Published October 1, 2019
The book of Nehemiah is such a powerful story of the family of faith starting over again and striving together in order to rebuild something of significance. Families rose up, alongside other families, to help rebuild Jerusalem's walls after the exile.
This Thanksgiving, Sunrise is asking that churches across Kentucky rise up together and help rebuild something of great significance: the lives of Kentucky's children.
Today, nearly 10,000 children have been removed from their homes to keep them safe. For these kids, hope must be rebuilt. Their broken hearts caused from abuse and neglect must be restored. They need families and churches to rise up for them and help lead them back from exile into a loving family.
Currently, Sunrise is providing care and hope for the nearly 1,200 individuals we serve statewide. This number includes the 115 children we currently take care of every day, 24/7 in our residential homes. These traumatized children have faced adversities that you and I could never imagine. These are children that need help daily from loving counselors, therapists and nurses. These children need food, clothing, education, hope and guidance.
This year, we have seen 62 needy children adopted by Sunrise foster homes. That's 62 children who now have a loving, forever home because Sunrise families stood up and said, "We love you." We have 20 more children in the process of adoption. That is truly living out James 1:27 to completion.
There is one more number that needs to be shared — 56. So far this year, 56 Sunrise children have given their life to Christ. Yes, 56 children now have eternal hope because Sunrise took the time to care for them. For 150 years, we have been touching hearts with the love of Christ and changing lives in powerful ways. We are here for our kids because it is our mission. We are a ministry created to serve the discarded, to serve the least of these.
A few months ago, I had a chance encounter with a former Sunrise Spring Meadows Center resident while playing basketball. Reuben shared his story of going through 17 different foster care placements as a child and only feeling safe when he was placed in a Louisville residential facility, known then simply as Spring Meadows.
From that placement, Reuben moved to a loving foster home and was eventually adopted. "I began to deal with child abuse and neglect at a very young age, to the point where I tried to take my own life at the age of 7," shared Reuben. "But God said, 'I am not through with you yet. You are mine.' Somehow I ended up at Spring Meadows. There were people there who showered me with grace, love and mercies."
The exciting part of this story is that it doesn't end here. You and your church can continue to help rebuild lives and restore hearts. In fact, we desperately need your financial help to keep pace with the overwhelming need. This Thanksgiving, we are calling on 1,500 churches to rise up and raise $1,000 each to help.
Sunrise had donations from around 300 churches last year. We know we can do better. We will do better because the need is so great. Will your church accept this calling and take on the challenge of rising up for Kentucky's hurting children? Just as in Nehemiah's day, this will require all ages participating. Children collecting pocket change. Youth groups having fundraisers. Older and younger adults prayerfully considering how much they will sacrifice for Kentucky's kids.
First, get the word out to your congregation. Go online to sunrise.org/thanksgiving to download materials for your offering. Next, collect your church's offering and send your donations by mail or online. (If through the mail, please mark as "Thanksgiving Offering.")
Please participate in our Thanksgiving offering this year. Encourage other churches to do the same so we may continue to respond to this unprecedented need.
Dale Suttles is president of Sunrise Children's Services.
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