By Allen Allnoch
Dr. Grant Scarborough laughs as he tells the story of how MercyMed of Columbus acquired its name.
Scarborough founded MercyMed in 2011 after spending four years in Augusta, where he had co-founded a similar health care center “for people in all walks of life.” That facility was called Christ Community Health Services of Augusta. Thinking along those same lines when he moved back to Columbus, his hometown, he discovered another local institution already bore the name “Christ Community.”
He didn’t want to create confusion, so he decided on MercyMed for the new practice.
“So it’s pretty much your fault we have that name,” Scarborough joked as he spoke to a group visiting from Christ Community Church last Monday.
Branding issues aside, there’s only one name that really matters at MercyMed: Jesus. The entire practice is built on Him, with a mission “to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and to demonstrate His love by providing affordable, quality primary healthcare for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the underserved in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding area.”
MercyMed seeks to treat not only physical ailments, but to care for its patients’ mental and spiritual wellbeing as well. It offers prayer and counseling services, and it has an expanding menu of specialty services that currently include dental, GYN, vision, cardio, dermatology and ultrasounds. Patients without insurance are charged on a sliding scale for as little as $30 a visit.
Scarborough holds degrees from the University of Georgia and the Mercer University School of Medicine. He completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. But for all his knowledge and skill, he’s most concerned with helping people connect with God.
Faith in Jesus is not a requirement to see a MercyMed doctor or nurse. But patients will see, hear and feel the touch of the Gospel when they enter the former bank building on Second Avenue. (A second Columbus location opened on Steam Mill Road in 2014.) Scripture adorns the walls, and staff will discuss matters of faith when opportunities arise.
“I’m not the Great Physician,” Scarborough says. “I’m an OK physician. But I know the Great Physician, and that’s who we want to point people to.”
Scarborough and Billy Holbrook, MercyMed’s director of development, hosted the CCC group for lunch and a facility tour. The latter included a look at one of the newest initiatives, a community garden. MercyMed staff are growing fruits and vegetables with the goal of helping neighborhood residents improve their diet and, ultimately, their health.
The pair also shared prayer needs and volunteer opportunities. All of the following bullet points are prayer needs, and some are tangible ways CCC members and attenders can plug in. If you have an interest in giving time to Mercy Med, or have ideas or resources that would help staff fulfill their vision, please email email@example.com. For more information on all aspects of Mercy Med, visit mercymedcolumbus.com.
Prayer, Material and Volunteer Needs
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.
It’s never too early to start instilling leadership lessons in young people. At Reese Road Leadership Academy, such lessons are implied in the school’s very name, and carried out on a daily basis.
Teachers make prodigious use of the Steven Covey book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The Leader in Me,” Franklin Covey’s whole-school transformation process, to foster principles and skills for living a fulfilled, productive life.
For the past three years, Christ Community Church has helped RRLA recognize those high-achieving students with the quarterly S.O.U.L. (Spirit of Uncommon Leadership) Awards.
Two students from each level of the K-5 school are recommended for the award by RRLA teachers and other adult leaders. The CCC staff typically hosts a ceremony for the students and their parents, with each student receiving a certificate, a written commendation from their teacher explaining why they were chosen for the award, and a framed photo.
The most recent ceremony, on Thursday, May 11, took place on campus at RRLA and followed the same format.
“We teach students the right way – the Roadrunner way – of doing things,” said Principal Katrina Collier-Long, alluding to the Reese Road mascot. “We love being able to honor them [with the S.O.U.L. Awards].”
CCC and Reese Road are part of the Greater Columbus Partners in Education (PIE) program, a joint venture of the Muscogee County School District and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Through individual partnerships with businesses, churches and other local organizations, PIE enables schools to tap resources to meet unique needs in a student body, provide excellent educational programming, and recognize achievement.
As RRLA's Partner in Education, CCC encourages volunteer engagement from within our congregation. One upcoming opportunity is during our upcoming Week of Hope – RRLA is one of our ministry partners for this "local mission trip" initiative. But the possibilities to serve don’t stop there – the partnership is year-round, and RRLA Media Specialist Ruthie Hite says the school welcomes volunteers for one-on-one tutoring and reading to classes, as well as donations to fulfill certain material needs.
If you would like to serve with Reese Road, or for more information, email Karla Curran, CCC’s volunteer liason with the school.
What's a church to do when its spring picnic is threatened by gray skies and chilly temperatures? Move it to the sanctuary. Our "March Gladness" gathering marched right on as planned yesterday, with hundreds of attendees grouped into teams and connecting over a bountiful feast and a variety of games and other friendly competitions. No way was a little bad weather going to stop these ordinary people from experiencing extraordinary life in Christ-centered community.
Aspire, CCC's newly revamped women's ministry, gathered in the sanctuary on February 10 for an evening of celebration and connection. Go to ccclive.org/women to earn more about Aspire and other opportunities for women at CCC.
This fall CCC launched Empowered to Foster, a ministry designed to support foster care families and raise up new ones at CCC and in our local community. The idea is to help families navigate the challenges of foster care by providing meals, assisting with transportation, performing household chores and much more.
About the same time we began to call for volunteers, Christal and Mark Gavin began attending CCC and heard about Empowered to Foster. Here we'll let Christal pick up the story, as shared in an email to Misty Faircloth, who is helping head up the new initiative.
Just wanted to touch base with you and tell you thanks for the work you're doing with the foster ministry.
My husband and I talked about fostering children, even while we were dating. And over the years (we've been married 15 years) we've continued to talk about it.
He's active duty military and we moved here, with our three kids, over the summer. We had a feeling that God had something specific planned for us here. But we didn't know what.
I felt strongly that I wasn't to go back to work and that I was to limit my volunteer ministries. We also have a spare room that we felt we were supposed to leave empty for the time being.
After hearing you speak about the foster crisis in Muscogee County a few weeks back, we decided to pray more seriously about whether God wanted us to pursue becoming foster parents.
I shared all the info from [the initial October Empowered to Foster] meeting with my husband, and it just confirmed what we had both been feeling: Absolute peace with beginning the process of becoming foster parents.
We're excited about how seamlessly God seems to be guiding our steps. We appreciate you being open to his call to raise up awareness and begin this ministry.
We look forward to seeing his hand continue to move.
Christal is blogging about her and Mark's journey through the foster experience. Follow her at ourfosterstoryblog.wordpress.com/blog. If you would like to get involved with Empowered to Foster at CCC, email Misty Faircloth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The men's ministry spent the weekend of October 7-9 at Camp Kaleo in Forsyth. The theme was “Step Up 2016 – A Call To Courageous Manhood,” with Royce Railey of GoFish Ministries serving as guest speaker. View the slideshow below for highlights.
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.
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.