Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - April 2016 Edition

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Leap of Faith INSID E :

Celebrating One Year! One Nation Under God How Dogs teach the Gospel Geaux Life, Hope in Sudan

New Topic! Millennial Life! Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


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Rest your body and soul Encourage your creative journey Savor friendships and laughter Transform your mind with the Word Observe the wonder of God Renew your heart of worship Enrich your prayer life

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Table of CONTENTS Feature STORY

24-29 Freedom Behind Bars by Beth Townsend

Feature Columns


faith LIFE One Nation Under God by Lisa Tramontana Obedience to Death by Susan Brown

11 - 17

Family LIFE

It Takes 100 Percent to Stay Married 69 Years by Mark H. Hunter

Dare to Trust by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis Hope by Dr. Roger Butner Grief Recovery Center Helps Address Life’s Toughest Trials by Jehan Seals

Inside Each Issue

5 41 42 43 46

Publisher’s letter READING FOR LIFE by Kelli Knight

PAstor’s perspective by Bishop Kendrick Whaley

Witness at work by Sharon Furrate Bailey





Young People Are Integral to Jesus’ Work by McKenzie Moffett

Victoria Lira Has a Burden for Teens by Mark H. Hunter

Tiger Town Debate Photos by Beth Townsend

32-33 34-36

geaux LIFE Making His Voice Heard by Lisa Tramontana


Door of Hope Leads to Salvation for Women in Crisis by Lisa Tramontana


30 31 4




How to Work Out at Work


Weight Management for God’s Glory & Our Benefit

by Ashley D’Aubin

by LaTangela Fay Sherman

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by Pennington Biomedical Research Center by Nettye Johnson

Terrific Turtles by Kristen Hogan

Baton Rouge

Christian Magazine

issue 1, volume 2 APRIL 2016 PUBLISHER/Editor Beth Townsend ASSOCIATE EDITOR McKenzie Moffett SALES REPRESENTATIVE Sharon Frank contributing writers Susan Brown Lisa Tramontana Mark H. Hunter Sharon Furrate Bailey Stephanie Ryan Malin Kelli Knight LaTangela Fay Sherman Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis Kristen Hogan Nettye Johnson Ashley D’Aubin McKenzie Moffett Dr. Roger Butner Kendrick Whaley COVER DESIGN Kelli Knight LAYOUT & DESIGN BY Illuminated Designs Studio BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE 9655 Perkins Road, Suite C-133 Baton Rouge, LA 70810 225-910-7426 BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE WEBSITE BY McKenzie Moffett printed by RR Donnelley / Memphis, TN

Publisher’s LETTER


A leap of faith — Happy Birthday to us! One of my favorite pastors used to say that the hope in every Christian’s life is that there would be a brilliant intersection of our faith and God’s faithfulness. That illustration is powerful. Every day we climb the mountain of life, each step important. Finally at some amazing point, that leap of faith intersects with God’s faithfulness and bam! Everything changes in an instant. To live our life’s calling, equipped in God’s giftedness, we must step out onto that cliff, looking fearfully over, knowing that without God we will fall. That place where we step out in faith, pursuing His purposes, believing His promise that into His grip we will fall. It is there we discover that God’s faithfulness is ever so personal.

Beth, husband Fred, daughter Reagan, son Rhett

Starting Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine was and continues to be a leap of faith. Believing our city needs encouragement, this seemed to be a viable medium from which to point others to God. In a time when many ask, “Where is God?” We can confidently say, there, in the life of this recovered addict; or there, in the life of a freed prisoner; or there, in that single mom’s struggle to make ends meet; or, there in that student’s efforts as he launched that ministry; or there, in that marriage of 69 years. God is at work. He remains our King, and He is on the throne. To experience His presence, we must also step out in faith. If the course of our life does not require complete dependence on God, then we are not living by faith. If we are not living by faith, we miss the wonder and glory of His faithfulness.


“As it is, there are many parts, yet one body,” 1 Corinthians 12:20. Together, we are a mighty force to be reckoned with. “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand,” Mark 3:25. Divided, we fall. There is no in between. Either we are together or we are apart.

As we celebrate our one-year anniversary, we humbly ask for your help. Join our team! Support our efforts by purchasing an ad for your business or for a ministry or church you are passionate about. While this is a ministry, it must also function as a solid business. To grow as we hope to, we need to expand our team of supporters. We are very thankful to the many who helped us launch last year. We pray God’s richest blessings upon each one. Their leap of faith has made our work fruitful and positioned us to continue to reach our city with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pray for our team! This is no easy task! While fulfilling, we face many challenges.

We covet your prayers and appreciate your continued encouragement. We also invite you to celebrate our birthday with us on April 26 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This will be a time for ministries to share with one another and become aware of the many great things happening in our city! Please stay tuned to our many social media sites for more details.

In the fullness of life and in the grip of His hand,

Beth Townsend

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Faith LIFE

One Nation Under God by Lisa Tramontana

Photos courtesy of Darrell White

American Judicial Alliance Dedicates Special Bibles to Courts Across the Country

Judge Darrell White presents a Harlan Bible to Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel in the same courthouse where the famous Scopes Trial was held nearly 100 years ago in Dayton, Tenn.


he words “One nation under God” have special meaning for retired Judge Darrell White. Passionate about his faith, it has taken him into hundreds of courtrooms across America, armed with a special Bible that is changing the way judges think about their responsibilities, their world views and their legacies. White retired in 1999 after serving for 20 years on the Baton Rouge City Court, but he has remained active


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through his organization, American Judicial Alliance. As founder and president of the Retired Judges of America, he is a frequent speaker at churches, schools and civic groups on the country’s constitutional heritage. But his true calling came when he learned about a colorful Supreme Court Justice named John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) of Kentucky. Harlan was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1877 and served for

34 years, participating in more than 14,000 decisions. In 1906 he donated his own personal Bible to the Court and since then, the “Harlan Bible” has been signed by every single justice in succession immediately after taking the oath of office. Many justices have said that signing the Harlan Bible was an incredibly meaningful experience. “Taking the oath with my hand on Justice Harlan’s Bible was like history coursing

Faith LIFE


“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you will have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those they oppress.” Abolitionist Frederick Douglass through me,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice David Souter called it “the most humbling thing I have ever done in my life.” And Justice Samuel Alito said signing the Bible was a “thrilling and awe-inspiring moment.” Judge White was instrumental in illuminating and sharing the littleknown Harlan Bible story. He was part of a panel in Oklahoma City when a young law student asked him about the oath that federal judges take. (Interestingly, the panel also included Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama chief justice who was removed from office in 2003 for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from his courthouse. He has since been re-elected.) Unable to answer the student’s question, White promised to research the issue, and his investigation turned up the story of the Bible-signing tradition. White decided that the tradition should be continued in courts across the country. As a result, AJA has presented approximately 200 replicas of the Harlan Bible to federal, state and local courts in Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, New York, Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts and Missouri. The Bible selected is the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, and it is virtually identical to the original Harlan Bible. White is passionate about his project. “God willing, we intend to place a Bible in every courtroom in America and to ask judges to use them in their courts,”

he said. “Every judge who is awakened to our founding is another judge awakened to our future.”

Judge Darrell White

White has a stack of letters and notes thanking him for his work. Many letters contain promises to display the Bible prominently and to continue the signing tradition. Baton Rouge Judge Richard “Chip” Moore, who received a Harlan Bible last November, thanked White “for championing the Word of God in the judiciary, where His presence serves as a constant exhortation that He is the true judge over us all.”

Judge Darrell White, left, dedicates a Harlan Bible to the U.S. District Court for Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge area) and specifically, to the late Judge Frank Polozola, center. Also pictured is Polozola’s nephew Dana Vutera, a local businessman who arranged the exchange.

White’s investigation into the federal judges’ constitutional and judicial oaths also turned up the fact that they both conclude with the words “so help me God.” White found this fact especially interesting as it confirmed his view that God and the Bible are intrinsically woven into the founding of our country and have a rightful place in America’s courts. “Because ‘so help me God’ has been part of the required oath language since 1789, no federal judge can omit it,” White said. “The acknowledgment of God is not a religious test (prohibited under Article VI), but instead, a philosophy of government of the U.S. enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.” “It gave me pause,” he added, “to do more study on the subject of separation of church and state, which is a phrase that has virtually supplanted the text of the Constitution’s First Amendment.” Here, Judge White mentions an Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Faith LIFE

Judge Darrell and his wife Fran are the parents of seven children and 10 grandchildren.

observation of Frank Hogan, a former president of the American Bar Association who put the question rhetorically, “If the Constitution is to be construed to mean what the majority at any given period in history wish the Constitution to mean, why [have] a written Constitution?” It’s a complicated and polarizing issue that deserves more time and research than one magazine article can provide, but White contends that misguided constitutional jurisprudence has expelled the Judeo-Christian God from our schools and public affairs, allowing the non-theistic religion of Secular Humanism to dominate. He

is hopeful, however, that the tide is turning. White says his passion on the topic comes from the fact that he is a father of seven and grandfather of 10. “I’m concerned about our future,” he said. White has no plans to slow down in his determination to awaken the conscience of Christians throughout the country. In an AJA brochure titled “Restoring Faith in our American Courts,” White says, “Our goal is to establish a nationwide network of likeminded judges and patriots who stand in support of our Constitution and its unmistakable link to God’s Law.”

Patriot’s Day Celebration

Friday, April 22, noon LSU Rural Life Museum 4560 Essen Lane

Patriotic speakers, music and fellowship For more information, call (225) 295-1519

How You Can Help The Harlan Bible (replica) is a genuine leather, large-print Bible customized with a gold imprint cover and a hand-calligraphed bookplate. Each Bible costs about $200 to produce. Contributions are tax deductible. Go to for more information. 8

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Faith LIFE


Obedience to Death

Labrador retrievers help teach about God’s relationship with believers by Susan Brown

Photos courtesy of Johnny Morgan


n command, a sleek Labrador retriever trots through the auditorium. She is strong, highly trained and focused. She is on a mission – to retrieve a lost “sheep” tucked away by the trainer she adores. Ignoring the distractions around her, she listens intently for his voice, follows his lead and obeys his command. Come. Sit. Stay. Through Obedience to Death ministry, Johnny Morgan takes his prized Labrador retrievers to churches and schools from Louisiana to Oklahoma to explore the character of God and his relationship to believers. He hopes to encourage people to live in attentive obedience to God. The response is remarkable.

Johnny Morgan and his retrievers

“People pay attention to dogs,” explains Morgan, who serves as associate pastor and student minister at Live Oak Baptist Church in Denham Springs (Watson area). “When we first started, we figured probably five or six presentations, with two or three thousand people. We never thought we’d have 62,000 people.” To Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


X Faith LIFE

date, Morgan says some 8,000 people have come to know the Lord through the dog ministry. His highly trained labs – Glory, Journey and Zach – are crowd-pleasers. Glory sits in rapt attention to Morgan, and only Morgan. “I’ve had 1,600 students chant her name and she’ll only go on my voice command,” Morgan says. That’s just how we’re supposed to fix our eyes on God. He knows our voice and we know his voice when we’re walking with him.” But his most significant command is “stay,” a reference to his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” “And I think in today’s society, we don’t get still enough,” Morgan says. “We just rush, rush, rush, and that’s a constant reminder for me that I need to get still and I need to know him, and when I do, he’s going to be exalted.” Obedience to Death is an outgrowth of Kingdom Dog Ministries in Houston, Texas, a nonprofit that trains dogs and holds presentations across the U.S. A longtime connection with founder Hank Hough kindled Morgan’s interest in the dogs’ abilities. He says the timing and substance of his ministry was also God’s design. Hough uses scripture to register his ministry dogs with the American Kennel

Johnny Morgan and Glory 10

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Club. Morgan’s original dog responds to the name “Glory” for training and command purposes. “After we made the final decision, I asked, ‘what’s her registered name?’ When he said Psalm 46:10, I got real quiet,” Morgan says. “It’s like God had put her aside for me three years prior to that, and my first dog in this ministry was going to be my life verse.”

seen it or they believe in me or believe in the ministry and want to bless other people.” Obedience to Death operates as a nonprofit that provides performances free of charge, although many of the schools and churches he visits provide donations. That makes it possible to visit locations that cannot afford to hire motivational speakers.

Hough began using scripture names at certification hunt tests to spark curiosity. When the names of successful dogs are announced, other owners often ask, for example, why he named his dog John 8:28, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things.’” Hough uses that opportunity to start a conversation about Jesus.

“One principal said we accomplished so much in our presentation because there were probably 70 kids that accepted Christ in the school that day out of 700. To not charge was a blessing,” Morgan says.

People often ask what it takes to run a dog ministry. Time, commitment and money are key, and the investment is significant. “They’re my dogs. They live with me and I spend 20 minutes every day with each dog, minimum,” Morgan says. “If we really spent 20 minutes in God’s word and prayer, our lives would be transformed just like theirs.” Through consistent training and companionship “at some point the light bulbs start going off as to what he’s called us to do,” Morgan says. “My young dog that I’m training, Zach [Zachariah], has the registered name Proverbs 3:5 and 6,” a challenge to walk in faith. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, he shall direct your paths.” Morgan says commitment to Christ has come with divine provision. “I have not put any money into my dog ministry; it’s all come from donations by people who have

Members of Live Oak Baptist help support Obedience to Death with prayer and contributions. “I have probably 20 people who have donated to help buy dogs and equipment. I have a prayer network of just prayer warriors that are praying constantly for my ministry,” he says. “If you had asked me 30 years ago when I graduated high school if I would be in the ministry today, I’d have told you no, absolutely not,” Morgan says. “If you had told me that I would be presenting the gospel in front of 1,600 junior high students with Labrador retrievers, I’d have told you absolutely not.” “So it’s just about being obedient and being available. I’ve hunted literally since I was big enough to walk,” he says. “To be able to use that for God now is incredible.” To learn more about Obedience to Death, contact Johnny Morgan at:, or call 225-243-6138. Susan Brown began her career in radio news. She was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds Master’s Degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women where she continues to volunteer.

Family Life


It takes 100 percent to stay married 69 years, Greers say by Mark H. Hunter

Photos by Mark H. Hunter


.O. “Duck” Greer was sitting on his front porch one afternoon when “a pretty little girl carrying an umbrella walked by,” he said.

He called to her and even whistled, but she paid him no mind, crossed the street and kept right on walking. He was 22 years old and full of confidence after serving his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Like many young veterans, he bought a motorcycle when he got home.

TOP: Bess and “Duck” Greer sit in their home and hold photos of themselves 69 years ago. BOTTOM: Close-ups of their younger selves. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Family Life

The Greers: Laughing together and sitting in their home.

“One night I was riding down Choctaw Drive and hit a big pot-hole and flipped and ended up in the ditch with the motorcycle on top of me,” Greer said. “I got it out of the ditch and rode it home. In the morning I couldn’t get out of bed.” A doctor diagnosed his sternum was broken and taped his chest so tight, “I could hardly breathe,” he said. “It was bad that I wrecked my motorcycle. It was so bad that I could not work,” he said. “I sat on the front porch — what else could I do?” Bessie Mae Russell, then 19, had moved to Baton Rouge from Mississippi to work for the State of Louisiana in the department of finance. She was renting a room from Duck’s neighbor, who called him one December day to come meet a girl who needed a date for a Christmas party hosted by Gov. Jimmy Davis. “I didn’t realize he was that same person (on the porch) until that night,” Bess said. “We played cards, had a nice little visit

and we ended up going to the big party. And six months later we were married.” “I fell in love with her on that date,” Duck says. “Man, I was hooked, that was it.” “You’ve heard of love at first sight — I believe that,” Bess said with a twinkle in her blue eyes. “I never dated anybody after that.”

A Long Life Together Jasper Oswald “Duck” Greer is now 90, and Bessie Mae Greer is 88. On Valentine’s Day Sunday they were honored by Istrouma Baptist Church for being the church’s longest married couple. On May 29 they’ll celebrate their 69th anniversary. They have three grown children: older daughter Dianne Willis, middle son Russell Greer and younger daughter Patricia Legendre, 8 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. “All our grandchildren have college degrees,” Bess says with a big smile.

Duck grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from Istrouma High School in 1942. He got his nickname when he was pitching in a boyhood baseball game and the batter hit a line drive. “My brother, who was catching, yelled ‘duck!’ so I did and got hit right on top of my head,” he says with a laugh. His father died when he was 10, leaving his mother to raise nine children. “How she did it, I don’t know,” he said. Duck had an uncle who was a plumber and he assisted him after school and on weekends. When he enlisted at 17, the Navy in its wisdom made the plumber a mechanic in the engine room of the seaplane tender, the USS Pocomoke AV9. The ship followed many of the Pacific island invasions supplying the troops and maintaining the seaplanes. Bess grew up in Monticello, Miss., a middle child with an older sister and brother and a younger sister and brother. She graduated from Silver Creek High School in 1945, then attended Southwest

“Some people say 50-50 — no — you give your all for the other person. It’s 100 to 100.” – “Duck” Greer 12

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Family LIFE

Mississippi Junior College. She came to Baton Rouge in 1946 to work for the state. “I became a Christian when I was 12 years old,” Bess said. Her family attended a little country church. “It was during a revival when I got saved and I was baptized in the creek.” They were married by Dr. A.E. Pardue in Duck’s uncle’s house and began attending Istrouma Baptist. She went forward during a revival, “when I really became a Christian,” she said. Duck attended Istrouma Methodist as a youth on Sunday mornings then began attending Istrouma Baptist with some of his friends on Sunday nights because, he said, there were a lot of pretty girls there. “One morning service I went to Istrouma Baptist and gave my heart and life to Him,” he said. “Brother Sam Rushing baptized me that night.” The couple has served in every single Sunday School department from Primary to Senior Citizens over their decades of membership, Bess said. After they were married Duck continued his career as a master plumber. He was on

a crew building the Baton Rouge General Hospital when he was blinded in a freak accident. He was ‘seating’ a commode into the floor by pouring a mixture of boiling hot lead into a bed of sand when moisture in the sand exploded and splattered hot lead up into his face and eyes. He was blind for several weeks.

A Long Marriage Means 100 Percent

“I had to go home blind to a wife and a couple of babies,” he said with sadness in his voice. “You feel worse than helpless.”

“The worst part is that our lives get shorter and shorter,” he said. “The best part is I’ve got the best mate you could ever want.”

Three different plant jobs over the next three-plus decades provided good income but not much job security thanks to plant closings. “I have the distinction of working for the largest oil refinery in the world, Exxon, the largest rubber plant in the world, U.S. Rubber, and the largest steel company in the world, U.S. Steel. Three of the biggest companies in the world and they all laid me off,” he says with a laugh. Bess retired from the state in 1985 and he retired a year later. They enjoyed retirement by vacationing with friends, attending lots of LSU football games and caring for their home and growing family. They’ve also both survived heart attacks. Age-related health issues are slowing them down.


So what’s the secret to a marriage that’s lasted nearly 70 years? What’s the best part and what’s the worst part?

“And I feel the same way,” she says. “We’re very agreeable and we’re very much alike in many ways — its gotten to where we even think alike.” “Some people say 50-50 — no — you give your all for the other person,” he says. “It’s 100 to 100.” “It’s just like Jesus gave his all for us,” she adds. “You give your all for that person you love.”

Mark H. Hunter Christian Journalist

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Family LIFE

Dare To Trust

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

Lord, thank you. I don’t always do what I should, but I thank you for quickening my spirit when I’m wrong. Allow patience to have its perfect work in me. Amen.


are to trust God and step out on faith! The power of trust is not accomplished overnight. The ability to trust comes from your central nervous system, which houses your subconscious mind where previous experiences have been placed, and when certain situations arise in your life you begin to search your internal database to compare the current situation to a past joy or pain you’ve experienced. But I can tell you that God can renew any of those past joys and give you rest for past pains. Listen to this story: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand,” Isaiah 41:10. Growing up in the church you often hear people saying, “I’m stepping out on faith,” but what does that really mean? I’ve often wondered how faith is measured or how much faith one needs to have to begin stepping out on it. Well, God put the test of a lifetime before me, and it was either

follow his path or do my own thing and wait for this season to come around again. Several weeks ago God began sending me on a journey. And on this particular journey, I had God, my faith and myself in tow. I was prompted to apply for law school, but I hadn’t taken the LSAT. I began making plans to move to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue law school, but my job wasn’t transferring me. (Aside: Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I already have steps A-D planned and E is on reserve waiting for my queue.) As I began to take my first step, I must admit, I was a little afraid. I mean stepping out on faith is easily said but less often courageously done. So, I began to prepare for my assignment; I convinced my husband to sell our home and move into an apartment, took the LSAT, passed, and applied to Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. We started looking for houses in Tennessee and put an offer in that was accepted, but we never went to closing. Devastating, right? Surely, Lord I’m doing what you’ve prompted me to do.

How do you handle a situation where God tells you to do something and it falls through the first time? Surely God wouldn’t lie. At this point, I needed answers; I longed to seek His face even more. I found out that my hands, feet and soul were wonderfully made to worship Him. I was told to stand out, to go against the world. I found out that I could be in the world, but not of the world, and I should remain consistent within God’s Word to receive my reward. God was preparing me for something far greater than I had ever imagined. The lesson in the story was to see if I could put everything on the line for Him and do what I was told even if I didn’t have a clue about the end result. See, when God tells you something, you need to act on it not react to it. More often than not we as Christians react to His promises instead of acting on His promises. God’s faithfulness is waiting for you, all you have to do is activate it and act on it. Dare to trust God and step out on faith!

Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis, affectionately known as “The Refresher,” is an American author, empowerment speaker and a life catalyst. She launched The Refresher Course to educate and empower others to dramatically shift the quality and direction of their lives by using spiritual principles as well as the Life Catalyst curriculum. By using lessons from her life, Tonya writes and teaches through one’s obstacles to transform people into achieving their goals. She currently writes for the Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine and just released her fourth book entitled “A Refreshing Moment” and her debut single, “I Choose Life” available at www.therefreshercourse. com. She truly believes in the principle of refreshing lives one by one. 14

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Family Life


by Dr. Roger Butner

“… and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” - Romans 5:5 (NASB) everal years ago, when the time came to launch a website for my practice of Christian counseling, the Holy Spirit guided me to use We are all in need of hope. Aren’t we? We need to know something better is coming. We want to know the struggles, hardships and sacrifices are worth it. We long to see the fruit of our labors, particularly the toiling and investing we put into our kids as we do our best to lead them on the path God would have them live. Remember that first week after you brought each of your kids home from the hospital? Weren’t you filled to overflowing with joy and love at this new delight in your life? And hope. Hope for your child’s health. Hope for the life your child would live. Hope for your growing family. Hope for your efforts as a parent.


And all those hopes began to grow and take shape through the life of your little one. For some of you, as your precious little baby grew and transformed and somehow made it all the way to adolescence, your hope may have taken a hit. Things haven’t gone quite the way you thought they would, maybe not even close. And sometimes you wonder where you went wrong, or why God has punished or abandoned you, or simply if things will ever take a turn for the better in your teen’s life. If this picture of discouragement looks all too familiar, please allow me to breathe a word of life from God into your spirit today. There is truly hope! Consider the story of Elijah ready to give up on everything after his showdown with the prophets of Baal. Or the faithful hope of the father of the prodigal son after many months of waiting, wondering and suspecting just how bad things had gotten. Or the profound words of the prophet Jeremiah from Lamentations 3:22-24, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” So if you need some fresh hope – reach out and find it! God will supply the hope you need to see that all is not lost, life is not over, and He does have a great plan for the life of your teen. Sometimes we just have to reach out in a new way to grab hold of that hope we desperately need. Share your heart with your spouse, with trusted friends, with a godly pastor, or even with a Christian counselor. Allow someone else to breathe fresh hope back into the lungs of your spirit. Ask for prayers. Ask for hugs and encouraging words. Ask for resource suggestions – books, websites, groups or other tools that may be God’s instrument to guide you and your teen to the path you’ve been desperately hoping someday you would find together. But whatever you do, don’t give up hope. Not today. I have seen family after family experience the joy of healing after long struggling to make it. And it usually begins with one common element … HOPE. Dr. Roger D. Butner is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who delights in bringing hope to teens, parents, families and couples through the Truth of God’s Word and a compassionate approach to professional therapeutic guidance. His practice in South Baton Rouge is conveniently located directly off I-10 for those throughout the Greater Baton Rouge area, and his website ( is available to anyone looking for encouragement, resources, guidance and HOPE. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Family LIFE

Grief Recovery Center Helps Address Life’s

Toughest Trials

by Jehan Seals

“One of the hardest trials in any form of human suffering is when the sufferer feels it is unjust, added to the particular distress, nagging questions often torment the sufferer. Why? What did I do wrong? Why, after consciously fulfilling every duty to its limit, should God allow this suffering to come to me?” -Dana Booth Dana Booth, a licensed counselor with Grief Recovery Center, understands the need for grief counseling and considers it an honor to walk alongside someone’s personal grief journey. “With the tragic death of my 15-yearold daughter, God’s words provided peace. I asked God how could I have one foot on Earth and the other in heaven? How could I choose between my two children?”

suspected one day I would be doing grief work, but I could not see how it would come about or when I would ever have the strength,” she says. Her experiences came full circle when she accepted a position at GRC. Dana has been with the organization for four years now and believes seeking counsel during a loss can be a major part of the healing process.

Romans 8:25 says, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” “It made sense to me,” Dana says. “God wasn’t surprised by what happened he was simply aligning my life according to his perfect will.” Dana explains how God’s divine order led her to help those experiencing complicated grief, cope, after a great loss.

The healing process is a journey and there is no time limit involved, Dana explained. “Everyone grieves at their own pace and the stages of grief are unique for every person, but every step taken brings you a little closer to healing,” Dana says. Taking the first step sometimes means reaching out and getting support.

“I learned we suffer so we may comfort others as we have been comforted. So I

Often, those who are grieving become a mere afterthought following a loss, resulting

Adult Support Groups in the Greater Baton Rouge Area: • Monday – The Bereavement Support Group meets from 6:30-7:30 p.m., at Grief Recovery Center, located at 4939 Jamestown Ave., Suite 101, Baton Rouge. Sponsored by Rabenhorst Funeral Homes. • Tuesday – Bereavement Support Group meets from 6:30-7:30 p.m., at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, located on the corner of Greenwell Springs Road and Frenchtown Road. Sponsored by The Grief Recovery Center and St. Alphonsus. • Thursday – Loss and Grief Support Group meets from 6-7 p.m., at St. Elizabeth Hospital, located on Highway 30 in Gonzalez. This group is a community partnership with St. Elizabeth Hospital. For more information visit GRC’s website at, or call 225-924-6621. 16

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

in a lack of comfort and understanding. With the support of the GRC, that harsh reality can be eliminated. A support group, as well as counseling, can provide comfort and effective strategies to aid during the grieving process. The GRC provides several free support groups for children, teens and adults who have experienced a loss. Adult support groups are offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at various locations throughout Baton Rouge and surrounding areas typically between 6-7:30 p.m. An eight-week program for children is also available in the spring and fall and is focused on developing healthy coping strategies during the grieving process. Much of the work done through GRC and many of the free support groups it offers would not be possible without the support of generous individuals and organizations from our community. Grief Recovery Center’s signature fundraiser, Culinary Arts for Healing Hearts, is in its eighth year and the GRC staff invites you to join them for a night of celebration and healing at Crowne Plaza (4728 Constitution Ave.) on April 28, 2016. Guests will enjoy dishes prepared by local restaurants and chefs, a silent auction and music by the Nick Abraham Band.

Family Life


Attendees, sponsors, restaurants/chefs and in-kind donors will all be taking part in helping heal hearts and lives by keeping the doors of the GRC open, as it depends on this event to provide the funding necessary for its work in the 11-parish Greater Baton Rouge area. Tickets are $60 per person or $500 for a reserved table of 10. Sponsorship opportunities are also available — to learn more visit:!sponsorship-levels/c1lyp or call 225-924-6621.

“We all go through seasons of life where we are either on the giving end or receiving end of help. If you have pneumonia, one would go to a doctor to receive help. If you find yourself in place where intense emotions or life circumstances have overcome you, seek help from a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Licensed Professional Counselor. It can make the difference between finding your way back to the land of the living or giving up all hope!” Dana says. For more information about GRC’s programs visit, contact them via email at:, or call: 225-924-6621.

Grief Support Groups for Kids Ages 11-14: Grief Recovery Center is now offering support groups for tweens/teens ages 11-14 who are working through a death or major family loss. This 8-week interactive group is offered in the spring and fall and focuses on the growth and development of healthy coping strategies through the grief process. Parents and/ or caregivers are strongly encouraged to attend the corresponding parent’s group to learn how to help children during the grief process. Sessions are led by Dana Booth (children’s group) and Lisa Meyerer (parent’s group). For more information call: 225-924-6621

Back row: Anita Lopez, LPC; Kathie Moise, LCSW; Lisa Meyerer, LCSW; Dana Booth, LCSW; Gretchen Bankston, LCSW; Lyn McElroy, Graduate Intern; Carol Steiner, Office Administrator Front Row: Mary Ann Abel, LCSW; Kathy Vilas, LCSW, Executive Director Not pictured: Danny Williams, LCSW

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Jehan Seals Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Millennial LIFE

Young People are an Integral Part of doing Jesus’ Work in Today’ s Culture

by McKenzie Moffett

(Editor’s note: The following article is an editorial work reflecting the personal views and experiences of the author. This piece is meant to function as an introductory explanation of our newest column, Millennial Life, which will serve to highlight the outstanding young people in our community who are serving Christ in many capacities, and tackle the challenges our young people (high school, college and young adults) must confront in 2016.) “Do not let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity,” 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT). If you grew up in church like I did, this is likely one of the first verses that comes to mind regarding the status, actions and ministerial impact possibilities of young people. These words from 1 Timothy were often followed by a message that highlighted how a majority of Jesus’ work was done prior to age 33, which was meant to, in some way, encourage the young people in my church to get up and get moving for Christ. Never for a moment did I lack an understanding 18

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of what I was supposed to do regarding the dissemination of the message of salvation and the words of the gospel. The Bible, my pastor, youth leaders and even my parents made it pretty clear that I was to go forth and share all I had learned from my years in church with the world. But admittedly, for many years, I’ve struggled with the how. It seems simple enough, right? According to Luke 2, Jesus was a mere boy when he stood alone in the temple doing what verse 49 refers to as, “[going] about My Father’s business,” and, as verse 52 states, “[increasing] in wisdom and stature, and in favor with

Millennial LIFE God and men.” So why then, when faced with the prime situation for sharing the gospel, did I often deflect to the happenings of pop culture or a discussion of the latest episode of a favorite series on Netflix? An honest look in the mirror revealed that I did so because I believed the lies that the enemy and the world around me, told me: you’re unqualified, you lack wisdom, you’ve made too many mistakes, your friends will judge you, you don’t have all of the answers, you’re too young to make a difference, and the list goes on. But the Bible paints a much different picture of the ways young people can and should impact the kingdom. Jeremiah 1:7 says, “But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.’” Clearly, the Lord is not concerned with age, but rather the willingness of one’s heart to submit to his will and follow his voice. We’re told in Genesis 1 that “God created mankind in his own image,” and again in Psalm 139 that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Throughout the scriptures we see examples of the ways God placed his fingerprint on who we are and who we’re becoming, as well as a pattern of God using individuals that were imperfect and unqualified in the eyes of the world, to do his most important work. This generation of followers of Christ must confront a new set of challenges as it aims to live set apart from a world that increasingly finds ways to misconstrue, divide, cheapen and reject the message of Jesus. Christ is the same yesterday, today

and forever, but the manner in which we present his message of grace, forgiveness and love must be accurately directed to reach the ears it is falling upon. We are the most like Jesus when we love others and often it is the message of his compassionate, unfailing, authentic love that the world around us needs to hear more than anything. Each who has experienced that Christ-love has a story to tell — when you look beside you and realize that the only thing that sets you apart from the next person is Jesus’ redemptive love, doing his work becomes a part of who you are instead of something you do. I want to hear from you, young people (and those who work with young people). I know there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of you in the Baton Rouge community who can relate to these words in one way or another — who are making an impact by boldly and authentically sharing the love of Christ with others through your friendship, service and leadership. I want to tell the story of what Christ has done for you and what you are doing through him. You can send story ideas to mckenzie@ McKenzie is a freelance editor, writer and photographer who enjoys all things creative. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Alabama in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in dance and minor in journalism. McKenzie is passionate about sharing her story of Jesus’ transformative love with young people, and helping them tackle the challenges of this life from an authentic Christian perspective.


Do you know a young person who is committed to the cause of Christ? We would love to tell their story! Nominate someone today by sending the information below to: mckenzie@ Name:

Age: Contact:

School or Occupation:

Why should we tell their story? (3-5 sentences):

A House “SOLD” Name! 337-4663 First



Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


X Millennial LIFE

Victoria Lira has a burden for teens Devotional book to help a new generation by Mark H. Hunter Photos by Mark H. Hunter


ictoria Lira sees so many similarities to her life as an American teen and what happened in the Bible’s book of Esther, that she titled her book of devotionals after Esther’s key passage. “I Have Called You for Such a Time as This: A New Generation Devotional Journal,” is a soft-cover book of 31 chapters written in an easy, bright style. As a minority Jew living in the pagan culture of Persia, Esther was chosen to be a queen, violated court protocol and saved her people from a genocidal plot. Her uncle Mordecai advised her, “Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” - Esther 4:14 “I definitely can relate to Esther because sometimes you feel like her in her situation — she was so young, but God called her to such a great task,” Lira, 17, said during a visit to her family’s home. “She had to save her people and she had to go before the king, but she couldn’t do that unless the king called her, but she knew that if she would have waited for the king to call her that her people probably would not have survived — so she had to go and step out in faith.” “She (Esther) said, ‘God, I know this is dangerous but I trust you.’ She didn’t really worry about her own desires, she


APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

didn’t really worry about saving her own skin, but she said, ‘this is what God told me to do and I’m going to do it,’” Lira says with a big, bright smile. “Sometimes you may be scared to take that step out to do what the Lord told you to do but you just have to trust him — he will give you

Victoria wears a big smile and displays her book.

the courage just like he did her.” Each chapter is based on Bible verses for each topic and feature titles such as “Jesus Hugs,” “True Beauty,” “Never Compromise” and “Rapture Dream.” The “Rapture Dream” story is from a dream she had when she was 7 years old. She was in the clouds with her younger brother Joshua in what evangelical Christians call “the Rapture.” That dream of going to Heaven was so powerful she wrote it down in a diary. Since then she’s composed hundreds of stories, devotionals and Bible lessons that fill a stack of hand-written notebooks. Lira lives with her father and mother, John and Nancy Lira, and her siblings Joshua, 16, Isabella, 12, and David, 5, near Gonzales. Her father is bi-vocational,

Lira’s book

Millennial LIFE meaning he is a self-employed contractor who also has his own evangelistic ministry. He preaches locally and takes the family on mission trips several times a year to Central America. He also volunteers with Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in their prison ministry. “I definitely get a lot of inspiration from my family,” Lira said. “How my Mom handles different situations with wisdom. Dad is really hard working, and he inspires me to work hard no matter how tired you are. Joshua is really bold for Christ.” She’ll soon graduate from home schooling, taught by her parents, and while she isn’t sure exactly what’s next, it will be a ministry of some kind. She felt a calling into the ministry several years ago, she said. “We were street preaching with a church group in Mississippi and everyone was taking turns at the microphone,” she said. “I was at the back of the crowd and I felt this urge to go up to the front to witness to the people, and I thought, ‘Really, Lord, do you want me to go?’ I was, like, so nervous, and my Mom, who was back at the hotel room, texted me at that very same moment, and said, ‘Hey, I feel the Lord wants you to go and talk.’” “The Lord had already spoken to me and then confirmed it through her,” she said. “I had no idea what I was going to say and I opened my mouth and the presence of the Lord just came over me and was speaking through me.” “As soon as I got done I felt the Lord impress upon my heart ‘this is what I have called you to do, I have called you to be a preacher and a teacher,’” she said with a big smile. She already ministers to teens via her social media sites. “I was following this girl on Instagram and every day she would post stuff like,

‘nobody likes me’ or I’m worthless,’” Lira said. “I messaged her and shared Jesus with her and told her, ‘all that stuff you’re saying isn’t true because Jesus loves you and Jesus cares for you.’” “Pretty soon she said, ‘You know, you are right, thank you for telling me that,’ and her whole - everything - changed,” Lira said with another big smile. “She started posting things like ‘Jesus loves me,’ and ‘I know who I am in Christ.’” Lira is an outgoing and talented young woman who also plays the violin and is very serious about her relationship with Jesus and telling others about him. “The Lord gave me that (Rapture) dream when I was small to show me that we’re living in the last days and now is not the time to mess around but now is the time to get your heart right with God, to be about the Father’s business,” she says with all seriousness. “Now is the time for teenagers and young adults to rise up to the challenge that God has called us to.” “Jesus is coming back and either you are right with him or you are not,” Lira said. “Now is the time to do the Great Commission — to witness to as many souls as we can because we can’t take anything with us but souls and that’s what the Lord has called us to do.” Lira’s book, which has sold out the first 500 print run, is available at Amazon. com in both English

and Spanish: ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF


For more information about Lira family ministries and mission work: 3 Add Victoria as a ‘friend’ on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter 3 Visit her website: 3 Contact her via email: 3 Listen to her radio show on: 3 Visit her brother Joshua’s website where he sells inspirational T-shirts to fund their family’s mission trips to Central America at: 3 Visit her father’s ministry website: Mark H. Hunter Christian Journalist

Victoria looks at her bible.

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Millennial LIFE

photos by Beth Townsend

Tiger Town Debate

The Baton Rouge Speech and Debate Club works in partnership with the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association to teach students to “address life issues from a biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God.”


L: Abbey Lovett and Kat Samelson “The biggest thing I’ve learned is to articulate my beliefs well and discuss the hard issues that are important. It’s been an insane boost to my confidence, many young people are afraid to have their own opinion and tend to go with the flow. Now, I speak my opinions and have learned to make my own statement.” - Kat Samelson

R: Jonah, Nate and Noah Foster “I’ve learned about communication from being in debate. Now I can formulate ideas before I speak, and have learned to build relationships and teamwork that will be necessary later in life. As far as self confidence goes, I am ready to take on the college professors!” -Nate Foster

R: Alexander Arman, Madelyn Cutrone, Marshall Mills, Arianna Arman, Harrison Bath, Benjamin Vest

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

L: Megan Dedon, Alex Gaspard, Jordan Arnold, Nate Foster, Marshall Mills “Participating in NCFCA has not only given me the skills to communicate effectively, but the practical experience of practicing over and over again. I’m now able to communicate in front of people because I’ve been equipped with the skills to do it effectively.” - Noah Foster

R: Gabrielle Gremillion and Catherine Ledoux

Millennial LIFE

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The Campus Bible Class meets at: Burden Conference Center - LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA

■ Come early and join us before the class for coffee & cookies ■ Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


X Feature STORY


Behind Bars

Allen Correctional Center, Kinder Louisiana by Beth Townsend Photos by Beth Townsend

Front row: Beth Townsend, Ashanti Witherspoon and John Baird Back row: Ralph Boe, Assistant Warden Anthony Allemand, Chaplain Vertis March, Pastor Brandon Trott and Andrew Wilkes


t is a rare occasion to be allowed access inside the walls of a prison. Security, bars, locks and alarms keep those who enter, for obvious reasons, to a minimum. Recently, a group associated with Free at Last Prison Ministries, led by chaplain John Bayer, had a unique opportunity to spend a day ministering. During three services filled with preaching and an incredible worship band led by inmates, for a brief time, one could easily forget it happened while locked inside being watched closely by correctional officers. “In here, I feel like I’m free,” stated one inmate — hands raised to the Lord — during a service. The room was diverse: young and old, black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Yet, each man came from a home with 24

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parents who likely missed their son. Many of the inmates had children. Each had a different story as to how they ended up locked up behind bars for a significant portion of their adult life. John Bayer assembled a team that was also diverse. The team included speaker Ashanti Witherspoon, Ralph Boe, Andrew Wilkes, pastor Brandon Trott and myself. Though we’d never met prior to the day, we were immediately united in Spirit. Our goal was to minister and extend mercy, while at the same time, learn from this often hidden segment of a large population of our state. Due to the vast reach of crime in Louisiana and its effect on society as a whole, we hoped to

Feature STORY learn from those who are in a position to teach. Perhaps we will all be moved to find our own unique place to help and take action. This issue affects all of us. In this article, we share a Q&A session with Allen Correctional Center (ALC) chaplain Vertis March and comments from some within our ministry team. According to, Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people per capita than any of its U.S. counterparts. Louisiana is first among Americans and first in the world with an incarceration rate that is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.


These walkways allow easy access to inmate areas while assuring that security and support personnel can effectively supervise all inmate movement. The prison complex also includes a complete gymnasium and athletic field with recreational programming in individual and team sports. Each dormitory has a weight lifting pavilion, an outdoor basketball court, ample area for recreation and a jogging area.

Allen Correctional Center is located in Kinder, La. It is managed by The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO). The state prison has an inmate capacity of 1,538 and is nationally accredited by the American Correctional Association. Opened in December 1990, the Allen Correctional Center can house minimum, medium and maximum-security male inmates. GEO made a commitment when recruiting staff to give preference to Louisiana residents. After conducting a job fair in the local community, nearly 70 percent of the employees were hired from Allen Parish, with the balance of the staff being hired from other parts of Louisiana. GEO also conducted a vendor fair in the local area to meet its commitment to purchase supplies and services locally whenever practical. GEO offers academic and vocational education, program activities and counseling services to the inmate population. An extensive re-entry program is provided for those offenders within one year of their release date. The 857 acres surrounding the prison complex are used for additional agri-business to augment the 46,000 square foot furniture manufacturing and refinishing plant that is located within the prison compound. The original facility was designed and built by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections at a cost of approximately $27 million. Support facilities for medical services were designed to accommodate population expansion. Construction began in July 1991 to add two housing units to the original facility. In 1995, GEO received permission from the federal judge monitoring Louisiana prisons to add additional beds. In December 1998, an expansion project was authorized, bringing the facility to its present design capacity. The facility is 402,000 square feet with all housing units in separately fenced compounds connected by enclosed walkways.

Chaplain Vertis March

Q&A with Chaplain Vertis March Beth: How did you end up becoming the chaplain at Allen Correctional Center?

Vertis: I worked with another GEO facility at Newton County Correctional Center in Texas. My warden contacted the warden here about this facility. I am a minister, so the door was opened for me to come here. Beth: Where did your heart for prisoners come from? Vertis: I got saved in 1992 and my heart was wherever God wanted me to help people. I prayed and asked the Lord and he spoke to my heart to minister to his people at Allen Correctional Center. I came here October 2009, six years ago. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Feature STORY

Beth: What are the trends that you are seeing in overall crime rates? What are you learning about the world from your position?

Vertis: I see a lot of people who have not had a church experience. More and more people are coming in that never had a church experience. That part of the population — leading them to Christ can be challenging. Beth: Do you think that is due to a breakdown of the family? Vertis: Yes. There is a falling away in serving God. The traditional family doesn’t trust God like times past. Fathers are not there and families are broken, causing children to grow up without direction, often leading into crime.

Beth: A consistency from each of them (the prisoners in my interviews) was that the momentary gain from their crime was not worth the imprisonment that they are facing. What do you see when families visit and how does the crime affect the rest of the family?

Vertis: It hurts them all. The family is doing the time with them. When you go to prison the first time, you have a lot of people supporting you. The second time you lose about half of your support. The third and fourth time you might have one [person supporting you]. I try to encourage the men; don’t make this a part of your life. Be the man and do the right thing. If you do good things, good things will come back to you. The main objective is to stop them from trying to get that quick money [because] this is the end result.

Beth: There is often a mentality of many younger people who think they are not going to get caught. How do you convince the ones that are teetering on the fence that they will get caught and that it is not worth it?

Vertis: For the most part, they know they are going to get caught. Getting drugs to make money, it won’t profit or win. I try to encourage them. If you make good decisions, get a good education [and] get the tools you need, a good life is waiting on you. You have to put in the effort.

Beth: What do you say to the church to get our world turned in the right direction? How do we do a better job with the fatherless? What can the church do to try to bring something good into situations that seem impossible for some of these destitute families, especially the innocent children? 26

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Vertis: This is a challenge for the church to be more active in single parent families. Too many have innocent kids in environments where the crime is high and drug infested. I believe we need more mentors, more people that are giving of themselves to share their life with someone else. That is what we need to do as a body. The whole church needs to take more time to invest in that child. That is something that God put in my heart, to catch them before they come. Then society would be better. Beth: How important are prison ministries in saving the life of a prisoner’s soul?

Vertis: God loves them. I thank God that we have a lot of volunteers. We have 35-40 volunteers that come on a regular basis. Free At Last Ministries, Rock of Ages, plus we have a lot of big churches that visit regularly. You can see the guys, their faces light up when people come in and sit and talk with them. I notice when volunteers come in and shake their hand and say ‘I care about you,’ the men light up. Thank God for Free At Last Ministries. I know that these men have made mistakes. We all have made poor choices in life, but God loved them so much that his Son would die for each of us.

Beth: Is it easy for outsiders to forget that these are people who have families? They have mothers, fathers, some have husbands and wives; many have children. Yet, they are no less valuable as a soul. These are real people here that need real ministry and the opportunity to obtain salvation for their soul.

Vertis: Amen, I believe that they are valuable to the kingdom. The guys that have walked down the aisle to receive Christ, they can minister better than I can and lead them to Christ more effectively because I have not been where they are. I have not been on the side that they are at. These guys are very talented guys and they love the Lord and serve God.

Beth: The main thing that you see in here that brings meaning, other than Christ himself, are the relationships where they feel cared for and they can care for others. Do some of them find it here when they couldn’t find it anywhere else?

Vertis: The volunteers impart truths and wisdom in their lives with the Word of God. They have something they can look forward to, that is, the people who come on a regular

Feature STORY


basis. The men here respect them the most. Many did not have the father and mother who were concerned for their welfare.

Beth: How much do you think that fatherlessness contributes to this? Vertis: Most of them are fatherless. Some had fathers but made poor choices. The absence of a father leads to suicide, drugs and sexual living, which is attributed to a lack of a father.

n Pastor Brandon Trott Beth: What is your primary ministry and where is it located?


Waiting for the next service! Front to back: Ashanti, Ralph, Brandon, Andrew and John

Brandon: New Beginning Fellowship Church in Breaux Bridge, La.

Brandon: Men who are incarcerated often feel degraded,

Beth: Why did you come as part of the team? Brandon: A few weeks ago brother John Bayer, whom I have known for several years, invited me to come with him and several others to minister at Allen Correctional Facility. I was honored that he would ask me, and I gladly agreed to come. I went with a purpose; it was to show those men the love of the Lord and to preach Christ unto them!

Beth: Why is important to show them the love of the Lord?

dishonorable and abandoned. Few people in this world really know what it is to be loved unconditionally, and those in prison may have an even lower chance of knowing that kind of love. So, I take it as an incredible opportunity — as a member of the body of Christ — to go to them and look them in the eyes, show them respect, be kind to them, empathize with their afflictions and serve them with prayer. It can be such a sufficient witness of the indwelling presence of Christ, that they no longer see the weak man before them, just Jesus. And through that, I hope Jesus was glorified and revealed before their eyes. That is my greatest desire.

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I love to preach Christ to them. That is the greatest thing that anyone could ever hear; to have Jesus, in all of His love, sufficiency, mercy and saving power declared to them. We serve a big God who is a great Savior, and He deserves to have a witness in the earth. He deserves to have a people who have seen His glory and who testify to it through their life and through their message. Jesus Christ and His finished work at the cross is God’s message, and it has become mine as well. Yes, Christ crucified may be a stumbling block to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Beth: How did you reach the determination of what you shared with the men? Brandon: The reason I love to preach Christ to them is the essence of the word that God impressed upon my mind to declare at the night service we had, that Christ Jesus has “become to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:30. That Christ is God’s plan of redemption for all of mankind. Everything God wants to do in us He plans to do through the person of Jesus Christ. As Paul said in Ephesians 1:10,

God intends to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth!” This is God’s plan for the ages, to bring all things together in this one person, Jesus Christ; that all things will find their culmination “in Him” as God redeems this fallen world! So, if Christ has been made unto us all of these things, then our goal should be to pursue Him and place our faith exclusively in Him because through Him we will possess those things which God requires of us. If we need wisdom, He is our wisdom, and to know Him and to have the mind of Christ is to possess godly wisdom. We need righteousness and we have it through Him; He imputes His righteousness to us and He empowers us to be righteous. When we see God command us in His Word to be holy and sanctified, we need not run here and there looking for some method of sanctification — religious routines and fleshly attempts at fulfilling a spiritual need. As we are told in Galatians 2:20, we need simply to embrace Christ as our sanctification and experience it as He lives His life through us.

Beth: Do you see these men differently than men free in the world? 1955 South Morrison Blvd Hammond, Louisiana Conveniently located at I-12 and Hwy. 51 CALL 855.851.1184


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Saturday: 9 am - 5 pm

Sunday: Closed

Feature STORY Brandon: Each of us must abandon all hope in the flesh and cling to Christ as


God’s answer for human brokenness. This is why Christ started His beatitudes with the statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 5:3. Because that is the key to the kingdom of God, to know that we are utterly bankrupt in our own nature and have nothing to offer the Lord; that we must be absolutely dependent upon Christ as the means of our relationship with God, and that He is the conduit through which we receive everything that God intends to give us.

n Call to donate from John Bayer, Free At Last Prison Ministries: Allen Correctional is the only state facility with no chapel.

Praise band of prisoners

Andrew Wilkes, ministry team member Beth: Andrew, why did you come as part of the team? Andrew: Ten years ago this past November, I turned to Jesus, who saved me from my sins. I love Him and am so thankful for His salvation. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” One of those commandments is found in Mark 16:15, “ ... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” When I heard about the trip to Allen Correctional in Kinder, La., I prayed and asked the Lord if this was a trip He wanted me to make and to be a part of. I felt a peace about going and am so glad that I did. I’m not a theologically trained Christian, but I have the living God in me who wants to make His glorious gospel known to all and that happens through preaching! It was an honor to go and present the good news of Jesus Christ and his provision for sin to the men at Allen. Everyone needs to hear the gospel and God wants all to be born again. The joy in serving Jesus and being a part of His plan is uncontainable! He is so worthy and it is such a privilege to be able to serve Him.

Free At Last Prison Ministries will be raising funds to build one. Any donation amount is welcome and needed. For $250 you can order a personalized brick that will be laid on the main walkway into the chapel. Contact John Bayer at bayer7@bellsouth. net to make your donation

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Give Some Meaning to Your Spring Cleaning

by Ashley D’Aubin


he flowers are blooming and the temperature is rising, and we are surrounded by the signs of springtime. This means it’s also that time of year again … spring-cleaning!

The COC has many areas of focus including financial support, life skills, mentoring, transitional employment, job training, financial literacy, spiritual community, and prison re-entry.

This season, our team at The Purple Cow wants you to “Give Some Meaning to your Spring Cleaning.” After you go through your drawers and closets, boxes and attics, and compile all the clothing/furniture/ household items you’d like to give away, bring them on over to either of our store locations on April 15 or 16. Why?

As our city grows, so does its homeless population. The COC helps to provide these individuals with practical needs, planning and support so that they can get back on their feet and maintain stable living conditions.

For every person that brings a donation to either of our stores (6586 Jones Creek Road or 3651 Perkins Road) between April 15 and 16, The Purple Cow will give a backpack to a homeless person in need in our community. As many know, The Purple Cow’s mission is to help support The Christian Outreach Center (COC), which is a Christ-centered, homeless prevention ministry helping people in the downtown Baton Rouge area to go from square one to self-sufficiency. 30

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

When you donate to The Purple Cow, you make a difference. Not only are you giving us your gently used items to resell, you are providing a backpack to a person in need. These backpacks are invaluable because they make it easy to transport items on a daily basis. If you are looking to get involved and serve in your local community, this is a wonderful opportunity. Once we have all donations in, we will order backpacks and distribute them to the homeless community in early May. Our team would love to have volunteers to help on that

day as well. For more information, email or contact The Purple Cow via social media.

Ashley D’Aubin is a marketing assistant at Crossroads Professional Services where she specializes in social media marketing for small businesses. She graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in business administration. Ashley enjoys writing, engaging in social media, marketing, event coordinating/managing, networking, promoting, communicating and building relationships. She is a passionate person who loves people and has a heart for nonprofit organizations and mission work. To learn more about Ashley, visit or contact her directly at



F AI T H by LaTangela Fay Sherman


aith is the string of hope that encourages you to keep pushing toward the mark you have envisioned yourself reaching. With all of the tangibles that linger throughout your journey, faith is the whisper of encouragement giving you a slight direction. At the point you feel as if you are against all odds and there is nothing left but a smidge of hope, it is faith that reassures that your work is not in vain. Often we find ourselves placing our faith in people and items. Once they let us down, it serves as a reminder to place it where it should have been in the first place. With faith the size of a mustard seed we shall be able to move mountains and conquer the world. Some days it is only the faith that there is something greater than what meets the eye that keeps you going when you seem to be on the last leg of the race. Faith is just like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. If everything went our way, on our time, all of the time, there wouldn’t be much need for faith. Adversities come not to hinder us but to bring us closer to the source that strengthens us. With faith in God, all things are possible.

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There is hope! Entertainment is the pulse of LaTangela Fay. Singing is her first passion, being born into a musical family, her Grandfather, was a Gospel Singer and Baptist Minister. Her book, “A-Z, Lord Let It Define Me,” will be available soon. Among LaTangela’s accomplishments, she began her career as a radio personality at 15, for one of Louisiana’s leading Hip-Hop/ R&B stations. She is also the Production Director and PSA Director. She has been awarded Women in Media’s Female Personality of the Year and represents many charitable organizations, including The American Heart and Stroke Association where she was awarded the Ambassador of the Year. LaTangela’s journey has been long but is nowhere near complete. God is not finished with her yet.



Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Geaux lIFE

Making His Voice Heard Slater Armstrong Uses His Musical Gifts to Create Hope in Sudan

Slater Armstrong

by Lisa Tramontana Photos courtesy Slater Armstrong


t one point in his life, Jack “Slater” Armstrong dreamed of a career in the mainstream music industry. A talented singer and songwriter, he wanted to share his voice and connect with others through his music. In time, Armstrong realized his dream, but not in the way he imagined. He became a missionary committed to the people of war-torn Sudan, giving them a voice they could not find on their own. Shortly after graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, and still in his twenties, Armstrong was at a conference in Colorado trying to make professional contacts to jumpstart his career. But then God called … and everything changed. One of the speakers at the conference was discussing Christian artists and where the 32

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

industry was headed. “I heard a clear call from the Lord,” Armstrong said. “I went back to my hotel room and prayed. I told God that I could see the shallowness of my ambition. I said, ‘Lord, you know my heart is to serve you. Show me what you want me to do.’” The next day, Armstrong met a woman who introduced him to an organization called Youth With a Mission, and he ended up working with the group as a missionary for the next eight years. “It changed my life,” he said. “It transformed me by opening my eyes to the world’s Christian movement.” During that time, he set aside his music ambitions, but it remained a very important part of his life. In 1997, another twist of fate would bring his passion, his musical gifts

and his purpose into clear focus. He met the late Rev. Mark Nikkel, a missionary to Sudan, who shared his powerful testimony about the brutal treatment of Christians in Sudan. After hearing about the atrocities experienced by the Sudanese people, Armstrong was brought to tears. “Again, I asked the Lord, ‘What can I do to help? I have no money, no power, no influence.’ And I recall vividly his reply. He said, ‘What is in your hand? What do you have that I have given you?’ And the answer was music. God wanted me to use my musical abilities to make sure that people in the West could know what was happening in Sudan … and He wanted me to let the world hear the joy in their praise and the indigenous music of their culture.”

Geaux lIFE


Armstrong recorded the worship music of the Sudanese people, blending their sound with the sounds of American and Celtic music, and translating the words of their choirs into English verse. The result was an album called “Even in Sorrow.” The project brought him to the attention of Integrity’s Hosanna! Music, and he was featured on the release “Intimate Worship.” He sang five songs on the album, which was distributed nationally and internationally over a 7-year period. Since Armstrong’s first trip to Sudan in 1999, he has returned five times, most recently last January. His focus is on Christians in the Nuba Mountains, a place that harbors, in his words, “the most neglected human rights crisis on the planet.” The Nuba people are an indigenous ethnic group that has been the victim of atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by forces loyal to the government of Sudan. This includes a statesponsored campaign of famine and starvation, aerial and ground assaults on Nuba communities and a blockade of humanitarian aid. Through his work, Armstrong calls attention to the country’s genocide and through his organization Joining Our Voices, delivers relief items to those who live there. This includes medications, soap, salt, sugar, cooking oil, rice and lentils. He has been involved with the Sudan advocacy network in the U.S., participating in rallies, walks, conferences and other events. He has also helped to co-found two coalitions (ACT for Sudan in 2011 and End Nuba Genocide in 2012). When he is not traveling to Sudan, Armstrong works as a worship leader for two Baton Rouge congregations — Holy Cross Anglican and Trinity Episcopal — with their contemporary worship services. He is also a substitute teacher at Episcopal High School. “In a way, my life has come full circle,” he said, “because I’m at a point in my life that I need to pursue my own music again, but not for myself this time. Through my songs inspired by the church in Sudan, I want other people to join their voices with me to bring about good in Sudan. The worship component is at the heart of this. It’s central to who I am.” Armstrong is also working on a documentary on the historical and biblical significance of the people of Sudan. “I’ve done a lot of studying of the history of this civilization that developed along the Nile. It has helped me gain deeper understanding of God’s heart for these people.” For those who would like to know more, Armstrong has a website and Facebook page. Visit for more information. Joining Our Voices is a partner with the Nuba Christian Family Mission, and both groups are affiliated with End Nuba Genocide Coalition. The website features information on donations, and mission and volunteer opportunities. To hear his music, go to and on iTunes, search Slater Armstrong. He is also available for concert performances and can be contacted through the website above for additional information.

Children in the Nuba Mountains are victims of what Slater Armstrong calls ‘the most neglected human rights crisis on the planet.’

Slater Armstrong poses with a group of church leaders and a pastors in the Episcopal Church of Sudan in the village of Kurche.

Even when he is home in Baton Rouge, Slater Armstrong’s heart is never far from the people of Sudan. Photo courtesy of Darlene Aguillard

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Learning for LIFE

by Lisa Tramontana

Door of Hope Leads to Salvation for Women in Crisis K

Kristen Maddox and Shona Butler, co-hosts of “Keeping it Real” which airs on the local FOX channel every Friday at 7:30 a.m.

risten Maddox is quick to give God credit for taking her life from darkness to light. As the founder of A Door of Hope Ministries, Maddox has committed her life to helping women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, self-harm behaviors, postabortion trauma, domestic violence and numerous other struggles. She is in a unique position to understand and to offer guidance.


APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

At 16, Maddox found herself pregnant and had an abortion — a choice that led her down a 12-year path of desperation, addiction and incarceration. It was the Word of God that changed her life, she says. “Jesus literally rescued me from a prison far worse than any jail I have ever been in. God’s love, His Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit healed every hurt and gave me the freedom I had been crying out for.” Maddox was especially touched by a

by Lisa Tramontana photos courtesy Kristen Maddox

story in Hosea 2:15, which referred to a “door of hope” which transformed despair to victory. Trying to discover her own purpose in life, she had begun to envision a home for girls in trouble — a place where they could receive spiritual counseling from other women who had overcome their own struggles, a place to feel safe and loved and valued. She took a first step toward realizing that dream when she founded A Door of Hope Ministries four years

Learning for LIFE ago. A Door of Hope offers counseling, classes, workshops, camps, retreats and other special programs with the goal of healing and restoring young women in crisis so they can go on to lead positive and rewarding Christian lives. “Our mission is to break the cycle of destructive behaviors and see them fully restored and transformed by Christ,” Maddox said.


Three years ago, Maddox met Shona Butler, and the two became fast friends. “We felt a closeness immediately,” said Butler, who had endured traumas of her own, including sexual abuse as a child. “The first day we met, we shared our stories, we cried together, and we knew we would be used for some greater purpose.” That purpose turned out to be a platform that allows them to “speak life and spark hope.” The two are co-hosts of “Keeping It Real,” a television show that airs on the local FOX channel every Friday at 7:30 a.m. Guests always have inspiring stories to share, Butler said, and the show connects viewers with community resources and a live prayer line that can be accessed during the show.

A Door of Hope counselors make regular visits to the Livingston Parish Detention Center to visit female inmates and offer them spiritual healing.

“We talk with everyday people and let them tell their stories of how God brought them through a dark time in their lives,” Butler said. “We ask them, ‘When was the moment you met Jesus? How did he heal you?’ Our viewers may not be going through the same things that our guests are talking about, but they probably know someone who has had a similar experience. And our message, of course, is that there is always hope.” Glory Riggins of Walker would agree. She sought help from A Door of Hope because of alcohol issues and problems with self-esteem. “They taught me how to have a relationship with Christ,” she said. “And they did it in an encouraging and empowering way. I found true freedom from the negative feelings I had, and I learned that I am a worthy and beautiful person. It truly changed my life.” Riggins is now in training to become a lay counselor so she can help others. Chelsea Szymanski of St. Amant is also on the path to becoming a counselor. She says A Door of Hope helped her overcome a rough childhood marked by neglect and parental drug abuse. “Like so many other women, I was hiding behind a mask and was afraid to seek help,” she said. “A Door of Hope showed me that we are not alone and we don’t have to stay in the same place of hopelessness and shame. When you take off the mask, you can see clearly what God’s purpose is for you.”

The Cry by Kristen Maddox In her book, Maddox shares her personal story and covers the topic of abortion-related trauma. The book is available at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and online at Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


Learning for LIFE


One of the ministry’s most successful programs is Camp Hope, a free 4-day camp for young women (age 13 and over) in crisis. Last year, 20 girls attended and explored the theme Dream Big. They attended seminars on self-esteem, finding a purpose in life and helping others. The girls were treated to massages, manicures and gift certificates. “From the feedback we got, it was clear that the experience was very meaningful and helpful to the girls,” Butler said. “Three of the girls had a history of attempted suicide but came away from the camp filled with encouragement.” Maddox is also very proud of the organization’s prison ministry, in which volunteers make monthly visits Team leaders of the Overcome retreat pose for a photo after last year’s program. to female prisoners at the Livingston Parish Jail. “We have seen God do some amazing things,” Maddox said. “The girls are so hungry for the presence of God. They learn that even though they may have walked away from their relationship with Jesus and feel as though they have failed, they are not a failure. Jesus is waiting to restore them. Many rededicate their lives to the Lord, and it is an honor to speak life into them.” 8281 GOOdwOOd blvd., Suite a-1 ~ batOn rOuGe, la 70806 225-218-2299 • Sexual abuse is a painful topic, but one that comes up owner/instructor: therese pittman

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surprisingly often among clients. Rise Up and SOAR is a special program that helps women unlock the chains that have bound them to their painful pasts. The eight-week course is conducted in conjunction with Nicole Bromley’s book “HUSH: Moving From Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse.” Other programs include Hope Closet - gently used clothing, shoes and accessories that are free to clients; One-on-one counseling - advice from lay counselors for managing selfdestructive behaviors; Girl Talk – a group of girls meet to discuss, relate and inspire each other; and Overcome Retreat – an overnight retreat held each October in Ponchatoula for those age 18 and older.

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APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

An upcoming project very close to Maddox’s heart is a scholarship established in memory of her son, who died in 2014 at the age of 29–the Ricky Maddox Jr. Never Lose Hope Scholarship.

Healthy LIFE


How to

Work Out At Work

by Pennington Biomedical Research Center


taying in shape can sometimes feel like a full-time job. That feeling is exacerbated when you consider that many of us are running some sort of balancing act that feels like it’s straight out of the circus: 40+ houra-week-job, a significant other and a circle of friends, holiday social engagements, shuffling kids to school events, meal prep, trying to keep your home or apartment orderly — and the list goes on. How in the world can we possibly find time to squeeze in the 150 minutes of exercise per week that’s recommended for adults by the American Heart Association? Dr. Robert L. Newton, Jr., a researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center admits it isn’t easy. He studies physical activity and minority health, and he says the first step to getting fit – and staying in shape – is recognizing that the equation is simple: moving equals burning calories. Since the U.S. Dept. of Labor estimates 72 million women in the U.S. work outside the home, Newton suggests utilizing work hours to maximize time spent moving. The first step, Newton says, is identifying times at work when you’re sedentary and then trying to work in some mobility. “If you can break up your sedentary time to no more than 60 minutes at a time, you’re getting a good start. That doesn’t mean you have to do sit-ups or push-ups in your cubicle, though,” Newton said with a laugh. “We realize people want to avoid getting their clothes dirty by

being on the floor and breaking a sweat while they’re on the clock, but there are alternatives.” Newton suggests taking the time to walk to a co-worker’s office instead of picking up the phone or sending an e-mail. Taking a quick stroll around the office, or getting up to grab some coffee or a drink of water are also options. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of activity — just as long as you get up from that sitting position at least once every 30 minutes to an hour,” Newton said. “If you make moving a habit, those burned calories will eventually add up. Over the short term, taking breaks reduces your glucose and insulin levels compared to standing. Over an extended period of time, we could see cardio benefits, weight loss, and we can reduce the risk for diabetes, but these studies have not yet been conducted.” By walking, Newton says the largest muscle groups in our bodies — the legs — are activated, which increases the uptake of glucose. In contrast, if you sit too much your body produces more glucose that has nowhere to go, putting sedentary workers at a much higher risk level for obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. According to Newton, lunch time is a prime opportunity to get quality movement in. “If you work downtown or in an area with restaurants, walk to lunch. If you take your lunch to work, try to carve out time before or after you eat to get your heart rate up,” Newton said. The goal is moderate to vigorous activity, and

Newton says you’ll know you’ve reached that level when you’re out of breath, with enough air to talk but not enough to sing. However, even light intensity physical activity has benefits. “If you can take three 10-minute breaks throughout your day where you are getting to this point, you’ve reached the recommendation for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for your day,” Newton said. For those of us who have entirely too much on our work plate to lose 30 minutes of work time, Newton suggests looking into a standing desk, since the simple act of standing engages the muscles in our legs and allows us to burn calories. While standing desks can be costly, Newton says even a box on top of your desk can elevate your computer monitor and keyboard. “Of course, standing all day can create back and foot problems, so I think it’s best to start standing for short periods of time and build up to longer periods,” Newton said. “And even standing up to stretch throughout your day can keep you flexible and limber.” While a good heart-pumping workout is ideal, the goal is to work in exercise where you can, Newton said. “It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing,” Newton said. “If you can’t make it to the gym, start small and work your way up.”

Dr. Robert L. Newton, Jr.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Healthy LIFE

Weight Management


God’s Glory and Our Benefit

by Nettye Johnson


n the realm of health and wellness, we live in confusing times. God has enabled humanity with knowledge and medical advances to control diseases and extend life. Understanding of the human body is unprecedented, yet for the first time in modern history, the life expectancy of our children is shorter than preceding generations. This reduction of life is not related to increases in crime, drugs, pollution or global warming. The cause is obesity. Sixty-nine percent of adults in this country are overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the United States have weight-related factors. As a people, we are increasingly sedentary, overfed and undernourished. Millions are dying or living with decreased energy, activity and health, due to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disorders, stroke and other chronic conditions. At the root of much of this suffering is a severe case of fork and couch. Let’s look close to home. In 2015, Louisiana had the 4th highest rate of obesity in the nation, and new data from Gallup-Healthways ranked Baton Rouge as the most obese city in America.


APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

A look at the church pew population is shocking. A Pawtucket Heart Health Program study found people who attend church are more likely to be 20 percent overweight and have higher blood pressure and cholesterol numbers than individuals who do not attend church. This should not be. We are connected to the creator and the church is meant to be an active agent for help and healing. Poor physical condition limits this important work. A change must come. Our bodies are important to God. He knit them together in our mother’s womb. These fearfully and wonderfully made creations are earthly homes for our soul, and temples for the Holy Spirit. God cares about our bodies, and He desires that we be in good health. We should care and desire the same (Psalm 139:13, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 3 John 2). Unfortunately, many see weight gain as an inevitability of our culture. Others connect steps to healthy living with the superficiality of vanity. Both views are untrue. Healthy weight management is connected to deeper issues of life, quality of life and good stewardship.

If you need and want to do better with your weight and health, jumpstart the process with these three steps:

1. Make it a God thing In the Body of Christ, poor nutrition and overeating is an accepted and protected vice. Daily, eating choices follow the desires of the flesh. We don’t consult the Holy Spirit and keep God on the periphery – until sickness comes. Then we fervently call on the Lord in prayer to “fix it.” Consider the common grace uttered before meals. Many ask God to “bless the food we are about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies,” then proceed to feed on items with little to no nutrition. Imagine the change if instead of asking God to bless the food we choose, we sought guidance and blessed God with our food choices. Positive change comes when we align our actions (eating, activity — all we do) for the glory of God.

2. Get a Health Team and a Health Plan Without knowledge people perish and knowledge of self is critical to health and wellness. Routine body measurements, laboratory tests, screenings and risk assessment make

Healthy LIFE


If the process feels too hard for you, stand on the fact that nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:27). When you think you can’t do it, know all things are possible through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

it possible to detect, treat and prevent disease. Get a complete physical exam and use this information as a baseline for your customized nutrition and activity path for improved health. Don’t take this journey alone (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22). Engage wise counsel from your medical professional, a nutritionist and fitness or health coach to help you create and follow a plan specific to your needs, goals and lifestyle. This team of health advisors adds knowledge, accountability and support for positive behavior change.

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3. Engage Your Faith Change is not easy, but it is possible. If the process feels too hard for you, stand on the fact that nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:27). When you think you can’t do it, know all things are possible through Christ (Philippians 4:13). When your mind recounts the number of times you have tried and failed, remember God cannot fail. Don’t rely on your strength or willpower. Trust God’s power and look for the opportunities and blessings He provides in each step of good physical stewardship. For further exploration visit:

Nettye Johnson is a wife, mother, author, speaker, Bible teacher, American Council of Exercise certified health coach, marathoner and founder of Nettye Johnson Faith and Fitness Services LLC, (NJFFS), a Christian wellness organization providing a science-based, faith-empowered approach to health and wellness. Her first book, “Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is,” outlines principles to inform and inspire the body of Christ towards healthy weight management. Nettye excels in the grassroots engagement of groups through faith and social channels for education, support and advocacy. An energetic speaker and motivational leader, Nettye informs, inspires and coordinates collaborative action on local and regional levels. Nettye can be reached at 225-235-9489 or

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X Healthy LIFE

Terrific Turtles T

he Y’s focus on water safety has always been a priority and after learning there was a community need for swimming lessons for children with disabilities, the Y responded by launching the Terrific Turtles program, an adaptive swim lesson for participants with special needs. Kelli Seitz, YMCA lifeguard and Terrific Turtles swim instructor, has been working one-onone with special needs children for the past five years at the A. C. Lewis YMCA. “With that first child, I learned that I needed to keep the child safe and comfortable in the water above all else, and their learning will spring from there.” Kelli’s experience as an Adapted Physical Education Teacher made her the perfect fit for this program, “I love being in the water and teaching others how to be safe

and have fun in the water too.” Rhett Guillot, 8, struggles with mild gross and fine motor skills and was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech at 2 years old. Rhett has attended occupational, speech and physical therapy, but Rhett’s mother, Karen Guillot, chose swimming as an addition to therapy because it is an “excellent activity for global motor and sensory input to the brain.” “Swimming stimulates his motor, multisensory input and mental thinking, utilizing all four extremities and synchronizing his breathing and his movements,” Guillot says. Rhett began the program deathly afraid of the water. He would hold on to the side of the pool, but Kelli worked with him to begin doing a little at a time, first standing next to the

by Kristen Hogan

pool, then standing on a step in the water, then standing in the shallow end, etc. “Over time he was learning to hold his breath and kick his feet and now look at him, he is swimming the length of the pool,” Karen says. Karen added that swimming has helped with his cognitive academic performance, allowing him to be more engaged in school, as well as tuning his fine motor skills and improving his writing. She has also seen an improvement in his multitasking abilities, self-confidence and a decrease in his classroom insecurities. Gavin Boutte, 8, is also a participant in the program. Diagnosed with classical autism at age 2, his mother, Sasha Matthews, wanted him to learn to swim so he would survive if something were to happen — research has shown that drowning remains a leading cause of death

Rhett Guillot Gavin Boutte 40

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Healthy LIFE in children with autism. “Gavin wouldn’t let me wet his hair, he didn’t want water on his head or in his face and now look at him,” Matthews says. “The Terrific Turtles program has done so much more than teach him to swim, it’s been an improvement to our quality of life; it’s changed our life in more ways than one.” Gavin is progressing in the program and has learned to love water. “This is his happy place, he lights up when he sees Kelli,” she says. It was hard to find programs and resources for children with disabilities Sasha remarked. “[This program is] something special for us, we have felt so welcomed from the very beginning. We are not judged here; our special noises and actions won’t be looked at because here at the Y, we are all the same.”


A Review of

Reading for LIFE


Are You In Need of a Turnaround?

A 21 Day Devotional for Men

Written by Ken Paxton Reviewed by Kelli Knight

Scripture, though it has the same message, speaks to us all individually. On a broader scale, it speaks to men and women in a different way because we are naturally wired differently from each other. From this recognition Ken Paxton developed a devotional that is specifically directed to the interests of men. Ken has taken his industrial background and applied it to the teachings of Jesus. He utilizes terminology often found in many fraternal conversations to interpret 21 days of scripture that entreat men. It is a wonderful book for study and allows areas for writing thoughts. It is practical and for any man who feels that he is unable to connect to Christ, this book may be the conduit needed. It can be found on

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Kelli Knight is the owner of Illuminated Designs Studio, specializing in graphic design services. She received her Liberal Arts degree from LSU and has lived in Baton Rouge for the majority of her life. Kelli loves great stories, so reading and writing have always been passions of hers. Over the course of her career she has written for several publications throughout Southeast Lousiana. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Living a Christian Life:

The Passionate Pursuit of Jesus by Bishop Kendrick Whaley


ave you ever wondered what it takes to live a Christian life or to have the life of Jesus living through you? Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I believe the Christian life is lived with a passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ. Allow me to bring attention to the words “come after,” in the passage above. When Jesus said, “come after,” He was telling us to let our thoughts and energies be consumed by our desire to be in a relationship with Him. We should be motivated to pursue a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ because He pursued one with us when we were unworthy of His love. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8. God took the initiative to “come after” us first. God put on flesh, came down to earth and died for our sins. When we understand the magnitude of His love toward us it will motivate us to pursue Him with the same kind of love. “We love him, because he first loved us,” 1 John 4:19. The Christ-life does not come without getting rid of the self-life. It’s not simply about saying no to oneself, it’s about getting rid of self. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” Galatians 2:20. We live in a culture today that says it’s all about oneself. It is impossible to “come after” without denying self. Let’s focus on taking up our cross! Many have come to the cross but have yet to die on it. What is a cross for? It’s not just a burden to be borne; it’s an instrument of death and total sacrifice. Taking up your cross means the death of self. What you want no longer matters; what God wants with your life is what must be done with it. If you are indulging self, you are denying Christ. And if you are not acquainted with self-execution and self-denial, you are a stranger to Christ. Stop carrying your cross and instead, get on it! Christian living is denying and dying to self, and living a life of total commitment to, and faith in, Jesus Christ. What we stand to gain in Christ is far greater than what we must lose for Christ. Kendrick Whaley Sr. is married to Nicole McCoy Whaley and they have two children, Kendrick J. Whaley, Jr. and Tori A. Whaley. Kendrick attended World Harvest Bible College in Columbus, Ohio, under Pastor Rod Parsley. He continued his formal Christian education at Faith Christian University where he received an associate’s degree in Bible and theology. Under the leadership of the late Bishop J.W. Harrison and Presiding Elder, James Evans, he was appointed to serve the CCOG in various capacities including pastor in 2000, overseer in 2006, and in July 2010 he was appointed by the board to be the Bishop. He truly has a shepherd’s heart and it has shown in his care for God’s people. He desires to see souls saved and the body of Christ edified.


APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

“Vessel at Large”

Witness at WORK


Jeremy Martin, Owner of AutoYes

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Auto Yes team

If you get knocked down, get up again


eremy Martin does not “clown” around when sharing his incredible and miraculous life story that encompasses near death experiences, a difficult childhood, failed marriages and the reason he believes God chose to spare him, protect him and why he is still here. Not only is Jeremy still here by the grace of God, he is in the process of writing a book entitled “God’s Fourth Quarter,” which he hopes to complete in the next six months.

45 Years!

Martin is an entrepreneur and the owner of AutoYes, a car dealership specializing in certified pre-owned cars, trucks and SUVs. He has a passion for life and intends to make the most of every day. He is not one to look back with regret. However, he does reflect back on a life full of challenges and realizes that God was always there. At times he admits he got off track in terms of following God. What Christian hasn’t been derailed before? Temptation is everpresent and the flesh is weak but to live for Christ is much more than simply following Christ. Something he has learned over time is that it’s not enough to say you follow Christ; living for him is requires more depth and authenticity. Martin shared his belief that “one must live for Christ, not just follow Christ,” several times — a message he often shares with others. He is confident that he is on this earth in order to Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016



Witness at WORK

complete his book and to serve others as an evangelist. “I am a vessel living for God,” he says. The way he witnesses at work is the same way he would witness anywhere else — as a vessel who has been given a second chance at life. Despite the twists and turns he’s experienced in life, he has surpassed all odds and is still going strong. Martin shares miraculous stories from his childhood growing up in East Waco, Texas, as well as stories from his adult life that he hopes will help others think beyond this world. He desires to encourage others through his personal encounters with God and his understanding that tomorrow is not promised, so one better start living for God today. Q: As a child growing up in East Waco, Texas, life was not always easy. Would you please share about those quarters as you define them in your life that shaped you into the man you are today? A: I am here today by the grace of God, but there were many attempts by the devil to thwart God’s plan in my life. These times are embedded in my mind and I like to present them as quarters in my life. The “quarters” reference relates to having been involved in sports my entire life from soccer, football, baseball and track, to riding dirt bikes. The first quarter involves my birth. Back in the 1970s abortions were illegal, yet they were still being performed in alleyways. But, one abortion did not happen, and that is why I am here today. My parents were 16 when my mom got pregnant. My mom went to have an abortion, but the coat hanger the doctor had used on a previous abortion fell out of the bag and blood spilled out everywhere. My mom stood up and ran out of that alley like a track star and never looked back. The devil did not succeed. 44

APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

The second attempt occurred when I was 2 years old. We lived in a quadplex in a seedy area of East Waco. My dad worked nights at 7-Eleven, and my mom was home smoking pot and drinking upstairs. She walked down the stairs and saw me lying near our front door, which was wide open, and she picked me up and placed me back in my crib. If I had gotten out the front door it could have been very serious. There are more details to this second attempt at my life, because the door incident correlates to a recurring dream I have had about a door shutting on me. In this dream, the wind kept shutting the door. However, I learned more indepth about this dream after a good visit with my mom when I was 31 years old. During our visit, I had her finally open up and share things with me that now make sense. It was not easy for her to open up, but she did so with such dignity and humility that I am forever thankful for her transparency. She explained that evening when she placed me back in the crib that the spring on the door had been broken off, and that I was being protected by the wind slamming it shut. Again, God intervened. The third quarter in my life happened when my parents divorced. I was 7 years old. My mom was going to school at night and working a second job. When I got home from school, I was supposed to do homework and stay inside. The kids across the street were playing football one day and kept yelling my name, “Jeremy, come on over.” So, I disobeyed my mom and started running across the street. Something stopped me in the road. It was not a force that was normal, nor could I see it. If one was to prop a trampoline on its side and place it upright — it was like that was what I ran into that blocked me from seriously getting hurt. A car driving about 60 mph flew by and had this miraculous force not blocked me, I would have been dead. After it passed, I

ran across the street and played football. Again, these major events in my life surface in my mind as an adult and keep me “on track” with God, knowing he was there in each moment that could have resulted in catastrophe. Q: The fourth quarter of your life involves what the doctors and the surgeons deem a medical miracle in your life. What happened when you were in the hospital after your first aneurysm? A: I was 42 years old, going through a second divorce and really living a wayward life. Going out to nightclubs and drinking were part of my routine, which were totally unlike myself. I actually heard God whisper, “How dare you, Jeremy.” It was during this off-season with God that I had my first aneurysm. It felt like a match had been lit inside my brain. My current wife, Brandee, found me unconscious and got me to the emergency room. Once in the room, I put my head down, only to wake up later and discover I had been in the hospital for 10 days. After the initial aneurysm, I had a stroke and two more aneurysms from what I am told. The only thing I remember during those 10 days of unconsciousness and dreams or semi-consciousness states, was the chaos in the emergency room — like sheer chaos all-around, hopelessness, images of angels, God coming back to earth and just not being moved. People from Antioch Church were all praying for me. The pastor of Antioch laid hands on me while in the hospital. There was a sales representative with News on Wheels who had seen me in the emergency room and she knew me; her father was also in the hospital. She had the pastor from Antioch pray for me and had others put me on their prayer list. My wife was told to prepare for the worst because I was probably going to be in a vegetative state if I survived.

Witness at WORK They needed to perform a shunt surgery because of the water and blood that had caused my head to swell and my eyes to poke out. The left side of my face drooped as well. The nurse could not believe what she saw on the eleventh day when she walked in. My eyes had returned to normal, and the left side of my face had healed. My main doctor discussed it with four other doctors because of the amazing healing. The doctor knows that beyond a shadow of a doubt I had experienced a true medical miracle. To wrap this experience up, I was admitted in the hospital, expected to be a vegetable and was released on the fourteenth day. At my two-week follow-up after my release, I was filling out my paperwork and before I could complete the forms, I heard my named called. I just thought, “This is not good.” I sort of cowered inside because of my white-coat syndrome and thinking the news would not be good. This very tall man came out to meet me and said, “Jeremy, do you know who I am?” I did not recognize him. He shared that he was my surgeon and that he wanted to take a look at me and see how I was doing. He just wanted to see me because of the miraculous healing he witnessed. He totally believes my healing was a God-thing and not a science thing. What an amazing fourth quarter!

will be part of my legacy. Brandee and I have three kids ages 5, 7 and 13, and it is as much for them as it is for those who purchase a copy. Even though I am their stepfather, they are like my very own. Q: What would your main message be to families today, especially to fathers? A: Dads need to stand their ground. It is important to stay grounded in the Word of God. It helps me to read a Psalm each morning, which is a regular habit now. We are all just people trying to survive. When it comes to marriage and being a dad, love and forgiveness are vital. Give it to your family and others 100 percent. Forgiveness is key to healing and moving forward. During the time I met with my mom at age 31, I assured her that I had forgiven her. I also lived in high school with my dad, so I have maintained a relationship with both of my parents. My grandfather raised me prior to my high school days. He was instrumental


in my life. I never remember him getting angry. He was a man of honor having served in the Army, and he fought in World War II. He was in the Shriners and I always remember him giving money to various charities. So, I encourage people that have much, [to give]; [to whom much is given], much is required. To give is to receive. Q: As a man who has lived despite the odds and has three businesses, AutoYes, Mr. Fix-It and Value Yes, what would you like to share with others to sum up this amazing testimony? A: Success only comes through failure. One must learn how to fail and to be fine with failure. How one handles failure is the true test. If you get knocked down just brush it off and get back up again. Martin is hoping to complete “God’s Fourth Quarter” in the next six months. There is a spiritual battle going on, and it’s real. The book will feature more details regarding political warfare, the spiritual battle and God’s sovereignty. Jeremy may dance around in a clown suit on his AutoYes commercials, which has done quite well to brand his business, but when you sit with him at a table, he begins to pour out story after story of how God is always right beside you. Start living for God today.

Q: What would you say is your purpose after all these experiences in addition to being a successful entrepreneur and creative soul? A: I am a vessel living for God. Simple. The only stress I feel is to complete the book. The proceeds from the sales of “God’s Fourth Quarter” will go to organizations like A Door of Hope and other charities. I have been sharing my story through forums and speaking to various groups, but the book will be completed and published because people need to know God is real. This book

Jeremy and Brandee with children Breya, Jax and Cooper.

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and also a columnist for Town Favorites Magazine and has been contributing to that monthly publication since 2005. She can be reached at Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l ARPIL 2016


Opportunities for LIFE

Calendar of Events

April 4

Women in Business Bible study held at La Madeleine’s in Perkins Rowe from 5:30-7 p.m. We study biblical principles for success. Come join us and be encouraged!

April 7

Shop to Support CASA at The Impeccable Pig

(Perkins Rowe) and 20 percent of your purchase will be donated to CASA. Thanks to Kappa Alpha Theta for organizing this event.

April 8-10

St. Jude fair St. Jude Church; Friday evening thru Sunday afternoon. Corner of Highland & Gardere. Come to celebrate Faith, Family, and Fellowship with live music by the Long Neck Society and the Chee Weez, great food, rides, games & BINGO. No admission and perfect for all ages.

April 23

The KINGDOM School of Witnessing 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Ministry of New Life Campus (938 North 14th Street, Baton Rouge, 70802). Visit to register or call: (225) 305-3006. Kendra Gives Back Shopping Party for CASA 3-6 p.m., Kendra Scott in Perkins Rowe — 20% of sales to benefit Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. CASA thanks Kappa Alpha Theta for organizing this event.. the Women Praying for Women annual spring luncheon 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Boudreaux’s (2647 Government St.). We will be hosting recording artist Vicky Yohe. For more information visit

April 24

April 11

Broadmoor United Methodist Church will be hosting an old fashioned talent show 3 p.m. Benefitting Christ in the City. No competition, just a sweet, sweet spirit. Call Rev. David Melville at (225) 397-6393 to sign up to perform. Love offering will be taken.

April 15

April 28

Terracon Golf Benefit for CASA 9:30 a.m., at University Club. All proceeds support Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Association.

Women in Sprit Noon at the St. Joseph Cathedral Parish Hall featuring guest speaker Jane Aslam of The Islamic Center of Baton Rouge. To RSVP email: or call (225) 387-5928.

CASA Carnival 4:30-7:30 p.m., Kappa Alpha Theta House (4030 West Lakeshore Drive) – Enjoy jambalaya, carnival games, a dunk booth, face painting and more. Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Hosted by LSU Kappa Alpha Theta. All proceeds support Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Association. More info: visit or email

National Pay It Forward Day Dinner Dudley DeBosier will be hosting its National Pay It Forward Day on Thursday, April 28 from 4-6 p.m. Free food, music, door prizes and more will be offered.

April 16

April 29 – May 1

Explore science 3 p.m. Explore science-based, faith-empowered principles for wellness at the free Attaining and Maintaining your Healthy Weight Workshop led by certified health coach Nettye Johnson. Workshop hosted at EBRP Library – Scotlandville Branch (7373 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge). For more information email:

April 21

Free Bluesy Gospel on the lawn 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. — Free Bluesy Gospel on the lawn at North Boulevard Town Square, downtown Baton Rouge, featuring Soul Salvage Project. Sponsored by Christ in the City. Annual TLSM Impact Luncheon 11:30 a.m., at Crowne Plaza. Special guests include LSU coach Johnny Jones and WAFB’s Donna Britt. Tickets are $50 with all proceeds going to serve single parent families.

April 22

2016 Patriot’s Day Luncheon Friday, April 22, noon, at LSU Rural Life Museum, hosted by the American Judicial Alliance ( — Come learn about the fascinating Harlan Bible story and enjoy food, fun and fellowship. Seating is limited. RSVP to retired Judge Darrell White at (225) 603-2544 or

April 22 & 23

Extreme Ranch Rodeo Invitational Presented by Extreme Rodeo. Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzalez, La. Tickets $10 at the gate, children 5 and under are free. For more information or to purchase tickets visit


APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Malcolm Smith, international speaker, will present a live seminar, “The Search for Self-Worth,” Grace Life Fellowship (10210 Barringer Foreman Road). Come join us as the original series from the 1980s is being re-filmed with added insights gained over the last 35 years. This series teaches believers who they are in Christ, the beloved of God and His dwelling place through the Spirit. Register online at:, under events.

June 6 – July 29 Resurrection Life Family Ministries Summer Camp Children ages 5-13. Application fee $20; weekly rates: one child $100, two children $150, three children $175 (fees include breakfast, lunch and snacks). For more information email: or call: (225) 925-8233.

Saturdays in APRIL

Join the KINGDOM Group each Saturday morning at 9 a.m. for the Growing By Going Radio Broadcast on WPFC 1550 AM. Feel free to call in with questions and comments (225) 926-1550 or (225) 926-6550.


CASA Volunteer Orientation: Learn how you can help an abused or neglected child reach a safe, permanent home at a 45-minute informational session. Contact: (225) 379-8598,, Monday, April 4 at noon Saturday, April 9 at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 14 at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 at noon Tuesday, April 26 at 1 p.m.

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APRIL 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine