For over a decade, Trace Embry’s License to Parent broadcast has equipped listeners with practical, biblical insights on raising a strong family amid the cultural challenges of the day.
Embry, founder and executive director of Shepherd’s Hill Academy (SHA) and host of License to Parent, launched the radio program in 2009 to amplify the “miraculous results of Shepherd’s Hill Academy.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Embry was “doing fine”—married, raising three children, and well-established as a police officer and entrepreneur—when a colleague invited the Embry family to church one Sunday. As Embry and his wife, Beth, got to know the Lord, they sensed a call to ministry and decided to leave Chicago with their family to pursue seminary education at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. But midway through their Bible college experience, Embry “heard the Lord say, ‘You need land, start looking for it.’” With two hundred dollars and a handshake, Embry and his family acquired a 60-acre farm in northeast Georgia.
“The house wasn’t habitable,” said Embry. “We moved into it with no running water or electricity.”
Those original 60 acres were the foundation of today’s 250-acre facility with cabins built and lived in by the students of Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
“Early on, we hosted day camps, weekend camps, and parenting classes of all kinds. But once we opened the doors of the therapeutic residential program, the Lord just opened up the floodgates. We have had kids from virtually every state in America and 19 other countries that come here to live in our woods,” said Embry.
Embry and his wife always knew their ministry work would be rooted in youth outreach, but residential care was “unimaginable.” Through divinely orchestrated encounters, Embry said, “God made it perfectly clear to us that to truly make disciples, kids had to live with us for an extended period of time.”
“The Lord would get our attention so strongly that after several years of rationalizing and trying to shake away the call, we finally submitted to His will,” Embry continued.
But it was through the birth, brief life, and death of Embry’s youngest son that Embry finally “got the memo,” in his words, that unconditional love is a calling.
“Our youngest son was buried at the foot of the cross on Shepherd’s Hill—a constant reminder of God’s unconditional love and sovereign will,” said Embry. “Not only did the Lord eventually give us appetites for this kind of work, He put a passion into us that can’t be matched or explained. He also gave us bonds with hundreds of other kids, and their families, who would’ve never had the opportunity to get this unique kind of help otherwise.”
Born from a commitment to Christ and a vision for revival for the next generation, SHA is a Christ-centered, nature-based, therapeutic residential care facility, as well as a private accredited school for troubled teenagers who struggle with, as Embry said, the “toxicity” of the culture and the “proliferation” of digital technology.
In April of 2009, broadcasting from acres upon acres of horse pastures, License to Parent first went on the airwaves to share the key methods, valuable insights, and successes of SHA.
“All we do on the License to Parent broadcast is take what we know God is using to transform lives inside the gate of Shepherd’s Hill Academy and bring it to the masses outside the gate,” said Embry. “Once parents realize how far removed from a Biblical worldview they’ve actually strayed in the course of raising their kids, the lightbulb comes on.”
“That’s when confession, repentance, and forgiveness between parents and their children brings reconciliation and healing that results in their child-rearing experience becoming a joy rather than a nightmare,” Embry continued.
According to Embry, License to Parent resonates with their audiences for its distinctive focus on counter-cultural issues.
“That’s what’s unique about the License to Parent broadcast––we’re not always discussing the most popular questions that parents are asking,” said Embry. “We’re going over the issues and the questions that parents never even consider asking but need to.”
License to Parent is hosted by Embry, co-hosted by Michelle Hill, and produced by Rich Roszel. Embry hosts two programs: the “Weekly 28 Minute Program,” where Embry provides listeners with compelling conversations between special guests in an interview broadcast format; and the “1 Minute Feature,” where Embry offers practical advice to parents about the issues facing the next generation today.
Embry, in sharing his personal philosophy and methods for reaching troubled teens and discouraged parents, said the key to raising emotionally healthy and well-adjusted kids is to “first, be an emotionally healthy and well-adjusted parent.”
“I was the product of a broken home from the age of five and vowed to get it right when I grew up and got married,” said Embry. “Especially in today’s systemically mentally-ill culture, the only way to truly be emotionally grounded is, first, to be spiritually grounded.”
“Kids need stable adults who have a morally and logically sound transcendent standard to keep everything and everyone in their family in check and in league with God’s ecosystem—despite the culture they live in,” Embry continued.
Embry believes that the culture’s “idolatrous and addictive love affair with entertainment, amusement, and all of the seven deadly sins,” made worse by its rejection of logic, science, and objective truth, holds a toxic grasp on the attention of the nation’s youth.
“Teaching our kids to swim upstream against the insanity of our culture while imparting the grit they will need to endure persecution helps make for a spiritually-strong and emotionally well-adjusted individual—regardless of age,” said Embry.
Adolescents crave the resounding truth behind the Gospel message. Yet, “the problem is that there are too few adults who believe this; fewer who feel equipped to do so and even fewer who are willing,” Embry says.
“Kids can’t adhere to absolute truth when they don’t realize it exists,” said Embry. As a result, they believe “truth is relative and that they are to be guided by their feelings.”
Embry urged Christians to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in addressing the role of digital media in the lives of adolescents, including the issues that arise when teenagers unearth what the internet has to offer, unsupervised.
“Technology and smart devices are beneficial, but are they benefiting our families or simply invading them?” Embry asked, encouraging the church to step up and “unify on digital protocol from a biblical worldview.
“We have to unify as children of God and as leaders in the kingdom because the first priority for any parent is to protect their children,” he said.
In each episode of License to Parent, Embry equips parents to fulfill this crucial responsibility by offering powerful, practical solutions to help families experience relational restoration. Follow Embry on Twitter here and subscribe to the License to Parent broadcast here. To read more about SHA and License to Parent’s 35-year-long series of bumper-to-bumper miracles in “The Miracles of Shepherd’s Hill,” click here. License to Parent has been an NRB member since 2012.