God Wastes Nothing

Posted by: Kimberlee Mitchell | September 29, 2020

DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative

Cornelius “Corn” Williams Breakthrough Part II (To read part I, click >> here.)

God faithfully restored Cornelius Williams (Atlanta 2014) with the “margin to dream again” after he experienced a second turning point during a study of the prophet Elijah. “Confused by how someone with such a great ministry resume could end up in a suicidal condition, it hit me ... I was Elijah!” declared Williams. This divine aha moment led him away from self-deception and pride and into a time of transformational prayer, confession, and repentance. It also opened up a new perspective—an invaluable “duality” as he calls it—of his DVULI experience.

On one hand, Corn was a cohort participant who dug deep into the curriculum and learned the tools. On the other, as a city coordinator, he became a keen observer of the strategic process and delivery by the DVULI team. He zeroed in on the leadership style of Ginny Vander Hart, former executive director of the DeVos Family Foundations.

“She was very intentional not to draw attention to herself from the way she engaged to how she dressed,” Williams reflects. “It was always the team up front facilitating, engaging, and guiding. She was attentive and present with all of us while never being front and center. She didn’t miss a thing.”

Moving forward, he led with empowerment as he set out to replicate what he learned at DVULI in his own ministry. “Now, I'm using a multicity strategy to mobilize leadership to address multigenerational issues,” explains Williams of his work at Resurgence Leadership Foundation in Atlanta. “I am replicating the delivery system (building the capacity of others using a cohort model) through my nonprofit.”

The three core elements of his organization echo the DVULI principles in its “Wheel of Change” including (1) engaging leaders of good faith and goodwill, (2) building the capacity of others, and (3) developing joint initiatives. Williams points out, “Currently, we are engaging faith leaders from the private, public, church, and nonprofit sectors to help us discern, ‘What is Jesus weeping about when He sees metro Atlanta?’” His team actively solicits experts to help determine the best course of action to work collaboratively to address the issues. A recent partnership with Young Life Atlanta Project and the Leadership Foundations global office created the needed bandwidth to train, mentor, and advocate for organizational leaders. “We have developed a joint initiative called the Youth Mentoring Collaborative that certifies mentors, coordinates events, supports program directors, and provides supplemental training. Currently, we support three mentoring programs,” Williams explained.

This work revealed a need to better equip aspiring nonprofit leaders and program directors, which led him to envision a new training curriculum that will be used by the Resurgence Leadership Foundation’s partners and within his own organization. “We are preparing leaders to run a program/organization with topics like building your network, evaluation, and fiscal processes,” shares Williams. “The goal is to prepare them with the mindset, habits, and tools that will help them to thrive in the nonprofit sector.

Corn wholeheartedly believes that “God wastes nothing,” and He has been preparing him for this time all along. Williams shared, “As Jesus said, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock’ (Matt. 7:24 NIV). Organizations built on rock—that’s a win.”