John and Shelli Bates are FFI’s lead pastors. John has been in active ministry in multiple capacities since 1986. After serving in various church staff positions, he held a ten-year pastorate in Corsicana, Texas before becoming lead pastor of Freedom Fellowship International in 2003. John is a graduate of Southwestern A/G University and has done additional Master’s studies at the University of Houston, Texas A&M, and A/G Theological Seminary. Traveling to foreign countries for evangelistic work has been a constant in John’s life. He has conducted ministry in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean. In 1993, John married Shelli Howell of Hurst, Texas. Shelli is the worship and spiritual growth leader at FFI. She loves SPICY food, and her favorite scripture is “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). John and Shelli have two children, Nehemiah & Eden, and a dog named Cookie. John Bates presently serves on the following ministry boards: Assemblies of God Trust: Springfield, Missouri Global Initiative – Reaching Muslim Peoples: Springfield, Missouri.
Caleb has been a part of the FFI family since September 2006 while Abigail began attending when they started dating in the spring of 2010. Together they serve as small group leaders. Caleb serves as the Finance and Facilities Director. He plays electric guitar on the worship team and his favorite foods are seafood and breakfast. He holds a M.A. in Organizational Leadership and his favorite scripture is Joshua 3:1-5(NIV).“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Abigail serves as a nursery leader. She holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and her favorite foods are hamburgers, Mac-n-Cheese, and Mexican Food. Psalm 42:9-11(MSG) is Abigail’s favorite scripture: “Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?” Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Caleb and Abigail have been married since 2011.
Shannon and Jessica have been with FFI since 2010 and joined the Kids Club team in 2012. They are FFI’s Children’s and Outreach/Evangelism Directors. Shannon’s favorite scripture is Matthew 10:7-8 (NIV) “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Jessica’s favorite scripture is John 3:16 (NIV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Shannon’s favorite food is all things brownies. Jessica’s is anything Mexican. Shannon holds a Certification in Formational Therapy from the Institute For Biblical Leadership and is currently enrolled in the Reinhard Bonnke School of Evangelism at Christ For All Nations. Jessica earned a B.S. from Oklahoma State University in 2007. They have five children: Tressa, Michael, Kayli, Hannah, and Kindy. They have been married since 2009.
Darlene George has been with FFI since 2005. She currently serves as FFI’s Administrative Assistant. Her favorite food is anything Mexican and her favorite scripture is “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6). She and her husband Mel have four children and four grandchildren: Calvin & Amy; Joshua & Charity, Josiah and Hannah; Amanda & Rodney, Jarrod and Harper; Annie. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in counseling.
Michael and Melody Holmes have been with FFI since 2006. They are FFI’s Assimilation & Spiritual Community Directors and they have also served FFI as Youth Directors, Children’s Pastors, Connection Groups Directors, and Evangelism Directors.. Michael plays drums on the worship team and his favorite food is New Mexico Green Chile Burritos. He holds a B.A. in Church Ministries from SAGU, and his favorite scripture is “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Melody works in ministry at FFI on the prayer team and nursery team. Her favorite food is green chili anything….and watermelon. She earned her B.A. in Pre-professional Counseling and is currently working on her Master’s in Clinical Counseling and Psychology. Her favorite scripture is “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). Michael and Melody were married in 2010.
Cory and Erin Lucas have been with FFI since 2004 and joined the staff in 2005. Cory is FFI’s Ministries and Missions Directors. They have also held ministry roles as Assimilation & Spiritual Community Directors, Youth Pastors, Children’s Pastors, Connection Groups Directors, and Evangelism Directors. Cory earned his B.S. in Counseling/Psychology and Erin earned her B.S. in Psychology, both from SAGU. Cory’s favorite scripture is “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Erin’s favorite scripture is “…so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Phil. 2:15 MSG). Cory and Erin’s favorite food is Sushi. They have one child, Braelyn.