In 1869, a group of ladies at Walnut Street Baptist Church opened the Louisville Baptist Orphan’s Home. This is a beautiful beginning of a ministry in motion, but what is left out of this story so many times is the years of preparation, planning and prayer that led to the doors opening on June 30, 1869.
I am often reminded of those planning years as I sit with some of the most servant-minded individuals I know and discuss the ministries of Sunrise’s Community Based Services, asking our Lord, “What is YOUR will?”
Equipping the saints is addressed in detail in Ephesians 4:11-16 and serves as the foundation to our daily work within Sunrise. From adoption to foster care, independent living to family counseling, emergency admission to reunification — the stories vary but the mission does not.
I first had to establish within myself and my ministry that the goal is changed lives, both in the ones who are called to serve and in the lives they will reach in His name. This change is individualized because if we fail to equip the ones called to serve, we rob them of the opportunity to use their given gift and their desire to draw others to Him.
At Sunrise, we have refined our process to three steps that have proven to be essential for preparing saints for service:
1. Prayer — The first step is honest prayer. “Now may the God of peace … equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20–21).
2. God’s Holy Word — In both training and daily work, we remind those who step into their calling that “all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17).
3. Thoughtful and Engaging Training — Whether it is a new employee, a potential foster parent or a mentor for one of our young adults, Sunrise has instituted organized initial training and strength-based ongoing training with an understanding we are always striv- ing to make ourselves better by investing in those that come behind “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
These steps have proven essential in our work equipping and engaging others to serve the least of these. At times, I had to learn to get out of the way, equip believers with a strong foundation and then make myself available to help when they had a need. In doing this, Sunrise’s Community Based Services has created a culture of ministry where all believers realize they are responsible for their own personal ministry.
Our team becomes encouragers to those serving beside us where ministry is in action in them daily as they fulfill the Great Commission.
Kenny Williams is vice president of Community Based Services for Sunrise Children’s Services.