Dr. Ivan and Mary Ann Parke
2 teachers who’ve learned from God
● Abortion’s effect on a mother’s health
● Bringing resources into ‘Alignment’ for seniors
2 teachers who’ve learned from God
● Abortion’s effect on a mother’s health
● Bringing resources into ‘Alignment’ for seniors
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Ann. After being a caretaker with Ann for their parents, Amy wanted to start a ministry that would provide resources and support for seniors. See page 28.
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By the end of this month, I’ll be married. I’ll be Katie Ginn, though I might still include “Eubanks” for MCL matters. Just a week before this edition published, Stephen and I met at the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s office in Canton and got our marriage license. It took about 20 minutes.
Stephen was half afraid obtaining the license would amount to an accidental elopement. But no, we won’t be legally wed till the preacher signs off on it.
Still, watching the deputy clerk emboss a gold seal on that otherwise unremarkable sheet of paper made my teeth chatter. No, the courthouse didn’t have the A/C on blast: Every so often, when something wonderful, nervewracking, or otherwise awe-inspiring is about to happen, that’s just how my body reacts. My teeth chatter.
I tried to suppress a smile, then thought, “What am I doing?” I was one step closer to marrying my ﬁancé — I could grin all I wanted!
Two days later, our singles group from church threw us our third and (as far as we know) ﬁnal shower. They’ve all been fun, but this one included a bit of a surprise, though we should’ve seen it coming.
Many of you know I’m a huge fan of the “Lord of the Rings” books and movies. Stephen is a huge fan of “Star Wars.” Our singles group knew this and proceeded to host what I’m sure was the nerdiest wedding shower that any of us had ever attended.
There was a “photo booth” area featuring LOTR and Star Wars props, including an elven crown and ears made of pipe cleaners and felt; Stars Wars plates, cups and napkins; and even a sign on the front door, featuring a photo of Stephen and me dressed as Han Solo and Princess Leia, with the words “You Shall Pass” (yes, that’s a tweaked LOTR quote).
It seems like every time we reach the end of our wedding-planning rope, we encounter something joyful like this, and I’m so glad.
Just a couple weekends earlier, we drove to Austin to watch a friend of Stephen’s get married. It was the most beautiful wedding I’d ever attended, and I wasn’t even pre-emptively jealous. In fact, that sunset ceremony was just what I needed to get over myself. (My hairstyling attempts that day had ended in a ’90s nightmare,
so I’d had to pin part of my hair up, which made me irrationally irritable.)
So much of this engagement season has been a challenge, but I want to focus on the joy — the nerdy homemade photo booths and gorgeous Texas weddings, not the overdone hairspray or never-ending task lists.
Stephen rightly pointed out recently that we took on a ﬁve-month engagement with Christmas in the middle of it. And we’re still together! And our friends are still friends with us! In fact, they’re such good friends, they make us Yoda ears and lightsabers for goofy weddingshower photos. I’d call that a win.
Yes, we still have plenty left to do. Weddingrelated tasks that were upcoming at press time included:
• Reaching out to folks who hadn’t RSVP’d
• Sending playlists to the sound guy
• Finalizing the catering menu
• Shopping for the honeymoon (trying to upgrade my beach vacation wardrobe)
But the reason for all of these tasks is that we’re getting married in a few weeks. We get to be companions as we follow Jesus. We get to share a life and a home together. And I am so excited.
Not every season is fun, and God doesn’t expect us to pretend we’re happy when we’re not. But if you’re in a good season, I hope you can pause and remember why it’s good. Most of all, I hope we can all remember God’s sovereignty in every situation.
Before our wedding shower the other day, Stephen and I did a little Bible study. (His suggestion. Did I mention I was grateful for him?) Here’s Psalm 2:2-4a –
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’
He who sits in the heavens laughs.”
If God is so unbothered by world powers that He laughs at them, He can surely handle our battles, too. Let’s praise Him for that today! YKatie Eubanks firstname.lastname@example.org
Iwrote on this topic ﬁve years ago. Unfortunately, the national conversation has not only seemed to deteriorate, but I fear the “I’m offended” mantra has entered the Christian lexicon.
In my 40 years as an adult, I have regularly gotten cornered into Christian discussions about where I stand politically on innumerable topics. The difference in the last ﬁve years has been a growing sense of Christian victimization in an increasingly hostile culture. Biblical truths of being “hated by all men” and “suffering with grace for Christ’s name” have somehow evaporated among the sweet brothers and sisters.
Stay with me here. This is not a political discussion. It’s not even a discussion on persecution. It is one man’s observation of the high cost in our society, and now in the church, of how quickly we derail because we are offended.
Whether I’m coaching a CEO, an executive team, a church, a family or my own children, one uncompromising principle is, “Don’t lose sideways energy on being offended.” Far too often we allow offense to guide important aspects of our lives.
Proverbs 17:9 expands on the cost of offense: “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
When we are offended, it’s common to gather a coalition of cheerleaders around us by explaining, extrapolating and even exaggerating our side of the story — often pitting our friends against each other.
When we are offended, we also lose the opportunity to forgive others as Christ forgave us. But if we cover over an offense, we bring love into the equation, redeeming both 1) the encounter that created the offense, and 2) the relationship.
Proverbs 19:11 tells us that “it is to (our) glory to overlook an offense.” When we refuse to allow someone’s words, tone or even
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actions to offend us, it strengthens our character, increases our authority and brightens our countenance.
The core principle of this whole challenge is to love one another as Christ loves us. To be honest, embarrassingly this is a challenge I too often struggle with. But I do know this: When I accept the challenge, I am not only being faithful to God and showing Christ’s heart, but selﬁshly I experience the joy that comes with that faithfulness
Maybe that’s why Peter challenges us in 1 Peter 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.
Whether I’m coaching a CEO, an executive team, a church, a family or my own children, one uncompromising principle is, ‘Don’t lose sideways energy on being offended.’ Far too often we allow offense to guide important aspects of our lives.”
My 5-year- old daughter, Taylor, was in the backseat, bobbing her head along with the music, lost in thought. We drove past Peach Tree Village Assisted Living in Brandon, which is now closed due to the ﬂood that shut the building down last year.
“Wow, I wonder who sinned there!” Taylor wondered aloud.
I stiﬂed a chuckle to the best of my ability and asked her to say that again.
“Well, God sent the ﬂood like He did with Noah because there was sin,” she said matter-offactly. “So someone had to have sinned for Nana’s old people’s house to ﬂood!”
After gathering a breath from hysterical laughter, I explained to Taylor that no, this ﬂood just happened. It wasn’t because Gertrude was cheating at bingo.
“Remember God’s promise? He wouldn’t ﬂood the whole earth again,” I said. “I don’t think this was because of sin. The water just backed up and the rain just kept coming.” That answer satisﬁed her.
Taylor’s ﬁrst experience with a death in the family brought even more questions.
“Why did she still die if we prayed? Will she come back like that one friend in the Bible did?” Taylor was referring to Lazarus, of course.
While it’s easy to say, “Well, she’s just a kid,” I think we as parents often dismiss these moments instead of really seeing what God has for both the parent and the child here.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the
way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This places a heavy job on our shoulders, right?
But there’s also Matthew 18:2-4. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
So, in answering the sometimes hard-toaddress questions my daughter throws at me (often at bedtime, of course), I’ve had the opportunity not only to teach her but to assess my own faith and humility when I come before the Lord.
Still, we may be afraid to answer our kids’ questions incorrectly. It is OK to tell your child, “I don’t know the answer. Can we look it up in the Bible together?” You can also speak to a children’s minister about how to answer. (Thank God for KoKo at Park Place Baptist!)
Embracing these teachable moments fulﬁlls a parenting commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Y
Courtney and her husband, Jeremy, live in Brandon and are members at Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl. They have a daughter, Taylor, and a son, Jacob. Courtney is a full-time homemaker and can be reached at email@example.com.
“ After gathering a breath from hysterical laughter, I explained to Taylor that no, this flood (at Nana’s ‘old people’s house’) just happened. It wasn’t because Gertrude was cheating at bingo.”
Sunnybrook is thrilled to announce the 60th anniversary of its founding, a milestone that marks six decades of providing safe and nurturing homes for foster children.
Since its inception in 1963, Sunnybrook’s staff, board, volunteers and partners have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of foster children. Over the years, the greatest need in this community has shifted from housing young children to supporting adolescents who are aging out of the foster care system.
“It was increasingly older teens and young adults who were being lost in the system, contributing to a bleak outlook,” explained Sunnybrook Executive Director Dr. Myrle Grate. “These young people face signiﬁcant struggles to become productive adults, due to poor education, unaddressed psychological issues, and myriad other obstacles.
“These factors combine for rates of pregnancy, addiction, incarceration and early death that are dramatically higher than their peers from stable homes. In many cases, Sunnybrook is the ﬁrst time these individuals have felt the love of a stable, Christian, family environment.”
Sunnybrook invites our community to celebrate this milestone through prayer, volunteer work, and the donation of supplies and money. Together, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of children and families in need. Y
After my son’s baseball practice the other night, we decided to stop at Chick-ﬁl-A to enjoy what we like to call “the Lord’s chicken” (I also like to think that these calories do not count).
As usual, the place was packed with people of all ages. However, something unusual caught my eye. There was a long table decorated with rose gold balloons and confetti at the back of the restaurant. Right in the middle of the table was a huge birthday cake being cut and served to everyone at Chick-ﬁl-A! Upon further investigation, I speciﬁcally noticed it was a celebration for a 90th birthday!
I quickly scanned the room, expecting to ﬁnd a sweet, frail, older lady sitting pleasantly while people gathered around her, but I couldn’t seem to ﬁnd a lady that ﬁt this description. Then right before my eyes I saw a lively, energetic, full-of-life lady being hugged and wished a happy birthday. I thought to myself, “No way she is 90. She looks amazing and moves with such grace and poise.”
Then my mind was blown even more when I realized she was a Chick-ﬁl-A employee. Here she was at the beautiful age of 90 moving around so well that she could still serve and care for others in a fast-paced environment without hesitation. I thought, if only I could sit down with her and ask for all her secrets to longevity; I wonder what she would say. If I had to guess, I bet it’s the power of movement.
God could have designed our bodies in any shape or form. I mean, think about it. We could be structureless and weak, but He gave us bones and muscles to give us structure and strength to carry out tasks. Therefore, He gave us the ability for movement. Based on who He is, I know this movement must be for our good and His glory.
Even “experts” say movement is good for us, that it keeps us young
and healthy and keeps the heart strong and the brain sharp. People build businesses and careers around helping others live out this lifestyle. Therefore, I must assume that staying in motion plays a vital role in our longevity. I can also assume that the sweet lady working for Chick-ﬁl-A at 90 is staying sharp because she actively chooses to challenge her body and brain to perform tasks.
Think of it like this: What happens to water when it becomes stagnant for too long? It risks becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can make people sick! In the same way, when we become complacent and stagnant in our movement, our bodies may become more vulnerable to diseases or grow weaker. You know the saying, “What we don’t use, we lose.”
This is why I have such a strong passion to use health and ﬁtness as my platform to share the goodness of our Father. I want to help teach people that movement is a way of worship and there is so much joy to be found in it. After all, a healthy body is a body that can live out the calling God has placed on it — almost like God knew what He was doing all along.
This active lifestyle does not have to be hard. Simply go for a walk, or pick up a hobby like golf or tennis. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to ﬁnd something that will challenge you physically and mentally — and while you’re carrying out this challenge, don’t forget to stop and give praise to our Father for the gift of movement. After all, our bodies are a gift from God. Let us honor Him in this way. Y
Jade Whitehurst is a wife, mom, ﬁtness coach and eighth-grade science teacher. You can follow her on Instagram @jadewhitehurst_ﬁt (aka The Faith Fit Mom).
“ We could be structureless and weak, but (God) gave us bones and muscles to give us structure and strength to carry out tasks. Therefore, He gave us the ability for movement. Based on who He is, I know this movement must be for our good and His glory.”
If our family’s battle with cerebral palsy helps just one person see Jesus through our son’s suffering, it is worth the ﬁght. My husband and I were trying everything to help our son from the ﬁrst time we learned of his diagnosis. One night, the Lord led me to a book called “What to Do About Your Brain-Injured Child,” by Glenn Doman. I remember thinking, how rude! But we tried some things from the book to help Caleb crawl, as he was 3 by now and barely moved on the ﬂoor. It worked, and he actually began to move.
We urgently booked a trip to Pennsylvania for Caleb to be evaluated at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, founded by Doman. They placed Caleb on an extremely intense physical, mental and intellectual program. With God’s help, he then could read most any book before the age of 4.
We went for a follow-up visit; the lady over the reading program pulls a book off the shelf. She places it in front of Caleb and turns the pages for him. She closes it and pulls out a small handheld black-and-white card with the letters of the alphabet and asks him if the book was about the Babylonians or Egyptians. She takes his left hand to assist his muscles and singles out his pointer ﬁnger. He moves his ﬁnger forward and begins to spell out the word “Babylonians.” His dad and I turn pale.
Never again did we question Caleb’s level of intelligence. It took Caleb and me about one full year to fully communicate using this card. It is with this card that Caleb has encouraged countless individuals and groups. He uses it to tell us what he wants to eat, how his day is, what he wants to do, what hurts, everything!
I need at least 1,000 more words to tell you all about Caleb’s intense love and devotion to Jesus Christ. He has battled pain in his head and muscles most of his life, but he has praised God through it all. It is Caleb who told a group how suffering is a teacher. I agree! He says he was sent here to teach his parents to be good soldiers and faint not.
Oh how this journey of suffering has taught our family so much about who God is. We have learned that it is true, suffering is a teacher. It has taught us that God truly is the God of all comfort; He alone can be trusted, come what may; and He has an endless supply of strength to give.
To see more about Caleb’s deep love for the Lord, please visit justJesusinc.com and his Facebook page at Caleb Rodgers Updates. There you will see how God uses the pain and suffering we go through for our good and His glory. Just Jesus Inc. is Caleb’s Bible ministry, which distributed more than 3,500 free Bibles throughout Mississippi and other states just last year.
Remember, don’t be defeated in your suffering. Let suffering teach you as well. Y
Jennie’s bio, written by Caleb from his perspective: You are my strong mother. You enjoy serving others. You stay home with me so I can tolerate school in my peaceful home. Proud wife of my dad, Rodney. Supportive second mom to two lovely daughters, Andrea and Abby. Mother to two angels, Chloe (in heaven) and Caleb. Resides in Tupelo. Director of Just Jesus Inc. Enjoys time with Jesus, reading God’s Word, and running with her son. Part-time owner of two clinics.
“ The lady over the reading program pulls a book off the shelf. (She) asks him if the book was about the Babylonians or Egyptians. (He) moves his finger forward and begins to spell out the word ‘Babylonians.’ His dad and I turn pale.”Jennie Rodgers (left) with her son, Caleb, and her husband, Rodney.
If you aren’t sure whether you have a relationship with God or where you’ll go when you die, please don’t put this magazine down until you’ve read the following:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death … – Romans 6:23a
The natural result and consequence of our sin is eternal death, or hell (Revelation 20:15), separated from God. This is because God is completely perfect and holy (Matthew 5:48), and His justice demands that sin be punished (Proverbs 11:21).
… but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 6:23b
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
Jesus Christ died in our place on the cross and took on the punishment for all our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6). Then God raised Him from the dead (John 20)!
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
Trust in what Jesus has done for you — His death for your sins and His resurrection — and trust Him as Lord.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Romans 10:13
Therefore being justiﬁed by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17
If you decided to trust in Jesus, grow in your faith by reading more of God’s Word in the Bible. We recommend the gospel of John (it comes just after Luke) as a good starting point — or Romans!
Finding a church close to you that teaches faith in Christ is another important step. It’s crucial to spend time with other believers so we can encourage each other in our faith.
If you have questions about anything on this page, please contact us at 601.896.1432, or send us a message on Facebook @MSChristianLiving, Instagram @mschristianmag or Twitter @MSChristLiving.
DR. IVAN PARKE was born in Mumbai, India (then Bombay), in 1965. He and his parents moved to America for economic opportunity when he was 2 years old, and now Ivan is a Mississippi College professor and a published author, husband to adjunct instructor Mary Ann, and father of two children — one in med school, and one a teacher.
It’s the American dream, with one distinction that Ivan points out: He didn’t pull himself up by his bootstraps. Likewise, Mary Ann notes exactly Whom they’re depending on.
“I am not self-made in any way,” Ivan says, instead crediting extended Christian family in India (see box on page 22) and his parents’ sacriﬁce in “leaving everything familiar” for a better life.
Similarly, “we have all these plans,” Mary Ann says, “but then we relax and know (Jesus is) enough.” In other words, His plans are best.
“I’m thankful to get to tell students — I could not have manipulated my life any better than God has led,” Ivan says. “I’m living my dream.”
‘That man can pray.’
Ivan’s father, Kelly, was a physician in India but still struggled. After the family moved to America, Kelly redid all his medical training before
ﬁnally being able to practice in Ohio. The Parkes lived up north until 1978.
“I made it to the South in time to incorporate ‘y’all’ (into my vocabulary),” Ivan says.
Meanwhile, “I thought I’d be a doctor just like my dad, but God knew
I would be a communicator,” he says. Ivan was called to ministry — and preached his ﬁrst sermon — at age 14. After attending several schools as the family moved, he graduated high school in central Florida.
Mary Ann grew up in Louisiana and also attended multiple schools due to her dad’s job with Louisiana Power and Light, now Entergy. “I claim the whole state,” she says.
After Ivan graduated high school, “I decided to go far from home,” he says, and attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas. By then, Mary Ann had her master’s and was teaching math — also at Baylor. But Ivan already had his math credit, so he never met Mary Ann during that time.
“I was thinking, ‘God, do You have anyone for me?’” Ivan recalls. However, it’s good he didn’t take her class, he says now, “because she’d never marry a former student.”
Finally, Ivan and Mary Ann did meet, in the singles ministry at First Baptist New Orleans. By that time Ivan was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), and Mary Ann was teaching at The University of New Orleans.
The two started as acquaintances who were active in the singles ministry and sang in the singles ensemble, Ivan says.
“Our music minister would call on him to pray from time to time,” Mary Ann recalls, “and I would think, ‘That man can pray.’”
After a couple years, they went from acquaintances to friends.
“We played tennis,” Ivan says. “I made a meal for her, but it was Indian food, so it was too hot for her. She invited me to a lunch with her parents, just as friends, and I enjoyed that.”
“He ﬁt in so well, and we all laughed and talked, and it was the ﬁrst
time I really ‘noticed’ him,” Mary Ann says of the lunch. “(Soon after that) we decided this would be worth pursuing.”
They each felt that “spark” within a week of each other. Ten months later, they were married.
When Ivan started his doctorate at NOBTS, he noticed a class on the book of Job — the godly Old Testament man who lived through terrible suffering — focusing on the book’s original Hebrew language. “Sure,” he thought, and signed up.
As a result, “Job becomes part of my everyday life. It becomes my dissertation,” Ivan says.
How did that happen? “It was the stress of writing a research paper for that seminar,” he says. “The topic that I opted to tackle (the literary role of God’s speeches in the book) became the ‘seed’ of my dissertation.”
Around that same time, he and Mary Ann moved to the Baton Rouge area, where Ivan became a youth pastor at First Baptist in Denham
Springs and Mary Ann taught math at Louisiana State University. At one point Ivan had the opportunity to teach through Job at church.
“Then this academic (content) I have to transfer to everyday folk who love the Lord — not dumbing it down or watering it down,” he says. “That started what I’ve done for 29 years.”
Meanwhile, Ivan and Mary Ann’s children, Anne Marie and Jonathan, were born in Denham Springs. Jonathan, known as JP, was born “in chapter 3 of my dissertation,” Ivan says.
Soon after JP was born, the family moved again when Ivan became pastor of Walkers Chapel Baptist Church outside of Birmingham. Mary Ann stayed home with the kids for a few years. Ivan worked on his doctorate after the family went to bed, and during the day he learned how to be a full-time pastor.
“I remember sweating bullets at our ﬁrst (church) business meeting,” he says. “My ﬁrst year was a learning year. The second year, it was all God. … March through summer, we had baptisms, whole families joining.”
They also met some sweet people, Mary Ann says. “The children were 2 and newborn when we moved there. Some of those senior adult women claim them as their own.”
And, Ivan ﬁnished his dissertation.
“Then a friend from seminary calls and says, ‘I’m looking for a professor who specializes in Old Testament. Would you pray about coming (to Mississippi College)?’” Ivan recalls.
“But there was so much wonderful going on (in Birmingham). I’d always wanted to teach, I was getting the degree to do it, but …”
He couldn’t decide. “We rented (the movie) ‘The Preacher’s Wife,’ and after watching that, I thought I’d stay (in Birmingham),” he says. Finally, Ivan’s friend invited him to visit MC in person. Still unsure, he and Mary Ann made the drive.
“When I set foot on this campus, I thought, ‘This is like home. I’m supposed to be here,’” he recalls. But Mary Ann was still “wrestling children” that morning, she says, and hadn’t arrived on campus yet. This was January 1998, before cell phones were prevalent, so Ivan didn’t get a chance to tell her how much he liked the place.
She started ﬁguring it out during the job interview, she says. “We only came here because you don’t shut a door God opens — but he’s answering these questions like he wants this job. (I’m wondering) do I act like we want to come? Should we start looking at houses while we’re here?”
MC offered Ivan the position. The family moved to Clinton in August 1998, and Ivan and Mary Ann are still there. “It’s the longest either of us has lived anywhere,” she says.
In 1999, the year after moving to Clinton, Ivan started doing research in order to write a practical, relatable book — not a dissertation — on the book of Job.
Four years later, a friend asked him to co-author a different book, so Job got put on the backburner. “Then JP starts playing all-star baseball, and that was our life,” Ivan says. “For about six years,” Mary Ann adds.
Finally, Ivan says, God got his attention and told him, “It’s not that your life will be incomplete or a failure (if you don’t ﬁnish this book about Job), but you’ll be wishing you’d done it.”
By the time he completed the book, on Father’s Day 2021, he and Mary Ann had experienced a little more suffering of their own, though they’re under no illusions that they suffered like Job.
“In 2013 (Anne Marie) manifested manic depression,” Ivan says. “I thought my parents’ divorce was the worst thing I could go through, but when you see your daughter suffering … She wound up being (diagnosed as) bipolar.”
He and Mary Ann found help for Anne Marie at First Baptist Jackson’s Summit Counseling and with a psychiatrist at St. Dominic Hospital. Thanks to God, prayer, and the right professionals, Ann Marie eventually was able to manage her mental health.
“She met the love of her life, got married, graduated on time, got her master’s in math, and we have a grand-dog,” Ivan says.
However, the pain that he and his family endured during the height of Ann Marie’s illness made Ivan’s book on Job a better one.
Ann Marie’s journey also made her parents better teachers, says Mary Ann, who started teaching at MC a few years after Ivan. “A lot of times you want to dismiss (a student’s) excuses, but a lot of times they need extra help.”
And the Parkes’ suffering gave them a new appreciation for the body of Christ around them.
At one point Ann Marie had a math test coming up at MC, and she’d missed a whole week of classes. Her mother conﬁded in John Travis, then head of the math department, without really thinking he’d be able to help.
“He calls that night and says, ‘Send Ann Marie and I’ll put (the lessons) up on my whiteboard and we’ll get her caught up,’” Mary Ann recalls. “He did that, teaching (her) a class he didn’t even teach.”
“That has been a blessing, living in a place long enough to get community,” Ivan says.
In November 2022, Ivan ﬁnally released “When Life Meets the Soul: Everyday Lessons from the Book of Job.” Far from a verse-by-verse commentary, the book instead distills 25 principles into brief chapters, each ﬁve to 10 pages long, which readers could use for personal devotion, Ivan says.
“The people who know him or have had him as a teacher say, ‘I can just hear Ivan (as I read the book),’” Mary Ann says.
There’s also a 10-session small group study guide, put together by
Cindy and Bill Townsend
Keith and Barbara Starrett
Mary and Lee Miller
Mike and Missy McMullan
Ron and Kathy Mumbower
Russ and Alisa Brashear
Tom and Gina Washburn
It’s because of professors like these that MC has been a force to be reckoned with for nearly two centuries. Our students and graduates are transforming classrooms, advancing the gospel, leading businesses, uniting teams, innovating, driving creativity, and championing the public good. At every step of your MC journey, you’ll be backed by a strong community who will inspire you to reach higher.
When asked to name people who’ve impacted their lives, Mary Ann says, “I think of our pastor and our really good friends at Morrison Heights.” Also, “I have a twin brother. Moving around was not hard for me (as a kid) because my best friend moved with me.”
Ivan also mentions family members, including his Christian parents (a religious minority in India); his maternal grandfather (who, like Jesus and most other Easterners, taught lessons by telling stories); and even his greatgrandfather John A.D. Khan (right), whom Ivan never met.
Born Muslim, Khan “radically converts to Christianity, against his family’s wishes. They wanted him to drink poison and die,” Ivan says. “He drank the poison (since he wouldn’t recant his faith), but he didn’t die. He escaped, and he became a pastor and evangelist.”
Today, several of Ivan’s family members from India make occasional trips to Mississippi, and he and Mary Ann sponsor a child at The Shelter, a girls’ home and school in Cuttack, India, pioneered by Khan.
Ivan and his former student Timothy Peabody, minister of adults at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, where the Parkes are members.
Both book and study guide are available at IvanParke.com or on Amazon, and the book can also be purchased at Barnes & Noble in Ridgeland or The Cupboard, an interior décor and gift shop in Clinton.
“And from our garage,” Mary Ann adds. Ah, the glamour of being an author!
Jokes aside, the Parkes love their life. Mary Ann is an adjunct, a realtor, and a “standard patient,” or mock patient, keeping med students on their toes at The University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Ivan is thrilled to get to teach God’s Word, whether in book form, to college students, or to others. (In addition to his duties at MC, Ivan is interim pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in southwest Mississippi. He’s served as an interim pastor at a dozen Mississippi churches over the years.)
“I don’t know why we think God’s will is just the worst thing we could do,” he says.
Still, he admits, it takes time to learn to trust Him with each step.
“I’m such a slow learner in this regard — rather than stress the details, because I love the details, I have ﬁnally learned that ‘I trust You. I don’t know how to get from point A to point B, but I trust You.’” Y
Dr. Parke is a source of spiritual leadership and wisdom for both Shawreth and the campus of Mississippi College. Through his service to this campus, he has shown how deeply he cares about its students. We are thankful for the Lord’s use of Dr. Parke in our lives and excited to see how his new book impacts readers.
– Shawreth Men’s Service Club
Cindy* believed she was receiving women’s healthcare as an easy solution to her unplanned pregnancy and that her life would go on as usual. She was not warned about the physical risks, nor did she expect the mental and emotional distress that followed. Research shows that abortion causes physical and psychological consequences that can last for decades, but women are frequently not told of these long-term effects.
Under the CPC Metro, the medical clinic The Cline Center in Fondren sees patients like Cindy daily who are at risk because they do not have the information they need, and who are choosing unsupervised chemical abortions.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade making most abortions illegal in Mississippi, many women order chemical abortions, known as the abortion pill, online from other states or even other countries. These abortions take place at home without medical supervision and oftentimes without clear instructions and little to no follow-up care.
Where do these women look for guidance when they feel uneasy about the abortion pill? The Cline Center provides a private medical consultation, where she can ask questions and learn more about the risks of abortion, and options counseling, where she can process the decision and ﬁnd the resources and support available to her if she chooses to parent.
procedure and feel they cannot escape what they have done. This can lead to alcohol or drug abuse, failed relationships, suicide, or eating disorders.
The CPC Metro is opening the discussion about the value of life as early as possible and has launched several new programs under The Cline Center. Their newest program, Unscripted, brings sexual health education to teens and young adults, preventing unplanned pregnancies and teaching parents how to approach these issues with their children. The upcoming Life Walk also engages all generations in the ﬁght for life.
CPC Metro Executive Director Erin Kate Goode states, “Abortion can be difficult to discuss with our children, but we need to instill the value of every life as early as possible. By engaging younger generations in the Life Walk, we are actively building a culture of life in Mississippi.”
*Last name withheld for privacy.
If you or someone you know has experienced an abortion, visit uncoveredjxn.org for more information on post-abortive healing. Y
Courtney Buzek is community relations coordinator for the CPC Metro. She lives in Star, Mississippi with her husband, Jonathan, and their two kids, and has been a faithful member of Restoration Church in Florence for more than 20 years.
The Cline Center also supports a woman spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally, and connects her to a community of support to ease the burdens of parenting and address the reasons women consider abortion. She receives support through her initial decision, pregnancy journey, and long after birth. She can access free counseling, parenting classes, support groups, and baby items such as diapers or car seats. She does not have to walk alone. Abortion is not the only option.
The CPC Metro sees ﬁrsthand the detrimental impact abortion has on women and offers abortion recovery programs to help facilitate healing and hope. Like Cindy, many women carry an emotional and mental burden and grief that, if unresolved, will stay with them for a lifetime. Women with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) can suffer depression, anxiety, guilt, regret and shame about their abortion. They may have ﬂashbacks from their
Women with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) can suffer depression, anxiety, guilt, regret and shame ... They may have flashbacks (and) feel they cannot escape what they have done. This can lead to alcohol or drug abuse, failed relationships, suicide, or eating disorders.”
One by One Ministries is a 501c3 nonproﬁt that partners with Mississippi pregnancy centers to educate and mentor new mothers so they and their babies can thrive. Kristy Dunaway, community ministry director at One by One, shares how she and the ministry help mothers and their babies. Vyvyan Gilley and Rosemary McGee also share their experiences in One by One’s mentorship program.
“I work with what we call our community model,” Kristy says. “That’s usually one pregnancy center and one church — connecting them (and communities) together.” Kristy says the model is used when an organization, usually a local pregnancy center, wants to serve new and expectant moms. Relationships are crucial throughout the process.
“We go in and we partner with these pregnancy centers to train mentors from local churches,” she says. “We come in one by one, and we train mentors from that church with (how to use) our curriculum. (We) train the mentors how to use relationship evangelism to share the gospel with the moms and how to be a friend to these moms who are expecting a baby.”
Kristy says the majority of the mom they work with were not planning on the pregnancy. “The client advocate at the (pregnancy) center might say, ‘Do you feel you have enough support to have this child (along with) support and encouragement in your life?’ (The mom) might be (like) ‘No, I really don’t have a lot of support.’”
Once the advocate shares information about the program, and a mother says she would like a mentor, an application is completed. Kristy says she will then work to ﬁnd the right match for the mom.
“Usually I’ll think, ‘OK, what did this mom tell me about herself? Who do I think would be a good ﬁt?’ Our mentors not only are trained, but before they are trained they ﬁll out an application, we do a background check on them, (and) they are required to have a prayer partner,” she says. “I get to know them before they’re matched with the mom so we can see who is a good ﬁt.”
Once a mother is matched with a mentor, she is able to participate in the mentorship program from the time of her positive pregnancy test through the baby’s ﬁrst birthday. “Ideally, a mom would get a positive pregnancy diagnosis and ﬁll out an
application ... then we would match her with a mentor early,” Kristy says.
Once matched, the mentor will begin meeting with the mother monthly using One by One’s specialized curriculum to support the mom and baby.
“(Part of the curriculum) is being a friend — we want that mentor to be a good listening ear for the mom, because often our moms need somebody to talk to. They need somebody who is nonjudgmental and will listen and who can give advice if needed.”
In addition to offering emotional support and a listening ear for the mom, the mentor provides educational materials.
“The mentor shares what we call handouts from the parent pack with the mom. We (also) give her this baby book. It’s got these colorful sheets in it, and (the mentor works) on this baby book with the mom each month.”
The baby book includes educational pages that discuss the baby’s health, planning for the baby’s arrival, and activity cards. The book provides space for photos of the mom and baby, taken at each meeting after the baby is born. The book not only serves as a helpful tool for the mom but a keepsake she can cherish for years to come.
Vyvyan Gilley of Corinth, Mississippi, says she has served as a mentor with One by One Ministries for over a year and a half. “I have really enjoyed it,” she says. “The mom that I was matched with — she and I kind of clicked.”
Vyvyan says she found out she also was pregnant about a month after meeting Rosemary McGee. “We were pregnant together, and that bonded us a little bit more,” Vyvyan says.
She says her favorite part was developing the friendship and seeing Rosemary grow. “You don’t always get to see the effects of your ministry, but I felt like in this case (I’ve) been blessed to be able to see the results.”
Vyvyan says that even though their mentorship is technically ﬁnished, she and Rosemary remain in contact. “We still see each other, and our kids play together,” she says. “It’s been really sweet.”
Vyvyan says she was able to share her faith with Rosemary in many ways. “I’ve been able to point her and remind her to look to Jesus during the hard times. I’ve been able to share my experiences and my struggles and my spiritual victories with her. I’ve been able to help her redirect her attention and put it back on God. (That’s) been really great to get to do.”
Rosemary, who also lives in Corinth, shares her perspective on
the mentorship program. “When I found out I was pregnant with my son, it wasn’t the greatest time. I was in college, and I ended up having to take a break.” Rosemary says Vyvyan stepped in and served as a mentor and mother ﬁgure. “(Vyvyan is) deﬁnitely dependable and trustworthy. I absolutely have been blessed overall with the experience with her.”
Rosemary says that not only did the program help her tremendously in preparing for the arrival of her son, but having a mentor also impacted her faith. “I feel like it’s made my relationship with God stronger. (Vyvyan) opened a different perspective as far as my faith for me. (It’s) just been overall a blessing.”
“(It’s) just been overall a blessing,” Rosemary says of One by One’s mentorship program.
For more information about One by One Ministries, visit onebyoneusa.org or call 901-857-1153. Y
Anna Claire O’Cain is a former English teacher and current grad student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University. She is married to her best friend, J.T., a teacher and youth pastor. Most of all, she is a believer who is passionate about serving God through missions and worship. Through MCL, she now uses her love for writing to serve the Lord in a new way.
“ When I found out I was pregnant with my son, it wasn’t the greatest time. I was in college, and I ended up having to take a break. (Having a mentor has) made my relationship with God stronger. (Vyvyan) opened a different perspective as far as my faith for me.”Rosemary McGee with her son, Zayyvon.
Iremember sitting in a stadium-sized classroom at The University of Alabama in the summer of 2003 and hearing my professor say that we did not need a ﬁnancial planner. In fact, we could simplify life by investing in index funds and putting our investment account on cruise. I remember being perplexed and disappointed. Until that point in my young life, a ﬁnancial planner had helped me with the few important ﬁnancial decisions I had made. My studies had beneﬁted from those decisions. My dad was that ﬁnancial planner, and I looked up to him as a result.
Fast forward to today: I am no longer confused by the statement my professor made in 2003. Daily experiences at Mascagni Wealth Management renew my conﬁdence in what my dad did for me and remind me that this business is both a calling and a privilege. What I have is a “get-to” job, as TNT’s Ernie Johnson said about his broadcaster job when he gave a recent speech to an Alabama football team.
I see retirees come into the office with a smile on their face because their plan worked. I see the widow or widower walk into our office looking for guidance after losing everything. I see the relief on a client’s
face when they know they have help with the ﬁnancial planning issue that has been bothering them. I see the client who realizes an exit on their small business and has a plan going forward with their proceeds. I see the relief on a client’s face after we write a ﬁnancial plan, and the clarity from knowing when they can retire.
There is a thank-you card that sits on my desk from a special client that serves as a reminder of what I do. The card simply says, “Gratitude is a smile in the heart — hope 2018 is a good year for all of us!” This client was a retired, successful business owner whom God blessed us with. She wanted us to help her manage her wealth and also help her daughter manage that wealth long after she was gone. Yesterday I met with her daughter for the ﬁrst time since her passing, and two things suddenly hit me:
• We don’t have long at all — plan yesterday for today.
• Ms. Patricia was special, and she is still trusting us to complete the work she started.
Any small memory we had with Ms. Patricia was a blessing and valuable in helping her daughter during this difficult time. That is simply an honor.
Numbers have faces. My life would be vastly different if I didn’t experience the relationships God blesses me with each day — including with my financial planner, my dad.”
An autopilot index fund never provides that kind of relationship. Numbers have faces. My life would be vastly different if I didn’t experience the relationships God blesses me with each day — including with my ﬁnancial planner, my dad.
Inevitably, life gets in the way of ﬁnancial planning and hiring help for our investment decisions. Whether it’s applying for life or disability insurance, enrolling or increasing a percentage in a company 401(K), or investing excess funds to increase retirement probabilities, we may think we will do it tomorrow. We might. We might not. However, all of us have somebody who could beneﬁt from being proactive.
The picture above of a perfect sunset in California also sits in my office. Orange skies like these can stop us and cause us to contemplate life. That perfectly painted orange sky can remind us how perfect God is. Wherever you are in life, know God has a plan for you. Philippians 1:6 promises us, “He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion.” Plan yesterday for today. Y
On God’s timetable, nothing is wasted. The experiences you had yesterday prepare you for what God has planned for you today. Such is the case for Amy Adams, a retired pharmaceutical sales representative and real estate agent, and her husband, Rick, a recently retired bank executive.
After retirement, God’s redeﬁning and purpose began when Amy and her sister became caregivers for their aging parents, Bishop and Elizabeth Wallace. Amy’s sister, Ann, is a nurse, and her experience gave them a head start on the day-to-day physical care of their parents. Still, there were many legal, social, logistical, ﬁnancial and emotional issues to navigate.
Amy shares on her website, “Now, as both my parents are gone, I want to continue the legacy of giving back to those who are lonely, those who are in need, and those who want someone to walk with them for a short time. The Alignment Project found its spark. Our goal for this non-proﬁt is to follow God’s command to help the less fortunate, the lonely, and the needy.”
In 2020, Amy and Rick felt led to start the ministry, and everything came together in January 2022. Amy began to share the concept of The Alignment Project and her story with churches, businesses and
organizations. The interest grew, and people were calling with inquiries regarding their needs.
To help meet those needs, Amy and Rick have identiﬁed professionals they rely on or can conﬁdently recommend to others. The team comprises attorneys specializing in elder care and special needs, ﬁnancial advisors, counselors, social workers, medical professionals, accountants, and other care providers. As new needs arise, additional names and services are added.
From the inception, Amy and Rick decided to focus on the south half of Madison County, primarily Madison, Flora and Ridgeland. This focus allows them to concentrate on the work required and not spread themselves too thin. Recently, Amy met with several individuals who want to incorporate the Alignment Project concept in their communities.
Amy and Rick have helped more than 20 clients through The Alignment Project, though the numbers are not the focus. It’s about personal involvement to meet the needs and build trusting relationships.
When asked what has been the most challenging case so far? Amy replied that it dealt with an elderly couple whose ﬁnances were in total disarray. Amy learned that it is hard for people to see their needs, ask for help regarding their condition, and accept that help.
“The elderly are my heart and soul,” states Amy, “and it hurts to see what they face, sometimes all alone. During the pandemic, people were isolated, disconnected and lonely. Through our ministry, we can connect, encourage, and offer hope.”
The Care Closet at Highland Elementary in Ridgeland is another way The Alignment Project engages to meet community needs. Students can visit The Care Closet for a change of clothes, obtain personal hygiene products and more. Amy has seen more than 1,000 items collected through two rounds of the Amazon Wish List for this school. Now she is working with businesses to adopt a Care Closet for several elementary schools in the area.
You’ve found the right place. Every day, we help clients navigate these confusing issues by identifying options and implementing the best plans to achieve their goals.
Another valuable ministry component is biblical counseling, which Amy ﬁrmly believes in and recommends. Counselors have been a tremendous asset as clients sort through trauma and relationships.
The mission of The Alignment Project: “We gather resources from the local community to stand in the gap with senior adults and others experiencing life-changing events in the south Madison County area.”
Contact Amy Adams at 601.624.9309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit alignmentproject.org.
How has God redeﬁned your retirement? Y
Laura Lee Leathers loves to touch lives and encourage others through words and biblical hospitali-tea. She is an award-winning freelance writer, encouragement coach and speaker, and a contributing writer for several newspapers, magazines and online publications. Connect with her at LauraLeeLeathers.com or email@example.com, or join her Facebook group, “Teacups, Mugs, and Friends.”
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ ROMANS 6:8-11, KJV
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”~ JOHN 11:25-26, NLT
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’
~ LUKE 24:6-7, NIV
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance.
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
~ 1 CORINTHIANS 6:14, NIV
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
~ MARK 16:6, NIV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Have you ever wondered if your investment strategy needs a second opinion? Maybe you have unanswered questions. Maybe you need advice on your retirement plan.
The team at Mascagni Wealth Management might be exactly what you are looking for.
We are a Registered Investment Advisor with over 30 years of experience helping Mississippians and their families. Let’s sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about your ﬁnancial future. Call us today.