I continue to feel the deep conviction to put hope within reach of every addict and cannot make it through a day without sharing this vision with others. I pray, dream, and strive towards our goal and mission to reach every addict – in every nation! With the challenge of norms and values changing every day, we are being met with the need for creativity, innovation, and the wisdom of God to effectively deliver hope to this generation.
We must be innovative. We must partner with other organizations and work together like never before. This is not an issue of who is controlling whom, but it is an issue of how we can take our resources and put them together to make the greatest impact. The question is, how do we scale what we are doing to meet the massive need globally? With 270 million addicts around the world, and 7 of them dying every minute, we must stay focused. We must depend on the power and favor of God.
As a part of the family of 1,400 affiliates around this world, I feel we owe it to ourselves to care about the needs of addicts globally. With centers in 125 nations, we have one of the largest footprints in the world as an organization whose primary focus is to reach the addicted with hope. We have the greatest potential to scale for growth and reach even more with the hope they need for life transformation.
Over the last 60 years, Teen Challenge has continued to find innovative ways to serve the needs of the hurting, hopeless, and addicted. As I travel to Teen Challenge centers around the world, I am often surprised how innovative we have become. Affiliates test and incorporate a variety of approaches to better serve their local communities. These program variations allow each local Teen Challenge center to address the unique needs in their community and region, and serve a broader array of addicts and at-risk individuals. These programs often have wonderful assessment processes for referring individuals to the best place of care for meeting their individual needs.
Let me take a moment to just mention a few innovative efforts that we call “multipliers”. What I mean by “multiplier” is that these efforts multiply our success to make hope available in a way that is up close and personal to a specific population. A “multiplier” is an innovative approach that, if it becomes successful, we can share as a best practice and scale the impact of the approach to the entire TC family of affiliates.
These programs include prevention programs, family counseling, crisis services, non-residential programs, coffee houses, support groups, and short-term programs to accommodate the need of addicts.
- TC Bombay India has an amazing program for kids and teens as well as a program to give ladies in the red light district hope.
- TC Czech Republic has outreach programs for gypsy children.
- TC Lebanon is working with the Syrian refugees.
- TC Poland has 50+ coffee house outreaches.
- TC UK has an aggressive evangelism program going to the most hopeless communities and offering hope and help to addicts in places that most people won’t go.
- TC Denmark has several effective coffeehouse operations.
- TC Netherlands has a program called The Gate that reaches at-risk teens.
- TC South Africa has over 150 Homes of Hope reaching out to addicts.
- TC Florida offers hope to high school assemblies with their Stay Sharp program.
- TC Southern California has an after school-mentoring program for teens.
- TC Dominican Republic, in cooperation with TC Long Island, has Rock the Block crusades that are reaching hundreds for Christ.
- TC Swaziland does in-community, by-community efforts that have been effective.
I hate to just mention these few programs, as we have hundreds of others who are doing so much to reach out to addicts through unique methods. I am so proud of this wonderful family we all enjoy. We can learn from one another, and we can help one another think about multiplying our efforts to put hope within reach. In fact, if you have an outreach that has been especially effective, please let us know about it.
These many outreach efforts, as well as personal studies, are truly effective in reaching the addict where they are. Research suggests that the individualized approach is the most effective approach when addressing addiction in the life of an individual.
As I read the New Testament and think of how Jesus was always listening to the needs of others, I see that He was sensitive to the unique needs of those with whom he met with in His journey of life. Jesus never stayed in one location for very long and kept moving from city to city and place to place. All along the way, He brought hope. Each situation presented a different need and required a unique approach of meeting the need.
To the blind man calling out to Jesus as he passed by, Jesus stopped and asked him specifically what he wanted. The blind man said, “That I might have my sight.” Jesus touched him, and he was healed. Jesus stopped when the cry came. He slowed down and took a minute out of his day to address the individual need, and the man’s life was transformed in a moment.
Jesus was at the well when the Samaritan woman came to draw water, and He engaged her in conversation. To do so was in direct conflict with the custom of the day. As a Jewish male, it was not culturally acceptable to speak to a Samaritan, much less a Samaritan woman, but Jesus did. He cared for her soul, and He cared for the people who would be impacted by her testimony. He engaged her in conversation and listened. He then spoke of the water that would quench her thirst for all eternity.
Jesus was about the Father’s business, but He always modeled for us the heart of compassion for those in need. He was the master of putting hope within reach of all who would listen. He extended himself to the Pharisees and religious people of His day in spite of their rejection and accusations. Jesus offered hope to those who rejected him and would eventually kill him. What an example for us to follow.
We can celebrate the many multiplier/outreach programs in our Teen Challenge family. They may or may not have long-term success, but they are very important in finding new ways to reach those who are desperately in need of hope. Thank God for the innovators who are ever seeking and trying new ways to reach the addicted of our day. God bless you all. Keep up the good work.
Putting Hope Within Reach,
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge