Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - February 2016 Edition

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Mercy, L ove in Action Trafficking Hope Louisiana Witness at work! there is always hope Christ in china

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Baton Rouge

Christian Magazine

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February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Feature STORY


Catholic Charities Fulfills its Mission of Mercy

Baton Rouge

Christian Magazine

issue 11, volume 1 FEBRUARY 2016

Feature Columns


PUBLISHER/Editor Beth Townsend ASSOCIATE EDITOR McKenzie Moffett

faith LIFE

Love In Action


by Mark H. Hunter

Travis Smith Finds Humor In Hardship

by Lisa Tramontana

contributing writers Mark H. Hunter Susan Brown Lisa Tramontana Krista Bordelon Jehan Seals McKenzie Moffett Sharon Furrate Bailey Max Davis Stephanie Ryan Malin Kelli Knight Brian Sleeth

by Susan Brown

13 - 15 28-29

Family LIFE

There Is Always Hope by Mark H. Hunter

geaux LIFE

Inside Each Issue

5 16 38 24

Publisher’s letter PAstor’s perspective

Christ In China

by Lisa Tramontana



COVER PHOTO Employees at the Baton Rouge Catholic Charities Office Photo contributed by Catholic Charities LAYOUT & DESIGN BY Illuminated Designs Studio

Trafficking Hope Louisiana by Krista Bordelon

by Brian Sleeth

OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIFE Witness at work by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Save A Heart


18 4


Does god need our lemonade? by Max Davis

by Jehan Seals with McKenzie Moffett

Boost Your Energy Naturally


February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

healthy LIFE

by Stephanie Ryan Malin

Reading for LIFE Review of Kids Night at La Divina Review by Kelli Knight

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


Were it not for mercy! If my fear had been based in reality, I’d still be there. My husband and I were scheduled to attend a retreat called A Walk to Emmaus. For married couples, men went one weekend and their wives the next. As a fairly new Christian, all I could think of was one thing: confession. Certain that we would confess our sins, I did not want to go. What if we had to list them? Say them aloud? Write them down? Talk with someone saintly who would then assess my “heart condition” and tell me how to obtain forgiveness? My mind was rampant with worrisome possibilities. All the way up until the time to go, I’d hoped something or someone would give me a good reason to cancel. My husband went the weekend before, and he was giddy about the experience. He just smiled when I asked about it and said that I’d love it and had nothing to worry about. Less than convinced, I nervously packed my bag. Mind you, I was Director of Women’s Ministry of a large church in Atlanta, Ga. Leading came natural. Programming was my comfort zone. Creativity was a strength. Exhortation, well that was right up my alley. But stepping into the unknown with no sense of control left me not wanting to go, nearly paralyzed by fear.


I was a new person when I returned home on Sunday. What I’d expected and what I’d experienced was 180 degrees apart. Instead of confessing sins, I received mercy. It was the most love I’d ever felt by complete strangers who’d become my sisters in Christ, all in one short weekend. While I had time at the foot of the Cross, these sisters in Christ did not care about my sin. No one asked about my past. They were confident that the work needed in my heart would be done as prompted by the Lord; and it was and it continues to be. Mercy, by definition, means: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” That is what Christ did for us on the Cross. He provided us a never-ending blanket of mercy covering our lives. There are many unhappy Christians who misunderstand their unhappiness. Much like I did, my sin was a weight on my shoulders. Guilt was a black cloud reminding me of my unworthiness, that is, until I experienced mercy and received it for myself. Even now when those feelings attempt to hijack my faith (which happens often), I remember and receive His mercy. Jesus! The Cross! Death Defeated! Victory in New Life! Christ in me! My loving Father.

In the fullness of Life,

Beth Townsend Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Faith LIFE

Love in Action The Chapel and New Beginning Baptist Church are making a difference in Glen Oaks West neighborhood

by Mark H. Hunter

“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…” Matthew 25:36 If you want to see what biblical love in action looks like, take a snapshot of the relationship between The Chapel and New Beginning Baptist Church. Actually, to be more accurate, you’d have to make a documentary film because the uplifting story of a large, prosperous, mostly-white church loving on a small, not-so-prosperous African-American church started nearly four years ago and continues to this day. It all began in August 2011, when Chapel member Marilyn Wroten read an Advocate newspaper story about the Rev. Donald R. Hunter, Sr., pastor of New Beginning Baptist, walking the streets of his Glen Oaks West neighborhood to establish the Black Family Initiative. The multidenominational group of small churches is working to restore the traditional and 6

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Kevin McKee and Donald Hunter Photo by Mark H. Hunter

Faith LIFE biblical family headed by a responsible father and husband. The Initiative’s task is huge, Hunter admits. Seventy-two percent of African-American families are headed by single women, compared to 70 percent of white families that have a father present, 66 percent of Hispanic families, and 72 percent of Asian families that have two parents, he said. “We are just the opposite,” he said. And the negative effects of a missing husband/ father only perpetuate a lifestyle of crime by countless angry young black men and guarantees poverty for women and children for generations.

to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” “They were giving to a less fortunate church and we thought we should do that,” McKee said. McKee and Hunter soon became friends and a relationship began to develop between the members of both congregations. The Chapel allocated enough “GeneroCity” money to renovate New Beginning’s sanctuary and paid for some remodeling and new roofs for several needy Glen Oaks residents. Gladys Ross provides childcare for 19 children in the house she’s lived in for 39 years. “I am so blessed to have the


neighborhood reach out to me and take care of my roof,” she said.

As relationships of the two church’s members grew, more cooperative events and activities were held. “As you would guess (it is going) slowly but deeply - it just takes a while to build trust,” McKee said. For example, last summer, dozens of Chapel members teamed up with Glen Oaks residents, New Beginning members, officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department’s BRAVE program and District Attorney Hillar Moore III, to cut down brush and scrubby trees between houses where crime can hide and mowed vacant lots where children can play.

“You see a young black boy walking down the street with no shirt on and his pants are down at his knees, in the middle of the day - that child is screaming as loud as he can, saying, ‘Help me!’ But we see him just as someone in defiance - as a truant, as a danger,” Hunter said in the article that moved Wroten’s spirit. “I just kept thinking about it and kept praying for him and it stayed on my mind,” Wroten said after a recent prayer meeting at New Beginning church. Each month, several dozen members of both churches alternate at either church for a powerful prayer service. “I told my pastor I think the Lord wants us to help him. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Wroten said. Phone calls were made; Marilyn and her husband Ed Wroten met with Rev. Hunter, and, “the Lord began to connect the dots,” she said. The Chapel each year allocates its Easter offering, “Project GeneroCity,” to various community ministries, said pastor Kevin McKee. He was preaching through the book of Acts at the time and was in chapter 11, where the church at Antioch is told of a famine and “they determined to send relief

New Beginning and Chapel members working together repairing a home in Glen Oaks. photo by Mark H. Hunter

225 God Bless America

225.205.1027 Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Faith LIFE

While the men mowed, chain-sawed and piled the brush, dozens of Chapel, New Beginning, and neighborhood women and girls picked up bag after bag of litter. “This is wonderful,” said Lucile Dupre as she watched the men mow a vacant lot next to her house. On another occasion, Chapel members grilled burgers and hot dogs for a Glen Oaks neighborhood, “Play Street” event where Oaklan Drive was blocked off so kids could run free without fear of traffic. The Chapel also paid for a new steel roof for New Beginning’s sanctuary building and in cooperation with Entergy, installed 91 streetlights in a six-square block section to brighten up what was a crime-plagued neighborhood.

Efforts Are Paying Off

The lights, the cleanup and “Play Street” efforts have combined to reduce crime, and Hunter, a professional statistician, has the numbers to prove it. From 2013 to 2014, Hunter said, crime in their neighborhood, BRPD District 4, Zone D, Sub-Zone 1, has declined; homicide has declined 67 percent, robbery is down 24 percent, burglary is down 26 percent, larceny is down 17 percent and motor vehicle theft dropped 14 percent. “It’s a miracle!” Hunter declared. “These numbers cannot be overlooked!” The two churches’ combined efforts are “an anointing of God bringing about unity,” Hunter said.

“The night we turned on the 91 safety lights we passed out prevention strategies (informational) brochures to the home owners and neighbors,” Hunter said. “We held a march and seven individuals carried seven signs that displayed the Seven Spirits of God referenced in Revelation 5, and are called by name in Isaiah 11:1-2 (the Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the Fear of the Lord). And so, we have the anointing of the Father and His Son in our efforts.”

Both Men and Churches are in ‘Uncharted Waters’

“I feel that Kevin and I, and New Beginning and the Chapel are in uncharted waters,” Hunter said. “So we don’t have all the answers - but we do have Christ as a guide that sets the boundaries and even the direction that we should travel.” In the secular world, Hunter said, “There are challenges that speak to Kevin being white in a predominantly white, affluent congregation and where Donald is of African-American descent in a less significant, so to speak, congregation, but in this - in Christ’s body we are the same - one body, one Lord.” “Kevin and I have learned to walk in the spirit and not in the physical world so therefore we judge what we have been able to accomplish, not on the world’s standards but on the standards that have been set in Christ,” Hunter said. “To the world that is strange but in Christ it is the command that He gives us to love thy neighbor as thyself and that is the love in action.”

New Beginning and Chapel new house in Glen Oaks Photo by Mark H. Hunter

New Beginning and Chapel group clean up New Beginning and Chapel putting on a new roof photo by Mark H. Hunter


February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

photo by Mark H. Hunter

Faith LIFE




GOD IN YOUR body New Beginning and Chapel group clean up photo by Mark H. Hunter

The Challenge to Pastors and Churches What if, Hunter was asked, if other churches did this?

“I would surmise that we could eradicate poverty,” he said. “Jesus has given us the resources because everything belongs to him. Jesus says, when you have done it to the least of these my brothers, when I was hungry, you fed me, when I was outdoors you took me in, when I was sick you visited me.”

improved health • optimal weight natural energy & stamina improved mental clarity • restful sleep elimination of cravings improved athletic performance

“I hear people who are affluent say, ‘Well, we’re not gonna throw money at it’ - that’s just another way of saying, ‘we just gonna pray.’ Well, faith without works is dead,” Hunter said. “So you got to get off your knees and go do something with what God has given you to address the needs of those who cannot help themselves.” McKee has a similar challenge, especially to other area pastors. “Find a church to partner with,” McKee said. “If you’re a church with resources share with a church that doesn’t [have them]. And reciprocate it - New Beginning can’t reciprocate financially but they can - and do - with relationships and opportunities - it’s been awesome.” “I like Ephesians 2:10, ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do,’” McKee said. “So, we’re just doing the good works that God has prepared us to do.”

Mark H. Hunter Christian Journalist

My passion is to help others take care of their ’temple’. We can help take care of the ’temple’ God has gifted us with; how are you taking care of yours?

Ellen Stephens Elias “LoveURself” Team 225-715-3654

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016


X Faith LIFE

Travis Smith

Travis at work

Finds Humor in Hardship photos courtesy of Travis Smith

by Susan Brown

With a quick wit and disarming smile, Travis Smith instantly puts you at ease. His humor is straight up, unrestrained and real. As a standup comedian, he challenges and inspires his audiences to find humor, even in hardship. But as he puts it, he has an unnatural edge – he is blind. It was not always that way. In 1994, he was headed up the corporate ladder with his eyes on district management and enviable financial success. But he began experiencing temporary optical blackouts, eventually traced back to congenital hydrocephalus, known as “waterhead baby,” a condition detected by doctors when he was two days old. At age 20, his vision went from near perfect to near zero within a matter of months. “I knew pretty quickly that God was trying to get my attention,” he explained. “And the best way to do that was to put a brick wall in front of me.” “After about six months I decided that I had two options,” he said. “I could either roll over and die or get up and go on with 10

my life,” he said. “And I chose to go on with my life.” That meant re-evaluating his choices. Everything had to be redesigned in light of his new reality. Today, he is stronger, more fearless in his faith. And funnier. Friends encouraged him to turn his wise-cracking sense of humor into a standup comedy routine. “I would just take something you say and turn it around into something funny,” he said. That includes joking about things that happen to blind people because they’re just people, and funny things happen to them, too. “I’m like, if I say it’s funny, it’s okay, it’s funny… Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules.” It took a while for Smith to be convinced to take his comedy to the next level. “I

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

thought maybe I could use this to further the kingdom, so I started praying really hard about it and I had some of my close friends praying about it, and then I just decided, okay, I’m going for this,” he said. He soon discovered that writing comedy routines came naturally. “It was amazing how easy it was because 90 percent is based on something that either directly happened to me or someone I know.” Smith usually spends 30-45 minutes on comedy then 15-25 minutes on a gospel presentation. He has performed for teens and senior adults at local churches, but is hoping to broaden his audience. “I do have a very strong heart for the gospel and I try to lay it out in a way that’s clear and concise,” he said. “But I also feel

Faith Life that we water the gospel down a lot . . . that it is important to admit that you’re a sinner, believe that Christ died for you and confess him as Lord and Savior, but you also have to follow him – you have to pick up your cross and follow him daily.”

Travis donning his chain maille Travis hugging DJ

“There is a huge lack of discipleship in the American church and that’s very sad,” Smith said. He uses his presentation to encourage people to read and study the Bible. “Jesus wants more than an acquaintance with us,” he explained. “He wants to be an intimate friend. Not just some person that you friended on Facebook. I have friends on Facebook that I’ve never messaged once.” Smith also uses humor to teach children and middle school boys at Judson Baptist Church in Walker. He donned his own Renaissance costume – modeled after Boromir in “Lord of the Rings” – to help lead a series of lessons in the AWANA program for K-6th grade kids. In March 2015, he began leading children’s worship on Sunday mornings. “I’ve developed very close relationships with a lot of the kids; I’m willing to make a complete and total fool out of myself for their benefit, and they love that.” While Smith is willing to perform for a broad audience, he feels a special connection with young people who relate to his quirky sense of humor and respect straight talk. He doesn’t shy away from the struggle in his story or the importance of faith in dealing with challenges. It has not been easy. After connecting with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services in Baton Rouge, he spent nine months at Affiliated Blind of LA in Lafayette learning how to navigate life.


“It’s kind of like having a severe stroke,” he explained. “I had to learn how to read again; I had to learn how to walk. I had to learn how to cook and clean, how to use computers again. That was hardest to accept.

“I was a big, big techno nerd before I lost my eyesight,” he said. Although his computer skills increased considerably, Smith said he is not up to his former level of proficiency, “The world at large really does not think about blind people when they design applications and websites.” The next major life change: deciding whether to go home to family in the Baton Rouge area or risk life on his own. “I decided to stay in Lafayette where I had no family or friends because I knew that would force me to be independent,” he said. “I was terrified.” With a guide dog at his side, he enrolled at Southwest Louisiana Community College. He completed his studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in history after discovering that calculus was no laughing matter. New Orleans-based Lighthouse of Louisiana, new to the Baton Rouge area, provided work substituting on the production line but not the fulltime, skilled employment he was seeking. It was a humbling experience, but a foot in the door. From there, he moved to fulltime receptionist where he was recognized as indirect employee of the year. The award came with a trip to the National Industries for the Blind conference in Washington, D.C. Over a year ago, Smith began a new role as customer service manager for Lighthouse, a job that had never been performed by someone without sight. “Travis is very tech savvy which has been a great benefit. He is the trail blazer for those systems,” said Director of Sales

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Faith Life and Marketing Stephanie Benedetti. “One of our goals is to take jobs that are traditionally done by a sighted person and try to transform them, if it makes sense. Now the system we have is accessible to other people who are blind. It has really opened up jobs in that sector for us that were potentially closed.”

Director of Sales and Marketing, Stephanie Benedetti

Lighthouse of Louisiana is a century-old 501c3 organization on Flannery Road that produces cups and other items for clients including the U.S. Military, Ironman Triathlons, and Whole Foods Market. It provides visual rehabilitation services including training courses to help people learn to navigate safely in a home and work environment. Lighthouse also offers a store specializing in products for visually impaired people, including talking Bibles. “This is where God obviously wants me,” Smith said. “The challenge is to be His representative and be firm in what I stand for but not push people away. I have to love them in the process.” Smith said the best thing a sighted person can do for someone who is blind is talk to them. “Most people are not going to be shy about what they need,” he said. “When I interact with someone for the first time, if they’re offering to walk me somewhere, I’ll explain this is how we do it and why we do it this way.”

Lighthouse factory

Products made at Lighthouse ready to ship 12

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Smith said his life is completely different than he expected, including his calling to comedy, but he is grateful for the insight that God has provided through sightlessness. “The one thing I would say is I’m just like you, I have the same dreams, the same hopes, the same fears and the same needs that you do. I just see the world from a different pair of eyes.” [Comedy shows may be booked by calling 337-371-8871 or by email at].

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


There is Always Hope by Mark H. Hunter

(Editor’s note - This story was compiled from a podcast testimony Rea Lolley gave at a Healing Place Church New Beginnings program and also from an interview at the Lolley home.)

At first glance, the marriage of Keith “Bo” and Rea Lolley is a picture of success. They recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and renewed their vows in a service at their church, Healing Place. They live in a nice home on a nice piece of land near Gonzales. They drive nice vehicles, they both have good jobs and they’ve raised two beautiful, educated daughters.

Rea and Bo Lolley Photo by Mark H. Hunter

She is small in stature but has a big personality; enthusiastic, outgoing, always wears a bright smile and talkative. He is big and tall; college linebacker-sized, and Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Family LIFE

quiet. “The strong, silent type,” she says with a laugh, and he nods his head in agreement. They’re both 52-years-old and are active members of HPC where she serves in the infant nursery and he’s on the security detail. Just about every time the church doors are open they are there. But for a long time, that wasn’t the case. “I’m a recovering crack addict,” Rea says with a straight face, then reads from Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” “I feel like I’ve been washed since November 2002 when I became sober,” she said. They both grew up in the Baton Rouge area, she was Catholic and attended Catholic schools and he was a Baptist and attended public schools. They both partied as teenagers and only got wilder as they grew older. “I wanted to be loud with loud people and started drinking and using drugs in high school,” Rea said. “He was into fast cars and fast women.” Rea said she flunked out of nursing school, but discovered she had a gift for cutting

hair and snipped her way into owning a very successful salon.

gutter. After another 11-day binge, Bo had enough.

“This guy came in to get a hair cut - and he talked about staying up all night and I thought - that’s my kind of man and I want to do some of his drugs,” Rea said. “That’s how we got started. For a long time we did drugs together and we drank - and it was fun.”

“I finally had to put her out - I think that was one of her wake-up times,” Bo said. “I quit doing the things we were doing and we separated.”

They got married in 1999, worked hard, built a new home and - began smoking crack. “We were making a lot of money and spending all of it,” she said. They had a baby girl, Dara, now 21, and then another baby girl, Dena, now 18, but they kept on using and spending until they lost their house. “We had two precious kids and, of course, we didn’t have Jesus,” Rea said. “I’d get so high I couldn’t go to sleep for days and I’d pray please God let me go to sleep.” “Then I couldn’t show up to work all the time so I just quit,” she said. “Then his business fell apart. We looked crazy and we were crazy. I’d stay gone for days.” She tried different treatment programs but none of them worked. One time she was on such a drug binge she wandered the dark streets of Glen Oaks in north Baton Rouge, all alone, smoking cigarette stubs she found in the

He kept the girls, who were 5 and 7 at the time, and they lived in a mobile home his parents let him use on their property. Rea lived in Baton Rouge. “It was horrible,” he said. “I got the kids ready and took them to school and went to work all day and came home in the evening - you just began to deal with it.” As he straightened out - both chemically and spiritually - Bo sought the Lord and prayed often for his absent wife. “Thank God she finally realized where she was in her life because I really think she would have ended up dead the way she was going,” he said sadly. “It was that bad.” Rea went to an outpatient treatment program where a counselor told her she would never be successful until she got God in her life. Then her sister invited them to Istrouma Baptist Church. “When we were separated life was so difficult - it wasn’t supposed to be that hard,” Bo said. “When I started listening to what God was saying in His word it actually became simple.” The girls got involved in an AWANA youth program, (Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed, II Timothy 2:15), and they both went forward one Sunday to dedicate their lives to God and Rea got baptized. “November 11, 2002, is my sobriety date,” Rea said with a big smile. Two years later she and the girls went on an Istrouma mission trip to a reservation in New Mexico. “We were in the church van, I just started laughing,” Rea says with joy in her


February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Family Life voice. “There I am, two years sober, I can’t quote anything out of the Bible and I was in charge of putting on a Vacation Bible School.


“It was so profound because I realized God could use me in spite of everything I had done - I was finally being obedient and being the person God made me to be,” she said. They began attending Healing Place and got deeply involved. She volunteers in the infant nursery because “I love the babies,” she said. She drives a school bus during the week because “I love the kids and they love me.” So their advice to BRCL readers on how to keep a marriage and family together after what they’ve been through? The same advice they received years ago from a godly HPC woman named “Mimi” who is now in Heaven, Rea said. “In the words of Mimi - every time the church doors are open - you need to be there - you need to participate,” Rea said. “There is always hope - no matter how far down you go or how far away you go there is hope, but you have to have that hope in Jesus.” And, Bo adds, “We’re very blessed.”

Mark H. Hunter Christian Journalist

Rea and Bo Lolley photo by Mark H. Hunter

They Fought Through To Save Their Marriage

Rea and Bo Lolley are members of a Healing Place New Beginnings at HPC (from HPC website) Church ministry called New Beginnings, a group that New Beginnings is a ministry of Healing meets at 6:30 p.m. each Friday evening in the Arena Place Church aimed at bringing restoration building. to people’s lives. No matter what struggles you are dealing with in life, habits or hangChad Dinkel is director of New Beginnings, and said ups you are trying to break, there is hope! he asked Rea to share their story at a meeting last Our desire is to help you start living the life year because, “they have such a great story.” that God intended for you. “You hear what they’ve been through and what their Please get ahold of us if you need or know marriage was able to survive once they let God take someone in need of restoration for their life! over,” he said. “It is just so encouraging to those who When: Fridays at 6:30p.m. are struggling in their marriages now.” Where: HPC Arena - Enter through Arena “So many people in marriage today - they just give Entry #2 (far left of the building) up,“ Dinkel said. “They are a couple that fought Contact: through and chose marriage - to stick to their commitment even through the worst of circumstances. Childcare: Provided for 6 weeks through 5th It is encouraging for other couples to know - whether grade. they have a healthy marriage or a difficult marriage Find us on Facebook - they can do it.” Check out our podcast on iTunes via “At New Beginnings we always say, ‘As long as you NB@HPC have breath in your lungs you can be redeemed.’”

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Pastor’s Perspective

A Mercy Awakening

by Brian Sleeth


race and mercy are two words that are often used together in the Bible, but both words don’t mean the same thing. “Grace” is getting something you couldn’t earn and that you don’t deserve, which is how it works with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Whereas grace is God giving you something you can’t earn and don’t deserve, mercy is God not giving you what you do deserve. What do we all deserve? Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” According to the Bible, we are all sinners who deserve God’s judgment. By God’s mercy, we are not given the just penalty for our sin. This is because Christ took our place before God’s judgment. He bore what we deserve so that God could extend his mercy and grace to us. But grace and mercy aren’t one-time, transformational experiences for the Christian. God intends for us to continue to be transformed by grace and mercy throughout the rest of our lives. About three years after becoming a pastor in 1999, I went through a “grace awakening” experience. I “got grace” at a much deeper level than I did before. I understood in a fresh, liberating way that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever I can do to make God love me more than he already does in Christ. In 2009, I went through a “mercy awakening.” I was starting a church in the Detroit area when The Great Recession began. For those of you who remember, Detroit was one of the areas of the country that felt the greatest impact. Financial support dried up, and we had to close the church. I lost everything I had, including my house. At the time, all four of my kids were very young, and I was terrified about how I would provide for them.


February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Pastor’s Perspective There are two word pictures that help describe how I felt during that time. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff looking down into a bottomless abyss. I also felt like I had fallen out of an airplane and just kept falling more and more each day, never hitting bottom. I became despondent. I stopped eating and lost a lot of weight quickly. I felt deep sorrow. I cried bitter tears. I prayed that God would take my life and end my misery. All I had was the promises of God in the Bible and prayer. The words in many of the Psalms, that before had seemed like they had nothing to do with me, took on a deeply personal meaning as I prayed through my suffering.


today. As I have experienced God’s mercy toward me, it is the fuel of my turning around and helping others who need God’s mercy.

Psalm 34:18 promises, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit,” and Psalm 147:3 assures us, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God didn’t let me tumble into oblivion. He didn’t take my life. He rescued me. He healed me. He gave my family a place to live until we got back on our feet. God wasn’t just merciful to me to a certain degree; he lavished inexhaustible, life-giving, extravagant mercy on me that transformed me and set me on a path of helping the homeless. He took my heart of compassion for others who are hurting and enlarged it exponentially. Mercy is now burned into my soul. I am still being transformed by it, even

May we all grow in our experience of God’s grace and mercy and extend that same mercy to the hurting and helpless around us.

Rev. Dr. Brian Sleeth is the Executive Director of The Christian Outreach Center of Baton Rouge, a Christ-centered homeless prevention ministry. This includes oversight of The Outreach Center itself, Christian Outreach Transitional Employment Services, and The Purple Cow thrift stores. 1955 South Morrison Blvd Hammond, Louisiana Conveniently located at I-12 and Hwy. 51 CALL 855.851.1184


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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016


X A Little Lagniappe

Does God Need Our Lemonade? by Max Davis

One Sunday afternoon, my wife, Alanna, and I were driving through a neighborhood when we saw the cutest little blond-headed girl at the street’s edge holding up a cardboard poster that read LEMONADE-25 CENTS. The weather was hot, really hot, Louisiana hot. The girl was five, maybe six, and her older, much wiser brother (maybe nine) tended the money and drinks some thirty feet back off the street. Business was slow, and both Alanna and I could see the desperation in the little girl’s face. As we slowed down, Alanna fumbled in her purse for fifty cents. An expression of surprise swept across the girl’s face, as to say, “Hey, we have a customer, an actual customer!” Then, she paused, almost frozen, unsure of what to do next. Slowly, she inched her way to the car window. At that moment, her expression changed and seemed to say, “Are you sure? Do you really want to buy Lemonade from me, a little kid?”

Alanna placed two shiny quarters in her hand. For a few brief seconds, she just stood and stared at her hand. Then reality hit: “Two quarters!” She turned and dashed to the stand with excitement. Shortly afterward, she came creeping back, cautiously, so as not to spill a single drop, with two extremely small bathroom dispenser cups full of watered-down lemonade. My wife and I took them and offered our words of encouragement. As we

Still unsure, she glanced back at her brother. He waved at her: “Go ahead.” 18

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

drove off, Alanna peered down at hers, giggled, then looked at me, and said, “I’m not drinking mine.” I was more daring. I took a sip—almost pure sugar water with one piece of melting ice. “I’m not either,” I responded. As soon as we were out of the children’s view, we poured the lemonade out and looked at each other with big smiles. What a picture of God’s grace! Most of us, deep in our hearts, want to

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A Little Lagniappe

please God with our lives. We desire to make a difference. So often, though, our best efforts get watered down in the heat of stressful circumstances and we are overwhelmed by our guilt. When this happens, our temptation is to give up and believe that we have nothing God wants. Yet, just as Alanna and I did with those kids, God does with us. He takes the initiative. He’s stopping by our lives and saying, “Give me what you’ve got.” He’s not asking you to clean up your act and get perfect before you come to Him. Your best efforts may be weak and watered down, with loads of unwanted sugar, but God wants to take it. Does God need our lemonade? I don’t think so. God doesn’t need our watered-down efforts and mistakes. He needs us. Remember that God loved us first. That’s why he’s trying to give us two quarters for whatever we have. Not because we deserve it, or because what we’re offering is worth His price. We could never pay the price that God paid for us.


I love the passage of Scripture found in Psalm 103:8-14. It has become a pillar in my life. Maybe it can become a pillar in yours, too. Read it slowly and let it sink into your inner being. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love . . . He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him . . . As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are but dust.” Someone out there needed to hear that today. I know I did.

Max Davis is the author of over thirty books, has been featured in USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. He holds degrees in journalism and biblical studies. In addition to his own works, he’s done a variety of ghostwriting and collaboration projects. He and his wife Alanna, live in Greenwell Springs, LA on 40 beautiful acres under an umbrella of live oaks. They have three grown children and a brand new grandbaby, Sam. His latest book, Dead Dog Like Me is in bookstores everywhere including Lifeway. Check out

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016


X Feature STORY

Catholic Charities Fulfills its

Mission of Mercy by Lisa Tramontana photos courtesy of Catholic Charities


Catholic Charities’ annual Good Friday Way of the Cross at which they highlight the suffering in our world today through Christ’s journey to the cross.

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine


Feature STORY


or I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” --Matthew 25:35-36 These words from the gospel of Matthew illustrate one of the most basic tenets of all religions --- mercy. Defined as compassion or forgiveness toward those in desperate situations, mercy is something all of us have the power to extend. At Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, staff and volunteers are constantly performing acts of mercy to create

Refugee clients learning English and practicing for the citizenship test.

“We make sure they (war refugees) have a place to live, hot meals, clothing, and eventually jobs. We help them find schools for their children, learn the bus routes, handle emergencies. We offer English classes so they can speak the language.” hope and healing in our community. “Our strength is our diversity and the number of programs we offer,” said Carol Spruell, communications coordinator. “We touch the lives of people of all faiths as we serve those who need our compassion.” Indeed, Catholic Charities ministers to pregnant women, prisoners, refugees, seniors, families in crisis, and many other populations. The agency covers a 12-parish area and since 1964 has improved the lives of thousands of people. Catholic Charities also partners with local nonprofits, other faith groups and churches, foundations and universities to provide financial, educational and spiritual support. Spruell highlighted three of Catholic

Refugee clients learning English and practicing for the citizenship test. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Feature STORY

A happy child receives an Easter basket from Catholic Charities

Charities’ ministries --- pregnant women in crisis, refugee resettlement, and prisoner support. “Sanctuary for Life is a housing program for pregnant women, many who don’t know where to turn,” said Spruell. “This is a time of high crisis. Some women are abandoned by their families, and some of them are encouraged to have abortions. It’s one thing to be pro-life but another to actually support pregnant women and new mothers. They need jobs, housing, counseling and medical care. We help 22

with all of those things.” Refugee resettlement is another ministry often associated with Catholic Charities. After the fall of Vietnam in 1974, Catholic Charities took the lead in providing services to refugees. This includes establishing housing, employment help, financial advice, and guidance to help them acclimate to a new culture. “These families arrived in the United States with only the clothes on their backs, having fled violence and war in

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

their home country,” said Spruell. “We make sure they have a place to live, hot meals, clothing, and eventually jobs. We help them find schools for their children, learn the bus routes, handle emergencies. We offer English classes so they can speak the language. There is a lot involved. Fortunately, we have a great number of resources, and if we don’t have a way to address a need, we can refer to other agencies that can help.” Since Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country,

Feature STORY Catholic Charities sponsors a program to help former prisoners adjust to life in mainstream society. Imagine what it’s like to leave prison after 20 or 30 years and walk into a society that has completely changed. The challenges of successful reintegration are staggering. “Our Joseph Home provides traditional housing for homeless men after they’ve been released from prison,” Spruell said. “Each man has his own apartment, but lives in a community with other men in the same situation. They can receive counseling, join support groups, and attend substance abuse meetings. Without emotional support, newly released prisoners are five times more likely to re-offend.” One of Catholic Charities’ best qualities is its ability to match people of means to people with needs. And not just wealthy patrons, but working families who have a little extra to share with those less fortunate. A good example is The Community Comes Together for Christmas. Over the holidays, the program helped more than 500 families and seniors. Sponsors and donors signed up to purchase gifts such as clothing, blankets, shoes, gift cards and toys for children. Catholic Charities has been a blessing to the community for more than 50 years, but it relies on the support and generosity of others, and always will. Volunteers are needed in so many ways. Do you own a business that needs workers? Can you teach English? Do you have baby clothes packed away in boxes? Are you knowledgeable about finances? Are you a counselor? Can you help someone with his tax return? Do you like to spend time with the elderly? Can you provide transportation to someone in need?


Everyone has time, talents and gifts that they can share with others. If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, contact Catholic Charities at (225) 336-8700 or visit The Catholic Church’s 7 Corporal Works of Mercy:

U To U give drink to the thirsty To U clothe the naked To U shelter the homeless To U visit the sick To U visit the imprisoned U bury the dead To To feed the hungry

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Witness at WORK

Changing LIves At Work Mere Vessels—Ways to Witness at Work by Sharon Furrate Bailey

“We Want to Change Somebody’s World” photo courtesy McKenzie Moffett

Chip and Shelia Faust, owners of i-Catchers 24

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine


hip and Shelia Faust, owners of i-Catchers, offer wise ways to share the love of Christ with others in an authentic manner while at work. They are two people who have come to realize that though trials will come, there is One that supplies all their needs. The source and cornerstone of their faith is Christ. They expressed that God’s ways are not our ways; His ways are higher than ours. Shelia commented, “God always has something better if one is open and patient. God’s checkbook is never empty.” The couple shared specific stories regarding their business that could have made them lose hope, but by reading the Bible they remained grounded by trusting His word and praying and believing in His faithfulness. In addition to being entrepreneurs, Chip and Shelia have also been a big part of a growing ministry in Albany. Errol Faust, Chip’s brother, is the head pastor of Fountain of Life Church (featured in the January 2016 issue of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine). The ministry began by focusing on those who need recovery and has since grown into an active church with many program options. In ten years more than 40,000 people’s lives have been touched through Fountain of Life. By witnessing firsthand the growth of his brother’s ministry, Chip and Shelia have seen how if you are obedient to what God is calling you to do, He is faithful to see it to completion.

Witness at WORK

A: Chip: Having been a hairdresser for many years, it is my belief that hairdressers are naturally giving people. Therefore it is important to pray, watch and listen. With each person, there is a bigger purpose outside of myself if I focus and truly listen to what they are sharing. Recently, I was reminded by a particular client that the true service I am providing is broader than making a person look better. One of my clients got out of the chair and commented, “Wow, I just feel so much better.” Each day I am touching people’s hair, but most importantly, the opportunity is there to touch them emotionally. I am given a chance to touch their hearts by sharing my faith and listening.

A: Shelia: We are merely vessels used by

God. God directs the vessel if one listens. I’ve had to learn this the hard way, but I understand the importance of letting God lead the way. As a business owner, personal


and professional issues may surface with staff, but it is our shared policy that our door is always open. Our employees know that we are there to listen. He or she may come to us to discuss anything and it remains confidential. We do not want to ignore issues, but rather help. We want them to feel that i-Catchers is a safe place, a sort of refuge away from home since a lot of time is spent at work. Chip returned from a seminar recently and heard a startling statistic. According to Gallop, 30 percent of people are enthusiastic and happy in the workplace. Since most people are not satisfied at work, it’s all the more reason to keep i-Catchers a place where people find peace and joy. Our hope is to remain authentic and vulnerable so our employees know we are approachable and understanding. We all have difficulties, but we hope to influence our staff by walking in our faith.

Since i-Catchers recently celebrated its 25th business anniversary, there is a great deal for businesspeople to enjoy and learn from Chip and Shelia’s experience. Chip and Shelia Faust share what they hope to be to others—Vessels:

Q: Having been in business for twenty-five years, what are some of the ways you go about sharing God’s faithfulness with others? Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016


Witness at WORK


photo courtesy McKenzie Moffett

The i-Catchers team

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Q: What particular challenge have you faced in business

and how was it resolved?

A: Shelia: The first seven years of working with Chip as his

business partner were difficult. There were times that worry crept in regarding meeting payroll. I remember the first time I truly felt God’s miracle working power. We needed between, $30,000-32,000 to meet payroll and the money was not there. We literally had one day to figure out how to solve this issue.

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February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

I remember sitting on the edge of our bed praying. The answer arrived the next day. A local business purchased $29,000 worth of gift certificates. They were starting a new program and needed gift certificates! This purchase helped meet payroll. I will never forget God’s provision. As I often say, God’s checkbook is never empty. I think Chip would agree that this also helped strengthen his faith. We both know God is the boss of our business.

Q: As business partners and mates, what makes your relationship work? A: Chip and Shelia: We pray each morning prior to work. We also take separate cars to work, which gives each of us time to be

Witness at WORK with our own “thoughts” without distraction. Though we spend time together praying and seeking God, it is important to seek Him on our own as well.

Q: What makes your salon a unique place? A:

Chip: i-Catchers is a family-oriented place and that extends not only to those we serve, but also to our staff. If one stylist gets sick and there are 15 people on the books, then we will figure out how to accommodate those 15 people. Also, if one of our stylists would like a day off to see their child play soccer, if planned in advance, I want that stylist to go to their child’s game.

Q: What plans do you have as salon

owners for 2016?


to attend beauty school. We may give to someone who has a major medical need and needs financial support. We have not decided exactly how, but we will help someone this year by giving. We want to put our love for others into action. These two unique individuals have a thirst for God and want to let others know of His love and provision. Chip commented, “I am available, this is who I am,” an excellent reminder to make room for people. Vessels . . . we are mere vessels, but God can use us if we listen and let Him lead.

photo courtesy McKenzie Moffett

Shelia and Chip 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

A: Chip and Shelia: We want to change

somebody’s world in 2016! We want to give back. For example we tossed around some ideas in a recent staff meeting. We may want to give to a person that needs a scholarship

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Taft Faust, Branden Brignac, Amanda Brignac, Shelia Faust, Chip Faust

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



Geaux lIFE

Christ in China

by Lisa Tramontana photos courtesy of Christ In China

(Because it remains dangerous to do mission work in China, Jack Palmer is a pseudonym for the subject of this article. The name of his city is also intentionally not revealed.)

Although he was barely an adult, Jack Palmer knew that he wanted to be “a light in a dark world.” In 2001, he was invited by missionary Roy Robertson to take a three-week trip to China to share the gospel with university students. The trip changed Palmer’s life, fueling a passion in his heart that has grown with each passing year. Palmer explains his deep devotion to God by recalling how God’s word transformed the lives of the young students he met. Although they had been raised with an atheistic world view, they were open to the message of the Bible. “We are created to be with God,” Palmer said. “Even in a place like China, people still have that yearning to know why they exist and to find true contentment.

Even if they are silenced, their hunger for the truth doesn’t go away. As we shared the gospel, we could see that the spirit of God was working mightily to open people’s eyes and hearts. They were like fish jumping into a boat. They wanted to be saved.” After his mission trip, Palmer came home to Baton Rouge to serve at The Chapel on the Campus and attend seminary. In partnership with The Chapel, he began sending summer teams to China and formulated a plan for a ministry there. In 2007, he got married, and two years later, moved to China with his wife Lucy. Their work has been a struggle at times, but always a joyful one. China has the largest non-Christian population in the world with about 456 “unreached” groups, which means that less

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CIC missionaries perform baptisms as part of their work in China.

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

than 2 percent of these populations trust Christ. With about 1.4 billion people (nearly a fifth of the world’s population), China is clearly a country ripe for evangelization. Even so, government restrictions on evangelistic work, coupled with the deeply ingrained shame and honor mindset of the people, have proven to be an obstacle to church growth. However, restrictions have eased somewhat and today, Christianity is believed to be growing at about 3 percent each year. Jack and Lucy had their work cut out for them when they moved to China in 2009 and officially established their organization, CIC and the Redeemer Network. Their ministry is based in a city with a population of more than 20 million people, and CIC seeks to plant gospel-centered churches that focus on bringing spiritual, social, and cultural renewal. This has grown into a thriving work among university students and workers in the city. Orphans and the homeless are two groups CIC helps, Palmer said. “Many of the children have medical issues from autism to Down Syndrome to cleft palates. We help care for the children on the weekends and sometimes foster them while they wait to be adopted. We also help arrange surgery for those who need it.” Their densely populated city has a great number of homeless individuals, many with

Geaux lIFE

Young adults in China have been open to the Word of God.

mental health conditions, Palmer said. “We physically help them by providing food, clothing, and counseling, but most important, we can offer them the hope of the gospel.” CIC also partners with a ministry aimed at women who have been trafficked for the sex trade. After identifying those who want to return to their homes and families, CIC helps them, first by paying any government fines they might have, then by providing transportation back to their home countries and offering counseling services. The life of a missionary is not an easy one. It requires great sacrifices and deep commitment. What is Palmer’s motivation?

Orphans benefit from CIC’s many services.

“Pray for the redemptive hope of the gospel to reach all people and for the churches to multiply. Come to China and serve short-term or long-term as a laborer for Christ. Or give to the ministry since all funding is through individual donations.” For more information about CIC and Redeemer Network, call (225) 387-4416 or send an email to

Who Was YOUR Celebrity Crush? If you ever dreamed about meeting your celebrity crush, you will totally get LOVE FOR DUNCES. This novel follows the lives of Ollie McBride and Ash Bradford, lead guitarist of Ollie’s favorite high school band, Heaven. Fifteen years later, fate is smiling in her direction and she’ll be at a Heaven concert, and even their meet & greet. Now, to have every last one of her dreams come true all Ollie has to do is find the love of her life. Ollie’s hopes are high as her path crosses several eligible bachelors. But, someone comes back into her life sending her into a myriad of self-examinations and commotion.

“Everyone wants to be happy,” he said, “and we seek that ideal through different pursuits --- career, relationships, power, money, love, and approval. At one point in my life, I was doing the same thing. Like everyone else, I wanted that feeling of being important and valued.” “But those things often take us away from God as they become the most important pursuits in our lives,” he said. “And they leave us unsatisfied. At some point, God’s grace opened my eyes and I understood that the very things that keep us from God are the things we eventually find in Him.” (1 Corinthians 1:24). He is the one reality, the only way to fill the desires in our hearts.” The Palmers can be proud of their accomplishments in China. To date, they have witnessed hundreds of new followers of Christ. They have partnered with others to help start more than 50 new churches. And they have sent more than 250 laborers to 35 of the most unreached areas in China to engage those communities. CIC welcomes those who want to join the ministry. “We can use counselors, teachers, doctors … anyone with special gifts,” he said. He lists three specific ways to help:



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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Learning for LIFE




by Krista Bordelon photos courtesy of Trafficking Hope Louisiana

“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4 We as Americans have a profound disconnect from the realities of human trafficking. In our minds it is a movie plot, a third-world issue, a self-created lifestyle. It would be too hard for us to truly personalize such a heart-breaking reality. It’s hard to accept that it isn’t just kidnapped children or cultures overseas, that the truth is human trafficking is something our very own culture has created a demand for. Beyond that, not only have we created the demand, but we have created the supply that will feed it. The reality is we ourselves are broken people, living in a broken culture, full of other broken people, and the cycle of brokenness keeps thriving. The biggest shock to our system is the fact that it isn’t just the evil pimps and kidnapped children forced into the lifestyle that have created this epidemic. The reason we keep 30

L: Rev. Colleen Bookter, Associate Pastor, UUMC R: Shirley Flake, Kids Hope USA Director, UUMC

President of Trafficking Hope Louisiana, George Mills ourselves so pleasantly disconnected from human trafficking is because admitting the absolute truth would place on us the personal responsibility that it is not just “society’s” problem, but it is our problem. There may be a reason human trafficking isn’t talked about; why we accept this profound disconnect in our lives when it comes to an issue as significant as modern day slavery. Understanding that in our everyday lives we encounter modern-day

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

slaves without even going out of our way is just inconceivable. Yet, that discounted product you bought may have been made by modern-day slaves, that pedicure was possibly done by a woman who came to our country with the promise of a fulfilling career and has instead been tricked into manual labor for little to no wages, that woman sitting in the bar isn’t waiting on her boyfriend but is instead looking for a client so she doesn’t get beaten by her pimp. Modern-day slaves aren’t kept hidden from view, they don’t need

Learning for LIFE to be. We as a society are so blinded to their reality that they are completely invisible while in plain sight.


We would like to think that our lives are protected from the atrocity of slavery, but the truth is there are more slaves today than there have been ever before. The truth is that not only our culture, but we personally, contribute to an ongoing desire and necessity for slavery. The truth is that our brokenness creates more brokenness whether we desire to or not. That decisions we pay no mind to have consequences we could have never imagined. And one aspect of modern-day slavery is too uncomfortable for us to talk about, especially in the church. Which is where we should be talking about it the most, especially since we are not yet a part of the solution and are still a part of the problem. Luckily, some are willing to talk about it. Ending sex trafficking is the heart behind this organization. Trafficking Hope Louisiana is one of only a handful of organizations in the United States committed to the immense task of completely eradicating sex trafficking by raising awareness throughout the community, empowering churches and organizations, and treating victims rescued out of slavery at their live-in facility, Hope House. The very work that is to be done speaks to the blindness we as a culture still have when it comes to the issues revolving around human trafficking. It is a fight that cannot be done alone. It is a fight that has no one-size-fits-all solution, a fight that requires an immense devotion of time and financial responsibility. In fact, the blindness we have had towards sex trafficking for so long has done much to hinder the ability of organizations like Trafficking Hope Louisiana to successfully do the work they are called to do. I remember when I personally began doing work with the organization five years ago. I told God, “I don’t want to get too deep into this.” I didn’t want to hear the stories of the victims for fear of opening up personal wounds that I had suffered. Yet, immediately I began to receive messages from people that I had known for years saying, “I see you are working with human trafficking, let me tell you my story.”

George Mills with volunteers

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These people, whom I would have never guessed had been through anything like what they described, Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Learning for LIFE

poured out their stories. It truly is our neighbors, our friends, and our kids. George Mills, President of Trafficking Hope Louisiana, recently told a group he was speaking to, “I could take the residents of Hope House and put them in the room with you all right now, and none of you would even be able to tell who they are.” It truly is happening in our own backyards. It’s happening in all areas of our community, it’s happening in our schools, it’s happening in our churches. It’s not even a matter of “if” or “when,” it is a matter of “it has been” and “it will continue.” The time is not just “now,” the time to act has already passed us up and every second we wait is another second wasted. Right here in Baton Rouge we are in one of the very hubs of the human trafficking epidemic. Our geographic 13653 Airline Highway, Gonzales, LA 70737 (225) 644-4663

location, high rates of poverty and childhood homelessness, as well as an overflowing foster care system only uphold the typical issues that perpetuate a culture ripe for sex trafficking, placing us at

The gates at Hope House

the top of the human trafficking list. Much work has been done, but there is so much work left to do, and the work will be never-ending as long as this is the culture in which we are raising our sons and daughters. It is a problem that requires work from all sides. Every single person taken into this program requires a different method of care, which is where George’s background comes in. It is a completely individualized, continuous treatment plan that spans from their spiritual lives to addiction treatment, mental health, trauma recovery, education, and even basic social and life skills. Some don’t know how to shop for themselves, how to feed their children (40 percent of the women come to them with children), or how to eat in a restaurant. Many struggle with the basic realization of the abuse they have actually suffered.

It is truly trailblazing work and creating a successful treatment program that will be able to be proven and used with other organizations is key to continuous work throughout the United States with this epidemic. The program has been reworked once since its birth and is continually in a process of growth. George says this about the movement, “What needs to happen is this: we have a box that we think human trafficking is in. First of all, human trafficking is just a politically correct word for ‘slavery.’ It’s much easier to say someone is being trafficked than someone is being enslaved. So, our box is a woman being forced to have sex with someone, and we call it trafficking. But sexual slavery includes chat rooms, pornography, strip clubs, anything where dollars are changing hands for sexual activity. And the

There may be a reason human trafficking isn’t talked about; why we accept this profound disconnect in our lives when it comes to an issue as significant as modern day slavery. 32

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Learning for LIFE

truth is there is no way you can know if that person is a willing participant in that or not. Peel back [the layers] even more and the truth is [no one comes into that lifestyle without pre-existing conditions that led them there].” Breaking open that box certainly has major implications in the successful eradication of modern-day sexual slavery. But there is only so much individuals and organizations can successfully do without the support and financial backing to continue. We need to stop stuffing the problem back down into the shadows where we are more comfortable with it, and we need


to bring it out into the light, front and center. Luckily, we have an organization like none other right here, dedicated to partnering with the community to make a difference in our city and in our nation, not just for our culture today but for the culture we are leaving behind for future generations. For more information about Trafficking Hope Louisiana and Hope House, or for information on how to become involved in the fight against modern day sex slavery visit: www.traffickinghopela. org. Also, keep an eye out for “Caged No More” in theaters January 22, and mark your calendars for the Faces of Hope Gala March 19.

Krista is a passionate writer, speaker, and mother. Outside of writing, her life includes homeschooling, leading worship, training for a fitness competition, and lots of adventure. She uses her blogging at The Mommy Calling and many others as a ministry to share her heart with other moms and the world.

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016



Healthy LIFE

Save A Heart by Jehan Seals with McKenzie Moffett photos courtesy of Lori Smith

Lori Smith and the Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation Work to Spread Awareness About Congenital Heart Defects

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Lori Smith with Kelee King While February is the shortest month of the year, the week of Feb. 6-13 requires much from those who are working to spread awareness about congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, and according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, CHD affects 8 out of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S. each year. Locally, the Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation is working diligently to spread awareness of CHDs in order to reduce the number of fatalities from sudden cardiac death.

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The Smiths took their newborn baby girl home unaware of any issue. “Hannah had no signs of illness. It wasn’t until she stopped eating that we became concerned and brought her to see her doctor,” Lori said. Five month old Hannah was admitted to the hospital on Dec., 12, and soon after, they discovered that she was suffering from severe cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes weakening of the heart making it A CHD can be described simply as any abnormality of the heart, difficult for the heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of ranging from a simple defect that will never produce symptoms, the body. to a complex defect that causes life-threatening symptoms and The Smiths soon began to battle the realities of heart surgery requires immediate medical attention. According to LPCF, for Hannah. They sought God carefully in this time and nearly twice as many children die from CHD than from all received an answer revealing his plan unexpectedly on a forms of childhood cancer combined. Lori Smith has a great postal worker’s calendar. “While standing in line at the post deal of personal experience with CHDs, which lead her to her office for a certified letter, I saw Ezekiel 36:26, ‘I will give you current role as Director of Operations for LPCF. a new heart and put a new spirit within you,’” Lori explained. In July of 2006, Lori and her husband Greg were at Our Lady The words of God were confirmed shortly afterwards in of the Lake Regional Medical Center awaiting the arrival of a letter stating that Hannah would no longer need a heart their daughter Hannah Lynn. Born at 5 pounds 14 ounces, she transplant. was perfect in the eyes of her new parents. “My pregnancy was “God used Hannah’s situation to gently guide me into His textbook perfect. Hannah was tiny but pink and perfect,” Lori will—to help other heart families,” Lori said. Lori volunteered said. 34

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Healthy LIFE


with LPCF from Christ. She explained her gratitude for 2007-2013, and God’s miracles in Hannah’s life saying, in 2013, she was “After Hannah had been taken off the asked to join the transplant list, I asked her doctor what LPCF board. In were the odds [of that happening]. September 2013, Without hesitation he said, ‘zero Lori went to work percent,’ my daughter is as her name for LPCF fulltime. states, God’s grace.” “I had finally The Vernado Family-Baton Rouge been offered my When we found out that our daughter Marin dream job,” she needed to travel to Boston for open-heart said. Lori’s main Attendees at the 2015 LPCF Family Picnic surgery when she was three weeks old, we duties include development, fundraising, young athletes have increasingly made were shocked and unprepared. The grant we received from LPCF helped make the trip coordinating family grants, facilitating headlines in the media both nationally less stressful for our family. Thanks to the the heart moms’ support group, and and locally, including Wally Pontiff grant, we were able to be comfortable during more. Jr., a former LSU baseball player, who our trip. We are forever indebted to their died in 2002 from complications due “I started our heart moms’ support generosity. group in January 2014, and we’ve grown to an undiagnosed CHD. According to LPCF’s website, each year about 3,000 to over 200 moms in our private online Jehan enjoys writing and serving athletes age 18 and younger die from group,” Lori added. The communityin the ministry. She spends her an undiagnosed heart condition, and in nights working at WBRZ news wide impact does not end there for 2 in Baton Rouge and her days 2011 22 athletes ages LPCF—they host many fundraisers and working at Ace hardware in her 12-18 died right here in Louisiana. awareness events each year and work hometown. Her goals in life are The urgency of bringing awareness simply to follow Gods leading with local high schools to coordinate and be a vessel in which he can to the public about CHDs cannot be free heart screenings for athletes. use for his glory. understated, and “Our board is hosting its annual LPCF has done its fundraiser which takes place every part through the use of spring at the Country Club of Louisiana mobile screening units in Baton Rouge,” Lori said. This fouron local campuses, as day tennis tournament will run March well as offering teams 17-20, 2016 and corporate sponsorships and individual athletes and proceeds from the tournament, gala the ability to schedule and auction will directly support grants heart screenings at for families. The inaugural LPCF Heart the local pediatric Hero Hustle will take place at the Lamar cardiology clinic. Dixon Expo Center in Gonzalez, La., on April 2. This will be the state’s first-ever Lori said that LPCF has truly changed New Patients Congenital Heart Defect Awareness her direction in life. Receive *FREE Walk and will include a 5k with 1-mile “I enjoyed teaching Exam & X-rays fun run. More details are available elementary school, [but] at: *New Patients only I thank God, for his Gonzales/HeartHeroHustle Coupon must be present plan is best,” she said. D0150, D0274, D0330 Family & Cosmetic Dentistry (Value $252) Lori and her husband “Our mission is to save lives,” Lori Treatment of Snoring/Sleep Apnea have since welcomed said. In 2012, LPCF established the “We know how to make you smile” their second daughter, Save A Heart program, which targets Hallie, into the world area high school athletes in hopes of and have claimed reducing the number of sudden cardiac 11811 Coursey Blvd. Ste. A deaths. Cases of sudden cardiac death in Hannah’s healing in

Call Today! (225) 292-9700

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l February 2016


Boost Your Energy Naturally You may do everything you can to stave off those sluggish feelings that keep you from being productive throughout the day—you eat right, you get enough exercise, and you make sure you get plenty of sleep. So why does sluggishness follow you around constantly, wooing you even during daylight hours with temptations of a nap in a warm, comfy bed? You could be experiencing jetlag, even without changing time zones. “Our body is programmed to keep a natural schedule called a circadian rhythm,” says Dr. Courtney Peterson, a scientist at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “When the body’s schedule is constantly changing, that tired feeling we experience is a miniature version of the same thing we suffer when we’re jetlagged.” The good news is that you can train your body to feel less lethargic, says Peterson, whose research includes circadian rhythms and meal timing. While a wide range of factors can contribute to feelings of exhaustion, there are a few simple tricks that allow you to work with—instead of against—your body’s natural circadian rhythm to increase the amount of energy you have throughout the day. The first step is to forget the rule many of us adhere to about going to bed the same time each night, Peterson says. That’s because we need different amounts of sleep on different 36

by Stephanie Ryan Malin

days, depending on how active we are and how many calories we’ve eaten. “What you really should do is wake up at the same time each day and then go to bed when you feel tired. That will ensure that your body is getting enough rest,” says Peterson. After a few weeks of sticking with your schedule, you may notice that it’s easier to get up in the morning and you may even wake up without an alarm clock. Once you’re awake, the best way to increase your momentum and augment energy is to warm up the body’s temperature, which helps you feel more awake. Peterson suggests either taking a hot shower first thing in the morning or exercising, both of which will raise your body’s core temperature. “Exercise triggers your body to switch to ‘wake-up mode,’ but it can be even more beneficial if you can get outside,” Peterson says. “Getting sunlight is key to setting your body’s internal clock to help you feel more awake.” Peterson suggests most people need between 30 to 60 minutes outdoors each day. Turning the light switch on inside won’t cut it, since sunlight is at least 100 times brighter. Sitting near a window won’t suffice either, since windows filter out many of the rays of sunlight that your body needs, including the UV-B rays that your body needs to make vitamin D.

February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Peterson still suggests wearing sunscreen if you’re outdoors for longer periods to protect your skin. The good news, though, is the sensors in the eyes still pick up on bright light from the sun, which helps you feel more awake during the day and sleep better at night. Once the sun sets, Peterson advises that some studies point to benefits of ending exercise an hour or two before bed. The reason is that exercise can heat up your core temperature and confuse your body into thinking it’s time to ramp up instead of wind down. The next step is working to cut out something many of us are guilty of: screen time right before bed. “Lots of screens on televisions, tablets and phones produce blue light, which tells your body it’s time to get going,” says Peterson. You’re in luck if you just can’t cut out those screens, however. Apps and programs that change the color of your screens to a more reddish tint—and which cut out the blue light—are available, and Peterson herself uses them enthusiastically. Once you call it a day, one of the most crucial facets of falling asleep is the temperature of your body, says Peterson, who points to a study published in Nature which concluded that the greatest predictor of when people fall asleep is the temperature in their extremities. “For you to fall asleep, your core temperature

Healthy LIFE


needs to drop and your extremities need to warm up,” Peterson says. “For people who have trouble falling asleep, make sure your hands and feet aren’t cold. Maybe use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your hands or feet and then drop the thermostat to lower the sleeping temperature.”

Peterson suggests a sleeping temperature in the upper 60s, which will allow you to stay asleep and which can also improve the quality of your sleep, although the temperature at which people are comfortable varies. What time you wake up and your body’s temperature can have a huge impact on your energy levels, but equally as important are the times you eat throughout the day, says Peterson. She brings up one study which suggests that in rodents, eating within the first eight hours of the day reversed diabetes and obesity, even on a less than healthy diet. Though the results are promising, we don’t know yet whether eating early in the day will also improve health in humans. Peterson is currently testing whether a similar meal timing pattern can improve metabolism in people.

Reading for LIFE

A Review of



Reviewed by Kelli Knight

Reading to children is a past time that is alive and well at LaDivina Italian Cafe. Community spirit is the foremost thought that comes to mind when talking about what has become a cornerstone event at the café. Mary and Lance, the owners, have established each Wednesday night as “Kid’s Night.” Local authors are invited to read their books to a gathering of children and their parents from 5:00 to 7:00. Those that attend come from all backgrounds and cultures to enjoy great stories by abundantly talented writers. The writers this month will read stories that teach, express the importance of acceptance, and demonstrate the importance of realizing our differences make us individual and special. Kid’s Night is a great experience because the diversity of our region is quite prevalent in the writers, the kids, and other attendees. The occasion truly promotes unity in our community. Bring your little ones to Kid’s Night at LaDivina knowing you will have fun, get to know your neighbors, and that you can enjoy some of the best gelato around!

Another study done in China showed that mice who skipped dinner at night weighed less than mice who skipped breakfast. Additionally, in Israel, researchers found that women who were on a diet and ate most of their calories in the morning lost 12 more pounds over a 12 week period, versus women who were on a diet and ate most of their calories at night. “We think this research indicates that if you can eat your calories in an eight hour period every day versus a 12 hour period, your body will benefit from better blood sugar control, and that could potentially lead to weight loss and better overall health,” Peterson says. Peterson is currently working on research to determine the benefit of eating early in the day to see whether it improves metabolism. Two of the perks are free meals made by dietitians at Pennington Biomedical for ten weeks, and compensation for participation. If you’d like to take part in this study, please visit www. and look under the “nutrition” tab.

Kelli Knight is the owner of Illuminated Designs Studio, specializing in graphic design. 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 February 2016


Opportunities for LIFE

Calendar of Events

CASA Volunteer Orientation February 5 1:00PM February 13 10:00 AM FebRUARY 16 12:30PM FebRUARY 25 6:00PM FebRUARY 29 NOON CASA Volunteer Orientation: Learn how you can help an abused or neglected child reach a safe, permanent home this 45-minute informational session. Contact: (225) 379-8598,,


WOMEN IN BUSINESS Please join us for our monthly Bible study (first Monday night of every month) on Monday Feb. 1, from 5:30-7 p.m. at La Madeleine’s in Perkins Rowe. Come be encouraged as we study Godly principles for success. Call Carol Thomas for more info: 225-248-6880.

FEBRUARY 3, 10, 17, 24

La Divina Italian Café Hosts Weekly “Kids’ Night” with Local Children’s Authors 5 to 7pm Wednesday Nights

The events are free and no purchase is necessary. Kids menu and dessert. Kid’s night usually includes a free craft and coloring page. 3535 Perkins Road Suite 360.


Seasons Women’s Group, begins Tuesday, February 3, at 9:30 a.m., at The Chapel in the Oaks, 9611 Siegen Lane. Women of all ages and stages will enjoy fellowship around God’s word. Two studies from which to choose: Beth Moore’s, “Breath—The Life of God in Us,” or “Attending the Bride of Christ: Preparing for His Return,” by Martha Lawley.


ANNIE JR Leaping Lizards! “Annie JR” will be performed by CYT Baton Rouge on Feb. 12-14 (theater TBD). Tickets are on sale at


Father Daughter Sweetheart Hoedown More info at:


Real Men Service 6:30 p.m. The Church in St. Amant, 13423 Hwy 431, Saint Amant, LA 70774 TheChurch.FM Real Men is where we gather the men and their boys to worship the Lord together. Dinner is served at 6 p.m., and the service begins at 6:30 p.m. Come rally with us to worship and hear the Word of God and continue to grow together to become Real Men of God!


A Door of Hope GIRL TALK is a group of girls ages 13-17 that come together monthly to talk about issues they face on a daily basis. We are here to DISCUSS.RELATE.SUPPORT each other no matter the issue. We meet at A Door of Hope the last Thursday of every month from 6-7:30 p.m. Our office is located in the Dixon Medical Center at 8369 Florida Blvd. Suite 5 Denham Springs, La 70726


Baton Rouge Speech and Debate Judges needed in February for this event in March. Baton Rouge Speech and Debate, a homeschool speech and debate league affiliated with the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, is hosting a Regional Tournament at Zoar Baptist Church (11848 Hooper Road), March 3-5, 2016. We need your help providing valuable feedback to the more than 150 students from a five-state area that will be participating. Training and refreshments are provided. Register on-line at: or contact Melanie Anderson: 225-302-0802

every sunday

Open Bible study at 9:15 a.m. every Sunday at Lone Burden Conference Center on Essen Lane. (see ad on page 27)



Reign Women Service 6:30 p.m. The Church in St. Amant, 13423 Hwy 431, Saint Amant, LA 70774 TheChurch.FM Reign is where we gather the women and their daughters to worship the Lord together. Dinner is served at 6 p.m., and the service begins at 6:30 p.m. Come experience the presence of God with us as we worship the Lord together! .


The Dunham School Open House Independent, Christian, College-Preparatory School for grades PK3-12 Join us for an Open House on Friday, February 19 at noon and discover why the difference is everything at Dunham.


Kingdom School of Witnessing 8 a.m. – Noon Training on how to effectively share your faith Location: Ministry of New Life Church, 938 N. 14th Street Registration required Call Elmo Winters, 225-305-3006 or Therese Winters, 225-573-9400


February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

REFIT, a dance fitness class, Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 9 a.m., at The Chapel in the Oaks, 9611 Siegen Lane. A workout program with a ministry focus. For more information and registration contact


Mother to Mother, Thursdays at 9:30 a.m., The Chapel on the Campus, 3355 Dalrymple Drive. Learn to live out your faith and follow after God as you study “Finishing School,” by Valerie Woerner with other mothers. Email for information, registration and childcare.

SATURDAYS - February 6, 13, 20, & 27

9 a.m. “Growing by Going” Radio Broadcast on WPFC 1550 AM Radio

EACH FRIDAY & SUNDAY Recovery Support at Addis is a ministry of First Baptist Church Addis for

individuals seeking freedom from destructive habits.

Men meet Fridays at 7pm Contact James (225) 218-5630 Women meet Sundays 6pm Contact Ellie (225) 776-1652 6781 LA Hwy 1 Addis, LA 70710 There is no fee for attending. For more info: (225) 749-3756

Baton Rouge

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thanks to our advertisers ! Join our team and help change our city! Email Sharon Frank at for details! Check our website for locations to find your copy. Carl’s Computer Care Juban Insurance Group Peters Wealth Advisors Radio Bible Courses, Ltd. Dr. C. Farrell Fruge’, Jr. i-Catchers Salon Edward Jones, Tex Morris

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February 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine