By Carl Stagner
The community of Alma, Michigan, is home to just under ten thousand people. Though dwarfed by big cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids, Alma is home to a church with a heart the size of Texas. Bethlehem may have seemed insignificant by the world’s measure, but it brought forth the Savior of the world. Alma First Church of God, though ministering from a small town, is reflecting heaven’s rays around the world. Echoing Jesus’ call to set the captives free, this congregation, pastored by Steve Wimmer, is signaling a red light for trafficking; a green light for freedom.
Freedom Sunday (February 22) is just a couple days away. Alma First Church of God jumped on board with CHOG TraffickLight and Freedom Sunday not only to address a global atrocity, but also to join forces with churches around the world that are doing the same thing. “I love this initiative coming from Church of God Ministries,” Steve Wimmer explains. “I love to participate in important things that the church is doing together. This is an incredibly important reality of our world. The issue of trafficking is not new to me. I was aware of it before this, but the invitation from Church of God Ministries to join churches from all over, to fight against something so wicked, is powerful.”
Steve recently preached to the congregation from Isaiah and Luke, and emphasized the Lord’s proclamation of freedom for the captives. He sees the direct application of this message in what the Church of God is doing with Freedom Sunday. “This is at the heart of what God is doing,” Steve explains. “What God does is release for captives in every form. It’s almost unbelievable that something so wicked like trafficking is happening, and yet getting so little attention. It’s sickening to me. So to do something large or small is something I welcome.”
Thanks to a very creative missions team, Alma First Church of God has made Freedom Sunday a tangible activity for the whole congregation to experience. Instead of simply writing a check for the $1,000 X 1000 campaign, the church is encouraging active participation from each person in the pew. For ten dollars, they’re selling “shares” for TraffickLight. Those who give will personally invest in the release of captives around the globe. In exchange for shares, the missions team will distribute hand-crafted traffic light figurines for display in one’s car. Every time someone from Alma First Church of God stops at a red light, he or she is reminded to pray for the fight against trafficking.
“I think that we as the Church of God have a great opportunity to stand together on behalf of a particular group of ‘the least of these,’” Steve reflects. “I’m referring to women all over the globe who are being treated worse than dirt. We have a chance to stand together with the people that Jesus stood for. This is an issue of justice. This is an issue of mercy. And we have a chance to work together to make a difference.”