The dictionary definition of the word "unique" is as follows: "being without a like or equal, peculiar, incomparable, singular." As time goes on, it is becoming more and more evident that God is creating something unique in this ministry called Bright Tomorrows.
The first uniqueness one encounters in BT is our Executive Director, Tim Reside! Here is a Pentecostal Holiness Minister who is successfully coping with, managing and overcoming bipolar disease on a daily basis. In his quest for healing since 1979, Tim has been falsely accused of being demonized, of taking illegal drugs and of allowing his faith to drive him insane. One could argue that Tim saw the worst that the church world, the medical profession and the psychiatric world had to offer in those years! Thankfully, bipolar disease is more readily understood and identified today for what it is. Tim has often joked that when he came to Tulsa he dreamed of the day his picture would be on the front page of the Tulsa World because of his blossoming evangelistic ministry. He did make the front page of the Tulsa World, but it featured his long, yet successful battle with bipolar disease! (See: Tulsa World, March 26, 2001.)
The second uniqueness one encounters in BT is our location in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The old salesman's mantra for success, "location, location, location," points to the reality that BT is positioned for success by being in Tulsa. In a 1999 study by the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries, of the 803 Tulsa congregations at that time, 762 were evangelical or protestant congregations. ["Understanding the Institutional Configurations of Congregations in Urban America: A Case Study and Seminary Experience About Tulsa, Oklahoma"] Although "spirituality" is a topic of increasing concern to secular social service groups, dealing with mental health issues from an evangelical Christian perspective is not a topic that would be addressed by the vast majority of local social service providers. The preponderance of evangelical and Protestant churches in Tulsa, positions BT in a unique way to serve large numbers of people within the context of their Christian faith.
The third uniqueness one encounters in BT is its focus on the Church. This focus is articulated in the BT mission's statement, "Mobilizing the Church to better serve people with mental health concerns in the greater Tulsa area." We know of no other mental health organization with such a focus on the Church. Through the means of telling "The Tim Reside Story," the BT Speakers Bureau, the Pastor and Ministers Breakfast Seminars, the multi-media Compassionate Care Seminars, the Relationship Skills Training Seminars, the Pastor-to-Pastor Consultation Services, the weekly Depression and Bipolar Bible Study Support Group, and the Family To Family Consultation Services, BT is focused on coming alongside churches to de-stigmatize mental illness, educate and raise awareness about mental health concerns, and inspire local congregations to fashion and implement better care strategies for their own members who have a mental health need.
The Bright Tomorrows Board is very excited to be participating in something that God is doing in His own unique and creative way. There is a seat at the table for you! Will you join us?
Jim Grinnell is the Vice-President of Bright Tomorrows, a pastor at Tulsa Christian Fellowship and a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist. He has a M.Div. from ORU and an M.S. in Family Relations from OSU.