Participant Highlight – October 2017

Name:  Tyler Graeff

Age: 26

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Teen Challenge Center: Orlando Men’s Center

Brief Testimony: When I was living in the world I was consumed with a lifestyle of sin. I was lost and broken and a door opened for me to come to Teen Challenge. While enrolled in TC, I rededicated my life to Christ. God began speaking to me, as He broke off the chains of depression and heroin addiction. I now live a life with more freedom, peace, and joy than I could ever have imagined.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? – God has called me specifically to Teen Challenge to serve Him in full-time ministry. My vision is to serve in this ministry and help broken men overcome their addictions and pain through the power of Christ in me.

 How has the ELP Program impacted you? – ELP is giving me the leadership skills that I need to help me become the leader God has called me to be. I’ve also grown spiritually, as I am learning more and more about God’s perspective on leadership. ELP is helping me answer the call that God has placed on my life.

Freedom!

Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating “freedom.” With Memorial Day, we remembered those who died in military service for our freedom.  As I walked on the streets of Cuba, this month, I couldn’t help but think of the lack of freedom in the lives of the good people that lived there.  When we watch the news and hear about the oppressed around the world, a voice rises up in us and calls out to the captives, “Fight!  Fight for your freedom!”  It is a longing in every one of us, in every aspect of life- to always be free.

It is interesting that the opposite of free is exactly what it is- costly.  Every time an individual enjoys the luxury of freedom, the mind must go back. There was a cost somewhere; a payment made, along the way, to purchase that freedom- a transaction that would catapult into the future lives of others- affecting them on a daily basis.  Someone, at some point, paid for each freedom that is possessed.

We see that in our own country.  The cost of freedom has been high.  The Memorial Foundation reports that, “Since 1776, over one million Americans have secured the blessing of liberty through their lives.”  They also point out that 42 million Americans have served their country in time of war.  Freedom is costly.

Webster defines freedom as a noun:  “The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”  In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace is fighting for the freedom of his country, Scotland.  At the end of the movie, he has been captured by England and is being tortured to death.  Legend says that in the last agonizing moments of his life, he, ironically, cries out, “Freedom!!!” for all to hear.  He is shackled and imprisoned but his heart is free because he has lived honorably.  As a result of his sacrifice, his countrymen are inspired and fight to eventually take their country back from England’s “enslavement” of them.

Take a moment to watch this scene: Braveheart – FREEDOM – Y#3299DC

In our contemplation of freedom, there is One that trumps them all- the ultimate and final freedom.  The eternal freedom that Christ gave to us through dying on the cross,

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

God recognized that no matter how hard we were to fight for physical freedom, we would never truly experience spiritual freedom from sin without His sacrifice.  Even in the days of Christ, the throngs were so focused on freedom from Rome that they didn’t see the One, before their very eyes, that could grant them freedom from every kingdom and dominion.

Christ recognized that physical freedom was temporary but spiritual freedom was eternal.  We need to remember that too as we share the Good News of the Gospel- the news that brings freedom to every facet of a person’s life, despite the physical strongholds they may find themselves in- whether it is a communist country, a prison cell, a wall street desk or a down town park bench- each one of us is invited to receive and experience the ultimate freedom that only Christ can give.

Jesus declared the war to be over when He said from the cross, It is finished.

Freedom is now at hand,

Brice Maddock, COO Teen Challenge Southeast

 

Freedom Costs a Price

Richard Henry Lee oilA Leader who sets a Nation Free

Great Leaders set others free. On June 7th 1775, Richard Henry Lee of Virgina presented a resolution for the united colonies to be free from British rule. “Let it be resolved that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved “http://www.military.com/independence-day/history-of-independence-day.html. Lee’s words set the flywheels turning for a series of events that led to the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence and on July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England – an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.  These few words and a series of action, set in motion that which would change the history of this great nation and its people forever. Last week we celebrating over 200 years of independence, but it took one leader who considered the welfare of the people above his; one leader who sought the good of the people and acted to bring about change. Freedom cost a price, oftentimes not to the one who enjoys its, but to the one who gave his life for it. Thank you to our forefathers who paved the way for our independence.

A Leader who sets Addicts Free

Another great leader got his call in 1958 to go and help those boys in New York City. Davida_David_Wilkerson Wilkerson was a 26 year-old Pentecostal preacher from Pennsylvania who answered the call to go to New York. After a series of encounters with God first, and then with addicts and gang members, the Teen Challenge ministry was started.  David had a clear vision for the addict “they could begin life all over again, with the fresh and innocent personalities of newborn children.” This time they would grow up in an environment surrounded by love. “A house where these new kids could come – a really nice house where they are welcomed and loved, the door would always be open; there would always be lots and lots of beds, clothes to wear and a great big kitchen for meals.” Today, there are over 1200 Teen Challenge homes like this in 102 countries of the world. It all started with one leader leaving his family in Pennsylvania to go and help those boys. In Teen Challenge, being set free is no small task. Our students walk in with years and years of lies, generational curses, hurts and other issues embedded deep into their hearts and minds. They enter as slaves – trapped in a dead-end life of sin. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. They enter Teen Challenge where Jesus steps in and break their chains of sin and shame and cover them with grace; He reaches out a hand to save and set them free. He transforms slaves into sons, who have an established position in the house (the Kingdom) and who can run around it with glee. Teen Challenge is where life-transformation happens – people encounter God and are born again into a new life. We are establishing sons and daughters to enjoy their freedom in Christ – serving the Lord with gladness. No more legalism and religion, they have experienced Love which motivates them to freely give to the One who paid the price for them.

A Greater Leader who sets the World Free

Over 2000 years ago another great leader, in an expression of love for people, gave a Jesus 10155746_678591885530960_857185614685534700_nmost precious gift – His Son who stood in our place to set us free. “This is how much God loved the world; He gave His Son, His one and only Son.” Why? “So that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life; those who trust in Him is acquitted.” (John 3:16-18, TM).  He gives us new desires and a new heart altogether that would want to follow Him. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.(John 8:34-38, TM). Jesus says “if you stick with this, living out what I tell you, then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you” (John 8:31-32, TM). This truth is the Word of God which expels darkness and help us to walk in the Light.  To walk in the Light means to be free from darkness. The ultimate sacrifice for your life was paid by one man who gave His life – Jesus Christ.

As a leader, what are you willing to sacrifice so that others are set free and experience New Beginnings?

“Hope lives here. Freedom is found here. Changed lives leave here.”

– Don Wilkerson (Teen Challenge)

 

 

Enrich Culture – Freedom to love and trust one another

A healthy culture is a safe place where people can identify who they are and why they are here. Spring is here and so too is the pollen that comes with it. As the trees start to bloomMan blowing his nose in canola field and the pollen gets airborne, people begin coughing, sneezing, scratching the throat, and rubbing the eyes. Lots of people have terrible allergies and infections during this season and some literally have to stay indoors to avoid the elements of the outdoors. They become sick and weakened because the environment is unhealthy.  So too it is when we are in a spiritually unsafe environment, we get spiritual allergies. Spiritual allergies prevent us from becoming spiritually mature. The environment exudes un-forgiveness, bitterness towards God and others, mistrust, dis-unity and emotions could explode at any moment.

Danny Silk describes the freedom we feel in an opposite culture where people are free to love and trust one another: “A safe place is where the fear of misused freedom doesn’t get to rise up and intimidate us out of risking trust and love in our relationships with one 101_0751another. The essence of love is safety and connection. In Isaiah God says “The mountains and the hills will be removed, but My kindness shall never leave, you nor shall My covenant of peace with you ever be removed.” In other words God is saying “I want you to be completely sure of My attitude towards you…My kindness and My covenant of peace will never be taken away.” This security allow us to be free everywhere we go. The Hebrew word Shalom means safe, well, happy, friendly; health, prosperity, and peace. Our covenant with God is a safe place. The power in this reality is that we as human beings blossom in safety. This is why shalom also means “health” and “wholeness.”His covenant brings peace, happiness, safety, health and wholeness, and it will never be taken from us. When God shows up, His presence is a safe place. When the Lord shows up, His atmosphere is charged with peace.”

“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health, yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it” ~   Patrick Lencioni

ELP Highlights

Name: Jennifer Seipel Poe

Age:   340

Hometown: Olin, North Carolina

Teen Challenge Center: Oklahoma

Which Center/What Year did you Graduate: Ft. Myers Women/ 2012

My Testimony in Brief: When I came to Teen Challenge I was desperate for true love.  I had sought love in drugs, food and men for many years.  In Teen Challenge I found the true love that I had been looking for in Jesus.  

The Purpose and Calling God has Given Me:  I feel called to work with adolescent girls and am excited about the door that God has opened for me through ELP .  I hope that by sharing the love of Jesus with others I can help them experience the true freedom that I have found in Him.

The ELP’s Impact on My Leadership: ELP has been a vehicle for placing me in my calling. Thanks to my level 1 ELP classes and the guidance and support of my ELP rep, I am transitioning into an awesome opportunity in Teen Challenge Ministry where I will be working with adolescent girls.