Mission Drift

Recently, Joe Batluck, President of Teen Challenge USA, gave me a book entitled Mission Drift written by Peter Greer and Chris Horst. I found this to be a good and thought-provoking book and would highly suggest you try to get a copy.

Too often, we see organizations slowly drifting away from their original core purpose and identity. The older an organization is, the easier it is to find mission drift. I want to share some of the points I extracted from the book and suggest that we each take a close look at our own organization and do a self-assessment.

In today’s culture, there is more and more pressure to soften the message of Jesus in communicating and describing one’s faith-based ministry. Society uses terms like tolerance or acceptance. It often pushes the idea of permitting anyone to come and serve in leadership roles in an organization. If you don’t go along with this push, then you aren’t acceptable in their eyes. The greater message society tries to send is - if you are to receive money, lose the “Jesus language”, and allow anyone to be employed in your organization.

Many Christian, not-for-profit leaders are giving into public opinion and pressure from their boards to soften the language, make the changes needed to gain acceptance and access to those pressures for money. Secular society will always push back at the gospel.

This is not new in America. When we take a look at the founding purposes and vision for Harvard University and Princeton University, we see that both were founded to train ministers. However, now they have purposes and values far from the founding fathers’ vision for their schools.

One organization that most of us are acquainted with is the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), widely referred to as the Y. The founder, George Williams, was concerned with the youth in London after the war and founded the association to reach out to these boys and influence them with Christian values. Now in most part, we see the Y as a place for exercise and family health activities. These are worthy efforts but a far cry from the founding principles.

John Howard Pew, founder of the Pew Memorial Foundation, started out only giving to organizations that were Christian. Now the board has determined that they will not give to any Christian charity.

I believe there are always changes and areas for growth for all organizations. I believe Teen Challenge must always review, evaluate and assess our effectiveness and posture for delivering life transformation. I believe we must make changes but not to our values or mission. Our methods and how we help may take on many faces, but the core values of faith must never be compromised.

I continue to believe that Jesus is the greatest asset of Teen Challenge, and we cannot back down from holding true to the good news of the gospel. We must stay true to our mission and the foundational value of this organization.

If we give up Jesus, we give up lasting results! We give up life transformation!

Greer and Horst illustrate this fact with the following examples: In 2010, New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, visited what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Traveling around the country, he captured inspiring signs of hope. However, he unearthed a reality that few are willing to verbalize. He wrote, “There’s an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or UN reports. It’s a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous; It’s that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children‘s prospects would be transformed.”

The truth is that to achieve lasting change, people need work. They need jobs. Poverty is the result of lack of opportunity. There are many organizations who are working across Africa to provide individuals with job skills, financial tools, and training to acquire the work skills necessary for quality of life improvement.

Yet, as Kristof laments, “The ugly secret of poverty remains. Jobs and increased incomes are not solutions in themselves. Prosperity can actually contribute to more brokenness.”

Compassion International leader, Peter Greer, speaks of Jean-Paul, someone they spent much time training and helping to launch a business that would bring he and his family financial freedom. Peter tells of how, after a year, they had reports that Jean-Paul had done well and had opened a second stand to sell his goods. When Peter returned to visit and take photos of how Jean-Paul had prospered, he anticipated improved living conditions, kids in school studying in their remodeled home, and a smile on the face of his wife. He found just the opposite. He found that Jean-Paul just had more money for wine and prostitutes. His home was the same, and his family suffered all the more for his drunkenness.

Apart from Christ, we might introduce individuals to the problem of prosperity. We cannot separate Jesus from the help given to individuals globally.

Writing of Africa in particular, Matthew Parris, a British journalist, wrote in the London Times, “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.” In a day and age in which many in our society believe Christianity to be irrelevant or dangerous, Parris’ conviction is shocking. He repeatedly asserted his unbelief in God, but he admitted that his own beliefs are insufficient to solve the issues of corruption and poverty in our world. He wrote, “Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve come to become convinced of the enormous contributions that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGO’s, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”

His message is clear. The message of Jesus, the true Hope, is the solution. Christianity frees people. African Christians stand tall, because they know they are made in God’s image. They understand their personal responsibility to make a difference in their communities. They submit to a higher moral code.

Brad Pitt is quoted in Rolling Stone magazine back in 1999 speaking candidly about the shortcomings of the world’s definition of success.  He lamented the rise in secularism by saying, “We are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being.”

Chris Heath, reporter for Rolling Stone, followed up and asked Pitt, “So, if we’re heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?” Pitt replied, “Hey man, I don’t have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know, but I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.” Brad Pitt knows the emptiness of wealth. It’s not enough.

In these quotes, we see the validation for faith as we care for those who are suffering with life-controlling addictions. Let us stay the course and find appropriate ways to put hope within reach of every addict.


Jerry Nance Phd


Global Teen Challenge


When I was a young child, my life was good. My parents were both teachers and we moved to Brunei so they could get good jobs.

But everything changed when I turned 14. I had to come back to Singapore to renew my passport and the government forced me to stay. Every boy has to serve in the military here at the age of 18, and they were afraid I wouldn’t come back if they allowed me to go back to Brunei. The war in Vietnam was affecting everyone.

Because I couldn’t be with my parents, I lived in a bad neighborhood with my grandma in Singapore. That’s when I began smoking weed—and it didn’t stop there. Heroin slipped into our borders and Singapore legalized opium as a way to manage the influx of drugs. It was the party drug and once I tried it I was hooked.

I grew up and couldn’t maintain jobs or relationships because of this addiction and my alcoholism. I was married for 10 years and had a little girl. At 32 years old, my constant addiction to drugs and alcohol caused my wife to leave our marriage and take my daughter. That was my rock bottom.

I moved out of my house and into a neighborhood with many Christian families, one of whom encouraged me to go to Teen Challenge. That’s where I found freedom.

Today I am 5 years sober and have worked as a counselor for Teen Challenge for the past three.

So many people become hopeless because of their addictions and being on staff here I get to testify about what God has done in my life. I can sympathize. To the people who knew me—it’s a real testimony because they had given up hope on me a long time ago.


When I was just 13 years old I was living in a compound house in Ghana and there was a young man also living there who was dealing drugs. Everyone in the compound sleeps in the same room together, and before we slept each night he told me: “If you don’t smoke with me—you don’t sleep.”

That’s how my addiction started. I began smoking pot every night and I was soon hooked on weed. But sadly, it didn’t stop there and I quickly went from weed to heavier and more dangerous drugs.

But despite my drug use, I knew I wanted to better my life. At one point, I stowed away on a ship to Europe—I wanted to continue my education there. However, I needed the means to continue my studies there, so I got mixed up with Surinam boys to make money. I went along with their lifestyle of stealing from others and smoking pot.

While in Europe, I was jailed 22 times. But it was during my last incarceration that my life changed.

I was in jail in 1987 and looking for some escape, so I went to a Christian fellowship. I picked a book from a shelf called The Cross and the Switchblade. I saw a boy holding a knife on the cover and thought it was a novel. I thought I was reading to learn more about how to specialize in crime and violence. I didn’t know that book would introduce me to Jesus Christ for the first time in my life. I gave my life to Him, and I knew when I was reading that the Lord wanted me to open a Teen Challenge in Ghana.

When I got out, I got clean and I went to Bible school. I wanted to work with drug addicts who were just like I had been. Today I am a Reverend and am the National Director of Teen Challenge Ghana.

Without The Cross and the Switchblade, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me. God has done great things.”



Putting Hope within Reach

Putting Hope Within Reach

The Global Teen Challenge Executive Council and Board of Directors recently met in Denver, Colorado to continue praying and believing God to help us to Put Hope Within Reach of Every Addict.


We believe God has given a Prophetic Invitation to every Teen Challenge leader and ministry in the world to partner with this great dream. Consider the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 when He said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” That is our personal invitation to reach the lost.


When Jesus spoke those words, he was looking across the valley from the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. His 11 disciples saw Jerusalem, and when Jesus said, “to Judea”, they likely turned to the left to see the Judean hills. When Jesus said, “unto Samaria”, they would have turned to the right to see the rolling hills of Samaria. When Jesus closed with “to the ends of the earth”, they would have likely had a picture of Rome in their minds.


Note that Jesus challenged them with goal of reaching the world and there were just 11 of them. He challenged them to go back to Jerusalem where they would be risking their lives for the sake of the gospel. He said go there first. They would have understood the danger, the challenge, the personal sacrifice. Notice he did not give them each a bag of coins to fund their evangelistic efforts. He sent them out and the body of Christ along the way took care of their needs.


As we each consider these words, consider our realities and consider the most hopeless -- the functioning addict and those at risk of addiction in our nations, we must exercise our faith.


I want you to know that we believe the dream of Putting Hope Within Reach is a prophetic invitation for each of us. We are seeing nations literally accomplish this goal. They are raising up workers, who in turn are taking the message of hope to the hopeless. Testimonies are coming from cities who have individuals engaged with taking hope to the most hopeless. In one night, 15 drug addicts gave their lives to Christ and many others were referred into the program. If we will go, God will bless and lives will be exposed to the hope of the gospel of Christ.


Our Conviction:

First, I want you to know that we believe we are to take the words of Jesus literally and go into all the world and put the hope of
Christ within reach of every addict.


Second, we recognize that we cannot do this alone. We must partner with the body of Christ globally. That means that we each need to work in unison with the local church in our community, region and nation. GTC staff are working on prevention tools right now to offer the local church to serve them and help them reach their goal to keep their kids and youth from turning to drugs. If we serve them, we can build the necessary relationships for partnering. We also must develop working relationships with other Christian organizations who are engaged in reaching the lost for Christ. Jacobus Nomdoe recently told us about a partnership with local churches in South Africa who are developing homes of hope where addicts can come for help. They don’t offer residential care, but they do offer meals, care, small groups and discipleship. Many are coming to know Christ. Even Jacobus’ own 82-year-old father walked into one of those groups and committed his life to Christ. Praise God!


Third, we must cover all our efforts in prayer as we know prayer will break down the barriers that would inhibit our dream of putting hope within reach of every addict. Prayer means power and more prayer means more power. We must pray, we must pray again and keep praying for God’s favor on every effort. Every plan, every strategy, every effort must be covered in prayer if we remotely hope to see God’s blessings on our efforts. Can I encourage you to develop a prayer focus in your center for this prophetic invitation?


I believe God is calling us to a renewed commitment to the lost and our specific burden is for those with life-controlling problems--those who are addicted and are seeking hope.


Will you begin asking God a couple of questions? If money and personnel were not an issue, what would it look like to put hope within reach of every addict in your country? How might you reach the most hopeless? How would you consider reaching those who are functioning addicts? I mean those who are addicted but are able to work. Although not outwardly “hopeless” they need a Savior and freedom from their addiction. Then ask yourself, “How can I protect those who are at-risk from ever entering the drug scene? What kind of prevention programs might work to help?”


Can I challenge you to begin praying, dreaming and working on the dream for your reality? Remember, if money and staff were not an issue, how would you plan to reach this goal?


God is raising up an army of visionaries who are embracing this dream to reach their nation. Yes, it is overwhelming, but with God’s help and with a clear strategy and partnership with the body of Christ we can make a real difference in thousands of lives, even hundreds of thousands and, one day, millions of lives. May God help us as we press forward.


We need Innovation!

We need Collaboration!

We need Participation!

We need Implementation!

Most importantly, we need God’s help!


Putting Hope Within Reach,


Jerry Nance PhD








Maria’s family moved to Portugal when she was 5 years old. She has a normal childhood and was close to her sister and her parents until she was 12 and her parents began to fight. When her father moved out, Maria took it hard. “I felt very sad, very alone. I felt like our father no longer loved us,” she said.

Two years later, at 14, Maria and her friends started dabbling with hashish. She began smoking regularly to take away her sadness—and within a year she had gone from smoking hash to shooting heroin into her veins. Addiction had taken hold and began to consume her young life.

“All of my life revolved around drugs. I started robbing my own family to get money to get drugs. It’s all I thought about,” Maria says about the dark years of her life. “When you first use drugs, you feel like you are king of the world. But addiction soon becomes a prison.”

For four years Maria was trapped in her prison. At 18 she met a boyfriend who was in the Teen Challenge program. Maria didn’t want to get clean herself, but she entered the program just to stay closer to her boyfriend.

It was a selfish move at the time—but one that turned out to be the first steps in finding true freedom from her prison.

But after being in Teen Challenge for four months, Maria finally opened her heart to God. That’s when the program began to take hold and Maria let her life change.

Once she graduated from her Teen Challenge program, Maria got her first job making pottery. It was the first time in her life that she could support herself and it was the first time she could see a straight path for her future. But God had other plans for Maria.

“Months after I had started working, I went to a Teen Challenge conference and while I was there, God spoke to me,” Maria says. “He wanted me to be part of Teen Challenge but I didn’t want to listen at first because I was finally making money and I was afraid to stop.”

But Maria did quit her job and join the Teen Challenge. That was 28 years ago and Maria’s life has transformed completely as she uses her past experience to help others. She met her husband at Teen Challenge and today they have four children.

“It was a revolution for me,” Maria says. “It’s amazing to be able to serve others who were in the same place I was in. Addiction is like a prison. But Jesus can set you free.”

Lada Amazing Rescue

As I write this month’s message to you, I am at the Europe TC conference in Prague. At the end of this conference, I will fly on to Rwanda for the Africa Regional Conference. I greatly enjoy spending time with the Teen Challenge leaders from around the world. I especially enjoy our meals together as we visit about what God is doing in the lives of those coming into the program.


One evening I had dinner with the GTC Europe Regional Directors Tom and Terry Bremer, Petr Ministr and several staff from Teen Challenge Czech Republic. I happened to be sitting next to a young lady by name of Lada whom I had never met. As we were visiting, she asked in Czech to one of the other staff members, what part of the United States I was from, because she could not understand me. She understood the Bremer’s, but she did not understand me.


Well, that started a wonderful conversation about the accents of the south. Terry gave her some examples of how we southern folk talk and I had to laugh at how the conversation progressed and how we entertained the two staff members from TC Czech Republic. During the course of the evening, I found out that Lada was an intern who had recently completed the program and was now beginning her journey with Teen Challenge in a leadership role.  The smile on her face was a beautiful picture of the grace of God.


The following evening, Petr Ministr was the speaker and he opened with a video of a young lady standing on a subway platform waiting for the train to arrive. The only problem was that this video showed a drug induced person rocking back and forth as if they were about to fall off the platform down onto the train tracks. In fact, after a minute and a half of rocking back and forth, the individual did fall, and seconds later a train ran right over where they had fallen. The subway system video cameras had captured it all. The absolute miracle was that the person who fell onto the tracks was alive and they were able to pull them out from under the train and back onto the subway platform. See Video.


I was surprised to find out that the person who fell onto the track and stumbled out alive and unhurt was Lada. As Petr introduced her to the audience tears filled my eyes. You see, she entered the doors of Teen Challenge shortly after this incident and Jesus changed her life. Lada has a beautiful a smile and a sense of freedom that only Jesus can give. She is a beautiful girl with a life ahead of her today because of the amazing program of Teen Challenge.


Lada ccLada and individuals like her are the reason we press on! Lada is the reason we keep going when the finances are tight and the challenges are many. Lives are at risk and so many are dying and missing out on the Hope that is available through Jesus Christ.


Can I say thanks to each of you who are giving your all to make it possible for men, women, boys and girls to find freedom and hope in Jesus? I know the battles are many, and I know this work is so hard at times, but Lada is alive today, 100% drug free and living for Jesus. Her life and story will impact so many as she walks out her faith and shares the love of Jesus with others.


Keep up the good work and thank God for Teen Challenge!


By the way, Lada likes my southern accent, even if she cannot understand me.


Jerry Nance PhD


Global Teen Challenge