Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - April 2018

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april 2018


The Love of a Father

The Power of Forgiveness Celebrating 3 Years of Good News

Troy & Tracy Duhon


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APRIL 2018

columns issue 1, volume 4 April 2018

Faith Life

7 The Blessing of Forgiveness by Bishop Ronald E. Hardy, Sr.


PUBLISHER Beth Townsend

Lost at Sea

by Sharon Holeman

Founders Forum

11 Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC

Associate Editor/Publisher Susan Brown

Family Life

12 The Love of the Father...Earthly

contributing writers Lisa Tramontana Sharon Furrate Bailey Sharon Holeman Ronald E. Hardy, Sr. Robert Maxie Charles deGravelles Rachele Smith Jessica LeBlanc Daniel LaFont LaTangela Fay

and Divine

18-23 Cover story

by Robert Maxie

Purpose in the Pain:

Pastor’s Perspective

Troy and Tracy Duhon Step Out in Faith for World Impact

15 Forgiveness, Healing and the Resurrection

by Susan Brown

by Rev. Charles deGravelles

Learning for Life


16 Churches Take First Steps Toward Racial Healing

COVER Troy and Tracy Duhon

Man UP

24 And Forgive Us Our Debts... by Daniel LaFont



inside each issue

Creative Life

printed by Baton Rouge Press Baton Rouge, La.

26 Danni Downing

by Sharon Furrate Bailey


Millennial Life Forgiveness by Jessica LeBlanc

Healthy Life

5 Publisher’s letteR 6 Word from the word 28 a little lagniappe

LAYOUT & DESIGN BY Illuminated Designs Studio

BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE WEBSITE BY Kadmos Technology and Ellen McDowell-Your Social Butterfly

34 Autism Awareness

Gene Mills: An ‘Advocate of Hope’

36 Trivia Fun 37 Cooking for life 38 opportunities for life

by Lisa Tramontana

Confession...Good for the Soul

by Rachele Smith

BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE 9655 Perkins Road, Suite C-133 Baton Rouge, LA 70810 225-910-7426 4



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Publisher’s LETTER


Happy anniversary to us! Seems like just yesterday I was looking for people who believed strongly enough in the concept of a local Christian magazine to buy an ad for their church or business. And guess what? God went ahead of me and softened the hearts of just enough “Founding Advertisers” to launch our first magazine in April 2015. Prior to that, I had to design a business plan. After seeking several rounds of approval through those I consider to be “wise counsel,” I moved forward with the idea that Good News and personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness would help change our city one story at a time. After being the jack-of-all-trades those first few months, a team of wonderful people with great talent began to join my efforts. Suddenly, I had people coming alongside me, using their gifts and talents, joining the vision of bringing Unity to the Body of Christ in our Capital City. Many volunteered countless hours to help us learn and grow each month. Since that time, we have published 36 editions! I can hardly believe it. I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy. Quite the contrary. When you go into ministry, you go into battle. Yet God has been faithful to provide just what we needed right when we needed it. While there have been obstacles and roadblocks, He has seen us through each barrier. You will notice changes this month: some new looks, a couple of new teammates and our favorite of all, a new printer! One of my goals from the beginning was to use all local people. But for printing we had to look out of state for the type of press required. However, since the flood, Baton Rouge Press has installed new equipment, and starting this month we are keeping our business right here at home. We are excited to partner with them. You are in for a treat this month! With Easter and a theme of forgiveness, you’ll be encouraged when you read our feature story about Troy and Tracy Duhon. Did you know the “God’s Not Dead” series was birthed here in Louisiana? There are good things happening in our city and state, and we are thankful to have the fabulous job of sharing the positive side of our city. Many other inspiring stories will encourage you to go deeper in your faith, think about the freedom of forgiveness and help us learn to Trust God more with our lives. Happy Easter, He is Risen! Matthew 28:6 says, “He is not here, He has risen, just as He said.” His miraculous resurrection is for each of us. Not only to forgive us for our sins, but to be renewed with His life in us. John 14:20 says that He will live in us! What a transformational truth. If you haven’t yet, invite Jesus into your life. Let him lead you into a life of purpose, wisdom and eternal salvation. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, He will meet you where you are. Don’t wait until you “have it all together.” None of us will ever be worthy of His presence. But God sent his only Son so that we may experience the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ and live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Join us in changing the world, one story at a time. Happy Easter!

Beth Townsend l APRIL 2018


X Word from the Word Forgiveness by LaTangela Fay

It comes from the tips of our tongues, but how do we know when it truly comes from the heart? I’ve wrestled with my pen and pad while searching for what I felt would be the perfect article on “forgiveness.” After hundreds of crumpled sheets of paper and do-overs, I prayed a little harder and asked God to help me encourage you to let go of that burden that is weighing you down: hurt, anger, neglect, abuse, betrayal... any and all of the rush of emotions you are feeling because you are holding on to a disappointment that has shifted your gears. We need the level of forgiveness that will allow us to see the lesson that was attached to that string of misfortune, the one that left us with a grief. It takes a prayerful heart and a level of spiritual maturity to reach the level of forgiveness that will allow us to find peace even in the midst of that particular storm. Sometimes, it is easier to identify that grudge we are holding against someone else, but when was the last time you used the power of forgiveness towards yourself? There comes a time when occurrences become more familiar than not, and we find that we

are drawing the same energy, patterns and results because we refuse to allow ourselves to eliminate the common denominator that very well may be holding us back: the guilt we hold against ourselves. Let it go. It is a new day and the stronghold that held you yesterday should hold less power over your life today. Ephesians 4:31, 32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness is the ultimate gift. Not only to others, but to yourself ... and from God to us. If our heavenly Father sees fit to render forgiveness, let us follow closer to His teachings and strive to be more like Him day by day. LaTangela Fay is an award-winning radio and media personality, author, songwriter and production director at Cumulus Media. She is also a consultant and contributor to the team at Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine.

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Since 2015 we have reached over one million people with the gospel featuring non-denominational stories that include all Christian faiths, encouraging unity in the Body of Christ.

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“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5) 6

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Faith LIFE


The Blessing of Forgiveness by Bishop Ronald E. Hardy, Sr.


oday, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience the blessing of forgiveness. The word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is for our wellbeing. The Lord knows what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive. There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness. So, why is this so important to know? Because, it may seem like you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Corinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11: “To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” You see, unforgiveness allows Satan to get the advantage over us. However, forgiveness allows us to get the advantage over him. So, you should never feel that you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in true forgiveness. So, let’s look at some of the Blessings of Forgiveness. Ephesians 4:30-32 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye

passion in the moment of anger. Anger is a more internally deep form of hostility or clamor*. You cannot allow yourself to stay trapped in these emotions, because it will rob you of God’s best for your life. Forgiveness is the key to getting free from these emotions. It is time for you to experience a freedom in your life through the Blessing of Forgiveness. The second Blessing of Forgiveness is that it allows us to experience a new beginning. God’s

are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Forgiveness allows us to experience freedom to properly move forward in life. You must forgive, so you can put the past behind you. As long as your past is before you, it will block you from properly seeing your future, and it will also hinder you from embracing your present. You see, unforgiveness keeps us emotionally trapped, which can result in different types of unhealthy emotions like bitterness, rage or anger. Bitterness is a smoldering resentment or wrath that produces rage. Rage is the heat of

open display of forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, opens the door for a new beginning. Colossians 1:14 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” It is through His forgiveness that we are able to have a new-found relationship with Him. Forgiveness will always leave the door open for a possible “new start” in your relationship with the individual that you are forgiving. It is the key to leaving the door open for a possibility of another chance with that individual. However, please remember that forgiveness does not mean that you should continue to put yourself in the same position to be mistreated again. Forgiveness means that you are not holding any resentment, hatred or wishing any ill towards that particular individual. l APRIL 2018


X Faith LIFE

Let me share a story with you about a new beginning. A young couple in my church was about to have their first child, which caused the wife to think about her husband’s situation with his father. The husband knew of his father, but he did not have his father’s last name. The wife wanted her husband to have his biological father’s last name, because she did not want their daughter to grow up carrying a last name that was not her true identity. So, she asked her husband to talk to his biological father about signing his birth certificate, so he could have the same last name as his biological father. This would allow him to pass his biological father’s last name to his daughter. Initially, he did not want to ask his father, because his father was not involved in his life. She continued to be persistent, but he still refused to do it. Eventually, he got his hands on the book that I wrote, Where is Daddy? After reading the book, he shared with his wife that he would follow through with her request if his father would first read the book. So, they sent the book to his father. His father’s wife called and told him that his father was brought to tears while he read the book. So, he and his father decided to meet. They both expressed their feelings, and because he was willing to forgive his father for not being there for him while he was growing up, they were able to experience a new beginning in their relationship. The name was changed on the husband’s birth certificate, which allowed their newborn child to carry her true identity. The father and son have a good relationship now, because of the Blessing of Forgiveness. As I stated earlier, forgiveness opens the door for a new beginning. The last thing that I want to share is that forgiveness keeps us in good standing with our Heavenly Father. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So, if you have been struggling with forgiveness, it is time for you to forgive, so that you can walk in your new-found freedom. You might be saying that the individual does not deserve my forgiveness. That is exactly right. Forgiveness is not something that is earned or deserved. Forgiveness is something freely given. I have been confronted with this many times in my life. It hasn’t always been easy, but I had to choose to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of your own will. If you can see the blessing in forgiveness, then maybe it will become a little easier to forgive. U

Bishop Ronald Hardy, Sr. is the Pastor of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Centers of Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, a multifaceted ministry touching the lives of many. He is a preacher, teacher, prophet and author of two books – A Love Like This and Where is Daddy? He also authors the Daily Word, a weekday devotional that helps people navigate their daily lives. This Daily Word is published on the Facebook page of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Center. Bishop Hardy is married to Robbin Hardy and they have four children and seven grandchildren. *Clamor - the cry of strife or contention, out of control; and lastly, evil speaking in the form of slander


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Faith LIFE

Lost at Sea


by Sharon Holeman


eborah stood silently looking . over the water, tears slowly gliding down her face. Her

hands trembled as she read the letter one last time. Taking a deep breath, she tore the paper into pieces. And then let it go. The words, now scattered, descended into the sea. The decision had been made. Deborah had chosen to forgive him --- for all the hurt feelings she experienced as a child of divorce, for the disappointment of promises not kept, for the ache of missing his presence, for the resentment of responsibilities taken on too young. For all of it. Her head knew about forgiveness, but the pastor’s message that Sunday seemed to be speaking directly to her heart. It was time to absolve her father of mistakes from the past.

Part of Deborah wondered how the wound was still there. It had been, seemingly, a lifetime ago. She was a child of only nine the day he left. Standing at the ironing board, she heard him tell her mother, “You’re not going to be able to raise these girls without them getting into trouble.” Whatever context that statement may have meant between her parents did not matter. She made up her mind immediately to prove him wrong. She would not get into trouble. True to her word, Deborah took on the indoor responsibilities at home while her sister took care of the outdoors. They pitched in, allowing their mother to go to work, for the first time since they could remember. Occasional conversations with Dad, now living in a different state with a different wife, felt awkward and strained.

Deborah leaned heavily on her faith. She and her sister continued going to church, more frequently than she likes to recall, without their heartbroken mother. Still underlined in her childhood Bible is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It is a popular verse, often taken out of context, but not for Deborah. While her young heart may not have realized the significance, she found herself in a type of exile, separated from the home she loved. In fact, over time, she followed the Lord’s instructions to the Israelites. She married, had children and built a home and a life for herself hundreds of miles away. And just as God promised the Israelites, His word rang true for Deborah. His good plans were fulfilled and she was brought home. The restoration that Deborah longed for with her father was yet to come. She had tried to maneuver it herself, but after making a phone call, all that would remain was an empty feeling. The surface contact was there, but the depth of love that every daughter longs for with her father always felt forced. Her father had met her children and remained a part of her life throughout the 17 years she was married. He encouraged her the best he could when her husband died of emphysema, even letting his granddaughter live with him during part of that difficult season. But her heart still had an empty segment carved out for the relationship she longed to have with her father. Years later, after Deborah’s children were grown and she had moved to Florida, her father came to her college graduation. It was during this time in her life, as an adult, that she heard the pastor speak and wrote the heartfelt letter that never l APRIL 2018


X Faith LIFE got mailed. Despite her effort, not much changed after that day. Seven years passed. Deborah earned her master’s degree and married a wonderful man named Denny. Life went on. Four years into her marriage, Deborah received a call from her sister. She needed help with their aging mother. Deborah and Denny left Florida the next day, headed for Dallas. Deborah knew her father and his wife were also living in the area, but she did not expect the visit to be so emotional. When they walked into the room, her father wept. It was the first time he met Denny, and he liked him right away. Her father had changed. He was happy. He had re-committed his life to Christ. The next day, while mom remained in the hospital post-surgery, the rest of the family gathered around the kitchen table. There was something different about this

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conversation. It was honest and heartfelt. They all seemed to know they were not together on this day by accident – this was a divine time orchestrated for their good. Deborah had not felt like an actual part of the family for so long. She did not want her heart to go another minute without forgiveness. She asked for it and gave it freely. Hugs and tears filled the room as the restoration was for them all – not just Deborah and her father. As a family --- a newly bonded family --- they grabbed hands and prayed. Things changed that night. “The Holy Spirit was so thick in the room,” Deborah recalls, tears forming in the corner of eyes. Her heart admittedly came to another understanding too, one she had struggled with for years. “I realized that it didn’t matter who initiates the contact, it is about the relationship.” And this one,

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APRIL 2018 l

that she had longed for since childhood, was finally fulfilled. She had been brought home and restored. The unforgiveness – she had let it go – like unspoken words lost at sea. U

Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles - 12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.

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Founders forum


Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC, was an early supporter of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. Founded by Bill Peters, the company is shaped by Christian principles and ethics, and its staff works tirelessly to help others build legacies that last. “We have been able to bless so many people because of our success, and I attribute our success to our faith in God. We always saw our business as an opportunity to minister to others. This philosophy enables us to follow God’s prescription … if we honor Him, he will honor us if it’s according to his will. We always knew that if we were responsible with our success, He would let us pay it forward so others would be helped and would know that Christ lived in our hearts. So we continue to share our success with deserving ministries – like single mothers, Christian schools, and of course, Christian Life Magazine.” l APRIL 2018



Family LIFE

The Love of the Father … Earthly and Divine by Robert Maxie, Sr. Photos courtesy Robert Maxie


t was in February of 2013 that I woke up from a dream with an

urgent need to call my father. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number, and to my surprise he picked up the phone on the first ring. I tried making small talk but it was mostly silent. My father and I have never been close. Robert and Aminga Maxie

Years of physical abuse, alcoholism, and domestic violence made it very hard for me to build any type of relationship with him. Finally, he asked me what I wanted and I replied, “a better relationship.” I told him I loved him and just wanted his love as well. After I finished speaking, there was an awkward silence. Finally, he said, “I think our relationship is just fine.” His cold reply hurt, but I did what I felt God wanted me to do. So I had peace. In May I received a voicemail from my mother asking me to call home as soon as possible. She stated that Dad awoke that morning unable to see and she was 12

taking him to the doctor. We would later find out that he had brain cancer that was very aggressive. Within a month, he was in hospice. I flew home to see him knowing that this would be my last time. My father, who was always so huge in my eyes, looked frail and worn. The brain tumor had taken his sight completely and he was quickly losing normal functioning. My mom announced my presence, saying, “Your son is here.” At that moment, my father looked up as if he could see me and said, “I have no son.” My mother quickly stated that he didn’t know what he was saying … those were my father’s last words to me.

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My father passed away on July 1, and on that day I was discharged from the Navy and started preparing to move back to Louisiana. Within a week, we were home, moving into a new house and preparing for my father’s funeral. Everything happened so fast there was no time to grieve and I don’t remember even crying – until one evening when my mom called and asked me how I was doing. I said I was fine and she replied, “You do know your father loved you?” Within seconds, I was on the floor crying and screaming, “No I don’t.” I heard those words in my head every day – “I don’t have a son.” I felt

Family LIFE


Robert and Aminga Maxie spend time with their children Kianna, Robert Jr., Olivia, Elijah and Jon’Benet.

like Esau standing at the bed of Isaac, saying, “Would you just bless me!” In my mind I know my father was sick and probably didn’t know what he was saying, but for the last four years the enemy has had a field day attacking my mind with thought after thought and with lie after lie. I was sinking deeper

My identity comes from God and every day I feel his love and acceptance. I want them [his children] to know how much God loves them.

and deeper into a depression and no one knew I was suffering. One day I just got tired of letting the enemy torment my mind, and instead of focusing on what my earthly father did or did not do, I would instead focus on my heavenly father and his unconditional love for me. He never

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X Family LIFE Robert and Aminga with their children.

denies me and he calls me son. For so long I felt like an orphan and I began reading and talking about the heart of God the father and what he says about me. I allowed Jesus into those father wounds so he could heal me. I needed God to remove the fear of rejection from my heart. The pain was killing me slowly and making me become bitter. Galatians 4:5-7 says, “To redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child,


1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the God has made you Father has lavished on us, that we should be also an heir.” called children of God! And that is what we He called me are! The reason the world does not know us a son! He is my is that it did not know him.” U perfect father. I spent years looking for a father figure only to continually end up hurt and disappointed. But God has been there the whole time waiting for Pastor Robert Maxie, Sr. was born and raised in me to forgive and Baton Rouge and graduated from Capitol High School. He is a veteran of the US Navy. Along to let go of the with his wife Aminga and their six children, pain of the past. It he has a heart for those lost in addiction and doesn’t matter the substance abuse. Maxie serves as the ministry size of the wound leader of Crossroad Recovery Ministry, associate pastor of Encounter Church, and director of the … I learned that a person never finds 2018 “Live Free” Conference. healing until we forgive. Today I choose to remember the best about my earthly father because I know Live Free that in his own way, he did love me and Conference 2018 he did the best he could with what he had. But my identity comes from God, and Friday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. every day I feel his love and acceptance. continuing Saturday morning, So as I raise my three boys, I tell them April 14 at 9:00 a.m. every day how much I love them, but April 15 Sunday experiences more importantly, I want them to know at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. how much God loves them. I want them to know that I am human and I will make Childcare is provided for mistakes – but God will never leave ages 6 months – 10 years them nor forsake them. He loves them unconditionally and that will never change.

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Pastor’s Perspective


Forgiveness, Healing and the Resurrection by the Rev. Charles deGravelles


eople are crammed into every corner of the room. They spill through the open door into the street. Some have pushed into the crowded room only to listen and be lifted in spirit; after all, the Teacher’s words make all things seem possible. But by now, everyone has heard that the Master can, with a word or a touch, cure any condition or infirmity, and many have come with a secret prayer for healing—for themselves or someone they love. Among those on the street is a paralyzed man who nurtures in his heart such a hope. The two friends who carry him on a stretcher, determined to make this happen, somehow get him onto the roof and, after removing some of the thatching, lower him to the feet of Jesus. The paralyzed man, his friends, and all who have watched this astonishing sight are disappointed by what Jesus says: “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Where is the healing in this, they think? Others are offended: “Only God can forgive sins. Does this man think he is God? ” (Luke 5:18-25.) As always, Jesus’ words are a lesson about the Kingdom of God and what it takes to live in it. Forgiveness, the Master is teaching, is an indispensable part of the true healing required to live in God’s

Kingdom. It is a deep healing of the soul that transcends the physical. He teaches this lesson over and over again. His answer to Peter’s question - how many times should we forgive - may seem cryptic, “seventy times seven,” but what he means is we should forgive a limitless number of times. In the parable Jesus uses to explain this difficult lesson, a king generously forgives the great debt of a man who then refuses to forgive a much lesser debt owed to him (Matthew 18:2135). The point? God, who sees and loves us as we are, forgives our innumerable shortcomings and expects us to do the same with one another. Lest we think Jesus is exaggerating the importance of forgiveness, among his dying words on the cross are forgiveness for those who condemned, tortured and killed him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). In over twenty-five years of ministry— in prisons and in the “free” world—I’ve witnessed the pain, turmoil and despair that we can cause one another, and I’ve also seen many times, even in the most extreme situations, the miracle of healing that forgiveness brings. I’ve experienced it in my own life and that of my family. Some denominations, including my own, use the season of Lent these days before Easter as a time for deep reflection and self-sacrifice. For some, it is a time of

“giving up” something that, in however small a way, reminds us of what Jesus suffered and gave up for us. As we walk with Jesus through his most difficult days, we may want to reflect on where, in our own lives, forgiveness may be called for. Instead of (or, if you like, in addition to) making a vow to give up chocolate or soft drinks or meat, why not make an honest assessment of your shortcomings that may have caused others pain, and also the resentments, angers, or grudges towards others that you are carrying. Ask for God’s forgiveness and for help in forgiving others. The resurrection of Easter will be for you, as it was for the paralyzed man who picked up his mat and walked, a time of healing and new life. U

Charles deGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A long-time prison minister, he helped found The Chapel of the Transfiguration, an Episcopal congregation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and was a spiritual mentor to a death row inmate there. He is a graphic artist, composer and writer whose biography of the LSU football legend, Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run, won the Louisiana Library Association best book of 2015. He and his wife, Angela, are the proud parents of three and grandparents of two. l APRIL 2018



Learning for LIFE

Churches Take First Steps Toward Racial Healing


wo years ago, the city of Baton Rouge simmered with tension after two high-profile and tragic incidents, both involving police officers and both causing weeks of racial unrest. In this climate of fear and violence, pastors throughout the city were comforting their congregations and urging people to stand united rather than divided. But the hurt and anger flowed along racial lines, and finding common ground was easier said than done. Pastors Gerrit Dawson and Albert White, already longtime friends, took a leap of faith and decided that racial healing had to start somewhere and it might as well start with them. Dawson is the senior pastor at the mostly white First Presbyterian Church in downtown Baton Rouge. White is pastor at Abounding Love Ministries, a mostly black congregation in the northern part of the city. Their friendship had led them to partner with each other for vacation Bible schools, Habitat for Humanity projects, and Bible studies. But the two congregations had never really mixed with each other on a personal or social level. And that seemed like a logical next step. Their first step was to identify congregants who were willing to participate. Then “matches” were made among black and white families, who took turns visiting each other’s homes, sharing meals, and getting to know one another. Those first meetings had their awkward moments, but many friendships have been formed and the feedback from both sides has been positive and encouraging. “In the beginning, some people worried that they would be uncomfortable in someone else’s home 16

Congregants from both churches have built lasting friendships through the 50 on 50 program.

or that they wouldn’t know what to talk about,” said Pastor Gerrit, “but in fact, once they engaged with each other, it was easy … because after all, both had Christ in common.” They called their campaign “50 on 50” because they hoped to enlist 50 families from each church, but because of the smaller size of Abounding Love Ministries, 20 was a reasonable compromise. Looking back, says Pastor Albert, the project almost didn’t happen. “For the announcement (and very first night) of the program, we invited the First Presbyterian group to our service at Abounding Love,” he said. “But that was the night the city started flooding, so we had to cancel. Then our church flooded, and of course, the people at First Presbyterian came and helped us over the next few weeks. So we ended up developing relationships even before the program started.” While the First Presbyterian volunteers were helping to restore the Abounding Love facility, Pastor Gerrit invited White’s congregation to the First Presbyterian services for the next few

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weeks. That invitation led to history in the making. “My wife Adraine gave a sermon there,” Pastor Albert said. “It was the very first time an African-American woman had done so in that church. And I gave communion to the congregation along with their elders. That was another first.” The home visits have expanded to include field trips, outings, and serious discussions. “We all got together and went to Donaldsonville to visit the River Road African-American Museum,” said Pastor Gerrit. “It was an amazing experience, and afterward, we went out to eat and had a heart-toheart discussion about slavery and its impact on all of us, black and white, even today.” “That trip was something that many of our white friends would never have done on their own,” said Pastor Albert. “But it was truly special to share an experience like that together.” Today, the affection between the two pastors has flowed to their congregants, who have learned how to look beyond


Learning for LIFE

the color of each other’s skin and really see the person inside. Now, among the two churches, new friends ask about each other’s families, their health, their needs. “We are all valuable,” said Pastor Albert. “We all have something to offer … and we are all so much alike. We just need to encourage each other to step outside of our comfort zones whenever we can.” For more information about Abounding Love Ministries, go to, or call (225) 356-4441. For more information about First Presbyterian Church, go to, or call (225) 387-0617. U

A Season of Change Albert and Adraine White are both pastors at Abounding Love Ministries.

Just as the “50 on 50” program was being developed, the Flood of 2016 raged through Baton Rouge, putting a stop to the plans of Pastor Gerrit Dawson and Pastor Albert White. But rather than let their hopes be washed away, the two men simply changed direction. In his September newsletter that year, Pastor Gerrit described the interaction that took place between the two churches, resulting in some amazing and historic “firsts” for his congregation:

People of all races, classes and accents have joined hands across the ruined homes to work together in rebuilding our city. We have declined the definition of our city that outside groups want to give us. We are determined to be more. And it’s very clear that God is at work among us. Some 50 members of Abounding Love Ministries joined us for worship for five weeks. The energy and the love were palpable. For the first time in 190 years, a black woman preached the Word strongly from our pulpit. For the first time I know of, an African-American pastor broke the bread and poured the wine before we partook together in communion.

Gerrit Dawson is senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church.

I believe these relationships are a Spirit “foothold” for the churches of Baton Rouge to cling together when racial tensions threaten the shalom of our city. We have so much yet to do, but there is a real basis now for moving forward …

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Cover Story

Purpose in the Pain:

Troy and Tracy Duhon Step Out in Faith for World Impact by Susan Brown Photos courtesy the Duhons

Photo by Aubrey Edwards with Time Magazine

Tracy and Troy Duhon reminisce about the accomplishments of the Hope organization.

“Be careful what you pray for – God might send a Cajun car dealer,” laughs Troy Duhon. 18

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Cover Story


He shakes his head as he recounts the way God is using a rebellious pastor’s son to spread the gospel through the burgeoning Christian movie business, build orphanages around the world, and address human trafficking, hunger and prison re-entry from his base in New Orleans. As executive producer of the “God’s Not Dead” series, Troy Duhon works to equip Christians – especially young adults – to address conflicting ideas during the volatile high school and college years. The latest film, “God’s Not Dead 3,” is scheduled for release by Pure Flix this Easter season. Duhon was sitting on a movie set in Los Angeles when he was struck by the idea. “We have a daughter (Abigail) who’s an aspiring actress, so she auditioned for a film and got the role. Because she’s a minor, parents have to go,” he said. Then, he received a phone call from a friend, Dr. Rice Broocks, author of the book, “God’s Not Dead.” “He’s telling me that 65% of faith-based kids will walk away from Christianity because they can’t defend the gospel. And I’m like – that’s crazy,” he said. “All of a sudden I got hit by the Holy Spirit and I’m like, really, God, me do a movie? I’ve never done a movie in my life.” Duhon approached David A.R. White, co-founder and managing partner of Pure Flix. “He looks at me and says, ‘Are you for real?’ And 31 days later we signed the contract. Now, up to 40 million people have seen the film. ‘God’s Not Dead’ was so widely popular that it prompted the sequels ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ and the third, ‘God’s Not Dead 3,’ released this month.

Abigail, Tracy and Troy Duhon attend the ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ Movie Premiere. Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America) l APRIL 2018



Cover Story

Abigail, Tracy, Josh, Troy, Annahstasia, and Avah Duhon.


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The Duhons are part of a movement to take the Christian film industry to a new level. “When you do a film called ‘God’s Not Dead’ there’s a very small market of people that are going to go to it. You’re entertaining Christians,” he said. “But when you take a story like “Hacksaw Ridge” (directed by Mel Gibson), you’re able to tell someone a story without preaching.” “Hacksaw Ridge” depicts the faith struggle of WWII medic Desmond T. Doss. “We’re creating a new model to evangelize,” Duhon said. That includes the idea of producing horror films - popular among Millennials - with a faith resolution. “You can give them a finish that says there’s a Creator, and his name is God. I don’t care what devil you served, God will redeem you and forgive you,” Duhon said. They are also working to provide the story of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and stories of people who have faced hard circumstances because of their faith. Duhon said personal tragedy often pulls individuals away from faith: the loss of someone close, a broken heart, a profound disappointment. For others, it is a creeping realization that Christianity prompts questions – and they don’t have answers. But with a faith animated by their own struggles, the Duhon family was uniquely equipped to embrace these issues. Their own painful reality - similar to the tragedy experienced by the professor in “God’s Not Dead” - brought a stronger faith and deeper commitment to serve. But it was an agonizing process that

Cover Story


Abigail Duhon and Tracy Duhon playing with kids in a village in Gambia, the location of an orphanage constructed through Giving Hope.

Troy and Tracy share to encourage faith through crisis. After giving birth to two healthy children, Joshua and Abigail, Tracy looked forward to a third baby in 2004. But she was told that the baby would not even survive her pregnancy. In faith, the Duhon family and members of their church prayed through scripture and trusted God for a miracle. But Baby Jonathan died on the day he was born. Tracy and Troy were devastated. “You could have taken anything in this world from me – anything but my children,” Tracy said. She felt that God had let her down. “We did not receive our miracle the way that we believed.” But Tracy said God was working out a different plan – one that took shape with wave after wave of trauma. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded four of the car dealerships in their New Orleans-based business. Some

1,200 cars were under water. Troy set up a relief center for the community in his Honda store. Soon, they were servicing 1,200 cars per day. “What was incredible wasn’t the number of cars, it was the joy of watching our employees give back,” Troy explained. “And from that moment on, I made a decision that it was never going to be about how many cars I sold, it was going to be about how many people that I could bless.” Then, tragedy struck again. In May 2006, their son, Joseph, was born and lived only seven hours. “Losing one child was pain enough, and then it happened a second time. Truly you’re going to doubt your faith,” Troy said. Depression set in, along with self-doubt: was there something in his past that caused present pain? “It was way too much for a mama to walk through. I was totally broken,” Tracy said. “And one day in the shower

I cried out to the Lord, screamed, yelled at him, ‘Why don’t you just take away this pain?’” Then, she sensed God’s direction; as she emotionally released her baby boys to him, she began to move forward. “I chose to obey one day at a time. He asked me to be faithful with what is in my hand, and at the time it was Joshua, six years old, and Abigail, three years old looking up at me. Joshua said, ‘I’m going to keep kissing you ‘til you stop crying, Mama.’” “You begin to try to justify or rationalize without knowing that God truly has a plan and a purpose,” Troy said. “Because if those events hadn’t happened, I don’t see myself here today adopting, building orphanages and doing the things I’m doing.” “My pain became my purpose,” he said. “I told Tracy, ‘Baby, you’re going to be the mother of many before we go to heaven. I will build 20 orphanages – l APRIL 2018



Cover Story

Tracy Duhon in Gambia.

The Duhon family attends the ribbon-cutting of Hope House India.

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Troy and Josh Duhon with dedication plaque for Honduras Hope House.

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Cover Story that’s my goal.’” In the meantime, Tracy gave birth to another daughter, Avah, now age 6, and they gained a daughter through adoption. Anna, now age five, was brought home from China in 2012. “The extravagant love of God loved me back to life – gave me a passion,” Tracy said. There are three lessons she passes along to others. First, there is purpose in your pain and you must choose to let it go. Then, you must tell yourself and others that God has not failed you. Finally, you must recognize that there is hope, and while you’re waiting on your miracle, become a miracle for someone else. “God gave me the word Hope, and he told me never to let go of it. And H.O.P.E. became Helping Other People Every day.” Gradually, God began to reveal their purpose: “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25: 35, 36). The Giving Hope Foundation began to take shape. They now commit a small portion of each vehicle sale to the foundation’s work. Through their non-profit, the Duhons established Hope for a Home to help families with international adoptions. They built orphanages in Honduras, India and Africa, and plan a ribbon cutting for the orphanage in Moscow, Russia in July. Through a partnership with the New Orleans Mission, they built the Giving Hope Retreat Center to serve men and women who face the challenges of addiction, mental illness and physical or sexual abuse. A Women’s Pavilion provides 100 rooms to battered women, victims of human trafficking and formerly homeless women. Giving Hope also works with inmates released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola through the New Orleans Mission.


Another branch of Giving Hope H.A.T.E., Hope Against Trafficking Everywhere - educates and provides rescue and recovery for victims of human trafficking, the fastest growing crime in the world, with an average age of 11 to 14-year-old girls and boys. Giving Hope operates a fullstaff kitchen that cooks 1,000 hot meals every day in one of their car dealerships. Their food pantry partners with Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Second Harvesters to provide some 2.5 million pounds of food a year. “So, I’m here to tell you today: God did not fail me, he has not failed you,” Tracy said. “His word came to pass in our life. But it came to pass much greater and much different than I had imagined.” Their pastor told them, “The miracle of your sons living would have been incredible, but the miracle is that you and Troy are holding hands, walking back in church, moving forward, trusting God, because people can relate to your pain. They need to see someone who dared to believe and move forward and trust God again - that he can take it and turn it around.” For more information:

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. l APRIL 2018


X Man UP

And Forgive Us Our Debts… By Daniel W. LaFont

“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)


ost of you may recognize this scripture from what is commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Although the prayer covered several areas that Jesus wanted us to focus on, I found it interesting to note that after the prayer He stated the following in verses 14 and 15: “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” As I read this again, I noted a big focus on “But.” Jesus went on to teach on a number of things, but He discussed forgiveness first. Although the Gospel is filled with the message of love, it starts with forgiveness. Jesus tells us our Father in heaven will forgive us, IF we forgive those who have offended us. And he requires that we forgive unconditionally --- no list of conditions, circumstances, rules or “buts.” Easy to teach, easy to preach, but “ouch,” what a difficult thing to do when you are the one who has been offended. How many times do we hear, “Oh, but you do not understand what they did to me” or “But you don’t know how long this has been going on.” I admired the courage of the disciple Stephen, who is credited as being the first martyr for Christ in the book of Acts. As he was being stoned for being a believer in Christ, he shouted out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them! ” (Acts 7:60) The first time I read this I remember thinking – could I be as courageous and forgiving as Stephen? Honestly, at that time in my life the answer was probably “no.” At the Last Supper, Jesus and the original 12 Apostles were gathered to celebrate the upcoming Passover. As part of Jewish tradition, they would have washed themselves beforehand and a basin would have been present for the washing of their feet by a servant. But Jesus did something very 24

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Daniel LaFont says he is proud of his brother Kilben, whose life was transformed by faith.

unusual. He hung up his tunic and clothed himself with a towel, as a servant would do, and proceeded to wash the feet of the Apostles. He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, whom He knew would betray Him later that same night. What an act of true humility and forgiveness by the Lord of Lords! But we do not have to just look at the Bible for great examples of true unconditional forgiveness. Look at the tragic 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Nineteen-year-old Chris Singleton, whose mother was killed, shared a message of forgiveness a day later. Felicia Sanders, who survived the shooting and also lost her mother, prayed for God to have mercy on the shooter. Both said their lives would never be the same, but that they needed to extend forgiveness just as Christ would. This example of unconditional forgiveness is the message of Christ. As most of us know, while Jesus was being crucified, He said to His executioners and tormentors, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Someone once told me that crucifixion was easy for Jesus because He knew He would be coming back to life again. So I asked him --- if he knew he was going to come back to life,

Man UP would he be willing to let someone nail his hands and feet to a cross and put thorns in His head, after first being whipped and beaten to a pulp? The immediate answer was “no.” This person was my brother, Kilben LaFont, who later, by God’s grace and forgiveness, became a preacher for which I am very proud. This was not an overnight change. My brother struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for years. A drunk driving incident cost him dearly … he broke his back in an accident resulting in two steel rods in his back. Charity Hospital referred to him as the walking miracle. He could walk, but was in pain for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, after he was back on his feet, the drinking and driving continued and he was sentenced to one year in jail, which he later professed saved his life. He accepted Christ and upon his release, we allowed him to move on to our property under some strict conditions. He joined our church and renounced drinking. It was a long path to redemption, but with a repentant heart, he proved that he was a new creation in Christ. He worked with people who were released from prison, as well as several ministries helping people get free of drugs and alcohol. He preached the message of salvation to all he met. He was eventually ordained as an associate pastor in a local African-American church. I believe it was forgiveness by Christ and his family, that allowed this miraculous transformation to take place. He was called home to be with the Lord four years ago, but he blesses me still. I once heard that having a heart of unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness robs you of your peace. It really does not affect the offender. Forgiveness does


LaFont poses with his sons and sons-in-law.

not mean you have to trust the offender or be friends with them. Forgiveness is a gift. Trust and friendship is earned. The Apostle Paul summed it up best in Colossians 3:12-13. “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Always remember that it is God’s desire to love and forgive His people. U Daniel LaFont works in Business Development at Edison Chouest Offshore. He is a member of Living Word Church in Houma and is a past Men’s Ministry leader, former Promise Keepers Ambassador, and part-time basketball coach at Houma Christian School. In June, he and his wife Dawn Rose will mark 39 years of marriage. They have five adult children and are expecting their fifth grandchild this month.

Valluzzo Companies Locally Owned and Operated with 50 Locations in Louisiana and Mississippi l APRIL 2018



Creative LIFE

Danni Downing

Artist Danni Downing displayed her art at last year’s White Light Night in Mid City.

Purposeful Painting Touches the Lives of Others by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Q: When did you first discover you were an artist?

Q: Do you feel that painting is a spiritual gift?

Thirteen years ago, I was invited to an art class given by Merriann Hornsby, and it was there I realized I had a love for the impressionists. Merriann has a gift for color and I will always carry with me what I learned from her. Her teaching style was very warm and engaging which is what I needed to build my confidence and develop my own style and techniques. I am forever grateful to her for jump starting my creative journey.

Yes, absolutely. I believe every artist draws their imagination deep from their soul. Before I begin a painting, I pray and ask the Lord for direction and I want the completed painting to touch someone’s deepest need, to give peace, joy, contentment and hope. I am always amazed at the Lord’s direction because literally someone’s name may come to my mind and I will hear the Lord say, “… needs this painting Danni.” I cannot tell you how many times I will give a painting to someone and he or she will say, “Danni, how did you know this is what I needed?” I am always tickled to hear those words and I am reminded that painting is a gift.

Q: How would you describe your artist statement?


I paint to put a smile on someone’s face. It is that simple. Every time I begin a new painting, my first thought is always: what will make someone happy? Will this painting bring joy to the person seeing it?

Psalm 73:25 is my favorite verse in the Bible. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”


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Do you have a favorite scripture or book of the Bible?

Creative LIFE



You were a featured artist at White Light Night in November. How was that experience?

Yes, at the midnight hour, I decided to set up at Calandro’s and showcase my art. I really did not hesitate to participate because I believe in stepping out in faith. I had an amazing night. People came up to me the entire evening and I ended up selling three paintings and handed out all of my art business cards. I loved being among fellow artists and was inspired by the talented artists that were set up near me. I am excited about participating in more art festivals like the annual Mid City Arts festival. I have to say Calandro’s is a hot spot too because hundreds of people came through there that evening to not only see the art, but to hear the music and enjoy sampling appetizers and wine. It is like a mini arts festival.


Share anything you would like our readers to know about your journey.

Well, about two years ago, I discovered Sharon Furrate Bailey’s artwork on Facebook. I was drawn to her style of art and we became friends when I mentioned I would go by and see her at Calandro’s for White Light Night. So I went to see her and we hung out most of the evening. I told her I was one of her biggest fans. We began painting together at her studio not long after we met. Her dad is a retired architect and he designed her studio. Our friendship grew and we even teamed up to teach classes for the Mental Health Association of Baton Rouge. We also helped with their annual fundraiser Beat The Odds, which was held March 8 at The Lod Cook Center.

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer

What would you like readers to know about you as a

Q: person?

I grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from Baton Rouge High School in 1974. In 1979, I married Paul Downing and have three beautiful and accomplished children --- Amy, Heather, and Paul Jr. I am a retired flight attendant from Express Jet Airlines where I flew for 14 years. I am now pursuing a career in real estate and I am very excited about this new venture. However, I will continue to paint to touch the lives of others through this artistic gift.

Q: Where can people find your artwork?

Currently, I sell most of my work via Facebook. I simply post my paintings on Facebook and people will message me in order to purchase them. I am hoping to find new places to showcase my work. U

A Walk in the Rain

A Kiss Under the Umbrella

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 has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at l APRIL 2018



A Little lagniappe

Gene Mills: An ‘Advocate of Hope’ by Lisa Tramontana


Gene Mills, right, is a husband, father, ordained minister, and president of Louisiana Family Forum. Here, he receives the Advocate of Hope Award from Craig DeRoche.

About the Advocate of Hope Award The Charles Colson Hope Awards recognize people who have faithfully and courageously worked to restore those affected by crime and incarceration. Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship 40 years ago, was a passionate advocate for incarcerated men and women, and their families, sharing his faith in the Gospel and honoring the God-given value and potential of each person. His impact on prison ministry, prison culture, and prison reform has been broad and lasting.


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is modesty prevents him from taking credit, but Gene Mills was recently awarded the 2017 Advocate of Hope Award for his part in Louisiana’s recent criminal justice reform package. As president of Louisiana Family Forum, Mills was instrumental in bringing together several groups to help change the system, including victims of crime, correctional officers, lawmakers and faith leaders. “All I did was call attention to the good work that was already taking place,” Mills said. In fact, the state Legislature created a task force in 2015 to come up with recommendations to reduce the prison population which is well over 40,000. For years, Louisiana has held the unfortunate reputation as the state with the highest incarceration rate in the country. Many of the issues that created the problem have been addressed in the 10-bill package that Governor John Bel Edwards signed last June. The new law aims to offer alternatives to prison time for non-violent offenders, expand parole eligibility, reduce prison terms, and provide support for inmates transitioning into

A Little lagniappe

W Independently Owned and Operated

"Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God." - Leo Buscaglia

Governor John Bel Edwards signed the 10-bill justice reform package into law on June 15, 2017.

society, among other initiatives. The reforms are expected to cut the state’s prison population by 10 percent over the next 10 years. Mills’ award was presented by Prison Fellowship in January at the Charles Colson Hope Awards ceremony. In a press release, Prison Fellowship noted that the reforms would not have been possible without Mills’ leadership, integrity and passion, or without the Christian worldview expressed by the Louisiana Family Forum team. “We are proud to have the partnership and friendship of Gene Mills,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior VP of Advocacy and Public Policy at Prison Fellowship. “He exhibits

a passion for biblical principles of justice that is rare and valuable.” Majority Whip Steve Scalise agrees. “Gene has committed his life to ministering and helping improve the lives of others,” Scalise said after the award was announced. “His deep faith and selfless dedication are inspiring, and I am proud to call him a friend.” Mills said the reason for his involvement is simple. “Scripture tells us to tend to the needs of the less fortunate,” he said. “Grace has been extended to each of us. Now, within the criminal justice system, we must intentionally extend that same grace to prisoners … it is extraordinary how many inmates are able to turn their lives around.” U 13653 Airline Highway, Gonzales, LA 70737 (225) 644-4663 l APRIL 2018


X A Little lagniappe

Confession … Good for the Soul by Rachele Smith


f you’ve ever hurt a loved one or caused a friendship to fail, then you know the emotions that can surface when you ask for forgiveness. Feelings like pain, sorrow and even the inner conflict between humility and pride are all too common. But the act of forgiveness can wash away those feelings, and when expressed with a contrite heart, it can ultimately help a relationship become whole again. Forgiveness also works the same way in a relationship with God. 30

As humans, we are imperfect, and when failings occur and our actions, or sometimes, our inability to act, pulls us away from God, asking for forgiveness can make the relationship whole again. “We never lose our relationship with God. That’s important to understand. But what reconciliation (confession) does is bring you back to that peace (with God),” said Father Charlie Landry, pastor of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Gabriel.

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In the Catholic Church, confession or asking for forgiveness is one of the church’s seven sacraments, or outward signs of the faith. It involves privately admitting one’s sins to a priest and then receiving absolution (forgiveness) for those sins. For non-Catholics, however, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be confusing. Traditionally, it was received in a confessional or behind a screen, but today, Catholics have the option to meet face-to-face with a priest.



A Little lagniappe Father Landry explained that while confession involves a personal examination of self, the priest’s presence is important because it reflects the ecclesiastical community of the church. “As Christians and as Catholic Christians, the sense of what Jesus left us is that we are a community,” he said, pointing to the Apostle Paul, who said in 1 Corinthians that even though we are different parts, we represent one body of Christ. And as one body, when one member of the community offends or hurts another, the entire community is affected, Father Landry said. “It’s like a sore on your arm. You know the sore is there, but your whole body feels the pain and is affected by it,” he said, adding that through reconciliation, everyone, or all parts of the body of


Spiritual directing can also guide those penitents who struggle to forgive themselves. But what if a person isn’t really sorry for hurting someone else? Is a contrite heart needed for confession and ultimately forgiveness? Father Landry said it is necessary, especially in any loving relationship. With true Christ, can come back to peace and contrition, the bond strengthens, wholeness in the church. and even though humans may worry Confessing to a priest also allows about being hurt again, with God’s spiritual directing and can help bring Cover STORY forgiveness, there is no worry. Cover STORY understanding to what is causing a sin, “I kind of look at confession as God said Father Landry. cleaning the slate,” he said, adding that “Have you ever tried to dig up a our free will may at times take us out dandelion? If you don’t get the root, it of our relationship with God, but God will come back again and again. But is always waiting for us to reconcile. to get that root, you have to dig deep. “The beauty of reconciliation is That’s where spiritual directing Cover can STORY when you sin, you know you can help, so you can find out the cause (of come back and receive the grace of certain behaviors) and how you can reconciliation and continue living the make a change,” he said. salvation of Jesus.” U

We never lose our relationship with God. That’s important to understand. But what reconciliation (confession) does is bring you back to that peace (with God).



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Millennial Life

Forgiveness by Jessica LeBlanc


orgiveness can be a sensitive topic of conversation for some.

Let’s face it. One of the hardest things a person can do is forgive. It’s unheard of to the natural man. It doesn’t make sense. It goes against human nature. But still, Jesus requires this of His followers. To forgive is woven into the fabric of who God is. When Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross, His request was for God the Father to forgive His persecutors. How amazing is that?

Leblanc learned that forgiveness is a journey. 32

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We are commanded to forgive even when they’re not sorry, even when we’re betrayed. Betrayal can come in varying degrees and many different forms. When I was in high school, I had just gotten a prestigious honor to be the emcee at a national convention for an organization. I was over the moon! I had worked really hard for that honor and was thankful for the position. Chosen out of dozens of applicants from around the country to represent was a great reward. Anyway, I was on a team with several other high school

Millennial life


Forgiveness is not a single act that takes place on a specific day. It’s a process. students that was being led by three adults. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was the odd girl out. Over the course of the convention (which spanned several days) I was consistently attacked. For example, I was deliberately given the wrong time for an important meeting, ostracized from the other kids and made to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there… by the adults. Of course, I called home crying, explaining what was happening. My parents counseled me to let my chaperone know what was going on with the national leaders. I did, and my chaperone corroborated my story and acknowledged that what was happening to me, at the hands of adults no less, was wrong. Back in my hotel room, I cried and cried because I felt all alone. And I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to intentionally try to sabotage me. But even in that situation God showed me that I really wasn’t alone. He was with me the entire time. Every time I was attacked in some sort of way, He always came back and reassured me of His protection. Although my forgiveness journey did not start and end at that convention, it was the beginning of a lifelong lesson on forgiveness that would come up time and time again in other situations God allowed me to face. It was my first major lesson in forgiveness that would prove to help me in adulthood when I had to forgive someone for even more. Circumstances may change, but the process of forgiving remains the same. Because I was a child, it was very difficult for me to process being attacked by adults versus those who are

my peers. It made the cut deeper. But the Bible says to pray for our enemies. I prayed for them many times after that. Forgiveness is not a single act that takes place on a specific day. It’s a process. Regardless of what was done to you, God commands us to forgive and pray for those who misuse and abuse us. We are to love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean put ourselves in harm’s way and willingly become a victim of bad treatment. We are to forgive just as Christ forgives us. Colossians 3:13 says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Although it’s a process, it’s also a commandment. As children of God, He expects certain behavior from us and forgiving is expected. So, whatever you may be facing right now or whoever you may have to forgive (even if it’s yourself) just know that healing and peace is on the other side of your obedience. U Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

Join the Local Baton Rouge Chapter

Connect Form New Friendships Face the Media World Together Our organizational framework promotes and provides opportunities for industry networking, professional equipping and spiritual refreshment through our regional connections, fellowship networks, national conferences and our private member area.

Christian Women in Media Association (CWIMA) is a professional association dedicated to Connecting Women in Purpose and Vision. With an international platform focused on advancing Christian women in media, our members work in the fields of TV, Radio, Film, Social Media Professional, Author/Publishing, Journalism, Music, and Arts and Entertainment. Our organizational framework promotes and provides opportunities for industry networking, professional equipping, and spiritual refreshment. l APRIL 2018


X Healthy Life

Help Promote

Autism Awareness E

very new parent is proud of their baby’s “firsts” … first smile, first words, first steps. And while every child achieves milestones at a different pace, some developmental delays are concerning. In the areas of communication and social interaction, the delay is sometimes attributed to autism. April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time to support families dealing with this disorder and to promote education and awareness. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) vary in their severity. At one end of the spectrum are individuals who are nonverbal and do not respond to social interaction or physical affection. Parents of children with severe autism often notice that their babies don’t make eye contact and don’t respond with smiles or babbling when they receive attention. They don’t typically reach out to be held or comforted, and they sometimes have strong reactions to certain stimuli, especially certain noises or sounds. At the other end is Asperger’s Syndrome, which includes many individuals who are high-functioning in language and intellectual ability, but are socially awkward. For instance, many Asperger’s patients say they would like to have social relationships and build friendships, but they have difficulty expressing and understanding emotion. They find it challenging to “read” nonverbal communication such as body language, tone of voice, facial gestures and social cues.

Common Symptoms Remember … ASD covers a wide range of abilities and behaviors. But there are some common symptoms that should not be ignored. Here are a few: Does your child … • Not speak as well as his or her peers? • Have poor eye contact?

• Seem to “tune others out?”

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with autism or you are concerned that your child needs testing, there are several organizations in Baton Rouge that can offer advice and education.

• Not have a social smile?

Autism Society of GBR

• Not respond selectively to his or her name? • Act as if he or she is in his own world?

• Seem unable to tell you what he or she wants, preferring to lead you by the hand or get desired objects on his own, even at risk of danger? • Have difficulty following simple commands? • Have unusually long and severe temper tantrums? • Have repetitive, odd, or stereotypic behaviors? • Show an unusual attachment to inanimate objects, especially hard ones (e.g., flashlight or a chain vs. teddy bear or blanket)? • Prefer to play alone? If you are concerned, talk with your physician about testing and treatment. Many educational and healthcare organizations provide ASD testing. (See the box at right for more information.) Early intervention is crucial and can lead to positive outcome and a greater quality of life.

*Information provided by Autism Speaks and The Global Autism Project.


Autism Resources Close to Home

APRIL 2018 l

(225) 221-7873 • The mission of this group is to improve the quality of life for everyone affected by autism.

Emerge Center

7784 Innovation Park Drive (225) 343-4232 • The Emerge Center helps address the needs of those facing communication, behavior and developmental issues. It provides testing, treatment and services for children diagnosed with autism.

The ARC Baton Rouge

8326 Kellwood Avenue (225) 927-0855 • The ARC provides resources for individuals diagnosed with autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, Asperger’s and other conditions.

Families Helping Families

2356 Drusilla Lane (225) 216-7474 • This organization is founded and organized by families of individuals with disabilities, including autism.


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Trivia FuN

Trivia for fun

Who asked Pontius Pilate for Jesus’s body after the crucifixion? A) Peter

B) Mary Magdalene

C) Nicodemus D) Joseph of Arimathea

D) Joseph of Arimathea Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man and an ardent follower of Christ, asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus. With the help of Nicodemus, he removed Christ from the cross, prepared His body for burial and laid Him to rest in a well-hidden tomb. Three days later, Christ rose from the grave and revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene.

Biblical Biography What Does it Mean? Forgiveness

The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven In Ephesians 4:32, the Apostle Paul writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” The act of forgiveness goes against our basic human instincts,

Joseph The Book of Genesis offers a particularly strong illustration of the importance of compassion. It tells the story of Joseph, a man who famously chose forgiveness over revenge. Joseph was an interpreter of dreams, and was the favorite of his father’s 12 sons. His brothers were deeply jealous of him, and, after several years of quiet resentment, they sold him into slavery in Egypt, telling their father he was dead. Joseph faced a great deal of persecution at the hands of the Egyptians, and very nearly lost his life. But through it all, he held fast to his integrity and remained faithful to God. After several years in bondage, Joseph gained favor with his captors, and became the second most powerful man in Egypt. At the same time, his family fled to Egypt to escape a famine in their homeland. Instead of turning his brothers away, Joseph welcomed them into his home and promised them security. If Joseph could show compassion to the men who stole his freedom and left him for dead, shouldn’t we be able to forgive the people who treat us badly? Jesus has granted each of us divine mercy, and it’s our responsibility to share that mercy with others. 36

APRIL 2018 l

but we are called to cast resentment aside and follow the example of Jesus. He died on the cross to free each of us from our transgressions, and we should pardon those who sin against us.


Sympathetic pity or concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others Christ spent his time on earth showing compassion to those who needed it most. He dined with thieves, ministered to prostitutes and laid hands on the fatally ill. Jesus never turned anyone away because of their sin or situation, but instead, touched them with patience and love.

Resurrection The act of rising or coming back to life after death The Christian faith is based on the belief that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, was buried and rose from the dead three days later. His resurrection represents the greatest sacrifice the universe has ever known. The Easter Season is dedicated to Christ’s restoration to life, and reminds us to celebrate His victory over death.

Cooking for life


Shrimp & Grits What You’ll Need:

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 2 cups 2% milk 1/3 cup butter, cubed 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned grits

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 8 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon Cajun or blackened seasoning 4 green onions, chopped

How to Make It:

In a large saucepan, bring the broth, milk, butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat. Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese until melted. Set aside and keep warm. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain, reserving 4 teaspoons drippings. Saute the shrimp, garlic and seasoning in drippings until shrimp turn pink. Serve with grits and sprinkle with onions. Yield: 4 servings. Recipe from

Do you have a recipe that you’d like to share? We would love to feature it right here! Send your recipe to Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine and it may be chosen for publication in an upcoming issue. Send it to

All Things Productions

Graphic Design, Web Building, Photography & Videography


Owner: Rachel Boster l APRIL 2018



Opportunities for LIFE

Calendar of Events Do you have an event to share? To have your event included in our calendar, please email a brief summary of your ministry or service-related event to by the 8th of the previous month. Please include details (date/time/location/ information/etc.) so we can be sure it’s ready to print. Please send MAY submissions by April 8.


EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 11 a.m. St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 17510 Monitor Ave.


OPEN HOUSE AND REGISTRATION FOR SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM 5-7 p.m., Gloryland Baptist Church, 2575 Michelli Drive. Pre-K through middle school students accepted. Registration is $50 per child with T-shirt included. Reading, math, cultural and social programs with weekly field trips, dance, music and library visits. Aftercare provided until 6 p.m. Register online at or call (225) 329-9000 or (225) 928-0436. FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT 6-9 p.m., Gloryland Baptist Church, 2575 Michelli Drive. Age appropriate movie for the entire family. Donation $5 (includes light snack). Concessions will be sold. For more information, call (225) 329-9000 or (225) 928-0436. SEMINAR: 5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO IMPROVE YOUR WELLNESS 10:30 a.m., 17070 Greenwell Springs Road. Free seminar led by Christian nutritional therapist and herbalist Regina Tyndall. See or text/call (225) 772-6880 for more information.


STORYTIME IN THE GARDEN: HEALTHY FAMILIES DAY 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., LSU Botanic Gardens, 4560 Essen Lane. Storybook readings and imagination-themed activities and crafts for children ages 3 to 8 every 30 minutes. All events are free and open to the public.


GARDERE INITIATIVE FUNDRAISER 5-8 p.m., 101 W. State Street. Chipotle gives back 50% to Gardere Initiative. For more infor-mation, call (225) 769-0305.


FIRST MONDAY BREAKFAST WITH MOMS 9 a.m., 8435 Ned Avenue. Hosted by Gardere Initiative. For more information, call (225) 769-0305.

APRIL 11 and 25

BUSINESS WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY 5:30 p.m., La Madeleine, Perkins Rowe, corner of Bluebonnet and Perkins. Come join other Christian women for food and fellowship as we study God’s principles for success. Call Carol Thomas at (225) 248-6880 for more information.

APRIL 12-14

SPRING INSTITUTE 6-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Mt. Zion First Baptist Church. The insti-tute is based on Thom Rainer’s book Who Moved My Pulpit? Church leadership training will be provided by Dr. Rene’ Brown, pastor of Mt. Zion and president of Fourth District Missionary Baptist Association. Registration $6.50 per person (includes course book). For more infor-mation, call (225) 383-5401 or visit


NATIONAL BLUE/GREEN DAY IN SUPPORT OF ORGAN, TISSUE & EYE DONATION Wear your blue and green. Post to your social media accounts and share with “Donate Life Lou-isiana” on FB or @donatelifela on Twitter/Instagram. Visit

APRIL 13-15

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE SPRING FEST 7 p.m., Friday concert featuring gospel recording artist Shana Wilson-Williams. Saturday Fun Day Picnic at noon. Sunday Family and Friends Day service, 8 a.m., 5647 Commerce Street, St. Francisville; and 10:30 a.m., 4055 Choctaw Drive in Baton Rouge. Free. For more information, call (225) 287-9115.


APRIL 2018 l


SEMINAR: 5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO IMPROVE YOUR WELLNESS 10:30 a.m., 17170 Perkins Road. Christian nutritional therapist and herbalist Regina Tyndall will share some simple but powerful tips to boost your wellness. See or text/call (225) 772-6880 for more information. YMCA HEALTHY KIDS DAY® Free community event to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active. YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day® is the Y’s national initiative that includes games, healthy cooking demonstrations and arts and crafts to teach families how to develop a healthy routine at home. Go to for more information. SPRUCE UP GARDERE DAY 9:30 a.m., 8435 Ned St. This is a Gardere Initiative event. For more information, call (225) 769-0305. BATON ROUGE SPORTS INITIATIVE EVENT 9:30 a.m., Hartley-Vey Park, 1702 Gardere Lane. For more information, call (225) 769-0305.


PASTOR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION 10 a.m., Resurrection Life Family Ministries, 722 N. Carrolton Ave. Theme is “Growing and Go-ing to Compel Them to Come In.” For details, call (225) 925-8233.


BR SOLDIER OUTREACH 6:30 p.m., Mooyah’s Burgers and Shakes, 6555 Siegen Lane. Social event and fundraiser. Men-tion that you are with BR SOLDIER OUTREACH so the organization will receive a portion of the proceeds. Come have fun and support our soldiers. For more information, email or visit


WOMEN IN SPIRIT Noon, St. Joseph Cathedral Parish Hall, 412 Main St. Interfaith gathering of women seeking spir-itual growth and networking with others from different perspectives, ethnic origins and reli-gious affiliations. Complimentary lunch included. Featured speaker is Donna Britt, veteran broadcaster who will speak on her spirituality and her life experiences. RSVP by email: or call (225) 387-5928.

APRIL 26-28

NCFCA SPEECH AND DEBATE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Zoar Baptist Church. This is a National Christian Forensics and Communications Association event. Community judges needed. Sign up at


STARS (STUDENTS THAT ARE REACHING SUCCESS) June 4-July 27 summer enrichment program, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The STARS mis-sion is to help youth reach their full potential through educational, enrichment and recreational activities. Call (225) 356-4441 or email CAMP IN THE CITY The camp will be held July 2-6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Chapel in the Oaks, 9611 Siegen Lane. Pine Cove’s Summer Day Camp is for kids completing K through grade 5. Indoor and outdoor activi-ties, great staff, life-changing ministry! Registration required at For more information, visit FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE SUMMER CAMP June 4-July 20 summer program. $50 registration to reserve your spot. For more information, call (225) 287-9114.

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OPEN TO EVERYONE! Visit our website to view our Schedule of Speakers and download free materials from Dr. Kalivoda’s teachings: The Campus Bible Class meets at: Burden Conference Center - LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA

APRIL 20, 21, 22

Big Rides • Food • BINGO • Live Music Chase Tyler - Friday April 20 CheeWeez - Saturday April 21 Corner of Highland & Gardere

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Model shown: 2017 Jaguar XE R-Sport. European license plate shown. †XE 25T model. MSRP-$36,700. $3,995 due at signing, $0 security deposit, excludes retailer fees, taxes, title and registration fees. 10,000 miles per year. For complete details regarding offer shown or Jaguar EliteCare coverage, visit JAGUARUSA.COM, call 1.855.JAGUARUSA / 1.855.524.8278 or visit your local Jaguar Retailer. © 2017 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC


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