Banquet 2010 – Sharing a laugh, a tear and a mission

Mike Williams understands the importance of getting a Christian worldview education.

He grew up as a “welfare kid,” the youngest of five children in a family with all the trappings of inner city life — alcoholism, addictions and an absent father. Given up for adoption by his mother, he landed in a Christian family.

“I saw them put their money where their mouth is when it comes to Christian education,” Williams states. That meant sacrificing everything they could to make sure he stayed in a Christian school.

And that changed his life.

As a junior in a Christian school in Florida, he came to the realization that he “wasn’t an accident” and that “God had a purpose for his life.”

That purpose has led Williams all over the world. He’s an author, comedian, family man and missionary. On Nov. 8 he shared his story and some laughs with the more than 500 attending the third annual RENEWANATION Banquet held at the Hotel Roanoke.

Those attending laughed, cried and responded as Williams urged them to support the mission of RENEWANATION.

“I’m blessed to have been dropped into a Christian home,” Williams said, stating he is a “rescued kid.”

“I’m thankful for the heritage of a Christian school,” he added, and for “the sacrifice they (my parents) made for me to be there.”

And then Williams issued a challenge.

“What’s going to be your legacy?” he asked those in attendance. “What are you all about?”

Williams said RENEWANATION’s mission goes even beyond saving the life of a child. “This is impacting America,” he said. “Now it’s your turn.”

The banquet is held each year to tell the story of RENEWANATION, update supporters on what has happened the past year and to look to the future. Funds raised during the event go to further the mission of offering every child the opportunity to receive a Christian worldview education.

The effects of this effort are already being realized.

RENEWANATION President Melvin Adams shared that new affiliate schools have been added over the past year — Grace Academy in Maryland and Bent Mountain Christian School in Roanoke — and more are likely to be added soon. Relationships with Christian schools are being established and RENEWANATION has helped facilitate professional development opportunities and fellowship between teachers of Christian schools in the affiliate school communities.

RENEWANATION has also sponsored community education events and continues to form strategic alliances with other organizations committed to the mission of Christian education. “All of us are a piece of the puzzle,” he said of that mission. “We are broadening our influence across the country.”

Several presentations were handed out during the banquet including $10,000 each to both Parkway Christian Academy and Bent Mountain Christian Academy from an unnamed foundation that supports Christian education. Regent University presented RENEWANATION with a $75,000 scholarship for the upcoming year.

RENEWANATION Founder Pastor Jeff Keaton said there isn’t a blueprint to follow in reaching the goals of the organization, but rather it’s just following the steps the Lord puts in front of the leadership. “We’re completely relying on the Lord’s leading, literally one day at a time,” he said.

They continue to learn how that mission will be realized, he said. That includes an ongoing effort to add and support affiliate Christian schools; getting affiliate churches to join in on the mission; adding affiliate businesses that will be willing to support the ministry; and working to support legislation that would allow parents to choose the type of education their children receive.

“God is revealing to us a little more each day how this is going to happen,” Pastor Keaton stated.

And, he said, it’s exciting to see that plan unfold.

By Tom Wilmoth