Ted & Barbara Platt and Lew & Sandy Shaffer co-founded Son Shine Ministries in 1977 in Prattville, Alabama (near Montgomery). Ted and Lew were both career Air Force officers and traveled the world with their families—building relationships and growing in Christ. After first meeting at an Air Force conference in Washington, D.C., Ted and Lew ended up being assigned to the same city—Montgomery. From there they and their wives built strong friendships and later were led to form Son Shine Ministries.
In the summer of 1981, the ministry relocated to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex—buying 22 acres just south of Azle, Texas (northwest of Fort Worth)—and taking on additional team members. The property, named Son Rise, became the ministry's headquarters, which it has maintained to this day. As a result of great relationships they established through their years in the Air Force, the Platts, Shaffers, and others in Son Shine Ministries presented hundreds of programs (the most popular being The Christian Home Seminar) in military chapels and churches. Under their leadership, the ministry reached out to thousands—the Son Shine team traveling throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa, as well as hosting a tour across Israel. Small offices were set up for several years in California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Australia, England, Guam, and Germany—conducting the same type of ministry outreach as the Azle office. Son Shine Ministries also provided practical ministry training through its World Discipling and World Missionary courses and an active correspondence course program. Numerous books have been written, and audio teachings were made available upon request free of charge.
In 2000, Son Shine Ministries became a member of the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) and has remained an accredited member ever since.
Since the founders' retirement from full-time service in Son Shine Ministries in 2002, David Shaffer (Lew and Sandy's son) has been the ministry's director. Ted & Barbara now live in Montgomery, Alabama, and Sandy remains in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, living at the ministry's retreat center in Azle. Lew passed on to be with the Lord in July 2018.
Under David's leadership, significant changes have been made, and a focus within family ministry has been established—primarily emphasizing the marriage relationship and the parent/child relationship. Marriage ministry for individual couples is now offered and a suite of weekend marriage and parenting programs is available along with four- and six-week program series. New programs are regularly developed to apply God's unchanging Word to an ever-changing culture.
As David and his wife, Daniele, and the Son Shine team reflect on the ministry's history, we are deeply grateful for the focus on Jesus, great friendships, and amazing outreach. Team members Paul and Amy Collins expressed this well: "We could not be more excited about the future and the new ways we are reaching out, and we never forget that we step out onto a foundation that has been carefully built through prayer and years of ministry." We walk confidently today because of God's faithfulness and because of the effective efforts of the founders, board members, team members, volunteers, financial partners, family members, and friends.
We are currently enhancing our ministry outreach by deepening our methodologies. This change is from a program-basis to a process-basis (discipleship). We offer to consult with churches to help them have a follow-up to our weekend program. This way our program serves as a catalyst for the church to launch a small-group based, weekly discipleship series (from 6 weeks to as long as 18 weeks). Our initial efforts are focused on marriage discipleship, and we are seeing this significantly impact couples because it provides the setting where positive relational habits have a chance to be developed over time in community. The future is bright and hopeful!