During the Korean War, the 1st Marine Regiment was fighting in the Battle of Chosin. Their commander, General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, was quoted with the following statement: “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29 to 1. They can’t get away from us now!”
What a great attitude! Clearly the general and his men were not in an ideal situation — in fact, it seemed bleak, but he saw it as an opportunity. By the way, General Puller and the 1st Marine Regiment fought their way out of the situation and inflicted heavy casualties on their enemy in the process.
I believe that this is the situation the ministry of Teen Challenge is in today. In the world we live, sin of all types is rampant and is everywhere around us. From big cities to rural communities there is widespread drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse and neglect, and falling moral standards in virtually every area of society. But as the Apostle Paul stated, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Rom. 5:20b)
We have the opportunity to see God’s grace spread though our ministries like never before.
In February I had the privilege to visit with Executive Director Ron Brown and the great leadership team of Southern California Teen Challenge and see the centers there. I was not only impressed by the quality of their residential programs but also by their outreach ministries. Most of their centers have some level of after school programs for children. These programs not only give these children an opportunity to escape their home environment for a time and improve their academic performance, they more importantly give them a chance to learn that Jesus loves them. They learn they do not have to follow the lead of the gangs and addicts in their neighborhoods. In addition to these after school programs the centers conduct other outreaches as well.
We also have the opportunity to spread the influence of Teen Challenge through the ministry of Lifeline Connection in association with the Living Free ministry. Teen Challenge veteran Clayton “Skip” Arp has resigned his directorship to pursue full-time promotion of Lifeline Connection, and with good reason. In the last 10 years Skip has seen 20 Lifeline Connections established in the state of Kentucky. Tennessee is another state that has embraced the Lifeline Connection model. Jim Forakis has worked with Lifeline for 10 years and now has 16 Lifeline Connection groups meeting. This is one way that Teen Challenge can expand their ministry without having to increase the number of beds available. Of course, if the demand and finances are available there is nothing wrong with increasing bed space, it is just that with these types of outreach ministries we can increase our influence in a faster, more economical way, and strengthen our overall ministry.
It is easy to feel that you have so much to do that you cannot possibly take on any other ministry “opportunities.” I know because I often had that feeling when I served as the executive director of a local center. However, there is so much need in each of our worlds that we should look for the opportunities to reach more with the Good News.
Please, just take time during the next week and ask the Lord what opportunities for ministry may be within the reach of your center that you can take advantage of. Paul wrote in II Cor. 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” I realize in that context that Paul was referring to giving money but I believe the same principal applies to the ministries that we undertake. The more ministry we sow, the more souls we will reap.
Just like General Puller, everywhere we turn there is great opportunity, so let’s ask God to help us find these opportunities and minister the love of Jesus Christ wherever we can. I believe that when we do, we will reap a bountiful harvest in our new opportunities of ministry and in the ones that we have faithfully performed through the years.