On February 22, 1998, CCC held its first public worship service, at Arnold Middle School. Twenty years and four buildings later, this local church body has made a remarkable impact on the Chattahoochee Valley community and beyond. On Sunday evening, we gathered to celebrate what God has done in and through us over those two decades. From a look back at the story of how CCC came to be, to a look ahead and a rousing invitation for God to "COME ON," it was a joyful occasion. Click the buttons below to watch the celebration service and a compilation of memorable moments from over the years.
By Allen Allnoch
Ten years ago, bluegrass music legend Ricky Skaggs released an album, “Salt of the Earth,” with his wife, Sharon White, and her family band, The Whites.
The title song described the honest, selfless, genuine people who embody that phrase:
They’ll all come runnin’ if there’s someone in need
They’ll reach out if someone’s hurt
Diamonds and gold could not match what they’re worth
Good people are the salt of the earth
Shane Clark is one of those salt-of-the-earth kind of people. It’s telling that he was reluctant to have photos of himself made for his new Shane Clark Music Facebook page. Actually, he was reluctant to have a Facebook page, period. For this humble servant of God, life is not about drawing attention to himself, but rather about fulfilling Jesus' Great Commandment – love God, love your neighbors.
On his newest CD, “The Hymn Awakening,” Shane has surrounded himself with a whole company of salt-of-the-earth folks – including Skaggs himself – who also happen to be world-class musicians and vocalists. The result bears out his purpose of using his gifts to serve God and other people.
Shane, a Columbus native with close ties to Christ Community Church, leads Camp Laughing Child, a Christ-centered therapeutic adventure camp for institutionalized children living with terminal illnesses in southern Mexico. Sales of the CD benefit the camp, which provides creative nature-based and animal-assisted therapies on seven acres of beautiful mountain surroundings.
“The Hymn Awakening” is a collection of traditional hymns anchored by Clark’s rich vocals and flavored by a diversity of guest artists. It features a lineup of contemporary bluegrass all-stars, including fiddle virtuoso Andy Leftwich, singers Sonya Isaacs and Claire Lynch, guitarist Ron Block (a member of Alison Krauss’s band, Union Station), five-time Grammy winner Rhonda Vincent, and rising star Sierra Hull.
From Leftwich’s elegant opening notes on “Lead Me to Calvary,” to the toe-tapping rendition of “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” with Skaggs and Jimmy Fortune (formerly of the Statler Brothers), to Shane’s chill-bump harmonies with Vincent on “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” the CD is a delightful new take on a timeless set of familiar church songs.
Just as Shane and his guests have poured their hearts into these songs, he’s pouring his life into the lives of sick children 2,000 miles across the continent.
Those kids – and we, too – are richer because of these good, salt-of-the-earth people.
Copies of “The Hymn Awakening” (along with Shane Clark's first CD, “Deep Blue Hymns”) are available in the CCC Resource Center for a suggested donation of $15 apiece. All proceeds benefit Camp Laughing Child. Follow Shane on his new Facebook page at facebook.com/ShaneClarkMusic.
A look at what CCC kids and adults are doing out in the community during our June 4-8 Week of Hope outreach.
Why are we designating this particular week a “Week of Hope?” Shouldn’t we be putting our faith into action and taking hope to the world every day?
Yes we should. Loving our neighbor is a 24/7 biblical mandate, to be sure. And it’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Pastor Keith taught in this week's Sunday message.
But just as with our Church Has Left the Building outreach last year, a ready-made outreach sometimes can be the nudge we need to get “out there” and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And certainly any time we help “the least of these,” we are blessing someone and serving Christ himself.
Week of Hope also is a great opportunity to get to know some of our local ministry partners and get involved on an ongoing basis – organizations such as International Friendship Ministries, Heal the World Thrift Store, Open Door Community House and Sound Choices Pregnancy Clinic.
We’re working with eight ministry partners in all this week, but that’s only a small segment of the organizations we link arms with throughout the year. Visit our Around the City page for a look at all of our area partners, and click the "Contact" link if one of them stirs your heart to help.
As for Week of Hope, we’ve been comparing it to a mission trip, with a few key differences to make participation easier: 1) It’s right here in Columbus; 2) It doesn’t require hundreds of dollars in expenses; and 3) You can do it in two-hour increments – shifts at 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. each day (Monday-Thursday).
You can find all the details, including information on each partner/work project, right here. Pick a shift – or two, or more, even – and get out there!
Brandon Branigan is Outreach Coach for CCC's ARISE Young Adults ministry. He led a mission team to Detroit in July and shares some of the group's experiences here.
“When you keep saying somebody ought to do something creative here, helping the people, and no one else steps up to the challenge, you find out quickly that God is calling you to do it.”
These were the words of Mark Cryderman, lead pastor of The Harbor, a church that has dug its roots in Detroit without a building. After years of pastoring traditional churches in the Detroit/Taylor County Area, Pastor Mark and his wife, Marry, felt called to do something different.
An old school building that belonged to the Detroit Free Methodist Conference was not being used at the time. The idea developed to use it for Sunday brunch services – a gathering that would include breakfast with less-fortunate people in the area, arts and recreation for children, short messages for the kids and adults, and a discussion around the dining table.
A couple of years into this outreach, Mark and Marry noticed that Sundays were not the most popular day in the area for spending time in fellowship and worship. This was when they first felt the call to bring church into the local communities during the week and do church without a building. They realized the people did not need to come to them; they needed to go to the people.
After months of prayer and preparation, a series of weekday dinner services was launched this summer. Our team of 11 from CCC got to participate and lead in these services during the week of July 24-29. When we arrived in Detroit, we shared our plan for arts and recreation with Mark and Marry, and we were delighted to see their joy and their trust in us to lead that effort.
We served in a community center for children/students, a church and a community park. The first day of ministry was long, but filled with joy. We provided games for the children, such as transferring water from one bucket to another with a sponge and “walking the plank.” Our theme for the week was pirates, and one of our members, Tyler Pierce, did an amazing job acting this out.
We could tell that many of the kids had never experienced this type of love before, and often they would latch on to us, which brought great joy. I was blessed to connect with two boys and speak life into them, which I could tell was very important to them. Near the end of the day we shared a meal with the parents and were instructed to lead the discussion at the dinner tables, as well as pray over each parent.
Another team member, Josh Heath, connected with a man so strongly that they exchanged contact information and vowed to keep in touch. There was a moment in which I looked up to see each team member praying over multiple people in the room – what an amazing sight!
Our last day of ministry was the most blessed for many of us. The plan was to spend an entire day in Detroit sightseeing and having fun, but the Lord had another plan. Mark and Marry had connected with a barber in Detroit weeks ago, a man who had built a community park across from his shop as a way to bring positive influence to the area. It just so happened that on that Wednesday morning, they ran into the barber again and they all agreed to do dinner church that day.
We got to witness the first day of a dinner church plant in Detroit! Upon arrival in the park, Josh fired up the grill, Camille prepped the food service station, Florence found a lady to minister to, and all of us spread out to meet the people and spend time in fellowship. Once again, connections were made and long conversations held. We all walked away that night fully convinced that Detroit is not a lost cause, as the media often portrays it, and that God has a huge heart for this city.
Another memorable aspect of the trip was that we got to see something unique in the city every day. Pastor Mark wanted us to walk away saying Detroit is a great city, and he did a great job arranging these excursions, which included a trip to Mexican Town, a visit to the Detroit Museum, a great deep dish pizza place, and a walk along the river where we could see Canada!
The team ended the week with a trip to Cedar Point, Ohio, a theme park with some of the best rides in the U.S.
Our team is so thankful for their heart and the fruit we got to witness this summer. Clearly God is up to something huge in Detroit, and it is a great place to experience.
By Allen Allnoch
“I want to go to America.” Those were the words of a young Rwandan man I met during my recent mission trip to “the land of a thousand hills" with a CCC team. We were seated in a small classroom, eight of us in all, me the lone American, just chatting about life.
It wasn’t the first time I had heard such a sentiment. I wanted to know more.
“What do you think is the impression most Rwandans have of the United States?” I asked.
Without hesitation, my new friend said, “I think most people here view it as heaven.”
Wow. If only he knew.
For me, a week in Africa – far from America’s toxic news and social media climate – was a breath of fresh air.
(Not literally, though – Rwanda in dry season is surely the dustiest place I’ve ever visited.)
I suppose it all depends on one’s perspective. Many Rwandans today carry the burden of the 1994 genocide that left an estimated 800,000 dead.
As one of our hosts, Pastor Jean Baptiste, told us, “Everyone knows someone who was killed – family members, friends, neighbors. It’s still hard to talk about, but it’s important that we remember.”
Then there’s the aforementioned dust – and the difficult access to clean water in this still-developing country, and the various other hardships that make our “first-world problems” seem all the more absurd when viewed in context.
Yet so many of the people we met are full of joy. Smiles, especially among children, come easily. Beautiful voices fill the air with song.
In Jean Baptiste’s village, Muyumbu, people are coming to Jesus and experiencing dramatic life change.
One woman, Maria Rose, was a prostitute with no hope until she wandered into Jean’s church one Sunday morning. She heard the Gospel message, came to know Christ, and today earns a living making jewelry and other hand-crafted products.
In Gahara, another rural village where Jean has built relationships, a church body is working hard to make disciples of all ages.
Our trip came about through CCC’s relationship with Jessica and Jonathan Taylor, pastor at our Phenix City campus. Jessica leads two ministries, Come Away Missions and COPOmarket, and has been taking teams to Rwanda since 2009.
Come Away Missions works with Jean Baptiste to create ministry opportunities through short-term mission trips, with the goal of helping fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission – “make disciples of all nations” – and building lasting relationships between visitors and the Rwandan people.
COPO (Creating Ownership, Providing Opportunity) trains Rwandan artisans such as Maria, markets their products, and equips them to build businesses and better lives.
Jessica sells COPO products at the Saturday morning market in Uptown Columbus, is working to get them in stores, and makes them available online as well.
Back in Rwanda, Jean Baptiste stays busy discipling and training pastors, employing locals and teaching them to farm, and in his latest venture, raising support for a medical clinic in Muyumbu. Writer and speaker Jennie Allen has organized a fundraiser to help – click here to learn more and contribute.
As I see people like Jessica and Jennie linking arms across the ocean with Jean Baptiste and his family and friends, I see the body of Christ in action.
America certainly isn’t heaven. But when Americans and Africans work together like this, we're undoubtedly seeing a glimpse of paradise.
CCC took the day off from morning worship services on Sunday, April 24, and instead went out to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community that surrounds us. The work included:
Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy C. Tennent spoke at CCC on the topic of “Islam in a Post-911 World.”
Dr. Tennent’s March 19 talk covered the basics of the faith, including its key texts – the Qur’an and the Hadith – and the Five Pillars of Islam.
He also explained three key differences between Christianity and Islam – the nature of God; the nature, person and work of Christ; and the nature of revelation – and gave advice on how a Christian can share his or her faith with a Muslim.
The morning ended with Dr. Tennent fielding questions from the audience. Addressing the issue of Muslims coming to America, he said, “In general, immigration is a good thing for Christianity. Government’s job is to protect our borders, but we must also look at the bigger picture in finding ways to deal with this issue.”
On the topic of radical Islam and the violence carried out by its practitioners, Dr. Tennent said, “God is in control of human history … we know that God will be victorious.”
Read more about Dr. Tennent here.
Pam Bone, Director of LIVE Ministries, shares her reflections on her trip to China with a CCC mission team last October.
After 14 days in China and a few months back home to process and reflect, we were left with some distinct impressions and ways we feel called to pray.
I'll share my thoughts here; if anyone would like to learn more about what we saw or experienced, feel free to contact me or any of our other team members: Meghan Stewart, Mart Alberici, Nick Hope, Myong Hope, Phyllis Chappelle and Samuel Phillips.
In Chinese cities, where populations range from 3-30 million, the absence of nature had a profound impact on some of us. The simple blessing of seeing God in nature was absent.
In Romans 1, Paul tells us that God has shown us his attributes, and that his power and divine nature are clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Isaiah 55 says that the mountains and hills will burst into song before us and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow, and all this is for the Lord’s renown.
Our prayer is that God will reveal himself to the Chinese who live in these massive cities in ways that they will see His amazing attributes.
The House of Joy is a ministry that gives dignity to orphans, young and old, with special needs. In that culture, people with special needs are often rejected and discarded as people with no value. Besides feeding, grooming, clothing and just spending time with these special people, the ministry has made it a priority to take them out to a public park, where they dance and play games. Over time, they are changing the way the people of this community see and value those with special needs. Many people come and participate with them, even touching and hugging them.
Another observation was that people don’t seem to truly see each other. They do not look at each other as they walk about the city or ride on the buses. The impression was that just as they don’t see each other, they probably don’t feel seen by others, or by God, and that the overwhelming amount of sensory overload probably causes emotional shutdown.
There is significant value in the way that internationals do mission work there, primarily in the university system. All of the Chinese Christians that we met were introduced to Jesus while in college. It is great for students to be exposed to internationals as they see something different and ask questions.
In the same way, there is great value in the way that Chinese nationals use education to reach people. Many Chinese are seeking alternative education, as they are unhappy with the government system and are open to western teaching methods.
The private school that we connected with there has taken a stand to openly share the Biblical principles on which they are founded. They have suffered persecution by individuals and from the government, but have also experienced much fruit as many of the students, teachers and family members have decided to live for Jesus.
It was really exciting to be around believers in China, because they are not “lukewarm.” They are sold out for Jesus – the real deal! We left with a sense of hope, with one teammate likening China to Narnia, where “winter” is melting.
Specific Prayer Requests
What God Did in Us
Jessica Clark is CCC’s communications intern. She recently reported on Micah’s Promise, our anti-sex trafficking ministry (read story here), and below she shares her own thoughts on the importance of awareness and activism related to human trafficking.
It’s heartbreaking to think about the thousands of young women in the world who are in bondage to sex trafficking.
I know it’s something many of them didn’t choose, but it’s astounding to me how many of them remain in bondage due to fear or lack of self-confidence, not knowing that they are worth more and can do so much with their life.
I, in no way, have the slightest knowledge of what these women go through or what their stories bear, but I do know that something needs to be done – and that I can help.
The fight against sex trafficking is something I have been passionate about since my freshman year of high school. I was sitting in chapel and the speaker was a representative of an organization that aided women who were victims of sex trafficking in the area.
It was one of the most convicting and heartrending moments of my life. It broke me to learn that the city I spent my childhood in was one of the largest areas for sex trafficking – and I had been completely unaware of it. Hearing that victims were women my age or younger was heartbreaking as well, and I couldn’t help thinking that it could have been me.
I share that back-story because the fact that such evil and despair can go on for so long without people being aware is not only disheartening, it’s also wrong. How and why is it that people are oblivious of this growing evil? Even for many who areaware, it doesn’t seem relevant to them, so they don’t do anything.
Discovering this tragedy for the first time was enough for me to want to do something. I attended many seminars and events addressing the fight against sex trafficking over the years.
I have become increasingly burdened by the information I have gathered on the issue, but also hopeful that change is taking place. What I have learned is this: Always do something. Even if you don’t think that what you’re doing carries any weight, it’s still something. Every step you take toward bringing this evil to light is a step closer to redemption for these young women.
I have found that educating yourself about the practical ways to help bring this issue to an end is one of the best tools. It is important to understand the sources from which human trafficking originates. Slavery, in its many forms, is everywhere: in our kitchens, in our cupboards, in our closets. We just need to become aware of it and learn what we can do to stop it.
People who are trafficked harvest our food, pick cotton for our clothes, and provide labor to the supply chain for our chocolate, our cars, even our smart phones. Maybe we need to examine our everyday lifestyles and choices related to consumerism, and materialism? Maybe it means we stop purchasing items from supply chain stores that perpetuate slave labor and switch to fair-trade items that are ethically made? These are just some things to think about as you go about the routines of everyday life.
I’m not writing this to discourage or make people feel guilty for not actively participating in anti-trafficking decisions, purchases or events. Rather, I’m writing to encourage people that small actions make a huge difference. I think people often get overwhelmed by topics such as this that carry so much sadness, heartbreak and evil, so it’s just easier to not do anything, or worse, become numb to it.
But think of it this way: With every small act, whether it’s purchasing a fair-trade item from the store, informing a neighbor about the issue, or attending a seminar to increase your education and awareness of the problem, all are steps toward freedom. In that case, small actions do indeed carry magnificent weight and domake a difference! Be empowered to act and be an ambassador of change, because it is Christ’s heart is to set the captives free.
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.