by Pastor Tim McLauchlin
My heart breaks for the things that break the heart of God. Early in ministry, I learned the power of outreach and evangelism. Sharing the love of Jesus with lost and hurting people and seeing them still turn from God and continue their path of destruction was very upsetting. Some of my first encounters with people who wanted change led me to learn about the ministry of Teen Challenge. We began sending people to Teen Challenge centers in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan or wherever we could find an available bed in a program for these men and women. I would pray for their transformation and, like the book The Cross and the Switchblade, and the story of Nicky Cruz, I would desire to see these once hopeless people on fire for God.
I worked as an associate pastor and continued helping men and women who wanted help get into Teen Challenge centers. The more people we helped, the more would come through our doors. There were so many people coming that in 2006, after hearing Dr. Jimmy Lee share about his Living Free curriculum, I became a facilitator of a small group. These groups were set up to provide help those waiting to get into Teen Challenge and to keep them safe and grounded until we could get them transported. These groups were also for those graduating from Teen Challenge programs, to keep them connected and accountable after they completed their program.
Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland opened in 2009 in response to the great need in our area for those struggling with life-controlling issues. There has been so much growth from the original rented facility in Jackson County, TN to the 45 acre campus we now have in Overton County, TN. Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland has helped over 500 men and women find placement in a Teen Challenge center and has provided residential treatment to over 250 women. Those Hope for Life non-residential group meetings that started in 2006 are still going on, currently in 5 different locations and ministering to approximately 60 people each week.
But the problem is still a major problem.
It is sad to know all the ways that Teen Challenge offers to help those that are hopeless and to know that many still will not reach out for the help. To see some return to the life God made a way for them to leave is truly heartbreaking. Some have asked and honestly, I myself have asked, “God, is it worth it”?
YES! It is worth it! Jesus died so that we can live and preach the message of life. I am only a man and my heart breaks for those that have not received Christ and for those that have walked away, but I am not Christ. He died for us, and I know the Father’s heart breaks for those and more.
The Lord often reminds me of those that have not fallen away and those that have chosen to accept His help and salvation. Those that are alive and set free today because of this program and those that have been restored, transformed and are living proof of the power of His resurrection. That is why we do what we do every day here at Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland.
1 Corinthians 15:58 says “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Why? Because our labor is not in vain. Lives are being saved and transformed and we have a part in that. Does my heart and God’s heart break for those that refuse Christ’s help or those that fall away? Yes, certainly. But for those that are walking out their relationship with Christ and are living for Him, the Father is pleased and I rejoice. Our labor is not in vain and neither was the cross.