my private time warring with these feelings that my Lover has stood me up, all because He knows my heart has hardened to His intimacy. You see the same pattern I have developed with “serving Him” has carried into my personal relationship with my Jesus!

You see the enemy is the master of darkness, darkness upon which we cannot see. He is the King of deception, deceiving us and our most purest desires. Our only hope is our rawness, our brokenness and the destruction of pride, which is only to be overtaken by the Kingdom and Glory of His marvelous light! So let Him in, let His light shine and allow yourself to be utterly overtaken by His love for you! So no matter how high you might climb in leadership, it means nothing if your not going lower in your personal relationship with Christ!

ELP Highlights

Hi, my name is Courtney Hooper, I’m from Houston, Texas and I’m currently attending Courtneythe Columbus Girls Academy in Seale, AL. Since coming here, God has brought me out of my life of darkness and emptiness. He’s given me such an overflow of His unending, perfect love and grace and I only desire to give Him my everything in return. God has definitely called me to ministry in Teen Challenge after I graduate, and although I’m not sure what that life will look like, I’m trusting Him to lead and guide me as He already has been. ELP has grown and challenged me in ways that have completely transformed my ideas on leadership. It’s shown me what an authentic leader looks like, and has given me the ability to walk more steadily in following Christ’s example, who proclaimed that a true leader is one that gives away their life for others.

 

Leading Through Forgiveness and Grace

Mercy Said “No, I’m Not Gonna Let You Go!”

As I was thumbing through the Cross and the Switchblade I came across David Wilkerson’s encounter with Nicky Cruz. As Nicky threatened to kill David, he responds Girl sad“You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you” (C&S, p. 72). David was willing to die so that Nicky could hear how much Jesus loves him and how much he (David) loves him. It reminds me of the song by CeCe Winan “Mercy said No, I’m not gonna let you go, I’m not gonna let you slip away, you don’t have to be afraid, Mercy said no, sin will never ever take control life and death stood face to face, darkness tried to steal my heart away, thank you Jesus, mercy said no.” As servant leaders we are motivated by love because we have experienced God’s mercy and grace and we want others to experience it as well. In Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard asks the questions “Why is forgiveness important as an aspect of leadership?” “Because forgiveness is the way for a heart grounded in unconditional love of God to respond to the imperfections of others.” In Teen Challenge we have many opportunities to respond to the imperfections of others – by forgiving quickly, bringing correction in love and helping our students receive and move forward. “As leaders, the journey of forgiveness must start with us; when we don’t forgive we judge with a view to condemn but when we forgive, we bring correction and restoration” (Blanchard).

“I’ll never forget the day Elaine put her finger on the quality of the love that redeems. “I’ve finally got it figured out, Reverend Wilkerson, ” said the girl. “Christ’s love is a love with no strings attached.” Christ’s love is a love that asks nothing in return. It is a love that wants only the best for these boys and girls. And this is the quality that redeems.” (C&S, p. 165).

The Life of Christ Activates Grace in Us

At our ELP Rep’s retreat Greg Hammond spoke a message on the life of Christ activating grace in us. He said “The death of Christ secured grace for us but the life of Christ activates grace in us.” When Jesus is working in the students lives, they look less and less like the world and more and more like Christ. When our students understand their position in Christ all they want to do is His will and be like their Father – Abba Father. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba Father.” (Rom 8:15). “Grace extends unrestrained fellowship to others in celebration of their inherent dignity as being made in God’s image and as the objects of His affection.”  – Ken Blanchard. Grace activated in our students helps them come alive to the love of Christ and the abundant life only He can give. “If we are going to enrich culture we need to connect our students to the reality of the gospel so they believe it and grace comes alive in them; they start to identify with their Father – they are no longer “self-conscious” but “son-conscious” (Hammond). As leaders, grace is activated in our relationship with the students when we are present for Girls Talkingthem, when we accept that we are limited and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come in and bring life and light in their situation.

In what ways does the Holy Spirit want to extend forgiveness and grace in your relationships with those you lead?

“If students learn to see this grace activated in them wherever they go, the knowledge of the Lord will fill that part of the world because of His son or daughter; their feet will be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, they’ll preach glad tidings of great joy and help fulfill their Father’s legacy and their Father’s dream – that the glory of Jesus fill all the earth.”~ Greg Hammond.