Honor to the Unsung Heroes of Teen Mania
An unsung hero is “a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution.”
I would like to take a moment to remember those faithful individuals who have served tirelessly so that others would know Jesus and the abundance of His blessings and favor on their lives.
For more years than I would like to admit (actually since I was a teenager myself!), I have made mention of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers we have succeeded in reaching for Christ. God has been with us and we have seen His amazing, transforming power touch continual generations of lives.
Today, I want to highlight a few faithful unsung heroes, true servants who have diligently dedicated countless years of their lives behind the scenes of ministry to ensure that no one would be lost through the cracks but would truly know their purpose in God.
Thank you for laying down your lives in the service of others. Heaven is your reward.
1993-94 Teen Mania Staff and Volunteers as found in the yearbook
I am reminded of Hebrews 11, of the many faithful ones who were sure of what they hoped for yet at times without seeing, who believed, worked and carried the burden in prayer for days on end and year after year laboring beside me, but more often than not, from behind a desk, computer or telephone loving teens into the Kingdom.
Yes, this is written in tribute to the unsung heroes of Teen Mania who may have experienced a set of mundane circumstances so that others could climb on their shoulders and go on to change the world from perhaps more glorious surroundings of serving God from higher heights and well known places.
They know who they are but it would certainly be amiss of me not take the time to “show respect and to give honor to whom honor is due.” Romans 13:7
Over the years, God has saw fit to form faithful dynamic teams among the Staff, perhaps for a season of years to carry out the vision of training up young World Changers. These individuals truly listened, cared, and helped mold thousands of young teens that were trained to “CHANGE THE WORLD.”
The Staff at Teen Mania do not work a typical 8-5 job, but serve diligently many nights, weekends and holidays to make sure individuals’ needs were met, mission trips ran smoothly, each class was taught with excellence and the day in and day out routines included life lessons of forgiveness and breakthrough for young people to develop trustworthy relationships and to live by faith.
I have compiled a few short emails just over the past year or so…emails that were difficult to read at first when they began, “Today is my last day…” I am in your debt. Below is a portion of Scripture that was included with one of those emails.
Number 4:24-26 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans as they work and carry burdens: They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, its covering and the outer covering of hides of sea cows, the curtains for the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, the curtain for the entrance, the ropes and all the equipment used in its service, whether carrying or doing other work is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry.”
. . .
I just wanted to let you know that I will be transitioning out of Teen Mania on June 5th. Next Tuesday will be my last day in the office. I will be headed home to Boston to spend time with family and reconnect with friends before heading to college hopefully. I am not sure what the Lord has in store this next season but I know that it is going to be good.
I just wanted to thank you so much for all your hard work and for giving me the privilege to work alongside you. I have enjoyed all of our encounters and conversations, even in the midst of the busiest times. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work alongside and to share life with for the past six years. I have learned so much from all of you and look forward to learning even more. You have been such a blessing and have enriched my life in more ways than one. Thank you for serving the KING! I love you all. God bless you!
. . .
As many of you already know, my time at Teen Mania has come to an end. In preparation of this new season, I have already started a new job in Tyler.
It It has been an honor to serve alongside each of you to advance the cause of Christ. Some days were easier to recognize this than others, but what a blessing it has been for each of us to make an eternal impact while serving here.
Thank you all for your hard work, your sacrificial love, your time spent and your love for God. It has impacted countless interns and staff, me included. My life will be forever impacted by the work of this ministry.
Please keep Brendon and I in your prayers as we start this new journey, and know that we will continue to love, support and pray for the ministry. Goodbye my friends! God bless you!!!
Today marks my last day serving at Teen Mania. It has been an amazing 6 years! I have been privileged to serve alongside such wonderful individuals, from the time I was an intern until now. I continue to pray for you all constantly, and I strongly support the work of the Lord through Teen Mania. Tabitha and I both stand behind Ron and Katie, and all the staff serving here. Thank you for your constant support, encouragement, challenging, mentoring, facilitating, coaching, leading, etc. I will greatly miss you all!
Thanks again, and God bless!
. . .
Today I am announcing my departure from Teen Mania. I will be moving on to a company in Tyler called Aramark. I will be a service technician working on all their trucks and commercial vehicles. This will be my last and final week here which is crazy to write because so many great things have happened here! But beyond all the memories were just all the great people I have gotten to meet and serve with, and watch grow into amazing people of God! Thanks for such a great time and great memories over the years; it was a heck of a ride! I hope all of you the best and look forward to keeping in contact with you in the future. I wish you all the best in your service of the Lord. Keep Fighting the Good Fight, for it’s the only one worth living and dying for.
. . .
Today marks 5 years that I have served at Teen Mania Ministries! What an awesome journey it has been thus far. I am humbled and amazed to have consistently seen the love and power of God demonstrated in immeasurable ways…eternity will tell! “5 years never meant so much” It’s truly been my honor to serve these young World Changers.
~Jeff, Facebook post, Dec. 18, 2013
An intern’s response: You are so appreciated! Your heart is seen by many and by your vulnerability these young hearts know you are the real thing! Thank you for taking time to meet with interns during meals. Thank you for being a great example of a selfless leader.
You have made all of the difference if you have made a difference in the life of just one.
“He is the God who sees you.” Genesis 16:13
Featuring: An HA Alumni Blog- Michael Mistretta
If there is one goal in life I have aspired to in the Lord is to call teenagers into a relationship with Christ.
Through 3 generations, advancements in media, Internet, travel, entertainment and many shifts in American culture both politically and spiritually, we have bridged many seasons of life!
Today I want to honor one such teenager who definitely grew in wisdom and stature and was among our ranks for 5 years as an Intern, Alumni and Staff member, but who first went on a mission trip as a teen and caught a vision for his life through Teen Mania Ministries.
Michael is just one of many faithful people who has understood the purpose of God on his life, has served faithfully and God has continued to equip him for his future. We are so proud that he is one of our own.
Read below two emails I received from Michael in April and July, as he transitioned out of Teen Mania and headed to another mission field pursuing the call of God on his life.
As most of you know, God laid it on my heart over four years ago to move to Israel. And at last, that is actually becoming a reality. Tomorrow will be my last day working at Teen Mania before I pack up and begin my journey to Zion.
I will be spending some time with friends and family over the next month and will be booking a one-way ticket to Israel at the end of May. When in Israel, I will be living in Jerusalem producing media & videos for King of Kings Church as well as teaching at their Kings School of Media, started by former Teen Mania & CCM staff member.
Working production by day, I will be learning Hebrew & studying by night. God has given me a larger long-term vision for the future of the Jewish people and the Church that I will actively be pursuing.
The last five years of my life at Teen Mania have been the absolute best years of my life. It’s here that I encountered God, fell in love with the Bible, matured in my faith, and made lifelong friends that have made the most excellent peers & co-workers. I have been blessed to know and serve alongside each of you. For those of you moving with Teen Mania to Dallas know that I am praying for you and continue to feel connected to the work you are doing for the Kingdom.
I would love to stay in touch. Shalom! -Michael
Even though I’ve been gone from Teen Mania for two months now, I want you to know that you all are in my thoughts & prayers as you transition to Dallas. I know it’s a big move and transitions aren’t always fun, but I am confident that you are being led by God and am excited to see the fruit of your labors over this past year.
I’ve told you in the past how much Teen Mania has personally impacted my life. I never would have thought when I went on my first mission trip with Global Expeditions that just 8 years later I would be living full-time in Israel (hopefully) for the rest of my life. I can see now how all of those seeds sown over the years have perfectly led me to the place I am right now.
You have been so gracious and generous with my family throughout the years and I wanted to say thank you! The impact you have made is truly lasting.
Consumed by the same call from Jerusalem – Michael
ATF Testimonies: 2 Teens 19 Years Apart
Hear from two teens almost two generations apart how a weekend Acquire the Fire event changed their life. Most teenagers are all for going on a youth group trip, expecting to have some fun and get out of the house but many come away with a radical encounter with God that they were NOT expecting.
Thank You Letter from Alumnus
Just recently, the following letter showed up in my mailbox. What a wonderful surprise! Sherry, a Teen Mania Alumnus from the 1990’s took the time to write and share the impact Teen Mania had and continues to have on her life, marriage, teenage children going on Global Expedition trips, call to the mission field and the beginning of orphanages in Nepal and the Philippines. It blesses my heart to know God is continuing to change nations from the vision birthed in our hearts nearly 3 decades ago.
As we continue to do all we can to spark teens to live their lives for Christ and change the world, I am even more resolved to do my small part and let Him do the rest!!! Read more about Sherry and her family’s life on the mission field below. You will be encouraged by God’s faithfulness.
Dear Ron Luce,
This is actually the second letter I have written to you. I wrote a letter to you 17 years ago, asking you to send a Teen Mania team to Nepal, where my husband and I were serving as missionaries with YWAM, and someone from Teen Mania wrote me back and the first team from Teen Mania to Nepal was sent out to work with us the following year. My oldest daughter had just been born in Nepal a month before the team arrived. She is now 16 years old, and just left today to go to Haiti with Global Expeditions. My 13-year old daughter left yesterday to go to Peru with Global Expeditions.
I went with Teen Mania twice, when I was 20 and 21 years old, and served as a Missionary Adviser. After graduating from CFNI, I joined YWAM and have been serving with them for over 18 years – 1 year in the US, 8 years in Nepal and 9 years in the Philippines. I met my husband on the mission field in Nepal and he is a Filipino. We now have 3 beautiful daughters who love Jesus. We were able to start an orphanage in Nepal and also in the Philippines. I am currently the director of Destiny’s Promise Home for Children and we have rescued over 65 children in the last 3 1/2 years and finished building a 3-story orphanage (in the Philippines). My husband runs the SEED Project Asia, a ministry that has trained thousands of church planters throughout Asia over the last 14 years in livelihood projects that help sustain their ministries and give them new opportunities to share the Gospel in unreached people groups throughout Asia.
I wanted to write to thank you for the impact that you and your organization had on my life when I was a youth. It was because of Teen Mania that I am on the mission field. It was during my first trip with Teen Mania that I learned about unreached people groups and knew the Lord was calling me to reach those who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was also because of Teen Mania that I ended up marrying the man I did. It was on my first missions trip with Teen Mania that I heard a teaching about not dating, but “waiting” on God to let Him lead me to the right person to marry. I made a commitment that summer to stop dating and just wait for the Lord to speak to me when the right person came along. Two years later, the Lord spoke to the man who would become my husband and I on the same morning during our quiet times that we were going to marry and we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this week.
My 2 teenage daughters and I love to watch the ATF videos online in the Philippines. I just wanted to let you know the impact you have had on my life and thank you for everything that you do. I was married in a church in Michigan called Jackson Church of God, and they just got a new pastor a few months ago named Jim Morrison. He said that he helped to start Teen Mania with you back in the 80′s after he graduated from CFNI. I don’t know if you remember him or not since it was almost 30 years ago, but I thought it was so amazing to meet him and share with him the impact that Teen Mania had on my life.
I look forward to meeting you and your wife one day, whether on earth or in heaven, to personally thank you, as well as all of those who work at Teen Mania, for their hard work and let them know that there are so many people out there that you have impacted like myself that you may not even be aware of who have taken the lessons you have taught and live out every day and allowed those lessons to change their lives and impact the nations for Christ.
God Bless you and all those who are working with Teen Mania Ministries!!! I have put links below to our websites and videos if you would like to know more about who we are and what we are doing in Asia. If you find time to watch the videos (they are between 1-3 minutes in length), please keep in mind that it is because of you and Teen Mania that these ministries are existing today. So thank you again!!!!
Destiny’s Promise: https://vimeo.com/96753626
Agaton’s Story: https://vimeo.com/95441984
Kimberly’s Story: https://vimeo.com/95441985
It is a blessing to receive testimonies from those who have been impacted by Teen Mania Ministries. After 28 years in ministry, we are fortunate to be positively influencing two generations of World Changers! Do you have a story of how your life has been impacted by Teen Mania? If so, we would love to hear it!
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
From this passage, it states that there is a time for everything. Things don’t stay the same. Change is very much a part of the seasons of life.
With every diverse season, there are natural changes that come with it, from weather and climate, specific activities that need to be done during that season, and even the clothes we wear! There are many seasons that a person will go through in life depending on their age, marriage, family, career and ministry.
With greater understanding of the season you are in, there are natural and spiritual principles that a person can glean from to obtain the greatest harvest of fruit from that season.
As a kid, I never appreciated “spring cleaning” like my mom. She would have us take out every clean dish, rewash them, scrub out the kitchen cupboards and put them all away again.
I’ve realized as an adult, that these times of taking stock of our lives, de-cluttering excess and reorganizing are important both in the physical and the spiritual.
The spring season brings new opportunities just as in the natural, the warmth of spring produces new buds on the trees and growth from what has been laid dormant during the winter.
In sports, spring training is really preparation for the upcoming season. The next season in life will definitely come whether we have prepared ourselves or not. How can I prepare or practice to have a better game?
Planting in the spring represents HOPE and with good seed should come the promise of a good harvest.
A personal question to ask ourselves would be, “What can I do or invest now in my own life to ensure a future harvest?”
Summer days are the longest and the hottest. There is a great contrast from working hard and relaxing with fun activities while families take vacations while children are out of school.
Spiritually and physically, it is important to protect what has been planted during this season. Weeding and watering will ensure an abundant harvest.
Autumn comes with much anticipation for harvest and a welcome break from the hot temperatures. Autumn is both a time of endings and new beginnings as many children and college students start school.
It is a time of harvesting what has been planted. It is a time of thanksgiving and fruitfulness depending on the diligence of the previous seasons.
Winter often comes with certain vulnerability as the days shorten, grow colder and more uncomfortable. It is important to understand that winter is a season of rest, a spiritual Sabbath so to speak, and a time to exist on what has been stored up from the previous seasons.
Winter is also the time to plan for the future as one ceases from labor and trusts the God who holds the future.
In conclusion, we are all continuing to grow from our past seasons—our mistakes as well as our successes– and prayerfully plan for the future. No matter what season you find yourself in, embrace it, because one thing is for sure, it will change, as well each season brings with it a unique plethora of opportunities.
I would propose to you that during season change is an excellent time for examining and perhaps modifying personal habits, mindsets or attitudes. Whether it is in resting, waiting, reflecting, planting, watering or harvesting, embrace the season you are in as God is always preparing you for what is ahead!
At Teen Mania we have definitely adopted this idea of season change, as we have seen many lives grow and change from one season to another. During many distinct seasons, we’ve seen thousands of teenagers coming and going out to change the world, while the various departments of the ministry grow and adapt to the cultural climate, the age of technological advancement and yet with a sincere desire to remain rooted and grounded in “Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
What Kind of a Tree are You?
What Kind of a Tree are You?
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
God often speaks to us through metaphors in His Word.
There are actually numerous kinds of trees, hardwood, and softwood, porous, thorny, rotten and quick growing weeds often mistaken for trees.
When a small tree gets transplanted, it is important to reinforce it to grow in the right direction. However, if the reinforcements aren’t removed after a certain time, it actually hinders the tree itself as it begins to depend on the supports rather than strengthening its own roots to hold its own structure.
Likewise, some Christians can become very dependent on their support structures instead of learning to rely on God Himself when pressures come.
Trees aren’t meant to live in a greenhouse forever.
As Christians, it is important to have that early season of frequent watering, infilling of nutrients and constant care. But for long-term growth, it is equally important to move on to another season of branching out on your own to develop a stronger faith walking out your own personal beliefs. This means staying hungry (passionate for God), spending time with Him as your greatest source while transitioning from being discipled on a daily basis to eventually discipling others.
What will you look like after a storm?
If you have taken time to learn how to encourage and feed yourself in the Lord, you will survive the storms that only serve to make you stronger. A storm will reveal how deep and durable your roots have grown over time. Just as some trees are easily blown over by a common storm, others withstand incredible pressure. There is a such thing as “root rot” caused by differing harmful effects—insects eroding a tree from the inside out, too much water, or just not the right atmosphere in the ground. It is important to catch this early to prevent completely eroding a tree (or person) from the very core. Rot-proof your roots! Inner strength determines a strong exterior.
Circumstances shouldn’t determine how you grow, but YOU determine how you grow.
Within the life of a tree, there are times of pruning to remove dead branches and even cut live branches to create new shoots of growth for the tree. In our lives, these “dead branches” represent bad habits, poor attitudes and repeated past actions that only cause dead weight and hurt ourselves and others. Cutting some excess live branches also promotes and actually ensures the greatest long-term life of a tree. For a person this could mean reducing some good things in our lives to bring out the “best” in us.
Ultimately our greatest purpose is bearing fruit.
Fruit grows naturally in the right conditions and is not stressful or forced. Plant yourself where you can thrive bearing good fruit that will last. Find the places where growth is most possible in your life. Wholesome environments are essential to thrive.
End of Year Review
Click below to read the 2013 Teen Mania Ministries End of Year Report:
Click on the End of Year Video Below:
Teen Mania Featured in Solutions Magazine
Teen Mania Going International
Ministry Today: Teen Mania Going International
Featured In Ministry Today’s May/June Issue: Teen Mania Going International
The Effect of Words on Water
The Bible says that “The tongue has the power of life and death,” according to Proverbs 18:21.
A Japanese researcher, Masaru Emotos, did actual experiments on water with positive and negative words and music. His results when studying the water crystalline structures were phenomenal. The water crystals that were given positive words such as a prayer, “thank you” or classical music such as a Beethoven’s sonata, formed beautiful crystalline shapes. The water crystals surrounded by negative words such as death or heavy metal music formed distorted crystals.
In essence, his experiments concluded that water reflects the environment physically and molecularly taking on vibrations from our thoughts, emotions, words, and music. (“The Messages in Water” by Masaru Emotos.)
This research is especially significant when we realize that the human body is made up of mostly 70% water. Water is the source of all life.
Our bodies are like sponges soaking up positive and negative words all day long. We can often choose what we read, what we listen to and who we surround ourselves with. In a sense, the quality of our life equals the quality of our water and this is dependent on the quality of our words. Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Our own words as well as the words of others will steer our life. That is why it is important to speak words of life over ourselves and others on a daily basis. As a parent, it is an extremely high privilege to be the first one to speak words of life and encouragement to our children developing a safe and secure atmosphere in our home while helping our children form strong, healthy identities. In Ephesians 5:26, the Bible tells husbands to love their wives “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…”
Words from parents carry much more weight. One negative phrase spoken in anger can be like a dagger in their heart for the next 30 years. It can hang over children like a dark cloud for the majority of their lives and shape them in a negative way becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Proverbs 25:11 “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
Choose your words wisely. Speaking words of life over others will never return void if you’re speaking the word of God and from the heart of God. Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
God wants us to look forward with hope and encourage others to do the same, as opposed to living or dwelling on the past continually bringing back to memory our most difficult seasons or times when others have hurt us. It says in Isaiah 43:25, that “God remembers your sins no more…” once we ask forgiveness. Even as we forgive others, we promote healing and restoration in their lives that allows us to move forward as well.
Knowing the amazing, wonderful effect our words have on ourselves and others to bring peace, health and actual beautiful crystalline designs, how can we not speak words of life on a daily basis and take the opportunities to make a difference to everyone within our sphere of influence?
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”