Kelvin Cochran

kelvinI WAS TERMINATED FOR LIVING OUT MY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

   My name is Kelvin Cochran, and the former Fire Chief for the City of Atlanta. I was terminated for living out my faith in Jesus Christ. When I was a kid we lived in a shotgun house in an alley on Real Snow Street growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana. There were three primary dreams that I had. First of all, I wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up. We were a very poor family and I certainly didn't want to be poor. So, I dreamed about a day that I wouldn't be poor. The third thing that was significant for me, dreaming as a kid, was I wanted a family. My dad left my mother when we were young and my mother raised all of us by herself.

    I saw a significant difference between kids who had a dad in the home, and those who didn't. So, I wanted to have a family with a father, a mother and children.

As a kid, my mom and dad were together; but after all six of us were born, my father left my mother. He was an alcoholic, and my mother never remarried. Mom had a strong faith in God and believed in the power of prayer. She believed in having her children raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It was her faith in God and her insistence in being faithful and obedient to her and to God, that instilled values and disciplines within us as children.

   In our country, families who are on welfare and food stamps and raised by single moms are often referred to as an at-risk family. I don't think that my family was an at-risk family, because my mother was a Christian-praying mother. She raised her children in faith and patriotism. She was feeding the dreams of us children, and this does not constitute an at-risk family. It was those values that gave us the hope through Christ, patriotism and faith, that all of our dreams would come true. 

   One Sunday after church, my brothers, sisters, and I were lying on the front room floor watching television. We heard sirens outside the door, jumped up and opened the front door. There was a big red Shreveport Fire Department fire truck in front of our house. The house across the alley was on fire; and I watched those firefighters with such amazement.

   I looked at my mother and my brothers and sisters, and said, "I want to be a fireman when I grow up."

   It was that moment, I wanted to become a fireman. The grown-ups told us that all of our dreams would come true, if we believed and had faith in God. We need to go to school and get a good education. If we treated other children like we wanted to be treated, and respected grown people; all of our dreams were going to come true, and they were absolutely right.

   In 1981, I became a Shreveport firefighter and had a wonderful, fairy-tale career serving in that role. I was compelled to continue applying the principles that caused my wonderful dream actually coming true. These principles are to believe in and have faith in God, go to school to continue my education, respect the authority of the Shreveport Fire Department, and to treat the other firefighters like I want to be treated.

   As a result, I was promoted very quickly and often in my career. In four years, I became a Captain, which usually takes twelve to fifteen years. After ten years in the department, I was promoted to Assistant Chief. It usually takes twenty-two to twenty-five years. After eighteen years in the department, I was promoted to Fire Chief of the Shreveport Fire Department. Eight and one-half years later, I was appointed Fire Chief in the City of Atlanta under the administration of Mayor Shirley Franklin, and served her faithfully for twenty months.

   President Obama was elected and appointed me to head the United States Fire Administration, in the Department of Homeland Security, and in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. While I was serving as the US Fire Administrator, Atlanta elected Mayor Kasim Reed, who came to Washington D.C. and recruited me to come back to the City of Atlanta to serve under his administration. I served him faithfully for five years, until I was terminated on January the 6th, 2015.

   It was while I was conducting a men's Bible study called the Quest for Authentic Manhood, that I realized how many Christian men are struggling with condemnation. Something that Jesus Christ gave His life for. Because of our struggle with condemnation, we're not really the husbands, fathers, and community leaders that God has called us to be. Condemnation is keeping many Christian men from walking in the fullness of the promises of God. So that Adam, that question God asked Adam, "Who told you were naked?" I just began to search as to what did God really meant by that question, because I felt He was saying more than “You don't have on any clothes.” I found out that naked in that context, meant condemned and deprived. But the opposite of that is clothed, which means redeemed and restored. God's solution to Adam's nakedness was to take an innocent lamb, slay it, and clothe Adam and Eve with coats of skin. He redeemed and restored them from nakedness into a righteous relationship with Himself. That innocent lamb in the Garden of Eden was the precursor to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who would come to take away the sins of the world.

   Galatians 3:27 says, "Those who have been baptized in Christ have been clothed with Christ. "The Book that said you were naked, was really asking Christian men to examine their struggles with their condemnation and behavior. Those of us who have confessed to Christ has been redeemed and restored. We are clothed men and our lives should manifest the promise of God. That's what the Book is about, but because I dealt with sexual sin in the book, talked about Biblical marriage and Biblical sexuality, which is against popular culture and political correctness in America today. It's the Biblical truths about marriage and sex that cost me my job, and it caused me to be terminated by the City of Atlanta.

   Over the years, the strength that came to endure this fiery trial, was as a result of the last seventeen years of getting in the habit of the spiritual discipline of waking up every morning, and having a dedicated place in my home that I go and spend time with God. So, I worship and pray every morning. After I do that, I spent time reading the word of God. From time to time, writing in my journal, things that God is putting in my heart that I should store up.

   Those spiritual disciplines over the years, have prepared me for the experiences that I've been going through. As a result, God has been preparing me through every phase of my life, for the fiery trial that I am experiencing right now. His hand has been on my life since I was very young. Everything that I've experienced and am enduring in my life, is a part of His perfect will and plan for my life. Shifting my vocational focus from that of being a fire service leader, to now in full-time ministry; the fire service development and experience part of my life, prepared me to be ushered into this phase of ministry. It's not a shifting of ministry, but an expansion of ministry from the fire service to full time Kingdom ministry. It was necessary for me to go through all of that experience to prepare me for this next phase.

   As a firefighter, my mission was to save and protect the public. My new mission in the kingdom is the opposite of that. It's really to ignite the fires inside the souls of people for the glory of God. In the fire service, we call a house fire a conflagration, when one house catches another house on fire, and sometimes the entire neighborhood is on fire before the fire department shows up. I believe now, my kingdom mission is to start a spiritual conflagration where people are on fire, seeking the glory of God and seeking Jesus Christ. We can start a conflagration, particularly in the area of fighting for religious freedom in the United States of America. We are fighting for the sanctity of life and Biblical marriage.

   As a nation, it seems that we have lost our collective power and influence in the body of Christ to shape the future of our country. Because of our divisions along with secular standards of race and Christian denominations and political party lines; we don't have the collective influence we used to have, and were accustomed to having as the body of Christ. As a result of our divisions within the body of Christ, there are other interests in the United States of America, who have gained a greater influence in political and lawmaking processes over that of the collective voice of the believers.

   I believe and I'm very optimistic that we can regain the moral high ground of the Body of Christ in the United States of America. We can set aside our racial differences, our denominational differences, our political differences, and set the kingdom agenda above America's agenda. Glorify God and draw other people back to Christ. We can restore one nation under God in the United States of America.

   It's still quite amazing to me, after being raised in abject poverty and having childhood dreams of not living in poverty. Of being a firefighter when I grow up, and having a church family that actually feeds those dreams with faith. Having public schools that feed our dreams with education and patriotism actually caused all of my childhood dreams to come true. But the shift in the culture of America has been such to where that exact same faith actually cost me my career.

   I never thought that I would live in an America, where I would have to choose between living out my faith or keeping my job. But because of God's nurturing and His faithfulness in my life over the years, I was forced to make the choice as to whether I was going to believe in God and live for Him, or give in into  fear of losing my job. The choice was clear to me. I stood on my faith and didn't give in to the fear of what would happen to me and my family if I were to lose my job. God stepped in and has proven Himself to be faithful. There's a Scripture that says, God searches over the whole earth, looking for a heart that is fully His, that He may strongly show His support on their behalf. I'm so grateful and humble that He found my heart, knowing that He prepared me for this fiery trial. He concluded that I was fully His and by His grace, I was able to stand. The other side of the Scripture is that He has strongly shown His support on my behalf. I'm just grateful to Him for His faithfulness.

Kelvin's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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