ELP Highlight

Name: Jason Prater

Age:  28 years old

Hometown: Durham, N.C

Teen Challenge Center:   Jacksonville Men’s Center

My Testimony in Brief: As a young man from a broken home I felt unloved and had no Jason Prateridentity.  I began looking for help in drugs, alcohol, violence, and gangs.  From high school until last year I was in and out of jail.  In 2012 while on crack I racked up 27 new charges.  In jail I was so lost and broken I received Jesus through the help of a former hell’s angel.  I was eventually released and after several failures I ended up here in Jacksonville.

The Purpose and Calling God has Given Me: God has used Teen Challenge to restore my relationship with Jesus and my family.  He is showing me how to be a light that guides all nations to Him(Is 42:6) as well as help people who are still in bondage.

 The ELP’s Impact on My Leadership: The ELP program has taught me about balance, boundaries, how to study God’s Word and hear His voice.

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!

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)

 

 

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.

 

ELP Highlight

womanName:  Muvinille (Muvi) Kapuniai

Hometown:  Glendale, Arizona

Teen Challenge Center: Teen Challenge Home of Hope, Casa Grande, Arizona

Year Graduated:  2008

My Testimony in Brief:

Through my addiction of being an alcoholic I lost everything.  My daughter’s prayers and determination caused me to enter Home of Hope in 2007.  Was I to conform during the next twelve months or was I going to be transparent and transform.

After graduating, I volunteered and  was hired on as staff at HOH.  Over the years one thing I have found for sure was the love and compassion that was shown and so freely given to me through Jesus Christ.  I am so speechless in knowing that so many stood by me in my journey even in the good times and in the tough times.

 

The Purpose and Calling God has Given Me:

To be the light for His Glory

The ELP’s Impact on My Leadership:

In my heart I have come to learn if I would look deep enough within myself, I would find peace,  and in this peace I would find the one who loves me the most. GOD!

Enriched Culture – Accurately Acknowledge Who People Are

enrichedculturelong

“Catherine Lawes was a young mother with three children when her husband became warden at Sing Sing prison. When the first prison basketball game was held, she attended with her three young kids and sat in the stands with the inmates. She insisted on getting to know them and their records.She discovered one convicted murderer was blind so she visited him over the next several months and taught him how to read Braille. Later, Catherine found a deaf-mute in prison. She went to school to learn how to use sign language so they could talk. Many said that Catherine was like having Jesus visiting Sing Sing prison from 1921 – 1937” (Habitudes 4).  After Catherine was killed suddenly in a car accident in 1937, all the inmates were allowed to walk to her home unsupervised to pay their respects and every one of them returned to the prison that night.

Danny Silk describes in his book A Culture of Honor one of the principles of this culture as “accurately acknowledging who people are will position us to give them what they deserve, and to receive the gift of who they are in our lives.”

A culture of honor starts with us accurately acknowledging the person God has brought to us; we can only do this when we recognize their God-given identities and roles. Sometimes because of what we see when a student enters our program, it takes a bit of Diamond in the Roughmining to find the diamond in the rough, the pearl in the oyster – but it’s there.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9.

“In a culture of honor leaders lead with honor by courageously treating people in their God-given identity and not according to the aliases they receive from others” ~ Silk.  Ever wondered why God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah, and many others who received name changes in the Bible? It was usually to establish their new identity. Names speak destiny over the person. Imagine when God said ‘Abraham,’ each time He spoke ‘father of a multitude.’ He was actively speaking over Abraham his destiny. “Father, Mother, son, daughter, pastor, apostle, prophet, Christian, human being – defines a person’s role and identity and when used correctly, establish God-designed relationships in which specific rewards are given and received to build and strengthen us” ~ Silk. A son will always be a son, a daughter will always be a daughter, a pastor will always have a shepherd’s heart.

Application

What would happen if we started accurately acknowledging the new identities of each person that walks through our TC doors? Ask yourself, “what is special, unique, and wonderful about this person? Then share what you see with the person and with others. Speak their life-purpose and destinies over them.

Those who come to us as students should leave as sons and daughters as well.