The Hollifield Leadership Center on Lake Hickory, owned by North Carolina Baptists since 2000, will become the home for a new ministry to troubled boys in 2014. A branch of worldwide Teen Challenge is purchasing the property for a ministry to be known as North Carolina Boy’s Academy (NCBA).
John Steigerwald, executive director of NCBA, believes God has led him to the 30-acre property. He said it is an ideal location for the organization’s vision.
John Steigerwald, seen here with his wife, Deralyn, is the executive director of North Carolina Boy’s Academy.
Boys from all walks of society will spend 12 to 15 months in a customized, life-changing program that is biblically based. “The boys can come from an under-resourced family; they can come from an affluent family,” he said. The target group is “boys that have behavioral issues; boys that have truancy issues; boys that are experimenting with drugs or alcohol – it could be any young man who has difficulty growing and discovering what it means to be a young man.
“We’ll do assessments on them before they enter the program, develop a relationship with them, introduce them to Jesus, disciple them into a biblical image of masculinity and manhood, give them the tools to grow and discover who God has designed them to be and help them recognize they have a purpose in life.”
The NCBA ministry started earlier this year in March when Steigerwald sensed God’s call to start a boy’s academy in the central portion of Western N.C.
“In my mind I thought we needed access to a lake [for fishing and other water activities], so I wanted it to be somewhere in the Troutman area,” he said. “My strategic plan called for a location south of [Interstate] 40 and north of Charlotte, somewhere along the I-77 corridor.”
In a discussion with a pastor in the Mooresville area, Steigerwald asked the pastor if he knew of any properties for sale that could be used for the boy’s academy. The pastor replied, “Yes, there’s one on Lake Hickory. We have held staff retreats on property owned by the [Baptist State Convention].”
“My brilliant follow-up question was, ‘Is it north of 40 or south of 40?’”
Steigerwald said his friend told him the property was north of Interstate 40, which caused him to “mentally dismiss it” because he preferred the property to be south of Interstate 40. But the property would not leave his mind. “I didn’t know the name of it, but I thought, how difficult would it be to find out the name of property on Lake Hickory owned by the Baptist convention?” Within a few minutes of surfing the Internet, he was able to identify the property as Hollifield Leadership Center.
“When I looked at the pictures on the website, it was absolutely beautiful. … I thought for sure, certainly these guys have ‘photoshopped’ these pictures! I called a couple of friends, told them about the property and said, let’s go down … and see if it is all that it is marketed to be.”
Steigerwald met the real estate agent and Larry Phillips, director of Hollifield Center. “Larry gave us a tour of the property, and we thought to ourselves, ‘Wow, this is an ideal setting,’” he said.
After negotiations with John Butler, the convention’s executive leader for business services, they came to agreement on an offer. The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina accepted the offer in its July 11 meeting.
BR file photo
One of the features of Hollifield Leadership Center is its proximity to water. The North Carolina Boy’s Academy has purchased the facility and will begin in September 2014 with its first group of boys spending 12 to 15 months in a biblically based program.
Steigerwald said, “We want the property to be used for the glory of God, and certainly the convention and John [Butler] communicated they wanted the property to be used for the glory of God, so we settled on the terms.” The closing will be this month.
Founded in 1958 by David Wilkerson, Teen Challenge is well known in N.C. and around the world. They operate about 1,000 programs in 93 countries and 250 programs in the U.S. They operate several adult male programs in N.C. and a girl’s academy in Raleigh, but no adolescent programs for boys.
Capacity for the Lake Hickory academy will be about 50 boys. With the potential of two parents for each boy, they will be personally working with about 150 people. “The program is a residential boarding school,” he said.
The boys reside at the academy for 12 to 15 months, and parents are required to visit six times a year to see their son’s progress.
“We will do experiential learning, discovery learning … some of the therapeutic activities include rowing, fishing, working with horses,” he said. “There’s a horse farm just around the corner from the property. And after reopening, they will operate an equine-assisted learning program that helps boys discover how to be effective communicators and how to honor and respect others in a trusting relationship. When you have a 1,500-pound animal, you better learn to honor and respect it.”
The goal is to welcome the first group of boys September 2014. There will be a staff of about 10 people. There are two components of the program. The academic component involves an evaluation of each boy’s learning level.
The second component is the spiritual element of the program. The boys are broken up into small groups of seven or eight. They are pastored and discipled in biblical principles.
Steigerwald contends that culture puts bad images of masculinity in the minds of youth. He said, “Just think about the last 40 years. What are some of the images of masculinity that come to mind? Years ago there was “Father Knows Best” – programs that honored men and gave an image of what it means to be man. Today what do you have? Movies and TV shows give images of men who are not leaders and lack courage.”
One of the mantras at the academy is “strength for service.” He said each boy is asked, “What does it mean to be a courageous man? It means to persevere through adversity and use the strength God has given us to serve others. We anchor it in Philippians 2:7-8. Jesus humbled Himself and did not look out for His own interests, but He served others.
“Teen Challenge has bridged the denominational barriers. In our relationship with the Baptist convention in North Carolina and John Butler, we are finding a beautiful partnership in order to extend the Kingdom.” The facilities are currently available for small conferences and church retreats for about 12-30 people and will continue to be available when the academy opens. Steigerwald said, “The doors will open in February, but when boys arrive in September there will still be facilities for guest groups. We do hope area churches will take advantage of our facilities. We not only want to build leaders for tomorrow; we want to strengthen the ‘front line’ leaders of today. My heart is to be there for pastors as well.”
Funds from the sale of Hollifield Center will go toward the New Beginnings capital campaign at Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro.
North Carolina Boy’s Academy invites readers to “like” its page on Facebook and visit the website, www.ncboysacademy.org.
Facebook: North Carolina Boys Academy
Global Teen Challenge: http://www.globaltc.org//