When Lynne Free graduated from college, the phrase that defined many of her post graduate plans were, “I don’t know.” Hailing from a small town in Louisiana, Free did know one thing: she wanted a paid ministry internship and a way to take theology-related courses debt free because she didn’t have the finances. After completing a quick Google search on “paid ministry internships,” she found City Vision.
Her first question, however, was, “Is this even real?” She did her research as she would have for any place that seemed too good to be true. She said the most compelling thing about City Vision Internships was, “It wasn’t [I’m] just gonna do school or [City Vision would] just ship [me] somewhere.” Although she was fairly comfortable with moving anywhere in the country because of her large extended family, her family was still wary about sending her away—alone. She told her most concerned family member, her mother, that she viewed it like being a missionary, to “love God more than we love our comforts, family, and [comfortability].” She applied for the internship in June 2014 with a strict deadline (August 1) so that she could apply for seminary and at the end of July City Vision’s internship site partner, Churches Active In Northside (CAIN Ministries), had contacted her. Without hesitation, she found a cheap ticket and visited for 2 weeks in August and by the end of the 2 weeks, was absolutely sure she wanted to stay for 2 years.
Free told God that she would “dive in, be who He wanted her to be, serve, and [He] would provide.” Interestingly, the job for which she originally interviewed, working in CAIN’s transitional shelter as a case manager and accountability partner, she did not get. During her interview, the director notice her potential and skills in administration at their Rainbow Food Pantry. The director allowed her to pray about the decision for a week and return with an answer. Even when people said she would be crazy to sign a 2-year contract fresh out of college, she went home for only a week and a half and moved from a 400 member town to the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. She says within a month, she went from “I don’t know” to “This is good.”
Working in the Food Pantry and attending classes through the City Vision partnership with Bakke University, she found flexibility in learning in both places. It awed her that City Vision sought to “empower students to have education alongside work” and that at work, she had experienced almost every position imaginable from Pantry Supervisor to Database management to learn the organization inside and out. She learned the realities of homelessness in Cincinnati, including the ability to explain those realities to others who did not understand, and through CAIN was able to see how God was changing people’s lives and bringing hope to the community.
Currently, Free is in the final stages of completing her Master’s in Global Urban Leadership with a concentration in leadership. She is working on her thesis while continuing to work part time as a bookkeeper for CAIN Ministries. From her work at CAIN, she has also recently began work as a Donor Services Representative for a local, Christian nonprofit radio station in the area. Still in love with Cincinnati, Free has yet to move back to her hometown in Louisiana, having found a church home, family, and sense of community. She says that God has not told her to leave, yet. She graduates from Bakke Graduate University June 3rd.