Called to Set Captives Free

by Jeff Finley

Ginger Coakley sensed God calling her into ministry, but she wasn’t sure where to serve.

“I never really felt called to stand in front of people and preach on a weekly basis,” said Coakley, 30, who grew up in a Free Methodist family in Oklahoma City.

Between her junior and senior years at Greenville (Ill.) College, the psychology major traveled with VISA Ministries to Manila, Philippines, where she came to a realization: “Everyone who sits in a pew has a ministry. Everybody who claims to be a part of the kingdom of God has a responsibility to love people and to spread the gospel.”

Her calling was unmistakable.

“I just heard the Lord say, ‘I’ve called you for ministry, and it’s time to go get equipped.’”

She worked with at-risk young people for several years and then enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary, from which she received a Master of Divinity in 2009.

Coakley is now a Gateway Conference ministerial candidate, but she still doesn’t see herself becoming a church’s senior pastor. Along with a new partner in life — high school teacher Lee Coakley, whom she married in June — she has a new role as Illinois representative of the anti-slavery organization Not For Sale.

“I finally can see what my ministry is: advocating for the captive and letting people know that as people of the kingdom we have a message to bring of freedom and a fight to see slavery abolished in our lifetime,” she said. “I love the Free Methodist Church. Its heritage is rich, and we need to hearken back to our roots.”

Just as early Free Methodists were known for their strong opposition to slavery, Coakley wants today’s FM congregations to be on the forefront of the modern abolitionist movement, not only by rescuing captives but also by educating communities about the existence of slavery. Anti-trafficking efforts range from combating local prostitution to encouraging grocery stores to stock slave-free products.

“You’ve got to change the culture and the mindset,” she said. “A big part of the problem is the supply and demand of human trafficking. It’s got to be a mindset where we’re talking to the traffickers and the johns who pursue the sex slaves.”

Coakley has an ally in Women’s Ministries International (WMI), a Free Methodist Church – USA ministry that is exploring additional ways to work with her.

“It is my hope that Ginger will fill a position on the WMI Executive General Board as a liaison to women, speaking in various venues, raising awareness of the exploitation of women, seeking ways to create new futures for those who desperately need a helping hand,” WMI President LaWanda Bullock said. “WMI desires to assist in raising funding for Ginger in order for her to do this work full time.”

Online donations from a credit card or bank account can be made to Coakley through the “Make a Donation” area of Please choose the “Ginger Coakley Support” category.

2 Responses to Called to Set Captives Free

  1. Daniel Greenleaf February 14, 2012 at 11:34 AM #

    kudos on your acclaimations! Ever since Eve was born AFTER Adam, women have been thought of as 2nd rate. That’s too bad, since Adam proclaimed: ‘this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones’. Eve must have been born with a procavinity to desire godness, vs. godliness, else The Serpent would never have earmarked her instead of Adam, Someone vulnerable, is how men think of women so often, even today. Satan saw that weak spot and went after it. How awful that Adam didn’t protect her; didn’t tell her that what she was hearing from Satan was a lie, or a twisted truth. And how awful that today, women are thought of in similar ways as way back then. You were right to not see yourself as senior pastor of a church, as the title of elder has been reserved for a man… a man of one woman whose children are ‘upright’ and have learned the ‘right’ ways, and that is visible. Who are typically the ones who bring their children up to have this understanding of what is ‘right’ and what is wrong? WOMEN, and not just any women, but women of GOD. Now, to educate women (and children) to not be swain by the wiles of the Devil or ‘men’ to become ones who would be swayed by their expectations, requires one to provide warnings like a prophet, to lay down the expectations of our Great GOD, and to see to it that His commandments are followed without falling into sin. It is a great commission you have been given, and you should rely on the men who also understand this need to (unlike Adam) ‘warn, advise, and teach those women to not ‘FALL’ into these areas that would ‘enslave’ them into this world, this world of sin.

    • Peter Shackelford February 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM #

      Pray tell Daniel Greenleaf, what on earth do you mean? Please speak plain for I am greatly perplexed where your words end and other’s begin. Where do you stand on this? Do you commend Ginger while condemning women who have been called into ministry?