On Thursday, May 8, 2014 we held our 50th Anniversary Gala at Ward Church in Northville. What a glorious night it was!
A variety of former students, their families, area ministries, churches, clergy, lay people, and faithful patrons filled Knox Hall to celebrate five decades of God’s grace.
The evening began with greetings from our MC, Pastor Jamie Kjos of Brightmoor Christian Church. Pastor Alex Silva, another close friend of the ministry, offered an opening prayer and our guests dined. We had a number of our current students who acted as hosts and hostesses for the night. These students were given the opportunity to tell our guests about the change that’s occurred in their lives because of Jesus Christ.
Following the dinner, the program kicked off with a video on the beginnings of Life Challenge and the impact that the organization has had through the power of the gospel. Following the video, Executive Director Jeff Bonzelaar took the stage to speak about the monumental changes that have occurred in the two decades he has led the ministry.
The program for the night included a mix of testimonies and performances by our current and former students. Some of the highlights from our students included the testimony of former students Pastor Stacey Foster, senior pastor of Life Changers International ministry in Detroit and Pastor Bob Carey, Delmarva Teen Challenge Executive Director in Delaware. Both of these men exemplify what the power of Jesus Christ can do in the lives of men and women who truly decide to submit to His authority. They epitomize the celebration of God’s magnificent grace.
Another stirring moment occurred when Elisabeth Stillson, one of our current students, took the stage. Elisabeth was a young woman whose life desperately needed a change. In her teens, she had fallen into destructive patterns and at one point was left for dead by a group of her friends. After receiving a phone call and upon hearing the name of Jesus, Elisabeth experienced a life-changing epiphany. She had finally discovered what she needed to make a change in her life, Jesus Christ. Since coming into our program, Elisabeth has experienced the love of our God. She is a changed person who now wants to serve Jesus.
Near the end of the night, Pastor Tim Dilena, Associate Pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, delivered a powerful message. Pastor Dilena spoke of the mission of Life Challenge. He talked about the many wounds and scars that often accompany, and lead to, the righteousness of God. He explained how Life Challenge is a ministry that through the grace of Jesus Christ covers the scars of men and women, allowing them to see themselves as sons and daughters of God. As a ministry, we extend the grace of Jesus to people bound by addiction and shame. Changing one life at a time, we labor to give them a future with hope – a future where they might become godly men and women – pastors, teachers, business professionals, nurses, mothers, and fathers through his glorious grace.
Thanks to you and the grace of God, the Gala was a huge success. We raised over $130,000. Now, we have already begun our plans for next year’s gala to unfold the next chapter of the Life Challenge story. We hope you will be part of it. Thank you for your continued support!