Anyone who has had an encounter with God knows about transformation. When we meet Jesus, we are changed. We see that in the disciples who, after meeting Jesus, leave everything to follow Him. The power of Christ made a massive difference in them and their purpose. The power of an encounter also makes a lasting impression on our lives and our purpose.
When we think of how the word “transformation” relates to our ministry, we have to take some time to consider this thought: What are the changes required for a transformational vision to be accomplished?
Seven years ago while reading Luke 5, God spoke to me. Jesus was teaching the crowds of people who had come to see Him and they brought their loved ones who were sick and needed healing. Jesus got into a boat, asked Peter to join Him, and taught the people for a while before asking Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch. Peter said, “But Jesus, we fished all night and caught no fish, but because You say so, I will.” Peter let down the nets and caught such a large number of fish that he had to call his partners from the shore to come help.
What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in this story is that Jesus changed their methodology and they consequently caught more fish. Then He said, “If we want to catch more fish in Teen Challenge and reach more addicts, we must change our methodologies.”
I began to pray and listen to the Spirit to let God give me some inspiration, innovation, and vision. God spoke to me then that we needed to put hope within reach of every addict. That is an overwhelming vision and impossible without the help of God!
Since that time, God has touched Teen Challenge leaders around the world and ideas have emerged to find innovative ways to address the vision. In the UK, they identified the 10 most drug-infested cities and sent a team of workers, going door-to-door in the roughest areas and speaking to the addicts directly. Hundreds and hundreds have been reached through this effort.
In South Africa, Jacobus Nomdoe has launched Homes of Hope across the nation and now thousands of addicts who had not been reached before are finding hope and getting the help they need to find freedom in Christ. On one of my trips to Rwanda, I saw a man wearing only a loincloth in the middle of the jungle pull out a cell phone. That day, I asked the question: What would it look like to put hope within reach of every addict online?
Think about that question. I started to discuss this with some board members and TC leaders and God brought some key relationships together to develop Sober Peer. I want to thank Ed DeShields and his team for all of their hard work on the design and development of the Sober Peer platform and social media app. Teen Challenge centers across North America are now utilizing both to manage their daily programs and to measure change in their student population. Improvements and updates continue to be added to better serve our global TC family.
To realize the vision, we must embrace transformational concepts that help us to reach those we would have not otherwise reached. Software technology does not replace our traditional residential program, but simply puts us in touch with addicts we would never have had access to before. Now, we can help them wherever they are and at any time of day. In addition, addicts who do not necessarily need a residential program can get help that allows them to keep their jobs and keep families intact. If we embrace the change, we can look back one day, inspect the fruit of our efforts, and know we did all that was possible.
GTC continues to focus on staff training, launching new TC programs in nations where we currently do not have programs, helping with micro-business development, and raising funds to assist TC centers who have struggled due to the impact of Covid-19. We have raised over $1.3 million and have given funds to affiliates around the world. We are so grateful to our donors who have stood with us to make this possible.
Thank you for your part in putting hope within reach of every addict. Let’s press forward, quiet the noise, and listen to His voice.
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge