Michelle and I are nearing the halfway mark in our training to become foster parents through Sunrise Children’s Services, a Kentucky Baptist Convention agency. We are also encouraging other families to join us in this journey as a part of the “Be the One” campaign. At any given time, approximately 300 children who are victims of abuse and neglect don’t have a family willing to take them in. I believe 2,400 churches and 750,000 Kentucky Baptists can solve that problem! Call Sunrise today at (800) 456-1386, or visit www.sunrise.org/surroundtheone to learn more.
Reflecting upon Sunrise’s recent history, I stand in awe of what God has done. One year ago, the ministry was embroiled in controversy over hiring persons with alternative lifestyles as caregivers for children. In a dramatic turn of events, new trustees appointed by messengers during the 2013 KBC Annual Meeting immediately charted a new course for Sunrise. Leadership changes and a clear affirmation of biblical values quickly restored Kentucky Baptists’ confidence in Sunrise.
The Sunrise controversy was a great reminder of the vital importance of the theological convictions of those who lead. The intense social and political pressures to abandon biblical morals can only be withstood by those who not only sing the words of Rhea Miller’s old gospel hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” but those who really had rather have Jesus “than men’s applause … rather be faithful to His dear cause … rather have Jesus than worldwide fame … rather be true to His holy name.”
We were also reminded of the importance of trusting in God’s sovereignty. Doomsday scenarios and conspiracy theories don’t require much imagination for the leader of a Christian ministry or institution these days. We don’t have to look far into the future to see genuine threats to the very existence of a ministry like Sunrise, a Baptist college, or even a local church. Thus, leadership is daily faced with a choice: Will we abandon our Christian distinctives to preserve our livelihood and our institution, or will we stand on the Word of God, trust in the God of the Word, and accept whatever fate He has willed?
Finally, we were reminded of the importance of Baptist polity and process. Over the years, Kentucky Baptists chose to elect leaders who were men and women of conviction. Those leaders appointed committees that acted with conviction. And Kentucky Baptists showed up at the Annual Meeting to vote with conviction.
The end result of a long process was that a historic ministry began by a group of laywomen from Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville in 1869 and supported by countless millions of dollars given by Kentucky Baptists over a century and a half was not left to become just another secular foster care agency. Rather, Sunrise remains a ministry through which Kentucky Baptists provide excellent care to hurting kids in the name of Jesus.