Forging Our Future

The KEY to any organization’s success is its people.  People are an organization’s greatest asset.  So many leaders forget this or don’t seem to recognize this fact. Some leaders hire people for their “hands” and ask them to leave their minds at the door.  BIG Mistake.

They want laborers, not thinkers. They want bodies, not contributors. Teen Challenge wants and needs thinkers, contributors - individuals who feel called to this ministry and want their program to be the best in the world.

As a leader, I know that I want individuals working with me who will help change things that need to be changed. I want people who will help identify and throw out parts of the program that are not working. I want them to be creative in fundraising, creative in program development, and insightful regarding the needs of today’s students - individuals with a passion for Christ and a desire to give their everything to Him.

Each and every one of our staff, students, and volunteers matter. You matter! Your input to this organization matters! We need you! We need people with servant hearts who have a love for God and people on the team.

We need you to know the call of God on your life, to embody the values of this organization, and to have a yearning in your heart to learn.

I used the words “Forging our Future” as the heading for my writing this month.

Forge: noun means - “a workplace where metal is worked by heating and hammering.

Think about that. To emerge is like forging metal- heat and hammering. This process causes change. This process seems to include: pain, time, heat, pounding, more heat, more pounding, more change, more character change, heat, pounding, and time until you emerge into what God wants.

Used as a verb, forge means - “to move ahead steadily” to go, move on, advance, progress, pass on, march on.”  “To move ahead steadily” suggests that it’s a process of steady momentum - pressing on toward the prize of the high calling of Christ.

Toward What? The Future! Meaning, “A time yet to come.”

Growing in God is a process. As you press into His word, His work, His way, His life, and His will, you will begin your journey of freedom - freedom from past bondages, freedom to grow, freedom to know.

Three important parts of your role in forging the Future:

K - Know Your Call

E - Embody the Values

Y – Yearn To Learn

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”.

He talked about prayer - binding and loosening.

 The key to Teen Challenge’s future will be determined by the number of students and staff who emerge into great leaders.

 How do you emerge into a leader? Glad you asked.

I. Know Your Calling

Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you, both to will and do His good pleasure”. Can I repeat that? “For it is God…”

How do you know God’s will? As I attended college, I prayed, fasted and waited for His voice. Although I felt I had nothing to offer, I sensed His presence during a Chapel time and He called me into full-time ministry.

It is vital that you, as an individual, hear from God about His will for your life. Get on your face before Him and pray. You must know His will for your life.

  Some Secrets to Knowing God’s Will

  1. God speaks to those who listen. “Be still and know.”
  2. God generally just shares the first step with you.
  3. God speaks through His Word. Those who daily consume the Word hear Him speak through His Word.
  4. God can put mail in your mailbox.
  5. God may confirm His will through others but rarely uses others to tell you His will.
  6. Stay busy serving, and He will speak.
  7. Be patient when it seems the heavens are brass.
  8. What He tells you to do, do it. Do it now. Do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the Lord.

Paul Yonggi Cho said, “Never trust a man who doesn’t walk with a limp.”  That statement speaks of being broken, having experienced a difficult situation in life and survived. It speaks of a quality in a person’s character that is developed through pain.

Leaders must often endure some difficult challenges to their dreams. Sometimes, it may seem that your vision or dream has died before God comes on the scene and brings it to life.

II. Embody the Values

What is a value? My definition of value is: a belief or system of beliefs that are owned by the organization and the team of individuals who administrate the organization.

To embody the values - means to own the values, live the values, to walk the values, and to breathe the values.

Does every organization have core values? Yes! Whether they define them or not, they have them. They either believe in customer service or not. They live that value out every day as customers walk in and out of their doors.

When someone comes through the front door of TC, how do you greet them? This is a value. When a new student comes in, what happens? Your values should guide your actions.

We who are a part of the organization, create and live out the values of the organization.  Our values guide our actions.

Integrity - Living and working with excellence

Compassion - Embracing hope, love, and reconciliation

Community - Living and working together

Vision - Seeing beyond the present

Stewardship - Managing God’s will and resources

Faith - Believing God for the impossible

Servanthood - Committing ourselves to the success of others.

III. Yearn to Learn

Proverbs 9:8-9 “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Leaders are learnersLearners are listeners.

Great Leaders are:

  • Always learning.
  • Seeking out new ways to better the organization.
  • Looking for new tools to better the quality of the program.
  • Always recruiting the right people for their team.
  • Growing personally.

If you will embrace your role in leadership and give your best effort, you will grow more that you could ever imagine. If you will commit yourself to learning and growing in the gifts God has given you, I know you will experience God’s best in your life and leadership.

Teen Challenge is looking for people who want to learn. Global Teen Challenge is committing time, resources, and people to this effort to provide training to TC leaders globally. We are investing in those who want to lead. We are investing in those leaders who are choosing to let their lives make a difference.

We need people like you to buy into the dream we have of reaching hundreds, even thousands for Christ. We pray God will put a burden in your soul to put hope within reach of every addict in your country.

Many leaders in Teen Challenge are getting older. Yes, they will be replaced one day, some sooner than others. So, it is up to you to fill in the gaps and to take us forward. We need you to take the baton and run with it. We need you to dream, to envision the future, and go for it.

We all play a key role in the Teen Challenge family, and we each own some responsibility to grow ourselves, raise up others, and to do everything we can to make this the best program on Earth for those suffering in addiction. We can do it with your help.

It will be painful. Forging our Future - Some hammering comes first, some heat comes, some painful steps, but the end result is amazing.

You can be confident of this: GTC is committed to developing leaders because we want to be our best, and we also want you to be your best.

Putting Hope Within Reach,

Jerry Nance PhD
President
Global Teen Challenge

Today’s Heroin Epidemic – How Did We Get Here?

As I sit here in Fiji following the Pacific Region Conference, I am so encouraged as I think of the heart and passion these 22 (or more!) Teen Challenge leaders have for the hurting across the Pacific Islands.  They are committed to making a difference.

This same spirit was with us in Rwanda, Africa where over 230 leaders gathered to consider how we might put hope within reach across Africa. Their passion and desire to put hope within reach was overwhelming. We also visited the Europe conference where we met with leaders truly committed to see God do something in their nations. Teen Challenge has a bright future as long as we stay close to our Mission.

Libby and I took a few days to rest after the conference and I’m reading the book “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones. It outlines the history of the pharmaceutical industry’s promotion of opiate use to medicate individuals with pain.  These companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 20 years convincing primary care doctors that prescribing hydrocodone and/or Oxycontin was the caring way to treat patients in pain. They downplayed the truth that these opiate prescriptions were highly addictive, especially if you remove the time-release feature of the pill. Individuals quickly learned to break the pill up, snort it or put it in water and shoot it up, thus getting an incredible high. Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies sold billions of these pills over the last 20 years and have made billions of dollars profit at America’s expense.

Primary care doctors were told that these new drugs were not addictive and that they owed their patients the right to be free of pain. Oxycontin and other derivatives of it are everywhere. Doctors gave everyone what they wanted by simply asking a question, “On a scale of one to ten, how badly do you hurt?”. I can only imagine how the drug addict responded to this question. All he has to say is “it hurts more” and he will get more.  Pill mills opened up everywhere under the name of pain management centers. Street sales of these pills were $1 per milligram.  Dealers traveled to every state that did not do medical checks on patients in order to get prescriptions filled to sell on the street, making three times the price of the prescription.

Doctors were prescribing  “medicine” to help people, how could it be bad? America bought the lie.

It seemed like everyone was using oxycontin of some kind. Every surgery, every sports injury, every back or hip pain were given oxycontin or oxycodone.  The number one user, over time, were white teenagers. This drug epidemic resulted from the legal distribution of medications that doctors said were safe. Now thousands are addicted and dying before the medical field is willing to take a serious look at the research. Oh, by the way, there was very little research to validate that oxycontin was not addictive.

So the new approach? Prescribe less.  The doctors got patients addicted and now are not giving them what they need in order to not have withdrawal symptoms and pain. What happens? It becomes the perfect market for black tar heroin.  Sam Quinones tracked the source of black tar heroin to Mexico. Illegal Mexican men & women were coming to major cities across America with black tar heroin to drive cars and deliver the drugs to those who called for it. They built an amazing system of “drugs on demand” and it worked. These drivers spoke little English and only had to deliver the small bags of heroin. They focused on sales at the door fronts of methadone clinics as well as recruited long-term addicts to find additional customers.  Once established, they branched out to sell primarily to white teens.  This industry grew across America and millions and millions of dollars were taken south across the border, leaving American teens addicted and dying from their addiction.

As a leader working in this field I am asking myself, “What could I have done more to help these kids who are using and abusing drugs?  What could we do as an organization to put hope within reach of these who, for whatever reason, believe they need a way out of their individual pain?” It’s hard to believe that this generation would have anything to do with heroin since they seem to have everything. Cell phones, cars, internet access, shopping centers everywhere, and/or discretionary monies given to them by their parents. How could they need relief from pain? What would drive them to make these kinds of risky decisions with their lives?

There are thousands of parents across America who now are looking in the mirror wondering what they could have done to prevent this. Their child is gone, their sweet little girl, their handsome son, gone forever. How tragic, how sad. Yet they don’t see how the prescription they got their child every month contributed to this tragedy. The pharmaceutical companies sold the primary care doctors a bill of goods, and the epidemic began. Now we are cleaning up the mess and America has more addicts than we have ever had.

What are we going to do about it? How can we respond to this need? Countries around the world are following suit to this American way of treating pain. When will they see the truth of the epidemic in their country?

The point I am getting out of this book is that we cannot always allow ourselves to believe what someone says is medical proof. We must see the true, proved, time-tested research on a subject before we change how we operate as an organization.

We can so easily be tempted to trust the media, one news report or even one book on the subject. Do we know the facts, do we know the truth and how will we react to the media and to public opinion?

Mission drift is a challenging subject as time passes. Worldwide, Teen Challenge has a 60-year track record of consistent care and consistent results. True biblical discipleship changes the life of the individual. We have always cared about the person, the addict. We have always been an organization that sees the potential in everyone who walks through the doors of our programs. We know that they can have a productive future if they will simply trust in the love and forgiveness of God.

Love for people, acceptance without judging, faith in an individual's ability to change along with peer support are some of the keys to the success of Teen Challenge. We provide a holistic model of care that works. I meet beautiful individuals all over the world who tell me they are graduates of Teen Challenge.

May I suggest that we not just take the word of the pharmaceutical companies, the media or public opinion as we move forward? We need God’s wisdom and guidance as we press forward in our goal to put hope within reach of every addict.

We must stay true to the word of God and to the witness of His Spirit in our lives as leaders of Teen Challenge. We will determine the future of this organization, we own this responsibility. Let’s get it right.

Jerry Nance PhD

President

Global Teen Challenge

Victor

Pig farming is hard work. It’s dirty and smelly. But for Victor, it’s also fulfilling.

“Even in this humble job, I know that I have value and worth,” Victor, who manages the Teen Challenge Honduras’ Pig Farm, shared. Believing that his life has value is new for Victor. Growing up, he didn’t feel loved or supported by family. In fact, he spent most of his life thinking that he was unlovable. “My father was an alcoholic,” he says. “I felt alone, sad and unprotected from my parents’fights.”

By the time he was 12, he was desperate for an outlet. Some sort of peace or relief from the yelling and dysfunction.“I started smoking cigarettes,” Victor says.“They became an entry drug.” A few years later, Victor was using cocaine and crack. “It helped me forget my problems at home. At least for a little while,” he says. But when his only safe family member — his grandma — died, he felt even more alone and spiraled deeper into drugs. “I felt like there were only two roads. Death or prison,” Victor says.

Then, Victor heard about Teen Challenge and he knew there was a third path he could take. “When I came to Teen Challenge, it was the first time in my life that I felt like someone cared. I felt valuable. I found real knowledge about Jesus and now I can feel Jesus at work in my life.” After 16 years living in the prison of addiction, Victor is finally free. He loves working on the pig farm because he knows he’s part of something bigger. He knows that his work brings in money that keeps Teen Challenge Honduras running, helps to feed the students and staff, and he is learning important job skills that he will use the rest of his life. “I can’t say thank you enough,” Victor says. “Without Teen Challenge, my life wouldn’t be the same.”

When God Gives A Dream

One of the greatest joys of a believer is to find their purpose in life. Recently I was speaking with two of our 17-year old female students who both spoke of recently finding their purpose in life. Both young ladies came from difficult childhoods that included sexual abuse, but now, months later, are speaking of a dream they have to help others around the world. Each girl’s countenance changed when they began to speak of their dream. Neither have a clue at this time how they will get to where they want to go, but they have a dream.

When God puts a dream in your heart or a burden in your heart for a nation or region of the world, the dream begins to form. Inspiration comes, ideas begin to form and the journey begins. It is up to you to see your dream become a reality.

Conrad Hilton said, “To accomplish big things, I am convinced you must first dream big dreams.” This is so true. You have to dream big if you want to do anything. We must look beyond ourselves into God’s ability to carry us.

D.L. Moody said on his deathbed, “If God is your partner, make your dreams and plans BIG.” Moody himself was such a man of faith and understood the importance of making big dreams.  There are no boundaries as to how God will use you and the talents He has endowed you with.

  • The only limits to our dreams are limits we create for ourselves --things like insecurity, fear, real or perceived handicaps.
  • God in you is more than enough to complete your dream!

But, dreaming “big” is not enough!  We’ve all met dreamers. Your dream must be backed up with much prayer and hard work! Yes, hard work. If you don’t back up your dream with prayer and hard work it has no hands or feet!

I read a story of a blind man who also had a hearing problem.  It’s bad enough to be blind, but to be hard of hearing as well, seems more than challenging. But this man loved to play the piano; He loved to compose music—symphonies in fact!  How could he do it?  How could he hear well enough to accomplish this?  He cut the legs of the piano off and had it lay on the wooden floor of his house so he could feel the vibration.  He lay beside the piano playing the chords and notes in his mind, music he could hardly hear at all.  But, he could feel the music, feel the beat, feel the rhythm, and feel the Fifth Symphony come together.  This man’s name was Beethoven.

He had a dream; He did not let his limitations keep him from accomplishing what he heard in his spirit.  His hard work, endless hours, passion and commitment brought about some of the best symphonies of all time.

I have found an additional truth regarding dreaming big dreams,

“God wants all the Glory.”

 Our dreams, visions, and goals often seem to die, come to ruin, are crushed, destroyed or fail before they become a reality.  Why?  So God can get us out of the way and let Him show us that He is in control.  He is the one that gets and deserves all the glory.  If we will trust Him, His will, His direction, He will make our dream a reality!

Someone reading this right now is feeling like his or her dream is dead! My counsel is to keep working, keep believing and keep going. Your miracle may be just around the corner and you will miss it if you quit. Quitters never experience the fullness of their dreams.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you, both to will, and to do according to His good purpose.”  God has your best interest in mind and He will help you see your dream realized. You have to stay focused, fearless and faithful to see your dream realized.

God is in control, you can run all you want to, but He is still in control. God is at work in you to draw you to Himself.  Why?  Because He loves you. He has a “good” purpose for you and has endowed you with gifts. Remember, “... all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

In Nehemiah 1:2-3 we read where Nehemiah’s brothers came to him and said, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Nehemiah – upon hearing this sat down and began to weep for his people who were in bondage.  God gave him a dream of setting his people free and restoring the wall. Notice how the dream or call came:

  • Not from some personal prophecy
  • Not an angel’s visit
  • Not a counselor making a suggestion
  • Not a burning bush
  • Not a loud voice out of the clouds

Notice, the need was the call.  I want to repeat that, The need was the call.”

You can make a difference in this world.  If you just stay sensitive to the needs around you. But there is always a price to pay to see your dream become a reality.

Three truths surrounding the price of a Dream.

  1. The first price of a dream is: Personal Sacrifice (Nehemiah 2:1,3)

Nehemiah risked his life, left his family, left his security to fulfill what God had put in his heart. The need drove him to risk it all.

  1. The second price you pay for your dream is: Personal Criticism (Nehemiah 4:1-2, 7-8). There is always someone who will criticize you when you declare your vision publically. Nehemiah had Tobiah & Sanballat criticize and threaten him. Someone is always happy to be critical and rain on your parade. There seems to be plenty of negative folk around someone with a dream.

Dreams will be challenged, tested, and criticized.

  1. The third price for reaching your dreams is: Personal Commitment

Nehemiah and those working with him were in danger.  Their lives had been threatened. He ran the risk of failure.  False prophets prophesied against him 6:12. There was so much rubble, junk in the way, so much opposition.

Personal commitment kept Nehemiah on task, on track, and helped him finish his God-given task and dream.

Your personal commitment to your dream will see you through to the end.

Let me say, with God on your side, please “Dream Big.”  You can do it.  You can do great things with God’s help.  God loves you and has a purpose for you.

 

Jerry Nance PhD
President
Global Teen Challenge

Reframe Possible

Our 40 days of Prayer and Fasting as a Teen Challenge family concluded and we have seen and heard from TC leaders around the world that participated in this prayer emphasis. I know we all understand that prayer changes things! Prayer brings revelation and focus. Prayer draws us close to Jesus and being close to Jesus brings clarity. Prayer is the foundation on which world-changing visions are built. God size faith to meet God size needs only happens when you pray! I have learned a prayer fact:  when preparedness in prayer meets need, you have the making of a miracle. I love what GTC Vice President, Phil Hills, wrote in his Day 40 devotional, “Revelation is not enough to Unleash the Hope.”

With gleanings from the book of Joshua, Phil reminded us that we need to be strong and courageous!” His devotional ended with the question, “What action are you planning that has the potential to terrify or discourage you?”

If you only read Joshua’s story from the moment of Moses death, you might think of the repeated encouragements as being suited for a young leader with little experience, but Joshua’s preparation actually spanned forty years. Examining the record, we find God at work meticulously preparing Joshua for this day: We see Joshua’s faithfulness.  This wasn’t Joshua’s first day on the job. For forty years Joshua faithfully served Moses. We first encounter Joshua early in the exodus when Moses asks Joshua to select a band of Israelite men to fight against the Amalekites at Rephidem. Moses stood on the hill, and with the assistance of Aaron and Hur, kept the staff of God raised so that Joshua prevailed over the Amalekites. Joshua led the army in the fight!  Joshua was familiar with the voice of God! He was faithful in his service to God!

When Joshua crossed the Jordan he faced two contradictory truths:

  1. The land he entered was hostile—filled with strong armies and fortified cities.
  2. The land he entered had been promised to Moses and it was now his responsibility to lead Israel into the land to possess the promise.

At the GTC Executive Council last year Ron Brown referred to our vision as a “prophetic invitation.” That word rang true to us then and has continued to speak to us since that time.  But I believe that God has more—I believe that God is going to moving us from Invitation to Inheritance.  God is moving us from the dream of putting hope in reach, to the inheritance of the dream. Souls being saved around the world, lives being transformed and families united.

Walking into and claiming our inheritance requires courage—the kind of courage that Joshua needed.

  1. God didn’t reprimand Joshua for needing encouragement—even though God needed to repeat it often—three times in fact
  2. God repeatedly admonishes Joshua to have courage because Joshua had to do that for himself—God couldn’t have courage for Joshua.

You see, just having the promised land before him was not enough, He had to go in and possess it. Joshua had to get up and move forward. He had to hear God’s plan and go get it. When He crossed the Jordan several things changed that day:

  • Their view changed! This is our land. This is mine and somebody is in my house!
  • Their food changed! No more manna, but roasted grain, their own provision, from their own land.

Notice, provision was there as they went forward! God will provide as we press on into the vision God has called us to.

Vision without action is like a rain cloud without water! Einstein said, “Vision without execution is simply a hallucination.” The greatest obstacle to reaching our vision is the inability to grasp what God is trying to accomplish! We must move from vision/invitation to inheritance.  It’s time for us to plan and get on with developing and implementing our strategies. Joshua had to lead. Somebody had to risk getting their feet wet! Joshua took the vision from Invitation to Inheritance.

Joshua and the children of Israel circled around Jericho once a day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day.  What do you think was happening in the minds of the participants of this story?

More than likely, the people in Jericho thought the Israelites had now realized it was impossible to overcome Jericho. The Israelites probably looked at the wall and also believed that the task was impossible. They had all night, for six consecutive nights, to think about how big the walls were. But God had given Joshua the plan. He just had to execute it. He had to implement the strategy God had given. God was going to show Israel that they had to depend on Him to overcome such a task. The truth was that the walls in the hearts of those inside Jericho had already come down. Joshua 5:1 tells us that when the river Jordan stopped flowing the children of Israel walked across on dry ground. The battle was won, Israel just had to attack and take the land.

It takes faith to bring a dream into a reality. God is challenging us to “Reframe Possible: Hope within Reach of Every Addict.  We are coming to see how it is possible one nation at a time. Dreams are emerging, collaborations are being formed, plans are evolving and God is stirring us Reframe Possible.

What do we mean by Reframe Possible?  We reframe possible when we:

  1. Look at the need through God’s eyes
  2. When we move from fear to faith
  3. When we measure our efforts by the need instead of measuring by our accomplishments
  4. When we act in God’s strength, rather than delay, to cover our inadequacies
  5. When we recognize that God has given us His son, which should cause us to ask ourselves, “Why would he hold back anything else from us? He has already given us his most precious gift.” (We sometimes have to speak to ourselves, encourage ourselves, be Strong and Courageous and move on.)
  6. We reframe possible - When we are willing to be disruptive! For our vision to call for Disruptive Change!

 I want each of you to know that I am humbled by God’s blessings and favor on Global Teen Challenge. I am humbled by the faith I see in you, the leaders of Teen Challenge. The TC family is coming together all over the world in prayer and in faith, believing God for the impossible.

So many of you are struggling with finances, staff, student issues and even with your boards. That is no surprise to those of us who have been in leadership. We continue to face challenges no matter how many good things are happening. We press on in faith and we overcome as Joshua did.

We are hearing God tell us to press on, press forward, and to continue dreaming of how to put hope within reach of every addict. We know this is a challenge that seems overwhelming, but we also know that God is a big God and is stooping down right now over the heavens and the earth. He is a big God who loves to see His children trust Him. He loves to see us extend our faith for the impossible.

It is time that we step from the invitation into our Inheritance!  It is time we Reframe Possible!

May I remind you to ask yourself, “If money and personnel were not an issue, what would it look like to put hope in reach of every addict in my nation?” This kind of vision requires strategy, it requires dreams bigger that we have ever dreamed, it requires us to reframe possible in our minds and spirits.

Will you join me in believing God for His help to reach the lost addicts in your nation? Will you begin to think of disruptive change instead of incremental change? Will you stretch your faith beyond your own needs? Would you look up into the heavens and speak to God about the needs around and take time to listen to Him?

Then, Reframe Possible!

Jerry Nance Phd
President
Global Teen Challenge

 

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

President

Global Teen Challenge

Fabien

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.

REVEREND DAVID OWUSU BOATENG

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

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.”