By Allen Allnoch
Last week a team of seven from CCC traveled to Jackson, Kentucky to serve at Oakdale Christian Academy. This Free Methodist-affiliated institution was named by TheBestSchools.org as one of the 30 best Christian boarding schools in America. It’s easy to see why.
Oakdale is a Christ-centered community where faculty and staff live on campus and create a nurturing environment that positively impacts students from a variety of backgrounds and locations.
For these educators and administrators, Oakdale is more than a job – it’s a full-time ministry, and they are playing a key role in “training up a child in the way he should go.”
Just as God’s work is evident in these leaders, the campus environment is a testament to his handiwork as well. Nestled along a two-lane highway in eastern Kentucky, Oakdale is bordered by lush hillsides and a burbling creek, forming an idyllic natural setting in which students can enjoy His presence.
The CCC team helped with several campus maintenance and beautification projects, including cleaning and painting the administration building, painting and staining a water-damaged residence, and spreading mulch around the grounds. The team also took turns throughout each day in the “Prayer Chair,” a quiet place to intercede for students, staff and fellow team members.
There was ample opportunity to interact with students during meals. The concept of “community” is apparent at this unique institution of learning. It’s also one of the pillars upon which CCC itself is built, and this mission team thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it in rural Kentucky for a week.
Oakdale Christian Academy is one of more than 40 ministries that CCC supports around the world. If would like to help support Oakdale individually, or simply learn more about its work, visit oakdalechristian.org.
A building is not a church. But a church can meet in a building. It can also leave that building, as the CCC family did on the weekend of March 15-16. Weeks prior to our Church Has Left the Building outreach, Mason Stewart, CCC’s Director of Young Adults, penned a beautiful meditation on what Christ has done for us, and what we are called to do in response.
"The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that as least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem,bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed" (Acts 5:12-16).
It was a new age. The Son of God had come, ripped open the curtain and exposed the Holy of Holies to fisherman, tax collectors, and prostitutes. And so the Church left the building.
The Spirit of God, no longer bound, came roaring out of His cave, like a bear in mid-spring, searching for a new dwelling. He found it in men and women. And so the Church left the building.
When the Spirit of God left that ancient temple – left it weatherworn and crumbling in some places – ritual, empty ritual, came in and took His place. And so the Church left the building.
The vanity of man, flaunted itself from a safe distance through the protection of those four walls. But the people stopped paying attention. They had seen something that was truly captivating. It was true power. It was true love. The Creator met the created out on that front porch. And so the Church had left the building.
The prideful were on the inside; the humble and hungry were on the outside. The need-met served themselves, while the needy served each other. The people. The broken. The sick.
And the oppressed were on the outside. And so the Spirit and His Church left the building. The Son of God left heaven. He's come to you. He's healed you. He drew you near to Himself and He whispered in your ear, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
He gave all that He had in Him – every last drop of blood – for the harassed and helpless, for His sheep who had no shepherd.
He asks you, "Do you love me? Feed my lambs."
He asks you, "Do you love me? Take care of my sheep."
He asks, "Do you love me? Will you, too, leave that building?
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.
One of CCC’s Core Values is Intentional Outreach: “Because God loves lost people, we love lost people.”
The Bible records that when Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Matthew goes on to write, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field’” (vv. 37-38).
Our GO Mission Conference yesterday explored, in many ways, what it looks like to join Jesus in that harvest field – “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Our building lobby became a tangible expression of God’s people on mission, with exhibits by more than two dozen ministries and missionaries, ranging from Columbus to China.
Pastor Derrick Shields’ morning message focused on Jesus’ love and compassion for the lost, and how we can reach out.
The evening program continued that challenge, with three guest speakers asking us to consider how God is calling each of us to a missional lifestyle.
CCC member Nick Cash, who is serving as a chaplain aboard the hospital ship m/v Africa Mercy, cited a Dallas Willard quote: “What’s the next right thing you’re supposed to do?”
Teen Challenge’s Andrew Chalmers started a local movement, Take the City, and shared a story of how investing in outreach to a Phenix City neighborhood led to the rescue of a woman from an abusive relationship and into the saving arms of Christ.
Chalmers asked, “What if we had not gone into that neighborhood?”, and challenged us with another question: "Are we truly the hands, are we truly the feet of Christ?”
Linda Adams of the Free Methodist Church’s International Child Care Ministries concluded the evening with a verse-by-verse examination of 2 Corinthians 9:8-16, which includes our 2014 theme verse: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Linda ended her talk by saying “Don’t do this” – here she held her arms inward – “But do this,” opening her hands to represent an expression of giving and going.
Outward focus to a lost world - that’s God’s call to us. Let’s GO!
Director of LIVE Ministries
We are fast approaching May 4, a Sunday on which we will live out the declaration, “The Church Has Left the Building.” This somewhat radical initiative was born out of our ABOUND theme, with the goal of sending community groups, families and individuals out into our city to bless others because we have been so richly blessed.
But no church service on a Sunday? Really? Come on, I know I am not the only one who has asked this question! On one hand, it’s not like we never miss a Sunday at church. (And not always for a good reason, either.) On the other hand, I have never been a part of a church that intentionally planned to not gather for worship on a Sunday morning. I must admit the whole idea is exciting and at the same time challenging to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for it. But I have come to realize that the “traditionalist” in me has been confronted.
Let’s see what Jesus had to say about all of this:
Then he went back in the meeting place where he found a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He said to the man with the crippled hand, “Stand here where we can see you.”Then he spoke to the people: “What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?” No one said a word. He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him. (Mark 3: 1-6, The Message)
Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless? Obviously the right answer is doing good and helping people. These are actions suited for the Sabbath. These are the actions that I pray that hundreds of people who call Christ Community Church home will be engaged in on Sunday, May 4, 2014. Doing good and helping people all around this city.
I’m looking forward to gathering afterward for our annual church picnic and hearing the stories of what happened on this day. Who knows, we may even have some newfound friends with us that evening. Aren’t you excited?
Oh, and about the Sabbath – isn’t that a Saturday rather than a Sunday? Good question … for another day.
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.