Our leadership staff lives on site, and with the exception of Debbie Tallman, all of them have been through the Set Free Elma program. This makes them exceptionally well-equipped to help others, first because they are walking the walk of recovery and freedom, and second because they can identify with the kind of lives the men have come from. Their hearts are firmly planted in Christ to love the men and help them find recovery and freedom in Christ as well.
Training and pastoring men is a calling that Pastor Mike Tallman deeply enjoys, and it is one that God has been preparing him for through many life experiences. At age 19, one year after he was hired for his first job pouring concrete, he became a supervisor responsible for the labor force. He supervised the crews. They were men who needed jobs: outlaw bikers, Vietnam Veterans, mislead thugs, and men just down on their luck. Leading by example rather than fear tactics, he taught them to work together as a team. Later, Mike began his own contracting business and followed the same model.
Pastor Mike became involved with Set Free Christian Fellowship of Elma in 2001. In 2004 he accepted the position as a board member and soon afterward was elected to the Executive Director position. After serving as Executive Director for three years, he became the Interim Pastor. In 2012 Mike was ordained as a Southern Baptist Pastor by an Ordination Council from several churches. The ordination was hosted at the First Baptist Church in Montesano, Washington, with Pastor Randy Brown as the Moderator of the Ordination Council.
Because of the valuable experience Pastor Mike had gained as a business owner, he had a solid foundation to make forward changes in the management and financial growth at Set Free Elma. As a result of his spiritual experience and growth, Mike trusted and followed the Holy Spirit’s lead. The result was an amazing transformation of the Set Free Elma organization from the bottom up. Starting with restructuring administrative procedures and allowing for the freedom of growth through transparency, Mike developed strategic plans of action such as initiating a new work structure, networking with local City Councils and Community Leaders, and networking with many local churches. These led to increased transparency, better funding, and solid connections with other organizations. Pastor Mike was also highly motivated to build a well-balanced, service-driven leadership team known as the “222s”
(2 Timothy 2:2). This resulted in building healthy self-esteem, personal growth, a positive work ethic, and developing new life skills for the men.
Pastor Mike is seasoned in guiding men out of life’s crisis through disciplined, Christ-centered change. He extends a hand to all men who are looking for a way out of hopelessness and despair. With a commitment of love, he encourages his service-driven leaders to be faithful in reaching and loving those who appear to be unlovable. Because of the character, love, and obedient heart that God fashioned in Pastor Mike, he has earned the trust, respect, and admiration of the men he leads into a new life at Set Free Elma.
Debra Tallman is the Administrations Director at Set Free Elma. With a heart devoted to serving the Lord, Debbie works with her husband Pastor Mike Tallman.
Our Administrative Assistant is Nina Fuller.
Pastor Mark Fredenburg came to Set Free Elma in 2008. He completed the Real Man Ministry and is dedicated to following the Lord, knowing His will, and serving Him with joy. He became an Associate Pastor at Set Free Elma in 2012. He currently serves as Pastor and the Assistant Men’s Director, overseeing the day-to-day activities of the men and the Work Blessing ministry. Having lived many years with the frustration of trying to change his own life, the Lord has given him a sensitivity to the struggles the men face in their lives. His testimony can be read here.
Pastor Mark is married to Rhonda Fredenburg.
Pastor Chris Baublits came to Set Free Elma some year ago. As he followed God through program, he found freedom and a new life full of God’s love. Today, Chris walks out his recovery in Christ with a heart to teach others and help them find freedom and joy as well. He became an Associate Pastor at Set Free Elma in 2013 and later Pastor. He currently preaches at Set Free Elma and pastors the youth at Abundant Life Church in Elma. Inspired by the work skills he learned at Set Free Elma, Chris went on to become a licensed general contractor. He now and runs his own full-time business and employs many of the men at Set Free Elma.
Pastor John David Griffin grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating high school in 1967, he joined the Coast Guard and became an HM2. He was the only medical person on the ship and also on isolated duty in the Central Pacific. Just prior to being honorably discharged in 1971, John David was married. He attended Bible College, and later he and his wife became missionaries in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). There he taught in a Bible College and worked in churches and some of the schools. He eventually moved to Florida where he pastored two churches and was the mission director for a large Central Florida church.
After 30 years of marriage raising two wonderful children, John David and his wife were divorced. Of his own choice, he left the ministry and moved to Alaska in 2002. There he worked as a behavioral health service provider with the severe mentally ill. Although he had several opportunities for ministry in Alaska, he refused stating, “I cannot take a human calling; only GOD can call me.” He took advantage of the Alaskan mountains and outdoor life and focused on prayer and worship. He had previously done consulting work with the leadership team at Set Free Elma, and in 2017 he was called back to Set Free Elma as Pastor and Life Coach.
Pastor Justin Blackburn came from a rough background. His family moved frequently and his mom had married three times before his 18th birthday. At 19, he caught his first felony for forgery in California, and from ages 20 to 30, he attended seven live-in drug treatment centers.
At age 27, he met a girl who invited him to church. At his first attendance, he heard the gospel and knew he needed to be baptized. The third time he attended, he was baptized by Gene Holman on a Nevada Indian reservation. After receiving the Holy Spirit, he began carrying his Bible in his truck to read on lunch breaks, but he didn’t tell anyone he was a Christian.
By age 35, he’d been in prison twice more. Due to felonies in three states, he was told they were considering giving a life sentence for habitual criminal behavior. At that point, he cried out to the Lord, repented, and asked Him to change his heart based on Psalm 51. He did two years in prison in Arizona, during which time he had supernatural visions and dreams. Before leaving prison, Set Free pastors came and ministered to the inmates. He felt he had finally found his place in this world and left prison to attend Set Free Phoenix.
Some time later he moved to Washington where his family resided. He slept on his parent’s floor and got a job making $12 an hour. Finding a $400 truck that needed a motor, he put a new one in himself for $200. Using his work experience with concrete from his 20s, he applied for a job as a concrete carpenter. The Lord opened many doors from the time Justin repented. He blessed him with favor and gave him a sense of eternity. Justin got the job making close to $60 an hour, and he also received full custody of his daughters. After joining a family church, he met a wonderful woman named Rachel whom he married after a year-long courtship.
A couple of years later, he connected with Set Free Elma. He is happily married, makes a decent living, and has a wonderful extended family with very happy children. He shares the gospel whenever possible and ministers to men on a regular basis. He was ordained at the family church in Washington where he began and is currently a Preaching Pastor at Set Free Elma. He has godly brothers/counselors – solid men of God – that he talks with on a regular basis regarding his life and the direction he should go. Most of all, he looks to God first in all things. He loves Jesus.
We also are blessed to have on staff Pastor Gene Lopez as our Worship Leader, and Pastors Jerry Roach and Jeff Thomas as Preachers.
Serving Jesus Christ through loving others isn’t a job – it’s our calling and passion, filled with hope and joy.