We are overjoyed to introduce Tunya Adams, our Living Free Ministry Award recipient for 2016. We love to highlight community servants and Tunya and her team are having much success using Living Free in her church plant and local community. We had the opportunity to speak with her about her start, her vision, and her advice on making an impact in your community.
When did you first become involved with Living Free?
Actually we began praying about getting involved with Living Free (Turning Point at that time) over 15 years ago. To become leaders, we were required to do the one day training and the Insight 10 week class. During that class I learned so much about myself and the needs of our community, but it wasn’t until 2008 that we did another training as a part of our Church Plant when we saw it take off. So we’ve been doing Living Free of Harrison County since March of 2009.
When did God begin to give you a vision for something more in your community?
When we started our Living Hope church plant in 2007, we knew we wanted to reach out to those hurting with addictions, but didn’t truly see the mission and vision until we opened up the church in the downtown area of Cynthiana. We were in the middle of it all.
God blessed our Living Free Ministry with His favor in our judicial system and community. We began to disciple and help people stuck in addiction and by 2016 we had helped over 163 individuals.
What were some of the steps you took to begin your Living Free Ministry?
We covered our efforts with prayer for many years, then our initial step was to start making contacts in the community so we could have a referral base. That’s when we started seeing God’s Favor. We met with any pastor, business or community leader that would listen to us.
What were some of the obstacles you faced?
The greatest obstacle was the spirit of religion here in our community. We have over 70 churches in our city with a population of 20,000. And that sounds great until you realize nothing has changed in most of those churches for 50+ years, so the people that attended and left those churches are just burn out on religion.
So we had to educate and demonstrate over and over that it’s about a relationship not a religion. Most churches still don’t see a need for this discipleship ministry, however the secular community has welcomed us with open arms.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to make a difference in their community?
- Get to know your community’s needs. Don’t just assume you know them.
- Schedule meetings with leaders, business people and religious leaders.
- Get involved in your community before you start bringing anything to the table.
- Prepare the people working alongside you, but go slow and prepare to stay awhile. Our community had seen many things start up and fall to the wasteside within a year or two. In order to earn the trust of the people, you have to have longevity.
- And prepare for the success as much as you prepare for the setbacks. For example, don’t forget to celebrate the little victories out loud and to others. We sometimes can focus on just the setbacks and loose site of the ones we are truly helping. Not everyone will accept your help or care for your success in other people’s lives. But once you understand that, you won’t focus on the ones who reject your mission but on the ones we are ready to accept.