As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Teen Challenge this year, we can’t help but look back at those who have gone before us and paved the way. We are so thankful for the hundreds of directors and staff who have held true to the values on which this ministry was built. These faithful leaders invested their lives, and we now enjoy the fruit of their labor. God has been faithful over and over again to see Teen Challenge through the hardest of times.
As a worldwide family of affiliates, we now have over 1,400 programs in 125 nations of the world. We have the largest global footprint of any ministry dealing with addicts. Together, we have over $200 million dollars in operational budgets and hundreds of millions in property and facilities. We have one of the greatest team of leaders in these 1,400 programs--with well over 3,500 staff and 20,000 students.
What a testimony of resilience, tenacity, and leadership! We are putting hope within reach of addicts in ways we never imagined. An army of young leaders has been trained, and they are ready to take the places of leaders today to expand our reach even further. As I write this, there is a one-month staff training event going on in Jamaica where leaders from across Latin and Central America are gathering. As a family of ministries, we often have over 200 of these training events annually, training hundreds of young leaders. The future depends on how well we invest in our team.
Miracles have always been part of our ministry, and they continue to happen in the lives of students experiencing life transformation and in miracles of provision. Just last month in Chili, one donor partnered with our Teen Challenge Chili women’s home to purchase a beautiful property. This property enables them to not only launch the residential program, but it also has enough space to launch a potential business that will assist with the ongoing operational costs. Praise God! What a miracle!
This is another testimony of how God’s faithfulness continues to provide for this great work. We have had gifts given over the last year that we were able to share with ministries around the globe for construction and sustainability projects. Our needs are many, but God is faithful! We continue to see the faithful friends of Teen Challenge provide gifts enabling us to grow and expand.
The early Teen Challenge leaders depended on the life-changing power of Jesus to set addicts free. We still believe in the power of the cross to change lives. Jesus was, and still is, the greatest leader that ever lived. Jesus lived a sinless life, obeyed the Father, and mentored and discipled others to carry on God’s vision. He gave His life to set us free. What an example we have in Jesus.
- Jesus kept it simple.
In Mark 12, we see where Jesus simply reduced the law to two core values. “Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” He got to the essence of the gospel. Love God, and love others.
- Jesus consistently called His followers back to the original goal.
Jesus was focused on God’s purpose for His life and God’s vision for man. Mark 13:10 tells us, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” That was His focus, and that is the task He left with us.
The United Nations reports 270 million addicts in the world. The truth is, seven of those addicts die every minute, 420 die every hour, 10,080 die every day, and 3,679,200 die every year. We cannot waist time. Now is the time to act, and now is the time to engage with the lost. We must innovate. We must join our resources and focus on this need. God help us as we embark on the next 60 years of Teen Challenge ministry.
Jesus set the example in this area as well. In Luke 4:43, we hear him clearly say no to those who wanted Him to stay with them because He had to go to the other towns as well. He kept on task. He stayed the course of the Father’s will for his life. Let’s do the same.
- Jesus replicated Himself.
He turned over God’s vision to the 11. In Mark 16:15-16, He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Let’s continue to invest in raising sons and daughters in the ministry to pass on the leadership roles.
I pray God will touch your heart today. We must do as Jesus did and stay the course, to put hope within reach of every addict.
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge