In continuing our interview series here at ASM, we have the pleasure of sharing another interview with you, this time, between our very own Rev. Paul McCullough and Kori Yates, Marine Veteran, Military wife, mother of two, and Executive Director of the organization Planting Roots.
Planting Roots has a worthy and much-needed mission—getting biblical resources and support to women in all walks of Military life. But Kori’s own life journey went through many stages as we discovered after Rev. McCullough asked her a little bit about her background:
“I was working as a city planner, back in a small town in Texas, at 31 and thought, ‘Well, you know, I’ve always wanted to join the Marine Corps, so why not?’ I went to OCS and I got commissioned in the Marine Corps. I met my husband a couple of weeks before. While we were both in training, and about nine months after we met we decided to get married. [Not long after] I called them from Quantico, which is where I was. And I said [to my husband], ‘Surprise, baby number one, aren’t you excited?’ Not necessarily part of our plan. Our plan was to have children, but maybe not so fast. So the Marine Corps out-processed me out of there pretty quickly. They allowed me to resign my commission… so I have been an Army wife ever since, so 18 years.”
Quite an amazing turn of events she had from civilian work to the Marines, and then as a Military wife!
Listen to the full interview here:
The Challenges of Living Internationally
As Kori would find out, God was going to set another path before her feet. But before that path was made clear to her, she first had to find her footing as a Military wife—living abroad, disconnected from family, and homeschooling her two children. Her connections with close friends paved the way for what was happening next.
“Well, the Lord has brought certain people [to us]. I have found a way that the family functions—we don’t have a lot of friends… a lot of people we know. We’re introverted by nature anyway. But the Lord brings one or two in every place, and so as we’ve gone, we look for the one or two of these friends for life that we have at each duty station, and we go looking for those. It is important to have those people that I can call if something goes completely nuts, or if I am just at the end of whatever I can deal with for the day, and I just need [someone] to cheer me on so you can make it through the rest of the day, and then tomorrow will be better. And so, finding those people has been super important. We don’t always find them immediately, and in some places, we have fewer than others, so we have found that the virtual piece has worked great because we have built—especially the longer we stay in the Military—we have these people that we’ve had relationship-wise over many years. And so sometimes I’ve even had them fly in from somewhere else, and say, ‘Hey, I’m just gonna hang out with you for the weekend and help you out, and we’re gonna do… whatever’. And so I have found out that it has to be super intentional. It is not something that happens by accident.”
How Planting Roots Got Its Start
That network of close friends saw Kori through the challenges she faced as any Military family does living in a foreign country. A conversation she had with another friend of hers would get the ball rolling on her organization, Planting Roots:
“And then a friend of mine, a Protestant woman, found me at the chapel one day, and she’s there as a Protestant wondering why the Protestant of the Women Chapel International had gone away a few years before, and so she thought we should do this whole Military [thing] simultaneously, and it would be super great. And I’m thinking that would be super great—I have no idea how to do that! But in those next couple of weeks, I had six ladies call me that I had met at different points of time over a couple of years before that, and they all called and said, ‘Hey, I just like to get together and chat about ministry and you know, to see what’s kind of going on in your world’. By like the third phone call, I thought we should probably all just meet in the same place altogether, instead of separately, because I have a feeling the Lord’s doing something. He has brought along a planning route so that ladies can learn to find that solid footing—that foundation in faith in Christ regardless of where they are on the planet and regardless of what their circumstances look like. Then they can seek out God’s purpose for them there, not in what’s next, and not wishing for what they left behind, but really in the place where they are and teaching them to do that—helping them to see the idea that I am here for a purpose. I am here intentionally. God has something for me to do here. Whether I’m a uniformed woman or not, it’s not just my job at work.”
She also realized that even though she wasn’t receiving orders from the Military anymore, like her husband, she was still receiving God’s orders and following His will for her life:
And then a lot of the Military wives were like, ‘Well, you know, my name’s not on the order so I just follow my husband around.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t even give me that. That is like totally bogus because if that is your perspective, then you’re saying that God doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he hasn’t intentionally planned out your life, and he doesn’t have things for you to do and that’s just wrong.’”
Kori Yates had no question that the Lord had something special planned for her life and the lives of these other ladies, and she was willing to answer the call!
Reaching Military Women Across the Globe
Planting Roots has some very specific and ambitious goals within the organization. During the interview, Kori shared what they have in mind:
“We’ve estimated there are about 250,000 Bible-believing, Christ-following, Military women around the world—that’s uniformed women and spouses. And so we thought— 250,000 of us.
…we equip each other, and sometimes equipping means provoking
If God could weave us together, and we could encourage each other to do what God’s called us to do in the place where we are, we become one of the greatest missionary movements of our time, because we are on every ocean. We are on every continent. Then we pick up, and we move to the next place (denominations spend millions of dollars to do something like that). And we’re already there, all we have to do is figure out our purpose in that place, and we equip each other, and sometimes equipping means provoking, as it says in Hebrews 10, you know, as we provoke each other to love and to do good works.”
Planting Roots has absolutely been provoking each other to love and good works, and they are growing. In eight years’ time, their staff has grown from the original six women in 2014 to 43 members in 2022! Kori shares how exciting it has been to see the organization grow:
“I have gotten to see what I call a front row seat to God at work. So, there are so many things along that trail that I don’t know how to do… I don’t. I don’t know, I mean before Planting Roots, you know, websites and bookkeeping, and you know all the things that it takes to do all of a ministry kind of things, I don’t know how to do all of those things and so the Lord has led us to one thing and then the next thing—he’s brought people along that either have that expertise or know somebody who does or He’s brought resources to do the next thing. [Also], I have gotten to work with the most phenomenal group of women I have ever encountered.”
This “front row seat” is even more amazing as Kori has been able to watch the organization grow from all over the world. Any place there is a woman in uniform or a Military wife serving her family, there is an outreach opportunity for Planting Roots as they provide women’s ministry resources.
The Growing Needs of Military Women Today
So the big question now is, why do we need the services that Planting Roots provides? Simple. More and more women are joining the Armed Forces—and they need resources:
“The Army and the Air Force in the next three to five years will become about at least 30% female, and the Air Force is taking the lead actually the Coast Gurad is in the very front. So then the Air Force to the Army and the Navy and the Marine Corps is back there somewhere. As 30% become female, the shift and culture will come with that. And so, we’re looking now even at providing encouragement and resources, and Armed Services Ministry has been so encouraging in doing that, producing that devotional, but also one of the most recent products is the Warfighters Study Bible, and with those devotionals in the middle of that that speak to both men and women.”
The anticipated increase to 30% of the Air Force and Army being made up of Service women is a significant change! Women may have a lot of biblical resources at their disposal, but not many that are Military-specific:
“We want them to hear the truth, and we want them to know the truth. And so, being able to trust those resources and the theology behind them in their foundation of Scripture is a super valuable part. Having something speak to them specifically as women that is Military-specific because there are a lot of women’s resources, Christian women’s resources, as you all know, that float around out there. But our Military lifestyle has unique pieces to it. That normal civilian life doesn’t necessarily, and so having those resources that speak to that have not only given them a way to invest in their congregations or in their Chapels that are female… it’s an eye-opening experience for them—it gives them a unique perspective on Military wives and our Military life and in the female perspective, knowing some of the struggles that they deal with and some of the pain points that come along.”
We’re so grateful to Kori and her team for providing this much-needed ministry to these very important women.
Are You Being Called to Women’s Ministry?
Planting Roots continues to grow as Kori and her team continue to stay faithful to God’s plan. Obedience is often followed by blessing as she has observed:
“It is scary and sometimes intimidating to see what the Lord has for us next, and then to continue to trust the faithfulness that He showed up to this point.… Every time He’s asked us to do something else, He has brought along the resources, whether it’s people or money or whatever to do the next thing that He is calling us to do, we’ll just sit and watch Him do that.”
- Visit plantingroots.net to see what Kori and the rest of the Planting Roots staff are doing in the lives of Military women everywhere. You’ll also find opportunities to support Planting Roots through prayer and financial support or you can find out how to join the team!
- You can also read about ASM’s program, Journey of a Military Wife at militaryjourneys.com. This program is embraced by Planting Roots as one of the resources they promote for Military women.
Planting Roots is doing some wonderful things for Service women and Military wives and ASM is honored to be partnered with such a great organization—both ministries have a passion to share the Gospel with the world. May we all encourage one another and build each other up as we await the coming of the Savior.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)