By Andrew Cowart
A beautiful event – a Kingdom event – took place at CCC last Friday evening. Three people – missionaries Chance and Dee Dee Galloway, and CCC staffer Kelli Wommack – took a big step further along the walk God has called them to by becoming ordained in the Free Methodist Church.
The February 24 ordination service was held in conjunction with the FMC's Georgia/Alabama Annual Conference.
FMC ordination is much more than a formality. When a person is ordained, we are affirming their call into ministry for themselves and for everyone who will be following their leadership. This affirmation is a beautiful recognition of God’s call and that person’s obedience.
Kelli, CCC's Pastor of Leadership Development, described being saved at an early age, growing up in the church and sensing a call to ministry during her freshman year of college. She wanted to follow the call, but was conflicted by a belief that it was wrong for women to pursue positions of higher leadership in the church.
“Because of the way I grew up, I didn’t see women do those things, so if I did, it must be wrong," she recalled thinking.
Kelli got involved in the Free Methodist Church in 2008 and has since found freedom to follow God’s call without hesitation. ”Thank you to the Free Methodist Church for giving me the opportunity to serve in a way that I never could before," she said.
Kelli aims to be a role model for young women being called into ministry around her, and she is definitely hitting that mark.
Chance and Dee Dee are missionaries in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, where they work with the Roma people, train pastors, and are involved in anti-human trafficking and agricultural ministries.
Chance, who grew up in Phenix City, met Christ while jailed in solitary confinement. “It was there that I experienced the love of my heavenly father and surrendered to him, saying, 'Not my way anymore,'" he said.
Chance got involved in the Free Methodist Church when he met CCC Lead Pastor Keith Cowart and member Phil Webb at a Calvary Christian School football game in 2003. Of being ordained, he said, “It is a recognition by other elders and Christians that you are called to serve God." Chance certainly has obeyed that call and selflessly poured himself into the people he is serving.
Dee Dee has faced many difficult struggles during her walk with Christ, but continues to surrender to the Father as well. “I was diagnosed with cancer during the pregnancy of my second child," she said. "I was told I had to terminate the pregnancy to live; it was not my way, but His way, and Catherine was born on the International Day of Prayer.”
That attitude of surrender also is evident in her family's work in Bulgaria: “It’s an adventure," she said, "and we love living this life because it’s not our way, it’s His way.”
FMC Bishop David Roller had each ordinand place their hands on the Bible and prayed, “Take authority to minister the word of God, faithfully proclaim his word, declare his forgiveness, and shepherd his people.”
Roller explained that, "Today we are ordaining you to be imitable." Each of these people clearly has followed that call. They have walked a long path to ordination, and it's certainly not the end of the road. They will continue to serve Christ with the trust and support of the Free Methodist Church and the body of Christ.
When asked what ordination meant to them, each shared a similar response: That ordination is an encouraging recognition from the denomination and its elders that they are on the right path. Christ Community is extremely proud of the accomplishments of these ordinands and awaits in eager anticipation of their accomplishments to come.
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.
Kevin Austin, Director of the Free Methodist Church’s Set Free Movement, will bring the message at CCC on “Freedom Sunday,” February 22. Here he shares about the evil of human trafficking and the FMC’s response to it.
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. Real slaves; unable to walk away; doing things they don’t want to do. They pick cotton for our clothes and chocolate for our desserts; they are forced to fight in wars, make bricks for homes, and mine minerals for our gadgets. They are used and abused in horrible ways. Slavery fills our closets, cupboards, and is infecting all of our neighborhoods and cities. People created in God’s image are being treated as things.
Free Methodists are confronting this evil. In ever increasing numbers we are serving with compassion and challenging oppressors. Launching safe houses, mobilizing every branch of society, teaching in schools, rescuing the oppressed, planting churches, and bringing hope and healing to the broken, we are following Jesus in fulfilling his mission. God has set us free. We now help others to be free.
One key way in which the Free Methodist church is engaging powerfully is through the annual observance of Freedom Sunday. Over the past four years participants in this important event have prayed, sung, proclaimed, and given in the direction of freedom.
We have helped empower leaders in India to give vulnerable people the educational tools needed to avoid traffickers. We have helped establish safe houses in the Philippines and Thailand as well as expanding the work of protecting the vulnerable in Colombia. We have funded work in Taiwan to protect the alien, the immigrant worker. We have empowered Kali Long in Athens, Greece, to create new futures for women set free from sex trafficking.
Not just internationally, but the annual observance – the prayers, singing, remembering, proclaiming, giving, and focusing on how God wants to set us all free – has catalyzed teams engaging around the U.S.
The awareness and mobilization is working. Slaves are being set free. The broken are being healed. The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be more and do more on mission with God.
On February 22, 2015 the fifth observance of Freedom Sunday will be the most powerful one yet. I encourage you to pray, proclaim, and worship in the direction of freedom. Live fully as true Free Methodists, embracing the freedom Jesus has brought and working for the freedom of others. Consider giving so that our leaders and projects can confront the evil. Be an agent of hope and healing.
Learn more at setfreemovement.org, fmcusa.org and www.freedomsummit15.org.
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.