Pastor Marcelle Hamel never considered she would be called to the ministry. In fact, for a majority of her life she was just trying to survive. Losing her mom at a young age and her father absent; her childhood years were filled with brokenness. During our interview, she described an instance when was raped and left for dead. Lying on the ground with dirt covering her skin, she felt worthless. Marcelle began experimenting with drugs; trying to drown the pain however she was able. While reflecting on her childhood Marcelle shared, “I never imagined that I would have a hope or a future.”
God had other plans.
Twenty-two years ago, Marcelle and her husband Mark accepted Christ. Two years later, Mark was called to the ministry. Marcelle assumed she was called to be a pastor’s wife. They both served in a fruitful youth ministry, and found this to be a fulfilling calling.
While serving at a church in Lincoln Nebraska, Marcelle felt God call her to ministry. She ignored it. Soon after, her husband had a stroke and the church closed, but God did not stop calling. Four years went by; all the while, God was gently calling Marcelle to shepherd his flock.
One day, she got a card in the mail from Indiana Wesleyan University that advertised its online Christian Ministries degree. God spoke to her saying, “I am going to restore what was stolen from you.” Soon after, she found herself going to college and seeking ordination in the Wesleyan Church. This time of restoration was not without trial. Marcelle was set to be ordained in 2014. During this year her daughter was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor and Marcelle had to have total knee surgery. The day of her ordination, she got the call telling her that her husband’s middle son was dying.
During trial after trial, she has clung to God’s faithfulness. After being ordained, Marcelle and her husband were called to First Wesleyan Church in Witchita Kansas; where they still co-pastor today. Once a declining church, First Wesleyan in now growing and filled with passion. This year alone, the church has experienced thirty-five salvations and five baptisms.
Recognizing that they cannot reach the whole city, they intentionally reach out to their surrounding community and neighbors. Their church is full of drugs, alcohol, sex trafficking, and homelessness. When Marcelle reflected over her past she said, “I wouldn’t change my past because it has prepared me for these people and this church.”
Marcelle and Mark’s congregation is thankful for their transparency and openness. “I think it’s time for pastors to talk about their brokenness so they can better proclaim the redemption of our savior and the power we can walk in,” said Marcelle.
When asked what advice she’d give to women feeling called to ministry, Marcelle said, “For women out there that are struggling, if God has called you, you need to pursue that call! There will be trial and tribulation but that prepares you for where He is taking you. Our society has cast women to the side. I’ll never forget what JoAnne Lyon told me: ‘You have to be okay to sit at the table and be the only woman in the room.’ Now, by God’s grace I am confident to be the only woman at the table.” Marcelle recently discovered that First Wesleyan Church was founded by a woman pastor and had not had a woman pastor since. Her pastorate there feels like a tribute to First Wesleyan’s redemptive heritage.
” I didn’t ask to raped, I didn’t ask for my mom to die, I didn’t ask to be abandoned by my dad, but today I can praise God. I am blessed to be mom, and I get to see my kids excel and all serve Jesus today. I am a pastor today. There lies the testimony of a broken life.”
Pastor Marcelle shares her full story in order to give God the glory. “I am being made new everyday; the old has gone”