ROSEMEAD – “Within four months of accepting Christ as Savior, I felt His call to ministry,” Charlie Corum says. “It was 1975, and I was a 23-year-old construction apprentice. At a retreat that summer, drawing pictures and making hand movements, I led a deaf boy in my tent to the Lord. God stirred up a passion for evangelism within me.”
Commissioned by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in September 2007, Charlie Corum serves with the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) healthy church group as community ministries field specialist for Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association (LASBA).
Charlie was born in 1951 in Los Angeles where he has lived his entire life. Brother Tom, the pastor of The Church on Brady introduced him to the Lord.
“I was a long-haired hippy and had rejected the gospel for several years,” Charlie recalled. “I had people sharing with me, but I just did not want to have anything to do with the Lord. I lived a very different lifestyle before I became a Christian.”
By December 1975, Charlie was the junior high Sunday school teacher. He quit his construction job to become church janitor.
“I just wanted to be around the church and the youth there in East Los Angeles, so I quit my job,” Charlie explained. “Everybody thought that I was nuts. After two years, God said, ‘Go to work. You have jumped the gun here.’”
Charlie worked as a shipping clerk for five years until God clearly showed him it was time for ministry.
“By that time,” Charlie said, “I had a Bible study in my house that had grown to about 70 young people. The church I was attending ordained me, and we started Olive Branch Outreach. I pastored Olive Branch in Rosemead for 17 years; Olive Branch ultimately became a Southern Baptist church. It was fun, and we did lots of community things.”
For 12 years, Olive Branch Outreach held a Thanksgiving Dinner for the public school children of Rosemead and their families. Every public school in the city was involved, and 400 to 500 people came to eat Thanksgiving Dinner together. The congregation fed the people, prayed, played gospel music, and shared Jesus with the children and their parents.
In 1995, while pastoring Olive Branch Outreach, Charlie became a chaplain with Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries. Eleven years later, he started the Youthful Offender Resource Network to assist California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice parolees with educational, vocational, social and spiritual resources to help them succeed as productive citizens.
When Charlie left Olive Branch Outreach, the LASBA director of missions asked him to work with the association in community ministry. He volunteered with the association for eight years before becoming a NAMB missionary in 2007.
An important part of Charlie’s day is encouraging churches to begin community outreach events including the Community Compassionate Church program and block parties. A Community Compassionate Church follows Christ’s model in Matthew 25:35-36 and performs six acts of kindness for its community within a 12-month period. More than 20 churches have participated as Community Compassionate Churches.
“I actually have two different ministries now, and they overlap,” Charlie explained. “I do the ministry of the association as the community ministries field specialist, and I have a prison ministry that has about 125 volunteers. We serve one state youth prison, 14 L.A. County youth probation camps and one juvenile hall. I do these ministries throughout the day.
“Our Youth Correctional Church Network (YCCN) is another ministry that we have started,” Charlie continued. “About 18 of our associational churches have participated in voluntary correctional ministry to youth offenders.”
YCCN ministries include church worship teams, music and drama ministries, preparation of meals for wards, and prisoner gift bags.
“My passion for the prison ministry is because 1 out of 31 Americans are in the criminal justice system,” Charlie said. “That is a staggering statistic, and in California we have more offenders than any other state. We have the largest juvenile justice system in the world here in Los Angeles. It is a joy to see churches excited and participating in prison ministry.”
This summer (2012) Charlie started a visual Bible study at the Ramada Inn in South El Monte (Charlie's childhood hometown.) "Lord willing, the South El Monte Community Outreach (SEMCO) will become a church in the next year. SEMCO is a pilot project and will become a community minstry based model for church planting," Charlie explained.
Charlie’s message to California Southern Baptists:
“The Lord said, ‘For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me, I was in prison and you visited Me’ (Matthew 25:35-36, HCSB).
“I encourage you to look around your community for opportunities to do the simple acts of kindness that Christ names in Matthew 25:35-36. Pick up the challenge and become a Community Compassionate Church doing six acts of kindness over the next 12 months.”
Pray that God will raise up enough volunteers to provide quarterly activities at each of the 14 youth probation camps here in L. A. County.
Pray that more congregations will participate in our ministry events, every other month, at the Long Beach Veteran's Hospital.
Pray that more congregations will participate in the ministry opportunities with the Department of Children and Family Services here in L. A. County.
Pray for the community ministry based church plant I am leading in South El Monte for a site to set up an office / small meeting space to have a presence in the community.
I praise the Lord for many open doors for our associational congregations to do ministry in the Departments of Probation and Children and Family Services here is L. A. County.
I praise God for open doors and opportunities for our church plant in South El Monte to partner with the city, Parks & Recreation, Probation, Children and Family Services and several local schools as we launch this community ministry based model for church planting.
Charlie’s reading recommendation:
Charlie uses Spiritual Leadership: A Commitment to Excellence for Every Believer, by J. Oswald Sanders (Moody Publishers) with the young men he is discipling for ministry. This timeless classic presents key principles of leadership from scripture and from the biographies of eminent men of God.
Did you know?
The Los Angeles County Department of Probation operated three juvenile halls and 14 youth probation camps. It is the largest juvenile system in America. Charlie, as chaplain, provides services to one juvenile hall and all 14 camps (about 1,800 youth.) Charlie also offers transitional services to probation youth when they return to their communities. (www.cccyorn.com).
Community Ministries Field Specialist
PO Box 6185
Rosemead CA 91770