There’s not anything that God would ask of Jo Hancock that she would say no to.
So when God truly grabbed hold of her heart as she practiced law, she just fell in love with Him. And she surrendered her life, her practice, her entire self, to serving Him and leading others to Him.
“I realized I didn’t really know God the way I needed to,” she said. “People ask me, how do I know my purpose. You don’t go searching for a purpose – you go searching for God and He will walk you right in the midst of your purpose.
One by one, I started helping people because my spiritual gift is teaching. People were asking for what I had.”
And it was in 2001 that Hancock heard God’s call to help His people become His vessels. Following God’s lead, Jo and her husband, Keith, founded His Vessel Ministries to help Christians choose life, and to also experience a faith that is real, relevant, and lived out on all fronts.
At His Vessel Ministries, the mission is to transform Christians into pure, holy vessels that are formed by His Word, filled with His power, and poured out for His glory.
Each one of us is presented with daily choices between life and death, blessings, and curses. But learning to put aside these old ways in order to embrace the new isn’t automatic, even for those who are in Christ. Christians may desire to “choose life” but usually need help learning how to do so.
“I just had blank pieces of paper and started there,” Jo Hancock said of developing the ministry. “What I see so often in the body of Christ is that we’re doing a great job evangelizing and leading people to receive Christ, but many times nobody comes back to disciple them.”
And God placed it on Jo’s heart to do just that.
She knew in her heart that God didn’t want to be tacked onto her life, but wanted to become her life. In choosing to leave her professional world of work, and surrender her life to Christ, she committed wholly to following His plans for her life. She purposed to love God with all her heart, soul, and strength. No matter the cost.
“Rather than get people busy serving, I always believe the first step is to teach people to love God with all their heart and soul and strength,” Jo said, echoing her own journey. “And from that, it expanded my heart for discipleship. We do a lot of discipleship (in His Vessel Ministries). As we build that love relationship with God – that requires not just head knowledge – we learn God’s more interested in getting a hold of our heart. From there, He teaches us from the Word, what we need, so we can live from the Word. We can memorize scripture and quote it, but how do we live it.
Jo explains, “People in society are looking for truth. From that, I (was able) for many years to disciple individuals one-on-one because of what God was teaching me.”
By working together with their partners, His Vessel is helping God’s people to:
• boldly and lovingly live a life that brings God glory and become rooted in truth
• embrace wholeheartedly the true life and blessings found in Christ
• actively put to death the deadly habits and poisonous patterns that keep them from being pure and holy vessels
• firmly stand for God’s ways to be honored and infused in hearts, homes, and the community
“It starts in our homes, our congregations, and our communities,” Jo said. “We are the light, and Jesus is the answer. We have to be ready to share that information – to disciple people.
“There’s a big difference between discipleship and Bible study. Discipleship is walking with people, living life together, knowing how to put truth on our life… because we all mess up and we’re all searching for these answers. I’ve been discipling for over 25 years. We went from individuals to groups. I knew if God was calling me to do that, that he would equip me.”
Jo writes discipleship courses for His Vessel Ministries to help individuals become a vessel for God. She humbly shares her pilgrimage experience of how God can take a wounded and wandering heart and mold it into His Vessel. Through her teachings, Jo removes all facades, allowing others to see her in an up close and real manner, revealing her life so others may benefit spiritually.
In the beginning, she started with a group of 13 women who committed to a year of study. And at the end of that first year, they wanted more.
“I said, ‘I taught you all I know,’” she said, laughing. “So, we journeyed for another year. They wanted to go deeper. To know God and to continue transforming their hearts. It was just amazing what God was doing. That’s how His Vessel started.”
Small, in-person groups meet twice a month. They fellowship together. Then there’s teaching, with one lesson building on another.
“You can truly see the Word become alive to them,” Jo said. “And they see that Christ is the answer. It does take a good year to be rooted and grounded. I tell people all the time that I don’t always get it right, but my heart is always to get it right. And God sees our heart. And God needs us where we are with the truth. I do have a heart and a love for God, and I do mess up.”
Prior to Covid-19, Jo said she learned how to take the information she used in person and offer it online. While the online study is more condensed and pointed, it still offers the opportunity to join together online for live chats.
When Covid hit, “we never shut down. In fact, we multiplied,” Jo said.
Another area of the ministry Jo feels is important is one in which she disciples women to become lovers of their home. “God of Order: The Blueprint for Bringing Peace to the Home” is a 10-month teaching focusing on applying the precepts of Christ in one’s life and home while learning from and walking alongside another mature Christians.
“It’s making your home that sanctuary, so that at any moment, if God wanted, He could knock on your door and your home would be lined up,” she said. That it would be not only in spiritual order, but physical order as well.
Discipleship is with a few at a time, Jo said of the ministry programs, which includes those in their 20s through seniors. “You can’t have a lot at one time.
“Prayer is the other emphasis. It really goes back to the heart. We’re so trained to look at the demographics out there. But God is focused on our hearts. I don’t know anyone who has come through His Vessel and not been transformed. God has become more real in their life. They have become set free. They understand.”
Jo knows unequivocally, that when people fall in love with God, that He puts them on the path where they are meant to be – and that it all starts with building that intimacy with God.
And that includes the “Watchmen Over the City” program that began in 2004.
In 2015, His Vessel Ministries began organizing Watchmen in other counties in the state of Alabama. The goal is to have Watchmen praying in unity in all 67 counties. Currently, they are organized in 11 counties.
As Watchmen pray in unity, standing shield-to-shield throughout the state, the ministry believes God will be a protective wall of fire around Alabama (Zechariah 2:5). The more Watchmen praying, the higher the firewall of protection.
“Our ministry room is downtown in Union Station,” Jo said. “We’ve been down there for almost 20 years, on Water Street. We lead a lot of prayer over the city of Montgomery. That’s the spiritual gate of the city. We have individuals commit daily who walk the streets and pray.
Asked what, at the end of the day, allows her to feel she has accomplished what she set out to accomplish, Jo answered, “It really starts in the morning.
“I go to bed every night with an excitement that I can hardly wait to get up and start my day in my prayer closet alone with God. Before I get busy in my home, I pray, ‘God, today, I think I’m going to do this-this-this, but I’m here, reporting for duty.’ I ask Him what He has already designed for me to do today. Whatever God has designed for me to accomplish that day, that’s my day.
“At the end of the day, I ask, ‘God, are you pleased with me today?’ My only desire is to love and please him. When I go to bed, if there is a peace in my heart, I know I ac
Visit online at www.hisvessel.org to learn more about getting involved!
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery.