Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - July 2016 Edition

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LEADERSHIP William Saint: Wearing the Armor of God

EBR Sheriff, Sid Gautreaux bike ministry builds bridges DA Hillar Moore Leads the way to unify Baton Rouge Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



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JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

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Table of CONTENTS Feature & Cover STORY

17-19 Hillar Moore: Leading the way to a safer, more unified Baton Rouge by Krista Bordelon


Sid Gautreaux’s Leadership is Rooted in his Faith in the Lord and a Passion for Public Service by Trapper S. Kinchen

Inside Each Issue

5 16 27 33 39

Publisher’s letter Man on the street by Jehan Seals

PAstor’s perspective by Chad Dinkel


issue 4, volume 2 JULY 2016

Feature Columns

PUBLISHER/Editor Beth Townsend


Faith LIFE

ASSOCIATE EDITOR McKenzie Moffett mckenzie@

William Saint: Wearing the armor of God by Lisa Tramontana

Debbi Sharkey: Defining life by God’s love

Director of Distribution Elmo Winters

by Susan Brown

The Power of Prayer by Rachel Chustz

15 26 28-29 Family LIFE Equipped for battle

contributing writers Lisa Tramontana Susan Brown Krista Bordelon Kelli M. Knight Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis Chad Dinkel LaTangela Fay Sherman Trapper S. Kinchen Kristen Hogan Rachel Chustz David Day Derrius Montgomery

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

LEARNING FOR LIFE Teaching Young People about God’s Plan for Love and Marriage by Lisa Tramontana



Bike Ministry Helps Build Bridges by Lisa Tramontana




The Y is Leading the way in Community Health by Kristen Hogan

PBM Supports Soldiers and Military Family Health

by Kelli M. Knight

by Pennington Biomedical Research Center






Reading for life


36 37

Baton Rouge

get out of your own way by Derrius Montgomery

defining a true leader by David Day

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

A Mission in the Desert by Trapper S. Kinchen


purpose by LaTangela Fay Sherman


COVER PHOTO William Saint by Natalie S. Miller Photography LAYOUT & DESIGN BY Illuminated Designs Studio BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE 9655 Perkins Road, Suite C-133 Baton Rouge, LA 70810 225-910-7426 BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE WEBSITE BY McKenzie Moffett printed by RR Donnelley / Memphis, TN

Publisher’s LETTER


Happy July! What a loaded month - summer fun, patriotism and celebrations galore! Our theme of “leadership” this month is in part an effort to pay tribute to the many who lead so selflessly each day. From law enforcement to military to those in ministry, where would we be without those willing to boldly lead, especially for the sake of the gospel? The spiritual gift of leadership is mentioned in Romans 12:8 urging, “the one who leads, with zeal.” The Christian who is gifted in leadership is to use his or her gift with a passion to help people grow in the Lord. Leading others to Christ is paramount to our role as Christians. If we have Christ, we are to share Christ. Not sheepishly, we are to lead boldly. Jesus was a man of strength and incredible self-discipline, solely focused on the will of his father. He didn’t waver nor second-guess his divine purpose. He was a man on a mission, and we are to imitate him every day.


May this edition encourage us to boldly step into a new level of leadership! It’s tempting to feel as though our world is a messy place and there is little any one person can do to influence eternity. Yet, in the Bible, we read of many heroes who were far from perfect. David, Abraham, Nehemiah, Daniel, Esther, Peter, Paul, Stephen, Thomas, John, Ruth, Hannah, the list could go on. Each faced imperfections, yet each impacted history. We will never experience the faithfulness of God until we test the faithfulness of God. That requires that we step out boldly in faith and become the leaders our world needs. In our families, at work, by pursuing Godly dreams, or by sharing your story or the gospel. Or, it could be by saying a big fat no to that lingering temptation. Don’t wait another day, as “sitting on the fence” can keep us from a joyful life of purpose and passion where we thrive within our giftedness. Lead like you are being led by the creator of the universe, because you are! Esther 4:14 says it best, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Enjoy every story! May you be encouraged and empowered as you lead others.

In the fullness of Life,

Beth Townsend

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



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Faith LIFE

William Saint:


Wearing the Armor of God by Lisa Tramontana

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6


hrough military challenges and personal tragedies, these words have comforted and motivated Major William Saint for most of his life. As a man, a son, a husband, a father and a military leader, he is bolstered by his faith and can’t imagine life without it.

William Saint at the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana march from LSU to the state capitol where 10,000 flags were “planted” in memory of fallen soldiers.

Saint is Commander of the 62nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team for the Louisiana National Guard. He leads a group of highly trained soldiers capable of responding to threats ranging from chemical leaks to natural disasters to terrorist attacks. His group often works behind the scenes, providing security for events such as the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, the Final Four or Jazz Fest.

photo by Natalie S. Miller Photography Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



Faith LIFE When his deployment ended, Saint was grateful that although some of his troops had been wounded, no one had died. “Even now when some of us get together, we talk about that,” he said. “Something kept us safe. We’re reminded of the Book of Ephesians, chapter 6.” “Put on the full armor of God so that when the day comes, you may be able to stand your ground … with the belt of truth buckled around your waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith …”

photo provided by William Saint

In his position with the Louisiana National Guard, Saint leads a team that responds to threats ranging from chemical leaks to terrorist attacks.

Saint is good at his job, and his leadership skills were recognized early in his military career, which began when he joined the Army National Guard at just 17 years old. Parental permission was no problem since his family boasts a long tradition of military service that dates back to the Civil War. A life in the military was encouraged, if not expected. College was still part of his plan, and Saint decided to study engineering at Louisiana State University. But when 9/11 happened, everything changed. “I was distracted after that,” he said. “My focus shifted. I suddenly felt a huge pull toward the military, and I knew it was my true calling.” To graduate as quickly as possible, he changed his major to history and finished his studies through Excelsior College — all while also going through officer’s training. 8

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

In 2004, he was deployed to Iraq, serving as platoon leader to 27 soldiers. On his third day in Iraq, one of his closest friends was struck by an IED (improvised explosive device) and lost his left leg. It was a test of faith for Saint. “It was so tragic,” he said. “But it was also my first real revelation. I had never felt a departure from God, but on that day, I was strongly drawn to God. I realized that you must have faith to carry you through times like this. I was in a leadership position, responsible for the welfare of my soldiers and their families. I had to put on a strong face and make sure my soldiers were confident in my abilities. They looked up to me, but who did I have to look up to? I needed someone to release all my fears and trepidations. I needed someone to give me strength. And that someone was God.”

In short, Saint believes his faith life and his military career are intertwined, one and the same. “The Army uses an acronym — LDERSHIP — which stands for these qualities … loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. And when you think about it, those are all Christian qualities as well,” he said. Saint’s foundation was always strong. His Korean mother converted to Christianity after she married Saint’s father and came to the U.S. Saint attended church regularly, even through his teenage years. But even a lifelong dedication to God doesn’t mean life will be easy or perfect. Saint’s second test of faith came in 2008, when his wife Katherine delivered the couple’s twins prematurely at just 24 weeks. Madeleine survived but baby William died at just 18 days old. “You go through a range of emotions,” Saint said. “I was heartbroken. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to know why God would take my son. Our pastor guided us after William’s passing and let us know that it was okay to be angry and upset. And I don’t put William’s death at the feet of God. I don’t believe God is up in Heaven holding puppet strings and making certain things happen

Faith LIFE (good or bad) to people. William died and I have to accept it, but I take comfort in the fact that my son is in the Kingdom of God now. He has already gained his reward.”


Saint adds that throughout their grieving, he and Katherine have felt Jesus’ peace through family, Christian friends, worship, music, prayer and reflection. “I often dread long drives because I know my thoughts and emotions will find their way back to me,” Saint said. “But in every instance, Jesus uses those long drives to minister a peace that surpasses all understanding. He truly is a comforter.” Today, the Saints have four children — Madeleine, 8; Juliana, 6; David, 4; and Abigail, 3. Stationed in Carville, La., Saint is now in the third year of his assignment. Although he could retire in just a few years, he plans to have a long career in the military. On Memorial Day weekend, Saint participated in several events, including a 6-mile road march from LSU to the State Capitol to deliver 11,000 U.S. flags to the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana, Chapter 1, who were hosting their annual Memorial Day Garden of Flags. The flags were then planted by volunteers in memory of the 11,000 fallen Louisiana service members.

photo provided by William Saint

The march was an example of how Saint demonstrates the ideals he embraces. Respect. Service. Devotion to Duty. But most of all, he hopes to lead by example, living a life that inspires others, from family and friends to his brothers in the military. His desire is that his faith will be his legacy … God willing.

Saint is welcomed home by his young daughters after a one-year deployment. 13653 Airline Highway, Gonzales, LA 70737

photo provided by William Saint

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William Saint and his wife, Katherine, cherish their children (from left) David, 4; Juliana, 6; Abigail, 3; and Madeleine, 8. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016


X Faith LIFE

Debi Sharkey:

Defining Life by God’s Love

by Susan Brown


here are those who step into difficult places with the calling and conviction that nothing is too hard - and no one too hardened - for God. Those that believe he can bring truth from tragedy, beauty from ashes. Debi Sharkey never planned to be a prison chaplain. But looking over the sprawling campus of the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women on Highway 74 in St. Gabriel, she understands why God sent her here. While she has no illusions about the crimes that brought inmates to the prison, she recognizes the pain of rejection, abuse and broken promises that many have experienced. She’s been there. A survivor of domestic violence, emotional abuse and sexual trauma, Sharkey was on her own at 17. Her father was a raging alcoholic and unfaithful to her mother. Her early life and her own relationships left her with misconceptions about love, and a fierce desire to go it alone. Then God turned her life around and began to teach her about trust—he is the good father whose word is dependable and whose love is unconditional. She soon sensed a clear call to ministry confirmed in Psalm 105, a Scripture passage focused on proclaiming all God has done. “When the Lord called me into ministry and then said that I needed to go to college and get equipped, I said okay,” she explained. But with no financial support from family and little hope of succeeding in college, she had no desire to go. She had not even taken the ACT college admission exam seriously; her counselor said she must have marked random answers. As a result, her scores were dismal. She told God, “I’ll only go if you get me in and you pay the way. But I’m thinking to myself, 10

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

photos courtesy Debi Sharkey

‘ha, ha, I know my scores and I know I don’t have any money.’” She applied for a grant to Palm Beach Atlantic, a faith-based university, but was disqualified because her paycheck as a bank teller barely exceeded the income limit.

Debi Sharkey

“I started crying and said, ‘What kind of God are you? I didn’t want to go to school. You got my hopes up and here I am and now I want to go to school and I can’t get in,’” she said. “And he reminded me, ‘Wait a minute. I thought you said I would pay the way and I would get you in.’” She realized that it was her plan, not God’s plan, to apply for a grant. She could trust Him. At church that night she discovered that her pastor had recommended her for a scholarship. “I got in on academic probation, but I graduated debt free, in three years and with honors. And that’s the Lord. He calls and he’s going to equip. He provides.” She went on to earn a D.Ed.Min., a doctorate degree in Women’s Ministry, from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “At the time I was a young college student and I was ready to travel the world and speak,” she said. “Oh, that’s awesome, Lord. I want to talk. And he told me no, it’s going to be at least 20 years because you’ve got to live it first … live the word of God.” That included discovering that her own value did not depend on what she could accomplish. “Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.’ And I knew that I was only saved through grace. But at the same time, I had this drive in me from my sexual trauma and my dad treating us like he did.

Debi with husband Rick, daughters and grandson Hendrix

Debi with daughter, Kristen, who survived cancer

Faith Life I knew God loved me but for some reason I was still trying to earn God’s approval.” The Henry Blackaby study, “Experiencing God,” was life-changing. “The Lord showed me that my worth is not in doing but it is in being. And it was so freeing! I realized that I am beautiful and I am special and I am loved because I’m a child of God. End of story.” It also meant listening to God through career changes, Katrina and cancer. After planting two churches in Michigan, she and her pastor-husband Rick moved back to Louisiana for his doctoral studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Both she and her husband served on the ministry staff at Celebration Church in Metairie. She finished her own doctorate in women’s ministry in 2005, typing her bibliography in the car as they evacuated under the threat of Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, they relocated to South Florida for a year. They prayed about returning to New Orleans, but instead followed God’s leading to Texas. There, she discovered that she had stage three breast cancer. “If I had come back to New Orleans it would have only been 15 months after Katrina. I would not have had insurance. And I may not have even caught it,” she said. “I went through eight rounds of chemo and 13 surgeries, all very expensive. But I had great healthcare - the first time I’d ever had 100 percent insurance coverage. God moved me to Texas to save my life.” “So, for me it’s always been about obedience. When the Lord tells me to do something - always confirmed through his Word - I have to obey,” she said. “How do I live then with faith and confidence after surviving sexual trauma, Hurricane Katrina, job loss, bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, a hysterectomy, thyroid cancer, and even my daughter’s recent battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at six months pregnant?” Sharkey said she relies on her identity in Christ. “I know God


loves me. I know who I am in Christ. You can’t let your circumstances determine your theology. Only the Word of God does.”

They are accessible,” she said. On May 18, the seminary’s Leavell College awarded bachelor’s degrees to 13 inmate ministers from LCIW.

Back at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Sharkey was asked in 2010 to teach in the new seminary extension program at the women’s prison just south of Baton Rouge. The program, designed to train inmates as peer ministers, is the first of its kind in the nation for incarcerated women. “And I was like, okay, I’ll pray about it, but I don’t think that’s my thing,” she said. Sensing God’s direction, she obeyed. “From the first time I entered the compound I knew this is where I am supposed to be … I just felt called here, at home here and felt such a love for these ladies.”

“What I’m fascinated with – where I see God glorified – is that he doesn’t waste anything,” she said. God wants to use all of our past experiences, even the sins other people committed against us, to shape us and teach us to depend on him, Sharkey explained. “It’s such a great privilege to be used by the Lord. God is at work at LCIW, and I am grateful to have a small part. To God be the glory!”

“And then two years later, in March, I was having my quiet time and the Lord told me that I would be having a change in employer and that it would be chaplaincy,” she said. Her husband also became a chaplain, serving at Angola. “The bottom line is that we hear from God — ‘My sheep hear my voice,’ (John 10:27). When we obey, we’re going to be blessed (Deuteronomy 28:12). We don’t know the end, and sometimes it’s not an easy road when you obey,” she explained. “But now, here I am in the middle of it all, and I absolutely love it.” As chaplain at LCIW, Sharkey believes that equipping inmates to partner in ministry is vital, following the example set by Jesus and his 12 disciples. “I go home after my shift, but the inmates live there.

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.

45 Years!

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016


X Faith LIFE


Power of Prayer by Rachel Chustz

photos courtesy Rachel Chustz


...ur family ...had just spent a fantastic week at a Christian summer camp.

We had made some amazing new friends, listened to wise words from an inspiring speaker and had many exciting outdoor adventures. We felt refreshed from a peaceful week, and our spiritual tanks were full. We had no clue what God was preparing us for, and we didn’t know that only four short days later, we would find out. On this hot July morning, my hard-working husband, Michael, woke up early, as usual. He sang as he showered. His cheerfulness seeped melodically throughout the rooms of our home. He quickly dressed and gathered his things. Our children giggled as their playful daddy chased them around the house for goodbye kisses. I kissed Michael goodbye and told him I loved him. Only several hours later, I got the phone call from a stranger. The

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JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Michael Chustz coming home from the hospital.

stranger’s voice shook as he regretfully told me, “Ma’am, your husband has been in a very serious wreck.” Michael had run into the back of an 18-wheeler on the interstate. The 18-wheeler was almost completely stopped, and Michael had crashed into him going full speed. “Is he bleeding? Is he going to be okay? Is he alive?” I hysterically asked. The stranger explained that the Jaws of Life had pried him out of his smashed truck, and the helicopter would arrive any minute to fly him to the emergency room. I was finally called back to see my husband. As I walked in, I saw Michael lying on the hospital bed with a horrified look on his face. His rapid, shallow breathing revealed how difficult and painful it was to breathe. When he saw me, his eyes filled with tears and he whispered, “I am so sorry.” I held his trembling

Faith LIFE hand and told him that everything was going to be okay. I could hear his broken bones in his chest snapping with each laborious breath. Michael was moved to the trauma unit where they tried to manage his pain until surgery for his broken legs. Two surgeries later, both of his legs were full of hardware, covered in stitches and were two times their normal size. Michael was kept in a comatose state and remained on the ventilator to allow his lungs, sternum and ribs time to heal. After several days, I noticed that Michael started to look different. His body began to swell and he started to turn yellow. He also developed a fever and his vital signs were too high. It was very difficult to manage his pain, even though he was extremely sedated, and when they tried to get Michael off of the ventilator, it was clear that his lungs were not ready to support his breathing. The days in the hospital began to run together. Michael’s reports did not get better. His liver was still struggling, he had developed pneumonia, had several blood transfusions, had a persistent fever, and the doctors were beginning to worry that he had developed staph. Then the worst news came. Michael had developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The doctors’ voices were low as they explained everything to us. The hopelessness and fear overwhelmed me, and I begged and pleaded for someone to tell me that he would be okay. Then one

nurse explained, “I’ve seen people in much worse condition live, and I’ve seen people in much better condition die.”

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Michael’s truck following the accident.

My spirited husband, who was usually so full of life, lay so lifeless, taking only breaths that the ventilator initiated. As I stood over him, I saw the deep groove of where his wedding ring was and imagined him saying, “I have never taken this ring off and I never will.” I looked at the messy pink polish he had allowed our two-year-old daughter to paint onto his toes. I begged, “God, please don’t take this amazing man from us.” As their grandmother read books to our children that night, I hid in my bedroom and listened to voicemails from Michael. His soothing voice sounded so sweet in my ear. I went into Michael’s closet and could smell his fragrance on his clothes. Michael felt so near. I could almost hear him saying the words he said to me only hours after his accident, “Rachel, I can’t tell you why this happened, but I know this happened for a reason. And I know God kept me alive for that reason.” I clung to his words so tightly. As the fog of shock began to wear off, I was able to see and feel the indescribable outpouring of love from family and friends. Family and friends took care of our children, traveled to be with us, provided us with meals and groceries (which lasted for months!), set up a fund to help with the hospital expenses and constantly offered powerful words of encouragement and heartfelt prayers. They

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Rachel holding Michael’s jaundiced and swollen hand during the recovery process.

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Faith LIFE

even built us a ramp so Michael could get into our home in his wheelchair. Churches all over our state were praying for Michael and his healing. Our community was lifting us up and carrying us through this terrifying time. Over the next several days, Michael began to slowly improve. Then, I got the most incredible surprise of my life when I returned for the visitation with Michael one evening. Michael was off of the ventilator and was alert. He could barely lift his head or open his eyes, but when he saw me, he said, “Now there’s the love of my life.” I cannot even explain the joy that I felt in that moment. We were very careful not to overwhelm Michael as he woke up. He had lost more than 20 pounds and was extremely weak. Michael remembered that he had been in a car accident but didn’t remember much of anything after that. He experienced lots of delusions and post-traumatic stress as he

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came back into consciousness. As the days went on, Michael became more aware and was ready to see our two young children, and they were very excited to finally see their daddy. This was such a magical moment for us. Our children eagerly became little caretakers. I remember the tears pouring down my cheeks as I watched our 2-year-old and 4-year-old so naturally and courageously take on this new careful and gentle demeanor with their father. Michael worked hard. He didn’t let being in a wheelchair slow him down. He was bound and determined to walk. With some great physical therapy and dedication, Michael was walking four months before the doctors predicted. Despite all of his suffering, Michael’s attitude remained optimistic as he focused on making his suffering count. Michael is my hero. I have never seen anything like his faith, courage or perseverance.

This experience has given our family new eyes to see this life. It has revealed to us that even in the wake of such uncertainty and fear, there are so many blessings. It has been a long road to recovery. However, with every trial, we have more joyously celebrated our victories. Michael’s scars are a reminder to us of the miracle we experienced and that God has a very big plan for Michael here on Earth.

Michael, Rachel and their children.

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Equipped for Battle

Family LIFE


by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

Are you willing to stand on the frontlines of spiritual warfare for your family? Are you

capable of being that selfless? Leadership is a choice within you. Every day we are faced with the decision of whether to be good at something or bad at something. Knowing your specific roles and where you fall on the grid allows you to make the decision of whether or not you will choose to line up with God’s ordained order for your life. “Leadership is about having a selfless heart and always being willing to reach out and lend a helping hand,” says Bob Reina, CEO and founder of Talk Fusion. So, the first question I propose to you is: Are you being a good leader for your family? In the Bible God designed a correct order of how the family unit should line up - Christ, husband, wife, children. In today’s society, we as believers tend to get the order all wrong and it ends up looking something like - God, work, children or parents, spouse, children. Some believers will even put friends before their spouse and children. We’re often left wondering why we can’t get things lined up within our household - it’s because our order and structure are completely wrong. The next question I propose is: Are we as believers lining up with our respective roles in the kingdom according to the Bible? What’s the husband’s role in the Bible? What’s the wife role according to the Bible? Although we are equal in relationships according to Christ, the Bible gives specific roles for husbands and wives in marriage. In the Bible, God designed husbands as the leaders of the home (1 Corinthians 11:3). The husband’s role is ordained to be selfless, loving and compassionate. The husband is the provider, the protector and the companion (1 Timothy 5:8). It is said that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Husbands are also

to cleanse their wives with the word of Jesus Christ to make them holy. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them,” Colossians 3:19. A wife’s role according to the Bible is to be her husband’s helpmate. Wives are to be loving, compassionate and encouraging to their husbands. They are to mentor and witness to their husband and children. Proverbs 31 speaks in-depth about the role of a wife, and in those scriptures we learn that a wife is a blessing to her husband despite what some husbands think at times. In today’s society, with spiritual warfare at an epic high, we as leaders within our homes need to be more aware of the spirits that attach themselves to us and our children. Our order has to be correct to help us stand as one in the body of Christ and to fight off the attacks of the enemy on our family, as this truly means war - spiritual warfare that is. However, God will never send you into a battle without equipping you with his armor, which is his word, your prayers and worship. That’s all you need to defeat the enemy. You must learn that the battle is not yours, it’s the Lord’s. There’s due season coming for you and your family; receive it in Jesus’ name today. The final question I’ll propose is this: Is your household equipped for battle? Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis, affectionately known as “The Refresher,” is an American author, empowerment speaker and a life catalyst. She launched The Refresher Course to educate and empower others to dramatically shift the quality and direction of their lives by using spiritual principles as well as the Life Catalyst curriculum. By using lessons from her life, Tonya writes and teaches through one’s obstacles to transform people into achieving their goals. She currently writes for the Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine and just released her fourth book entitled “A Refreshing Moment” and her debut single, “I Choose Life” is available at www. She truly believes in the principle of refreshing lives one by one.

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Man on the Street

What do you think

of when you think of a great

by Jehan Seals


(photos provided by and used with permission of the participants)

John Pastorek

“I think the best leaders are servant leaders. Servant leadership and the secret to that can be found in the gospel according to Mark where Jesus says whoever wants to be first among you must be the very last and a servant to all. He just gave us the definition of a great leader! It’s someone that serves everybody else, because you know when you give, it’ll be given unto you; when you do for others, they’ll do for you. When you love more, more love will be given unto you. So, I think that the key to being a great leader is to be a great servant of all.”

“A great leader is one who never compromises on truth. I also believe that to lead, one must first follow. The elements that make a leader great stem from the courage to do and stand for what’s right, even if no one else is doing it. The strength that he or she gets comes from God, and they make decisions based upon not only the word of God, but also on what God tells them in their time of consecration in prayer, and asking for direction. Last but not least, great leaders possess the serenity to surrender and let things go by giving Michael Bragalia their worries, doubts and fears to God.”

Darla K.

“When I think of a great leader, I think of a number of things, but mainly being Christ-like and God-fearing. When a leader is God-fearing, they are less likely to compromise the word of God. When they are Christ-like, they are trustworthy. I find that they are able to encourage others with truth and never waver. The number one leader in my life is my mom. I believe she’s Christ-like and God-fearing. She taught me to be kind, gentle and compassionate, like Jesus.”

Richard R.

“A great leader to me is someone who sees the bigger picture, someone who can see beyond today and prepare others for what’s ahead. To me, a great leader has Christ at the forefront of their mind. They want to be like him. A great leader thinks of Christ first, others second and themselves last. They embody humility and esteem others higher than themselves. They are loved because they have shown love. A great leader is constantly learning and growing so that their life can be an example that others may choose to follow.”


JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Feature Story


photo by Beth Townsend

Hillar Moore: Leading the Way to a Safer, More Unified Baton Rouge “The lack of family, lack of neighborhood, and lack of religion in communities is a significant hit to the fiber of our nation.” — Hillar Moore

by Krista Bordelon


e have a killing problem.

I’ve always wondered why people are killing each other and what we can do to stop that,” District Attorney Hillar Moore said. He had received a 4 a.m. wake-up call regarding another murder here in the capital city, so the determination was fresh and strong. “All of the studies I’ve read on how to stop the murders are complete nonsense in my opinion. None of them ever work, and they are all too complicated,” he said. So what has he done throughout the past four years to address this issue in a city that has one of the nation’s leading per capita murder rates? “It’s a 24/7 job. You can’t ever stop; you can’t ever rest. They’re watching, and they know the exact moment you let up,” he says. Moore was born and raised in New Orleans, one of 7 children born to his Italian mother and his German-Irish father. “ My dad

was in the Marine Corps returning from WWII when he met my mom while she was running her father’s grocery store,” Moore said. The family was very involved in the Catholic Church and school system. He graduated from Brother Martin High School and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU, and his entire family followed him here shortly afterward. For 42 years Moore has built a life in Baton Rouge, pouring his heart into the community long before his service to our city as district attorney. At 19 years old he became one of the youngest DA investigators in the country. “I was a volunteer student worker while getting my degree at LSU, and was hired here as an investigator after graduation,” he said. During his 11 years as an investigator he was in charge of crime scene investigation and forensics, which prompted his decision to go to law school. He became a defense lawyer working with Anthony Marabella (who Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



photo courtesty Hillar Moore

Hillar IV, John Michael, Hillar, Hayden and Dawn

is now a judge) and served for 16 years before deciding to run for DA in 2008.

when 54 percent of our murders ended up being group related.”

“I’ve been doing this for 42 years. I’ve been on both sides, the defense side and the prosecution side. The value of seeing both sides makes it better for me. Every side has its black and white, but you can’t see it like that when you’re in the middle,” Moore said. In a city with an average of 88 murders a year, and everyone looking at him for answers, he made the decision to contact Dr. David Kennedy with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC. Kennedy is the director of the National Network for Safe Communities and has implemented programs in cities around the country to strengthen community relations and reduce crime and incarceration rates.

Moore explained the long process they went through to examine the files of every single murder over the past several years to find some sort of connection to work with. “We identified 32 working groups at the time, and began to institute call-ins (a technique in the group violence reduction strategy),” he said.

“He had this program in Boston, ‘The Boston Cease Fire’ or ‘The Boston Miracle’ which incorporated religion and faith based techniques and was government sponsored. I called him and said, ‘We have a serious murder problem,’ he told me, ‘You probably don’t, but go ahead and tell me about it,’ and once I did he said, ‘You have a serious murder problem.’” Moore said. “We had to figure out where the killings were coming from. Luckily for us it was a ‘fixable’ problem 18

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Through intelligence work, the most active groups and the most active group members are identified and contacted. LSU is a huge research partner, gathering and translating all data to be usable by these programs. “We send them a letter to come in, sit down and talk. Usually, they are on probation, have an upcoming court date or are in prison. We tell them to invite their mom, their girlfriend, their lawyer, and that they’ve been identified as an influential member and we want them to take a message back to their groups from us. Basically, the message is, ‘We will do bad stuff to you if you do bad stuff to us,’” Moore explained. This is the 10th call-in over three years, and they have seen great success. “For the first call-in, 40 were invited and 37 showed up, plus 4 additional people

who were mad they didn’t get a letter from us. It is a scripted message we give them from law enforcement. This isn’t a dialogue, it is us one-way talking at them, no questions and no talking back. This isn’t a negotiation,” he said. Moore continued, “Basically we say, ‘It’s a new day in Baton Rouge. If you shoot and kill, we are coming after you. Put your guns down and take our help. I have 50 community service providers who will put you at the top of the list for resources, so transportation, rehab, mental health, school, tell us what you need,’” he said. “At that point most refuse our help, so our next option is, ‘Put your guns down, and you won’t have to deal with us,’ but we know someone is going to screw up, it’s going to happen, so it always ends with, ‘If you screw up you will be met with swift, immediate action by a lot of folks.’” At this part of the call-in, responsibility shifts from the white law enforcement side to the black faith-based and community leaders to deliver the message, and they can deliver it in a way law enforcement can’t. “These leaders get the message to them that we are all in this together. We may disagree on some things, but we don’t

Feature Story disagree on the fact that you have to stop killing,” he said. Moore highlighted that there is a huge distrust between both parties (law enforcement and the community), and that gap needs to be bridged. The program won’t be successful without it. “This is the only program I’ve seen that encourages and pays for the faith-based side of the message. We ask preachers every Sunday to preach a message of nonviolence, do community cleanups and step out of the pulpit and into the community,” he said. “LSU tracks everything we do - cleanups, gun buy backs, community meetings, etc., and crime goes down significantly 25-40 percent for 2-4 weeks in that (specific) neighborhood. After a call-in, the reduction is incredible with these group members for a significant period of time (up to 6 weeks). We can hear them on the prison phone calls, which are always monitored, spreading the message we just gave them.” “During these call-ins, computer screens are set up showing pictures of the former gang members that are dead, pictures of bodies on the ground, pictures of who is doing 40 years and who is doing life. Maps show where the prisons are that they will be sent to if they are caught. The reality of it all is in their face,” Moore said. The first year the call-ins started, very few were taking law enforcement’s help, but more and more are now taking help. “If they don’t take our help we reach out to their family, their brothers and

sisters, that also helps,” he said. The first year they started with a baseline of 85 murders, which dropped to 58. “That’s 25 less people who didn’t get killed, but that also means 25 people didn’t go to jail for life,” Moore explained. The second year was down even farther, and although the third year spiked back up due to seven double murders and three triple murders (events that Moore says make them “mad because those are numbers that go against the work we are doing”), it still managed to stay below the baseline. “All major medium cities are up, but we are doing good. We’re good,” he said. But, since school let out last week, it’s “killing season” again in Baton Rouge and Moore said everyone is just holding their breath for what’s next. “When we aren’t doing call-ins we’re doing customized notifications. We know who is about to kill and who is about to be killed, so we try to disrupt their behavior as much as we can. Usually the response is, ‘Get out of my life.’ Hopefully, we will eventually get murders down, because it’s still not acceptable at 60 a year,” he said. They’re currently on the right track — with an expected reduction of 5 bodies that first year, the start up of 25 set a good precedent. Moore said we have to address the issues creating an environment for murder in the first place including, “truancy, lack of education, teen pregnancy, high HIV/AIDS rates, mental health, poverty, historical racial issues, cycles of incarceration beginning as


juveniles, no fathers and no mentors …” His next plan is to gain support for a mentorship program involving veterans. “Often those who served have the same emotional problems these kids have, they’re all suffering from post traumatic stress. Maybe they can help each other. This is a dangerous group we’re dealing with at only 15 or 16 years old. These military men are disciplined and trained,” Moore said. There are many programs offered throughout Baton Rouge, but each one faces its challenges when it comes to success. “You can offer these kids everything, but they don’t even know how to take it,” he concluded. Regardless of the successes and setbacks, one thing is clear; this is a community problem that can’t be left in the hands of few. There is a great forward momentum, so let’s all join together to keep going.

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.

Securely purchase your book today at: or call (225) 305-3006

Transforming Believers Into Powerful Witnesses

Elmo Winters The Kingdom Group 8733 Siegen Lane, # 141 Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



Sid Gautreaux’s

Leadership is Rooted in his Faith in the Lord and a Passion for Public Service by Trapper S. Kinchen


or nine years, Sid J. Gautreaux III has served East Baton Rouge Parish as the embodiment of law and order. He has - with

devotion, humility and resolve - worked to hedge the relentless flow of crime in the metropolitan area. Under his direction, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office opened its first ever Public Affairs Division, which allows citizens greater access to law enforcement resources on an individual level. His office has also worked toward diversifying its staff in order to better represent the parish populace. Perhaps most importantly, Gautreaux has begun offering optional faith-based initiatives for the members of his staff and prison inmates who are interested in growing their relationship with the Lord. Gautreaux’s journey from the boisterous son of a Baton Rouge contractor to the parish’s highest-ranking law enforcement official is remarkable. Through principle, guidance and determination, he has learned how to be a successful leader. His life is a keen example of how rewarding personal surrender and absolute faithfulness can be.

The Beginning photo courtesy Sid Geautreaux

Sid Gautreaux with his wife, Suzi. 20

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

“When I was growing up, everybody was your mentor, and everybody was a good mentor,” he said. Gautreaux’s childhood, although stable and loving, was by no means charmed. He was born in Baton Rouge and raised, until fourth grade, on the “poor side” of Park Boulevard. There, in a little house on Olive Street, Gautreaux began to learn about the power of God’s faithfulness.

Feature STORY


Sheriff Sid Gautreaux with his unit. photo courtesy Sid Geautreaux

People say, ‘I can’t do anything about it.’ Well, no you can’t if you have that attitude. People have to realize we’re all in this together.” While still very small, he was stricken with polio. His condition became so severe that his father - serving in the Korean War at the time - was called home. The worst was expected, but young Gautreaux survived, and through his recovery, he discovered the potency of prayer.

After school, he spent some time working for his father’s construction business until joining the EBRSO in 1976. He spent his first year on the force serving at the parish jail. Then, he took to the roads as a patrolman, where he gladly remained for three years.

The Calling

His family relocated to Baker when Gautreaux was in fourth grade. “If I had gone in the other direction, I wouldn’t be where I am, today,” Eventually, he graduated from Baker High School and spent a year he said. In 1980, Gautreaux left the sheriff’s office. He decided to run studying at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La. for Chief of the Baker Police Department. “That was an adventure in and of itself. My wife and I were both 29, we had four little children, He described his childhood as being framed like a triangle. “The and I’d never run for public office before,” he added. base of the triangle was my home, one side was my church, and the other was school. No matter where I was in that triangle, I got the Gautreaux’s first attempt at politics was a leap into the unknown — same message: do no evil, do the right thing no matter the cost, and one that might have had any number of life-altering effects. “We I knew I had consequences no matter where I was. But, I also knew [his wife and he] prayed about it. God said go for it, and we did!” Gautreaux said. I was getting the support I needed,” Gautreaux said. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016




He won and served the City of Baker for 27 years until in 2007, he became the sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish. The rest, of course, is history. Truthfully, sheriff seems like a thankless job. Gautreaux is forced to make personal sacrifices, his salary will never make him rich, and he shoulders an enormous responsibility for the public good. But, in spite of all that, he loves his work. “To be able to help somebody through troubled times, that’s the satisfaction you get from this job. It’s about knowing you made a difference. I thank God everyday when I wake up and when I go to bed for putting me in this position,” he said. The value of a leader is ultimately determined by the quality of the people he leads, and in the case of the EBRSO, that value is clear. “Being sheriff is just like coaching. If you don’t have good assistants and good players, you don’t win,” Gautreaux said. “I’m blessed in that regard. There are some wonderful men and women who serve in the EBRSO.” But, productive employees and industrious colleagues do not materialize on their own. Gautreaux carefully vets each applicant in order to see which people will best carry out the public interest. “I look for three things when I hire somebody: I look at their physical stature, because that tells you how they feel about themselves. I look at their mental capacity, because they have

to have that in today’s law enforcement, and I look at their heart. Because, you can have every bit of the first two and none of the heart, but I don’t want that,” he said. “What’s in your heart is your character and motivation, and the only reason to be in law enforcement is to serve. You have to have a servant’s heart and servant mentality. Just treat people the way you’d want them to treat you.” Not everyone is ordained to lay his life down for the broader social good. It is a calling—one that requires a steely combination of grit and faith.

The Motivation

“My faith is in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. If it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t be where I am, today,” Gautreaux said. The fact that Gautreaux is 67 is mystifying. He possesses the enthusiasm, lightness of step and un-jadedness of a much younger man. Speaking with him is like sitting down with a friend. His charm is genuine, and it would be unlikely for anyone who has met him to doubt his sincerity. His refreshing personality - although uniquely his own - is influenced by two outside forces: the Lord and his wife, Suzi. His devotion to God is unquestionable. Gautreaux is proud to say, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior.” Then, there is his marriage. He said of the bond he shares with his wife, “It’s a partnership. She’s a great woman, a woman of

photo courtesy Sid Geautreaux

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux speaking to a group of students as part of the D.A.R.E program. 22

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Cover Story God, and a strong woman.” Their relationship has been, like all successful ones, about give and take. “When we got married, she made me promise her three things: I wouldn’t hunt, I wouldn’t go into law enforcement, and I would join her at the Presbyterian church,” he said. Looking around his office - decorated in animal trophies remarkable enough to make Teddy Roosevelt resentful, and the badge of justice sitting on his desk - the answer is clear, “She got one of the three! I started going with her to a Presbyterian church.” These days, he and his wife often attend Sunday services with their daughter’s family at St. John’s in Zachary. But, on any given Sunday, Gautreaux is hard to find. He is invited to visit churches across the parish, which he does whenever he can, and he gets the chance to speak to many of our local congregations. He and Suzi currently live in the extreme north of the parish, where they head a large clan of four grown children, and 10 very much adored grandchildren. “We’re like every other family. We’ve dealt with sickness, abuse, etc., but through the power of prayer and God’s grace, we’re all here,” he said. True, he is an exceptionally blessed man, but he has no trouble acknowledging reality. “I’ve had my fair share of adversity,” he said. “But I know what has gotten me through everything and put me here today: God and his grace.” It is a quiet blend of faith and family that pushes Gautreaux forward. His motivation lies in devotion: the love of the Lord, the affection of his wife, and a passion for public service.

The Facts

“I’ve never, through all the trials and tribulations, questioned my decision to serve,” Gautreaux said. Sheriff is a job that does not stop at the end of the business day. It is the sort of work that requires hourly availability to the public. The same is true of all law enforcement. The men and women who serve our parish and our communities make powerful personal, professional and spiritual concessions to accommodate our needs.

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Those sacrifices can be incredibly burdensome, but with faith, anything is endurable. “You struggle at times, when you see the pain and anguish and death in this profession. But I still come back to my faith in God. He gets me through it,” Gautreaux said. Our men and women in uniform should not have to solitarily combat the destructive forces that threaten the parish. Sadly, too often we ignore the problems that face our communities. It is easier to saddle someone else with the responsibility of public welfare. Gautreaux said that this indifference has to change. “Until the public as a whole comes together and realizes that drugs and crime and these other things are all our problems, things can’t improve,” he said. “I see so much apathy in people. People say, ‘I can’t do anything about it.’ Well, no you can’t if you have that attitude. People have to realize we’re all in this together.” If anyone knows how best to ebb the escalating tide of crime, it is Gautreaux. In 2014, The Advocate reported that the parish-wide homicide rate had dropped by 20 percent in just two years. This and other similar accomplishments, were due, in large part, to the efforts enacted by the EBRSO to halt offenses before they occur. We can endorse positive change in our communities by simply reaching out to one another. “Be a mentor. One of the biggest problems I see today is a lack of any direction with our youth,” Gautreaux said. “Everybody can be a mentor. It doesn’t take a lot of money or time. It takes all of us working together, on a daily basis, doing whatever we can.” It is as easy as letting your neighbor know you are available to him when he is in need. Or, telling the kids on your street that they are special and the Lord loves them. An individual gesture of good will and God’s devotion makes an enormous difference in people’s lives. Gautreaux has seen people mobilize to address our region’s most pressing social dilemmas. “One good thing about Baton Rouge is that there are some people who really care and want to step up to the plate,” he said. Positive change comes when each of us stands up, makes a commitment and begins leading.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine wants to be a blessing to every church and ministry in our city and surrounding areas. This powerful, informative and heart-warming monthly publication is seeking places of worship and ministry organizations to serve as distribution points, through its Project 100 campaign. The magazine is conveniently delivered to the Project 100 sites to be shared with church or organization members at no cost. To join Project 100, call the Distribution Coordinator, Baton Rouge Elmo Winters at (225) 305-3006. Christian Magazine

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016




“I’ve had my fair share of adversity,” he said. “But I know what has gotten me through everything and put me here today: God and his grace.”

We are all responsible for bolstering our local law enforcement. Change comes through a joint effort. Our police force and our communities are most successful when each of us takes initiative.

The Wisdom

“Follow your dreams,” Gautreaux said. It takes effort and perseverance to be an effective leader. Whether you want to encourage positive change in your workplace, community or home, it starts with enthusiasm. “You have to do two things: be at peace with yourself and be at peace with God’s calling on your life. But, realize there’s good and bad in everything. You just have to put your faith where it needs to be,” he said. To the parents who have forgotten their purpose, Gautreaux said, “You’ve got to turn it over to God. Be involved with

photo by Beth Townsend

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux 24

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

your children and spouse. Be involved with a church. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, just so long as you’re there. Lead by example.” No matter your age, remember there is always room to grow. Mimic the people you admire and brush off other people’s bitterness. “There’s good and bad in everything. I’ve tried to emulate people I knew were good men and women,” he said. The key to success in life and leadership is faith. When you take the time to seek the Lord’s counsel and pay attention to his answers, you are bound to thrive. “When we pray and ask God for guidance, we have to sit back, be quiet, and listen. The times when I didn’t listen to God, I wound up doing the wrong thing,” Gautreaux said. When Gautreaux thanks the Lord for the many blessings in his life, near the top of the list is his career. “I thank Him everyday for

Cover Story


putting me where I am, and allowing me to help people,” he said. Few people are born leaders. Each of us is responsible for uncovering our unique calling and putting our gifts to good use. It all starts with learning empathy, practicing patience and making the decision to serve. Our paths will not always be painless. We are all responsible, with the Lord’s help, for conquering the hurdles that box us in. It is much like Gautreaux said, “Life’s not easy. But it’s a lot easier when you have faith in God and trust in Him.”


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.


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July 3, 17 & 24

Jack Lynch

“The Baptism of the Spirit” Romans 5:2-5:5c

NO CLASS JULY 10 Join us during the month of July as Jack Lynch & Louis Hilliard share God’s Word from 9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

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July 31

Louis Hilliard

“Signs of the Times - The End of Age” Matthew 24: 3-14

Visit our website to view our Schedule of Speakers and download free materials from Dr. Kalivoda’s teachings:

photo by Beth Townsend

A few of Sid’s hunting trophies from prior years.

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

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



Learning for life

Teaching Young People about God’s Plan for Love and Marriage by Lisa Tramontana


ears ago, the Rev. John Edd Harper was working as a youth minister in a small town in Texas when he came up with the idea for a sex education class. The 8th grade girls and boys he taught seemed a little too worldly, and he believed it was only a matter of time before his students might be dealing with teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. Yes, sex ed is taught in public schools, but it is often limited to the biology of human reproduction. The moral element is missing, and this can create confusion and conflict. With the help of a local physician, Harper designed a sex education seminar that combines the physical and spiritual aspects of sexual intimacy in a format appropriate for young people. Eventually, he developed two versions of the seminar, one for junior high and another for senior high. His message was simple: Sexuality is a beautiful, valuable and powerful gift from God that is meant to be saved for marriage. His first concern was whether parents would be supportive … after all, many parents dread “the talk.” While they might feel relieved that someone else is willing to start that discussion with their children, they also are naturally curious to know about the topics that will be covered. In today’s world, children are bombarded with sexual images and themes from television, social media and the Internet. Just how much information is appropriate? “I always have a meeting with the parents and explain the material I’ll be teaching, the language that will be used, and the lessons we’re trying to get across,” Harper said. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, only one parent has ever pulled their child out. Most of them realize that this is a very important and necessary educational opportunity. The kids are going to learn about sex one way or another. Isn’t it better that they learn it in a Christian setting rather than on the street?” To that end, his students learn about physical anatomy, the reproductive system, their changing bodies, contraception and pregnancy. The next layer of learning focuses on beliefs about 26

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

sexuality, making smart choices, and being in healthy relationships. Through discussion, Bible study and prayer, the students share their feelings about morality, mutual respect, peer pressure, and the consequences of their actions. Some students who attend the seminar have already had sex and feel like they’ve made a terrible mistake and it’s too late for redemption. Harper never judges his students, but instead, encourages them by introducing the idea of “secondary virginity” — basically a promise to abstain from sex from this point on until marriage. “It’s never too late,” he tells them. “God forgives you. You can decide right now that you believe sex is a gift from God and you are going to save yourself for marriage and the right person to share that wonderful gift.” Harper is a coordinator of the Board of Ordained Ministry, Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. His secondary appointment is as a pastor at Hope Community United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Harper has been leading human sexuality and morality seminars since 1985. He has served as a youth minister in Texas and Louisiana for more than 20 years. He can be reached at

Talk to Your Children

Sex is not an easy subject for most parents … mainly because they wait too long to have “the talk.” And that’s the problem. It shouldn’t be one awkward and embarrassing discussion in which you try to explain everything all at once. Start early by answering your children’s questions when they are young. That way, they will feel comfortable coming to you for answers. Parents must decide together how much open dialogue they are comfortable with. Just remember — children are naturally curious and at a very young age, will ask questions about their bodies. Try to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate manner. And never make them feel ashamed.

Pastor’s Perspective


Leading the Broken from Darkness to Light by Chad Dinkel


If you’re in that dark place—making destructive decisions, hurting magine being in a dark, dangerous place, so dark that you yourself and the people who love you—make the right decision can’t see a way out. A series of events caused you to end up today. here, and now you feel completely helpless. For the longest time you just keep moving around trying to get out. You can’t seem to find Start with a simple declaration to Jesus: a way out and it’s getting progressively more dangerous. “Lord I need you in my life. Direct me to the people who will That’s how so many hurting people spend their lives—those battling guide me in a direction that leads to light and freedom.” addiction, veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or with civilian life re-entry, women caught in human trafficking or Find a bible-believing, supportive church abusive relationships, and other circumstances beyond our ability to You can’t do this alone. Your commitment to Jesus is the top comprehend. priority, but life-giving strong believers will be the support For those in this dark place it seems hopeless, but there is hope. It you need to fight the challenges you face. Once you find a takes those of us not in that dark place to be a guide toward the light. life-giving church, get there early and stay late … get involved! “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you,” Hebrews 13:17 (HCSB). I’ve spent years trying to help lead people out of the dark; some make it out and some don’t. One thing that I’ve learned is that the way out isn’t as far off as it may seem. We are all just a few good decisions from freedom, just like we are all just a few bad decisions from the dark. In that dark dangerous place, you feel completely hopeless—what has my life come to? Then, along comes someone who is healthy, happy and whole. They are far from perfect, but they know the way out. You have two choices: take their hand and trust and submit to letting them guide you, or fight them and make it impossible for them to help you. One leads to freedom, the other ensures you remain in the pain of darkness.

1 2 3

Join a support group

This may be at your home church or through another church or organization. These groups exist and work. This is another step toward surrounding yourself with people who love and care about you too much to let you fail. Even if you mess up … KEEP GOING!

You are worth fighting for; you are valuable, and God doesn’t want you living in the dark. As long as you have breath in your lungs, you have hope. He wants you to have freedom, restoration and a life filled with purpose. As leaders, we must care for the hurting and forgotten. Everyone has something they can contribute to this world and it is all mapped out in a plan God has for each living being. Even those in their darkest moment have God’s perfect plan waiting for them on the other side.

Pastor Chad Dinkel is founder of Restoring Purpose Ministries, a ministry committed to seeing the hurting and forgotten restored to a place of purpose. We work with those struggling with addiction, and veterans who are having trouble adapting to civilian life. To find out how you can get involved, visit our website or send us an email at

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



Geaux LIFE

Bike Ministry

Helps Build Bridges by Lisa Tramontana photos courtesy Front Yard Bikes

Like the Pied Piper, Dustin LaFont had children following him just about everywhere. It started with a young neighbor who needed help fixing his bike, and pretty soon, there was a steady stream of kids in LaFont’s front yard with flat tires and broken gears.

A young boy gets on-the-job training at the workshop.

He didn’t know it at the time, but he was building a ministry, one that would become a full-fledged nonprofit organization that teaches important life skills, builds character and encourages a strong work ethic.

13-year-old Rejay Wilson showed up on a squeaky, broken-down bike and asked LaFont if he could help repair it. Of course, LaFont obliged. It didn’t take long for LaFont and his young neighbors to realize they needed each other.

The path to Front Yard Bikes began when LaFont was 23 and had just graduated from LSU with a master’s degree in education. He needed an inexpensive place to live and ended up in the West Roosevelt neighborhood between Nicholson Drive and River Road. He noticed some of the kids in the area rode bikes that were practically falling apart. One child was literally riding around on metal rims. One day,

“At that point in my life, I had been looking for some avenue to help people and inspire positive change,” LaFont said. “And then one day, as I looked at all these kids in my yard, I said, ‘God, why have you brought all these kids here?’ Then it dawned on me.”


JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

LaFont made a deal with the kids who sought him out. He would instruct them, but they would have to help make the

repairs themselves. Initially, his landlord was uncomfortable about the situation — all those kids working with tools on his property — but he began to see the value of what was happening. “I was on the verge of being evicted,” LaFont said. “And instead, my landlord had a change of heart and ended up giving me a workshop in the same neighborhood.” It was a dark and dusty place made of wood and tin … no electricity, but just $300 a month. And right away, it was buzzing with activity. Within minutes of unlocking the shop on weekday afternoons, kids started appearing. They learned how to use tools. They took old bikes apart and built new

Geaux LIFE ones. And with LaFont as their mentor, they learned about respect, hard work, leadership and teamwork. “I began to feel a sense of destiny in all this,” LaFont said. “Baton Rouge has so many racial, social and economic barriers that keep people apart. I felt like our bikes were building a bridge and bringing people together.” LaFont was working as a social studies teacher during this time and could only get to the shop a few times a week. But a private donor who heard about the program offered to pay his salary so he could work at the shop full-time. “There’s no doubt God had a hand in this,” LaFont said. “Here was an opportunity. I had to walk through that door and not be fearful.” The next coincidence was even more incredible. LaFont was making small talk with a stranger and happened to mention Front Yard Bikes. He was completely unaware that the man he was speaking with was a BREC employee, and that BREC was looking for a community project that involved one of its parks. That conversation led to Front Yard Bikes opening a second facility at the Terrace Street Park. Participants can

repair or build their own bikes, “earn” a bike by working in the shop for “credit,” and enjoy Friday bike rides to local parks, museums and libraries. “On the days we meet, we always start with a moment of thanksgiving and a prayer,” LaFont said. “Then we have everyone tell a little about themselves. It’s an ‘identity shaping’ exercise.”


11-month-old son named Abram. Life is good. “Sometimes, you just know you’re in God’s favor,” LaFont said. “I feel like he put me in a position to make certain things happen. But then so many other things just fell into place. I hope to continue this ministry, but I know that ultimately, God is in charge.”

For newcomers to the group, this identity shaping can be life-changing. “We basically remind the kids that they are special in God’s eyes,” LaFont said. “I pray over them. I say, ‘God, thank you for bringing to us these wonderful kids in south Baton Rouge. They are so skilled, so talented, so smart. They have such bright futures ahead of them. I am so proud and grateful that they have joined us today.” When they arrive at Front Yard Bikes, some children may not feel special or loved or valued. But they certainly do by the time they leave. LaFont’s wife Kim, a teacher at Terrace Elementary, is also a big part of Front Yard Bikes. The couple met through AmeriCorps, and LaFont says he “fell in love with her heart.” They have an

Dustin shares credit for Front Yard Bike’s success with his wife Kim. ‘When I met her, I fell in love with her heart,’ he says.

For more details, go to

Dustin and Kim with their young friends in the early days of Front Yard Bikes.

There are many ways to be involved. Donate an old bike or bike parts, become a volunteer, or make a cash donation. (Just $20 sends a group of 14 children to the BMX Bike Park). Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



Healthy LIFE

YMCA Leads

The the way in

by Kristen Hogan

photos courtesy the YMCA

Community Health T

he Y has always been a leader in promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering wellness in all of the communities we serve. Now, the Y is hoping to lead the way in preventative health care by offering a broad range of research-based programs that target specific health issues. Hoping to reduce the negative effects of chronic illness, the Y has launched several new programs that promote healthier decisions and support physical, intellectual and spiritual strength. These programs are delivered through the Y, school system, BREC swimming pools, community centers and through community partnerships. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, one of the new programs offered, is an innovative lifestyle modification program designed to help those at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The goal of the program is to help people reduce their risk and gain the tools needed for healthy living. The program focuses on healthy eating, increasing physical activity 30

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

and losing a modest amount of weight to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. Louisiana has one of the highest mortality rates due to diabetes in the country. More than 10 percent of the adult population in Louisiana is living with diabetes, and more than 1 million others are living with prediabetes. The state spends $1.6 billion annually in direct medical costs related to diabetes. The Y also offers a blood pressure self-monitoring program, a four-month evidence-based program that teaches participants how to self-monitor their blood pressure, increase their physical activity, improve their eating habits and utilize a portable self-tracking tool. High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke, and it can cause arteries to fill up with plaque, potentially leading to completely blocked blood flow and a heart attack. Another innovative and evidence-based program offered at the Y is Rock Steady Boxing. Rock Steady Boxing is a fitness program designed to help fight Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life, sense of efficacy and self-worth for those

affected by the disease. Several medical studies have shown that this program helps delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease. The YMCA’s focus goes beyond the health and well-being of the community; we have a strong commitment to nurturing the potential of youth with programs that focus on youth development. One in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, and in 90 percent of the cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts. The Y is working to change these statistics by offering the child sexual abuse prevention program, Darkness to Light. This is a two-hour training designed to educate adults on how to recognize, prevent and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. You can get involved in preventing child sexual abuse by attending a pre-scheduled training at the YMCA, participating in the online program, or scheduling a training for your organization where the Y will come to you! In addition to the Darkness to Light program, the Y offers programs that focus on improving children’s safety around

Healthy LIFE


water. The Y’s Safety Around Water and SPLASH programs engage parents to educate them on the importance of water safety skills and provide more children access to water safety lessons. Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to 14. The Y is committed to reducing waterrelated injuries, particularly in communities where children are most at risk. Through programs like swimming lessons, SPLASH and Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to teach the valuable skills needed if someone finds himself or herself in water unexpectedly, a situation everyone should be equipped to handle. The Y’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy, spirit, mind and body for all. The Y is open to individuals from all walks of life; it is a place where everyone is welcome regardless of their ethnicity, income level or background. To ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all of the programs and services the Y offers, the Y has a scholarship fund, the Annual Community Support Campaign. The monies raised for this fund are used to scholarship individuals who need YMCA programs and services but are unable to afford them. Last year, the Y provided 6,347 scholarships for individuals to participate in YMCA programs. To find out how to donate or to apply for a scholarship, visit us online at

Baton Rouge

Christian Magazine

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016


X Healthy LIFE LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Working to

Support Soldier and Military Family Health


f your spouse or significant other is a fitness buff or a couch potato, chances are that your activity habits are similar to theirs. Data from the “Atherosclerosis Risk

in Communities Study” shows that by middle age, couples’ exercise habits tend to become very similar. Hence, if you exercise more, your partner is likely to join you and experience improved health and fitness. Because of the mirror effect on exercise and overall health, the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive Program is utilizing spouses, significant others, live-in relatives, or even older children to encourage the partners and loved ones in their lives to make healthier choices. Designed by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive aims to improve soldiers’ health by having those people closest to them help encourage healthy activities, like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals and managing stress. As part of the program, each soldier and their partner receive a Fitbit to measure physical activity, a smart scale which remotely tracks weight and sends data back to researchers, and access to an app filled with information on diet, exercise, sleep and more. The participant pairs also hear throughout the study from behavioral specialists at Pennington Biomedical who try to help them overcome obstacles to making healthy decisions and provide insight along the way. “We know that family life makes a huge contribution to overall health, and as we focus on improving the health of the soldier, we 32

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

are looking beyond just what these men and women eat and how much exercise they’re getting. We want the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive to equip families to help serve as a support system for their soldier (and vice versa),” said Dr. Tiffany Stewart, the Dudley & Beverly Coates Endowed Professor at Pennington Biomedical and a psychologist who is leading this behavioral health program. “As an engineer officer in the Louisiana National Guard and a father of four children, I am excited that the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive Program allows military families to participate together with a common goal to improve their overall health. It is also an incredible tool that allows leaders to help improve their soldiers’ physical and mental fitness,” says First Lieutenant Michael B. Switzer, an Army H.E.A.L.T.H. project manager at Pennington Biomedical. The Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive focuses on four key goals: nutrition, physical activity, sleep and resilience. That fourth objective –resilience – is a combination of stress management and reduction, mood and anxiety modification, and mindfulness training, which Stewart says can play a big role in overall wellness. “We know that if you’re stressed out or struggling with depressed mood or anxiety, that can lead to a loss of sleep, a feeling of low energy that makes it more difficult to exercise, Dr. Tiffany Stewart

and on top of that you can easily consume more calories than your body needs or not enough healthy foods to fuel your body for optimum health and performance,” said Stewart. Weight loss is an initial goal in the first phase of the program, which lasts for six months. The next six months focus on weight maintenance, which Stewart notes is important for soldiers, given the military’s strict standards for weight and fitness, which can play a role in whether a soldier is able to advance, and/or continue his or her career with the military. Pennington Biomedical has a long history of partnering with the U.S. military to ensure soldiers are resilient and healthy. Its 28-year history of working with the U.S. Department of Defense makes Pennington Biomedical their largest provider of nutrition information. Among the more than 100 research studies they have conducted in health and performance for the military, Pennington Biomedical scientists have helped to develop and test First Strike Rations, which are more portable than traditional MREs, more palatable to soldiers and are fortified with vitamins and minerals that help maintain overall health. “At Pennington Biomedical, we are looking at the health of the whole soldier. We want our men and women in uniform to be ready for whatever they may face during their service, and that means being physically, emotionally and mentally healthy,” said Stewart. Additionally, the Army has already been using a program similar to the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive for years. Prior to the Intensive program, the original Army H.E.A.L.T.H. program – with a similar goal, but without the more intensive one-on-one coaching component – was tested with active duty soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and the New England Reserves before rolling out with the Louisiana National Guard. The program was recommended by the U.S. Army Surgeon General in 2013 and is now in use Army-wide. The Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive is looking for soldiers and their family members to volunteer to participate in the program. For more information about how you can volunteer, e-mail Michael Switzer at Pennington Biomedical:

Reading for LIFE



www.greenivybooks .com

A Review of

Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life Written by Coach Dale Brown with Trent Angers and Dan Marin Reviewed by Kelli M. Knight

Many know Dale Brown as one of the most iconic leaders in LSU sports history. But to even more, his performance as a coach has been surpassed by his reputation as a motivational speaker. Coach Brown’s prologue sets the stage with his humble background depicting a life of poverty with his single mother after being abandoned by his father. However, his childhood and exemplary coaching record does not define the force behind the book. The strength comes in showcasing others’ success stories. The hurdles, “I can’t/ You can’t,” “Past failures/Fear of failure,” “Handicaps,” and “Lack of Self-knowledge” are explained by Coach Brown as obstacles each and every person faces. He then exemplifies the accounts of well-known figures such as Rudy Ruettiger, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, Mariah Carey, “Pistol Pete” Maravich, and more to express the point that

failure only defines a person, if that person allows it. In all the accounts, failure was merely a hurdle on the track to success. The common thread throughout his writing is that only with perseverance can we truly win and only with God does success have any meaning. It is with God that we have quality in life. It’s difficult to read this book and not feel uplifted. It is timeless and the introduction written by Shaquille O’Neal is equally inspirational. You can find it at Kelli Knight is the owner of Illuminated Designs Studio, specializing in graphic design services. She received her Liberal Arts degree from LSU and has lived in Baton Rouge for the majority of her life. Kelli loves great stories, so reading and writing have always been passions of hers. Over the course of her career she has written for several publications throughout Southeast Lousiana. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016


X Millennial Life


Mission in the



by Trapper S. Kinchen

ften times, we millennials are not fully aware of the impact - positive or negative - we have on other people’s lives. We are young, and most of us are comfortable deferring to someone else when pressure runs high. But, despite

Stevens two days before departing. photo by Keli Hayden


our relative lack of life experience, we all have the potential to influence the world in a concrete way. Sara Stevens is from Holden, La., a community tucked in the dense groves between Baton Rouge and Hammond, where the local high school graduates roughly 40 students each year. She is 22, and she is currently at work sharing the gospel in the Middle East. She will spend the next three months on the mission field at an undisclosed location (for security reasons). Missionary work is the sort of occupation that requires a commitment to leadership and someone unafraid to face a challenge. But, it is also a job that any one of us might unexpectedly be compelled to undertake. Stevens is a regular young woman. She attends classes at Southeastern during the day, spends time with her friends in the evening, and recently became engaged to be married. Truthfully, there is nothing that would outwardly imply that she is an adventurer or an experienced leader. But, there is much more to her than meets the eye.

She spent the summer of 2014 as a staff member with Global Youth Ministry. Her duties included functioning as an official photographer and stand-in mother for her team. “We traveled a lot, and I was in charge of fixing lunch for about 20 people. I would make snacks for everyone too, and basically be the mama of the staff,” Stevens said. She and the rest of the group toured Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, holding youth camps for local teenagers who wanted to learn more about Jesus and have an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Under the guidance of the Global Youth mentors, Stevens’ inner strength grew. She honed her instinctive aptitude for leadership with each camp she helped organize. The confidence and passion she developed while working during that summer ultimately equipped her for the mission trip she would undertake two years later. Although she is well prepared to serve in the field, Stevens’ journey to her mission has not been easy. She was responsible, over the past several months, for raising the funds to get herself to the Middle East, and for having enough money to sustain her while she is there.

Stevens is very much like the rest of us. It took time for her to develop an open and personal relationship with the Lord. “I was christened when I was a baby, but I grew up in a Baptist church. And, I got saved when I was in the eleventh grade at a Global Youth Camp,” she explained.

“I prepared financially by doing a lot of babysitting, and I’ve cleaned houses to raise the money I need,” Stevens said. The self-motivation, fortitude, and adaptability she utilized at home will eventually benefit her on the mission field. When she reaches the Middle East, Stevens is joining her fiancé - a mentor with Global Youth Ministry - who works as an IT coordinator for a small Christian school in the desert. She will work alongside him and his team to spread the gospel to the local Arabicspeaking community. The town where Stevens will minister has a large Christian population, and her service will have less to do with the sort of human aid work we often associate with missionaries, digging wells, building houses, etc., and will mostly focus on holding camp meetings and verbally spreading the word of God.

It was at that camp - run by Global Youth Ministry - where Stevens began to grow spiritually and build the sort of leadership skills that would later come in handy on the mission field.

At their camps, missionaries take questions the local youth might have and help them dig deeper into the word in order to find answers. “They do home groups. So, every Thursday night, the

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Millennial life missionaries go to a house and have a deep Bible study with the kids who choose to come,” Stevens explained. Most of the millennials in the town where she will work come from Christian families, but their knowledge of the Bible is dismal. “They are often confused. They believe what their parents believe, but they don’t have their own understanding of the word or Jesus Christ. So, that’s what the youth group Bible studies are for,” she said. The opportunity to have a positive impact is enormous, but Stevens will rely on both common sense and spiritual discernment to help her know how to best interact with the locals. “You have to know who you’re talking to before sharing the gospel. Otherwise, it could be dangerous,” Stevens said. Despite the potential hazards, Stevens does not seem worried about her expedition. “I’m not necessarily scared. Flying by myself makes me a little nervous, but I’m excited to get there,” she said. While political and cultural conflict currently disrupts much of the Middle East, Stevens maintains a strong perspective on it saying, “The way I think about it is this: Louisiana has a problem with human trafficking, and that’s dangerous! If I’m here everyday, facing real-life threats, what’s the difference between that and dealing with the risks in the Middle East?” It will take every ounce of Stevens’ faith and courage to see her mission through to the end. The echoing of bombs from the Syrian Civil War can be heard from the town where she will sleep. Those bombs signify the displacement of over 13 million people, half of whom are children, from their homeland, according to Despite numerous challenges, Stevens will endure, and she is determined to effect positive change in the lives of the people she encounters. Like any first-rate leader, she is undeterred in the face of opposition. A good leader is not difficult to define. She must be able to effectively communicate. She also needs to possess a deep capacity for listening and have a desire to help others succeed. “Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being in charge. It’s being able to work well with others and encourage those around you. It is not just about giving orders,” Stevens explained. When Stevens returns home she will start back to Southeastern, where she will graduate in December with a degree in education. Afterwards, she will spend the whole of 2017 on the mission field to see if the Lord is calling her there permanently. For Stevens, it is about taking the time to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. “Don’t do something just because you think you’re supposed to do it. You need to be sure, and, most importantly, be patient,” she said. If you want to get involved in the sort of work Stevens is doing, conduct some research on Global Youth Ministry and explore the opportunities they have available by visiting their website:

W You can also donate to its work via the website through a monthly financial contribution or one-time donation. Just like the brave men and women in the American armed forces, missionaries risk their lives to enact positive worldwide change. Just like soldiers, they need our emotional support and verbal acknowledgment of their service. “People can help missionaries by donating money, with prayer or by sending packages and letters of encouragement,” Stevens said. Don’t hesitate to contribute in whatever capacity you are able. “If you don’t know if it’s really the Holy Spirit leading you, pray about it. Wait. Don’t rush into something unless you’re sure,” Stevens concluded. Her words hold value whether you’re preparing to embark on an international excursion or choosing a college major. Don’t be afraid. With a little faith and a healthy dose of commitment, we can all be part of something great. Below: One of Stevens’ favorite quotes shown on a t-shirt

photo by Keli Hayden

photo by Sara Stevens

Above: A view of the town where Stevens is ministering. Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



A Little lagniappe

Get Out of Your Own Way

by Rev. Derrius M. Montgomery


s I quietly stepped into the elevator and gently pushed .the “L” button to return to the lobby, the incredible blessing I’d just experienced held me spellbound.

On the elevator ride down, I pondered on the wisdom just shared by the legendary Bishop T.D. Jakes during our last day of our mentoring session. More than 150 young preachers and business leaders under 40 gathered from around the country in Dallas, Texas for a two-day retreat designed to educate and empower those of us called to be change agents within our communities. One of the main topics the bishop spoke about was “overcoming adversity.” You can only imagine how electrifying that sermon must have been to a conference room packed with millennials, full of caffeine and the Holy Spirit! Let’s just say, by the end of his message, the entire room had received an impartation from Jakes that had us all slain in the spirit! As he came to a close 63 minutes later, he shared a story of an Olympic champion who had been charged with a serious crime. After he was released on bond, the first thing he did was resume his workout routine. As I sat there, I thought, “If I were under the public microscope for that kind of crime, no way in the world would I be spending my time working out.” But 36

JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

as Jakes continued, I considered the fact that this man was a championship athlete, and real champions cannot help but do what they are gifted to do. It’s almost as if it’s their therapy. It’s how they fortify themselves. You know you’re a champion when you overcome adversity and go back to doing what you were doing before. But the question that led me to write this article was this: how many of us allow adversities to get us off our game? We allow circumstances outside of our control to cause us to doubt God’s ability to see us through. Why are we so quick to question God, as if our belief system is something contingent on the outcome? Paul said it best in his letter to the church in Romans 8: 28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Paul reminds us that the very things that are working together may not feel right. They may even seem unfair at times! But, if you allow them to, they can usher you into areas and opportunities that shift your life into a pattern of focus and purpose that work together for your good and the good of humanity. Although this sounds good, many of us will never experience the fullness of what God has for our lives because of one simple thing, doubt. In John 20 we find an interesting story about a disciple that struggled with self-doubt. In verses 24 and 25, we read that the resurrected Jesus has made an appearance to the disciples. We see that the disciples who had experienced the surprising appearance of Jesus and his empowering commissioning were apparently full of enthusiasm and ready to share the details of their post-resurrection experience with Thomas. In verse 25, Thomas replies, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hand and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Have you ever had the feeling when you walk into a party late, that you just missed the big surprise? And the only way to find out is to eavesdrop into someone else’s conversation as they celebrate among themselves. Or have you ever found yourself coming in on the tail end of a discussion, and the person telling you the

story is filled with so much joy you almost find it hard to believe because you weren’t able to experience it for yourself? Before you judge Thomas on his response, let’s look at what he was saying. Have you ever wished you could actually see Jesus, touch him and hear his words? Are there times you want to sit down with him and get his advice? Thomas wanted Jesus’ physical presence. But God’s plan is wiser. He has not limited himself to one physical body; he wants to be present with you at all times. Even now he is with you in the form of the Holy Spirit. You can talk to him, and you can find his words to you in the pages of the Bible. He can be as real to you as he was to Thomas. But look how his perspective changes when Jesus comes back just for him. Jesus wasn’t hard on Thomas for his doubts. Despite his skepticism in verse 25, Thomas was still loyal to the believers and to Jesus himself, and in verse 27 Jesus tells Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads to questions, questions lead to answers and the answer is accepted, then doubt has done good work! It is when doubt becomes stubbornness, and stubbornness become a lifestyle, that doubt harms faith. When you doubt, don’t stop there. Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer.

Minister Derrius M. Montgomery serves as the director of the Youth, Young Adult and College Ministries of The Greater King David Baptist Church, under the leadership of his spiritual father and mentor, Dr. John E. Montgomery II. A teacher, preacher, mentor and community leader, Montgomery has been serving in ministry and the community for more than 11 years. In 2014, he was accepted to Project Gideon, a national mentorship program for young preachers under 40, led by T.D. Jakes. He is married and is the proud father of three toddler boys.

Defining a True L eader by David Day


assivity is rampant. True leadership is in rare supply, but that means that true leadership stands out.

If you were to ask someone what the qualities of a leader are, you may get a variety of answers. The list is long, and most would be the typical answers: strong, dedicated, brave, committed, persuasive, etc. I agree! But I think there is a deeper level of qualities that make a true leader stand out. Consider these: Leaders know why they lead. They are internally motivated. They know who they are. They don’t lead by default - they stand up and speak up. They aren’t always the smartest, or the loudest, or the strongest, but they know why they are here. There’s just something about a person who has answered the “why” question that makes them worth following. Leaders have vision. They don’t meander and experiment. They know where they are going, and they see the path before them. Detours, delays and roadblocks happen, but leaders stay the course and invite others to follow them. What throws you off? Setbacks? Opportunities? True leaders see them for what they are: distractions. Leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence. Simply put, they have the unique ability to sense and perceive their own emotions and those of others in order to adapt, adjust and act appropriately - even under stress. Some of this is learned, but the propensity for it is innate. Regardless of your level of emotional intelligence, working to grow in this area will serve you well. Leaders are good communicators. That’s more than just talking or being accurate with words. Good leadership requires the ability to interpret words, principles, emotions and ideas and repackage them for the desired audience. This is the essence of inspiration. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a great communicator. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he used the facts, fear and the feelings of a nation and turned them into one of the most memorable speeches of all time, igniting a country and unifying a divided congress toward a singular purpose. He didn’t use fancy words or lofty ideals. He spoke straight to the heart, and every word had meaning. The speech was short and to the point, and what followed was one of America’s most difficult, yet greatest decades. Leaders are servants. They seek the betterment of the ones they lead. In an age where it seems everyone seeks their 15 minutes of fame, leaders

are committed to the well-being of those they lead. My friend David is a graduate of West Point Military Academy and shares the story of how the student soldiers eat their meals. The highest ranked upperclassmen at the table are served last. Why? Because a leader leads by example. He gives his troops whatever is needed for life and victory, even if it means he goes without. He earns their trust and respect by sacrifice, not by force or coercion. That soldier will follow that leader anywhere. Leadership is one of those terms that is thrown about casually, used loosely and misunderstood greatly. Merely standing at the podium doesn’t make you a leader any more than eating a meal makes you a chef. True leadership is a rare and valuable thing.

David is a graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication and began his career in radio broadcasting. After working in radio and television production, he moved to sales while moonlighting as a producer. He then moved into the agency world, working as Account Executive and Producer on the McDonald’s account, as well as other local and regional accounts. He opened The Day Group in 1995. David lives in Baton Rouge, has been married to Sue Stewart for 22 years and has three teenage children. He is an avid baseball fan, sports announcer, teacher, and volunteer. He is an active member and Committee Chair with Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, a teacher and Community Group leader with The Chapel in the Oaks, and a member of Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge, Better Business Bureau, Advertising Federation, and has served as a board member for Louisiana Dream Teachers, SME-GBR, Baton Rouge Film Commission Advisory Council, Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, Music for Cancer, and Leadercast Greater Baton Rouge.

Serving Louisiana since 1978 12659 South Choctaw • 225-272-5680

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A Little lagniappe


by LaTangela Fay Sherman


ust as we were born into the world, we were born into our purpose. God makes no mistakes. Before you filled your lungs with the first breath of air, God had already assigned a purpose on our life.


"The best feel good story you’ll read!" C. Trigo Only $2.99 on AMAZON or FREE with PRIME

Your purpose becomes clearer as you begin to allow Christ to be the captain of your soul. Leading a purpose-driven life is aligned when our steps are ordered by God. We enter into seasons not knowing what to expect upon our arrival, but once the veil is lifted from our eyes, we begin to understand more by and by. Family, friends, relationships, colleagues and strangers … anyone that you interact with, they all serve a purpose in your life just as you serve a purpose in theirs. The mark you leave along this trail of life as you travel through is a part of your purpose. Pray and ask for clarity as you long to fill your purpose to the best of your ability.

May your tongue stem with the PURPOSE to uplift your brethren. .com/kellissimeaux

May your actions display the PURPOSE of love for your neighbor. May your daily walk with Christ lead you to living to the highest potential of your PURPOSE.

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


JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Opportunities for LIFE

Calendar of Events July 7

Touch Point Prayer Join us as churches cross racial and denominational lines to come together to pray in unity each month. A powerful experience and all are invited – held at The Chapel on the LSU Campus. Snacks at 6 p.m. followed by prayer at 7 p.m.

July 8 & 22

Singles Alive Please join us at 6:30 p.m. for great worship, great messages and lively table discussions. Food and child care are provided. Healing Place Church (19202 Highland Rd.) in the Kids District, Flow Room, 2nd Floor. Call (225) 485-6222 for more info.

July 11-13 & July 22-23

CYT Summer Camps Kids (ages 5-18) are invited to join us for exciting summer camps filled with singing, dancing, acting and loads of fun! Camps are hosted at Bethel Church (12124 Airline Hwy) CYT Youth Camp, July 11-13 CYT Teen Camp, July 22-23 Register on our website:

July 15 & 16

National TLSM Single Mom’s Conference Are you a single mom, ministry leader or single mom supporter? Join us in Baton Rouge for the National TLSM Single Moms Conference for two days of fun, laughter, national speakers, empowerment, worship, food and much more! Conference Cost is $39. For more information and to register visit our website:

July 16

Restore Ministries: Come, A Feast for Your Soul Ladies tea/luncheon at The Country Club of Louisiana from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. On-line reservations are required by July 10. Visit for more information.

July 20

Reign Women Service – The Church in St. Amant 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!

Beginning July 23

CASAS for CASA Playhouse Fundraiser Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Association’s 22nd annual CASAs for CASA fundraiser, presented by title sponsor Faulk and Meek General Contractors, supports CASA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of abused children. The 2016 CASA playhouse is valued at $25,500 and will be on display through Aug. 14 at the Mall of Louisiana in the main entrance corridor with $5 raffle tickets on sale for a chance to win. More information visit or call 225-379-8598.

July 24

CASA Fiesta Join Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Association from 5-8 p.m. for CASA Fiesta, featuring Mexican cuisine donated by Caliente Mexican Craving, a silent auction and music by DJ Lightfoot at the Renaissance Hotel. CASA Fiesta kicks off the 22nd annual CASAs for CASA playhouse fundraiser presented by title sponsor Faulk and Meek General Contractors. Tickets are $52 each (includes sales tax) and will be available online, at the door, or by phone at 225-379-8598.

July 27

Real Men Service – The Church in St. Amant 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!

Sundays in July

Recovery Support at Addis First Baptist Church Addis (6781 LA-Hwy 1, Addis, 70710) Women meet Sundays at 4 p.m., and men meet Sundays at 7 p.m. Call James for info 225-218-5630.


CASA Volunteer Orientation Learn how you can help an abused or neglected child reach a forever family during one of the following 45-minute informational sessions at the CASA office (848 Louisiana Ave.) Contact: (225) 379-8598,, Saturday, July 9 at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 13 at noon Thursday, July 21 at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 at 1 p.m.

Registration Ongoing

Post Abortion Healing Bible Study “Surrendering the Secret” - Healing the Heartbreak of Abortion. Hosted at The Chapel (9611 Siegen Lane) starting in September. Email to sign up or with questions. Contact (confidential):

Through September 4

Huey Long and the Noble Experiment: Prohibition in Louisiana The exhibition will be on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum now through September 4. This exhibit will complement the National Endowment for the Humanities On the Road exhibit, Spirited: Prohibition in America, which will be at the West Baton Rouge Museum this summer.

Open daily

Liberty Lagoon Liberty Lagoon Water Park: (, 225-923-3202

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l JULY 2016



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JULY 2016 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine