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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on all aspects of Mercy Med, visit mercymedcolumbus.com.
Prayer, Material and Volunteer Needs
By Allen Allnoch
More than 300 people gathered – converged – in Columbus over the weekend to hear a powerhouse lineup of speakers and have conversations about unity in diversity.
The occasion was the Converge 2:14 conference, inspired by the words of Ephesians 2:14 – “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Dr. John M. Perkins, civil rights pioneer and founder of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation, spoke at the conference’s closing session Saturday night, and again during morning worship services at Christ Community Church Sunday morning.
At the latter, Dr. Perkins shared the story of seeing his brother die, shot by a law enforcement officer, and of his own unjust jailing and torture at the hands of police in his native Mississippi. He saw two choices before him: Retribution and hate, or forgiveness and love.
“If I had a grenade, I would have pulled the plug and killed us all,” he recalled. “Then I saw that my heart was just as bad. I saw that white people were broken and black people were broken. I said, ‘God, forgive me first. I want to preach a gospel that is about love.’”
Simply put, Perkins said, only the redemptive power of Jesus Christ will overcome the sin of racism. He reminded listeners of how Peter was forced to confront his prejudice against Gentiles, as related in Acts chapter 10. No “equal opportunity or affirmative action” program would do; Peter “needed the Gospel,” Perkins said. “The Gospel calls us to a higher standard.”
Likewise, Christians today must look to Christ and, in His power, invest in each other’s lives.
“We gotta do more than drink coffee together,” Perkins said. “We gotta do more than wash each other's feet. I like to drink coffee and I like foot-washing, but we gotta do more. We need to confess our sins one to another. Instead of looking for somebody to hate, we need to look for somebody to love. Then people will know we are Christians.”
Other takeaways from Converge 2:14 speakers included:
And this from a conference attendee, who tweeted, “I was so fired UP from the @Converge214 conference, I skipped the [closing session] to hit the block in my hood with the Gospel.”
May we all be so motivated to put our faith in action and seek to break down the dividing wall of hostility.
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.