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Miracle on VooDoo Mountain, by Susan Brown

The Boudreaux Family, Saintil, Micha, Jessica, Megan, Josh and Gabby

Megan Boudreaux never expected to return to Haiti. When she volunteered for a brief trip with Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, she came home overwhelmed. “It was crazy, and I thought I could never live here,” she said. But she couldn’t get Haiti out of her mind…or out of her dreams. 

At age 24, she sold everything and planted her life in Haiti, the most economically deprived country in the Western hemisphere, and the site of a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake only a year earlier. Her new home in Gressier was ten miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. Nearby,  Bellevue Mountain, also known as Voodoo Mountain, inspired fear in local residents for the ongoing practice of animal sacrifice. That was 2011. 

Eight years later, the nonprofit she founded, Respire Haiti, provides schooling for 540 children, 60% of whom are former child slaves. Some 140 Haitian employees run the school, medical clinic, counseling service and micro-finance program for small business development. 

After a year’s respite in her native Lafayette, and the birth of their daughter, Megan and husband Josh Anderson fly back into Port-au-Prince this week. They plan to expand the micro-finance program, and eventually, start a church that welcomes people affected by economic distress, abandonment and child slavery. Their strategy is simple: commit to obey God, and be quiet and listen for his direction.  

As soon as she took the first step of obedience in 2011, Megan met a child who would define much of her ministry. “I didn’t have a plan, but the Lord just kept unfolding these little things,” she said. On Bellevue Mountain, she saw a bird and a little girl with a bunch of rocks in her hand. “She was throwing rocks at the bird because she was hungry, and she was going to eat the bird.” So, Megan bought food, teamed up with a friend who cooked local dishes and handed out meals from the back of a flatbed truck. 

Later, she observed that the same little girl was constantly busy with chores. One day, she followed her from the market to her tent-house where she faced piles of dishes to wash. Megan googled “Haiti” and “slaves.” She was stunned to learn that there were half a million Restaveks – child slaves – in Haiti.  

“They are basically domestic workers, kids that have been given to other families or kidnapped or taken from their home, and they just do all of the work,” Megan said. “That was the moment I remember looking at this little girl and going – she’s not in school. She’s six years old and she doesn’t even know how to hold a pencil.” The next logical step was to start a school. 

When Bellevue Mountain was selected as the school site, one of the women helping with paperwork burst into tears. “She said, ‘We have gone up on this mountain every single Sunday for 12 years to pray for you,” Megan said. “Bellevue Mountain used to be where they would do voodoo sacrificing and ceremonies, and now it’s just this beacon of light and hope.” The school, medical clinic and sports programs cover the mountain, and efforts to nurture families and provide seed money for entrepreneurs encourage families to keep their kids, rather than send them away to work or to orphanages.

“About 80% of the kids that live in the orphanages are poverty orphans which means they have parents, but the parents can’t take care of them,” Megan said. “What we’ve been doing with our programs is showing them it’s actually cheaper to keep a child with their family and sponsor their school, help them eat at school and get their needs met through school.” All of the children live with their families, caregivers or foster families, a situation that promotes better emotional and psychological well-being in children. 

Megan and Josh have welcomed three adoptive children into their own family, including Micha, the little girl she first met throwing rocks at a bird. Micha’s sister, Jessica – also a Restavek –  joined their family at age three. Their son, Saintil, was adopted after walking a day and a half over mountainous terrain to reach the school. 

At Respire Haiti, children attend Bible classes and have the opportunity to ask questions about the Christian faith. Despite a strong Catholic presence and work by other denominations, Christian beliefs are often absorbed into culture and tradition. “There’s a lot of clouded confusion and voodoo in that, as well, and it’s kind of picking apart what do people understand about Christianity and what do they believe about having a relationship with God,” Megan said.

“My encouragement is – you don’t know how, or when, or where God is going to use where you are now,” Megan said. She had struggled with the idea of finding her purpose after college. As a marketing professional for Cajun Industries, she learned about building construction. “I remember thinking Lord, why am I here? She said. “Now I look back and I’m like, of course, and I know what rebar we’re using, and I know how we’re supposed to build.”

Some 70-75% of the local buildings toppled during the 2010 earthquake and powerful aftershocks, and the threat of future earthquakes makes residents nervous. Respire’s structures are an exception. “We have an incredible guy who has designed all of our buildings. They’re engineered correctly and seismically up to code,” Megan said. “He trained local workers, so they know the placement of the rebar and the quality of the block and sand that they use.” Their construction standards are having a trickle-down effect on new home construction.

As needs become evident, God keeps providing. Donations from The Chapel on the Campus provided seed money for the ministry. Recently, a proposal to expand the school to add 7-9th grades came with a steep cost. Twelve hours later, two young men visited Respire Haiti with the goal of building an orphanage. But after learning about the program to keep kids with families, they felt God’s direction to pay the exact cost: $125-thousand for the four additional classrooms. 

Megan’s number one request is for prayer. “The spiritual warfare, it’s intense. There are a lot of attacks on myself, my husband, my ministry. That should be expected – we’re built on an old voodoo site.” Her second request is for financial support, especially through student sponsorships that cover uniforms, books, medical care and mental health care.

Respire Haiti is a 501c(3) nonprofit. For more information: www.respirehaiti.org or Respire Haiti, P.O. Box 52845, Lafayette, LA 70505-2845.  

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 Seminar, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

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Three Things No One Tells You About Discovering Your Purpose

Books by Donna! 


By: Donna R. Patrick, Award Winning Author

Psalm 139:14 – I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  

“Tricks are for kids.”  Remember that television commercial for Trix cereal?  Do you often see articles offering a trick to do this, or a trick to do that?  There is one trick to burn fat, another trick to have a successful marriage, and too many others to name.  The supposed simplicity of buying into the trick is to make whatever you’re trying to get done go faster with less work.  But I have discovered that there really are no tricks to discovering your purpose or making life better on your own terms.  

Having been a musician for three-fourths of my life, there was a time when all I did was play and teach new music with little regard for whether lives were being changed.  It was at The International Worship Institute that the shift came leading to the discovery of my purpose.  Knowing my purpose gave me a reason to get up in the morning, shaped my goals, and gave me a sense of direction.  It provided me a central, motivating theme for my life.  Your unique, God-given purpose is the reason you exist.  It is the vehicle through which you tap into your creativity, significance, and the greatness God placed inside of you. 

With a changed mind the music I selected was now influenced by the Holy Spirit’s active power in my life (Eph. 3:20).  It had become important to me to select music that God wanted, rather than what was most popular at the time.  My motivation was now to lead others straight into the presence of God through music.  Eventually God began to open up opportunities for me to organize, and teach in, worship conferences because it wasn’t just about the music anymore; it was about Christian education with an emphasis on biblical worship.  

I offer three very good reasons why it is important to know God’s purpose for your life:  

  1. So you don’t waste precious time doing things that God never meant for you to do. Yes, make plans, but ask for God’s guidance; 
  2. So you don’t miss being a blessing in someone else’s life.  God’s purpose for your life may not be just for you; and
  3. So you don’t begin life full and leave full – leave empty!  God has given all of us something to do that no one else can do as well.    

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “But how can I know God’s purpose for my life?”   It all starts with knowing Jesus Christ and having a personal relationship with Him.  There are so many voices that would tell us where we belong, but seek Godly counsel (Psalm 1:1).  This very often means guarding our ear gate from those voices that don’t speak God’s truth.  He will show you who you are and where you belong when you ask Him. 

Donna Renay Patrick is an award-winning author of two praise and worship-themed devotionals; At All Times, and It’s In Your Praise. She also co-authored two other devotionals; one to encourage women in the workplace, and the other a stewardship-themed devotional called,The Perfect Seven. She is a musician, worship leader, transformational speaker, and host of The Donna Patrick Show, an internet-based segment on The Fishbowl Radio Network.  With ministry-focused guests, her show emphasizes the priority of worship in the 21st century church, and how to tap into next-level personal and corporate worship.

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A Night to Remember, “Then Jesus walked in…”


Darkness was setting in. The street they walked on through the city was dirty, like a dusty path. They knew someone would be at the house to wash their feet before dinner. Foot washing. A menial task. Only a slave, who had no choice, would stoop to wash someone’s feet. Real men don’t wash feet.

The group’s leader was unusually quiet that night. He had been for several weeks, like something was bothering Him, troubling Him. The others were too much into themselves to ask Him what it was or if they could help.

Arriving at the house, no foot washer greeted them. Weird. It was customary, like washing your hands, but the paid guy didn’t show. Also, it was customary for one of the guests to wash the feet of the others if there was no servant, but no one stepped forward. Maybe they thought:

“I’ll wash hands, not feet.”
“I’m not a servant. Foot washing is for the lower class.”
“I have a bad back. Doctor told me not to bend over.”

Ignoring the opportunity to serve, each hurried off to recline next to the host.

THEN JESUS WALKED IN. I wonder what He thought as He saw the dirty feet of His disciples. He may have remembered some sermons, challenges, teachings, His own example about serving. “Did it do any good?” When He sat down, did He think:

“My death is imminent; just a few more hours.”
“Will no one have the humility to wash even my feet?”
“Will no one serve Me?”

When no one made a move, Jesus made His. Quietly, as the others were eating, He slipped away from the table, pulled off His outer robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin, then washed and dried the dirty feet of each disciple. No fanfare, no bells and whistles, no hype, no media, no texting, no twitter, no attention drawn to Himself.

Jesus made a decision to wash feet and we’re still talking about it today. The disciples were into themselves, not the needs of others. They looked for reasons to say no, unwilling to stoop down and serve, even the Lord Jesus.

One lesson for leaders is that it doesn’t take much to make an impression. Be on the lookout for opportunities to serve, to go the extra mile, to do the menial. It might turn out to be a really big deal that people remember and talk about.

Something else. Jesus even washed the feet of Judas. Would you wash the feet of one who betrays you, ridicules you, criticizes you, ignores you, speaks against you, dislikes you? Jesus did. Will you?

Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site iswww.livinggraceministries,com and his email is fred@livingraceministries.com

Feature Story, Online edition!

Integrity in Leadership, Part 3, Walking with God

ANOTHER MARK OF INTEGRITY: Walking with God, By Fred Campbell

A noted writer on leadership, John Maxwell, has written: “Your gifts and skills might get you to the top, but only your character will keep you there.” That’s why Daniel’s bio is intriguing. His character was flawless when he was at the top of the ladder and at the bottom of the lion’s den. He went in with integrity and came out with it.

We’ve discovered Daniel had a fabulous work ethic, both in his attitude and performance. He did his work well because he saw it well. The two go together. Also, Daniel had a blameless character. His peers did their best to dig up some dirt to discredit Daniel in the eyes of the king. Didn’t work. The guy was squeaky clean—morally upright, honest, above reproach, trustworthy. THAT’S INTEGRITY. CHARACTER RULES!

The peer group didn’t back off. Daniel 6: 5 reads that the only way the “dirt mob” might find any basis for charges against Daniel was in something to do with “the law of his God.” So, they appealed to the king’s ego and manipulated him to sign an irrevocable law, ordering the people to pray homage only to the king for 30 days. If they didn’t, they would be the evening meal for starving lions.

Daniel wasn’t deterred by the new law. It was his daily practice to pray three times in front of a window facing Jerusalem. Even a death threat couldn’t stop him. For Daniel, it was a no-brainer. Maybe he reasoned, “I’ll pray, why shouldn’t I? Always have, always will. If I die, I die. Gotta go out some way.” 

Here’s a third mark of Daniel’s integrity—DANIEL HAD AN UNBENDING WALK WITH GOD.

Honestly now, how’s your walk with the Lord? Do you have one? Are you consistent? What keeps you from a consistent walk with your Lord? What will you do to become more consistent?

Do you worship regularly or hit and miss? Beyond Sunday worship, do you allow time for the Lord to speak to you through His dynamic Word? Do you pray? Is it because you have to or because you cannot live without it?

The Lord’s heart beats for leaders to walk with Him. “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you.” (Isaiah 30:18). 


Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site iswww.livinggraceministries,com and his email is fred@livingraceministries.com.

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A Hallelujah from Head to Toe, Is anything in the way of your hallelujah?

By Karen Milioto

Growing up, nothing filled me with more awe than hearing The Hallelujah Chorus sung on Easter Morning. Not a single natural landscape, museum nor any painting on any canvas I had ever seen, compared to the sound of that song filling the sanctuary of the little church where I was raised. The smell of lilies blanketing the room as echoes of each chord boomed off of the white walls and wood paned windows, beyond which the first subtle hints of spring were just beginning to emerge in our tiny New England town.

I can still remember standing there, completely wooed. 

In the days and weeks after Easter, each word would continue to sound off in my heart, and I would hum along softly to myself,

“Christ The Lord is risen today, Alleluia”.

But as I grew older, each ‘Alleluia’ was slowly replaced with a growing internal list of all that I believed I lacked. Each thing I thought I wasn’t enough of, and all the areas where I was certain I fell short. All combining and filling me with a sense of instability where I had once been overcome by awe.

Before long, that song became just another tune I used to hum. Easter became just another day on the calendar. And ‘Alleluia’ became just another word I had once believed I held meaning for me. Then I slowly began turning from it all in pursuit of things I thought I could rely on here and now. Stuff I was certain would bring me security in this body and this world.

When I finally stumbled my way back into church years later one thing was clear to me, the only thing truly tangible in this world is Easter. And my security moving forward relied solely on never forgetting that again. Remembering that ‘Christ The Lord has risen’ and setting my mind and my heart on making the resurrection of Jesus’ body the only lens through which I see myself and the world around me.

It’s a discipline, and discipline doesn’t come easily to me. I am kind of a quitter by nature and I’m super distractible. I back away when things get difficult and seek out what comes easily to me instead. I have a yoga mat, two Pilates DVD’s and several diet themed cook books to support this claim. 

Thankfully, I am not the one empowering the cultivation of this discipline or the corresponding shift in my person that has come as a result. Its Jesus. His body, broken for me. His blood poured out. That somehow enables me to stand here, completely wooed. Watching every ‘not’ and each ‘isn’t’ that I once believed defined me, and all things I thought I needed to do and be in this life in order to have a sense of value and worth. And every characteristic I was certain I lacked. Melt away into one resounding ‘Alleluia’ instead.

Leaving me with only one thing left to strive for here on earth, becoming as Augustine put it, “an Alleluia from head to toe”.

Karen is a former Bostonian who now resides on a small farm just north of Baton Rouge.

She loves scripture and her garden and often weaves both into her work as a writer. In 2017, Publisher’s Weekly described her debut memoir, Mustard Seeds and Water Lines as an ‘emotional and finely crafted’ account of her personal journey towards healing after The Great Flood of 2016, in their annual Book Life Prize review. And, as her story has made its way across the country, readers have consistently embraced her as an authentic voice with a message of hope in the wake of a disaster.

Karen is a wife, mother and weekly co-host of The Back Porch Book Club, a podcast designed to build community and conversation surrounding books about Spiritual Formation and the Bible.

You can find her on Instagram @karenmilioto or online at www.karenmilioto.com

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Welcome Award Winning Author Donna Renay Patrick! Responding to Worship…..

You Have to Respond One Way or Another….

How will you respond? 


You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Worship is not just something we “do;” it’s who we are. The very nature and essence of God commands our worship.  I’ve been in worship ministry several years and one thing I’ve come to discover is that a lot of what we call “worship” is really not worship.  I’ve seen some great choirs, worked with some of the best musicians in the country, and experienced different personalities in those charged with worship leader responsibilities.  But the common denominator in all of it is great music – not true worship.  I’ve been in rehearsal for hours preparing for Sunday morning, but where was the worship?  I know that sounds hard to some, and may even spark debate, but just walk with me for a minute.

God wants more.  All the way back to early in the Old Testament God was calling for our complete devotion to Him (Ex. 20:5).  He demanded it from the nation of Israelites and he is demanding it of us now.  But somewhere we’ve missed it.  Too often worship is lost in the great music, the sound effects, the technology, the stage props, the best singers, and all the other things that we think are necessary for people to have a meaningful worship experience.  But what does all of THAT have to do with in spirit and in truth worship?  

It is true that music is a Biblically-ordained tool that helps us get into the throne room, but great music and worship are not the same thing.  When Jesus was giving the Samaritan woman a lesson in worship by that well, He said nothing about music, instruments, praise teams, song selection, etc. (John 4:23-24).  It isn’t just about Sunday morning; it’s about the rest of the week. It is about how we live.  Shouldn’t our lives reflect the worship of God?  Shouldn’t how we live from day to day be an offering to God?  Shouldn’t we strive every day to be like the One we say we worship?  Isaiah’s worship brought Him to repentance, then service (Isaiah 6:1-8). God is looking for worshipers.  He is looking for those who will worship Him under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and be real with Him (Psalm 51:6).

God is really not concerned that we have the proper lighting on stage, or what color the PowerPoint is when we’re leading the congregation in song.  He doesn’t even care how big the building is. God just wants us to come before His presence with sincere hearts, spirit to Spirit, and a mind willing to receive from Him.  When God gave Moses the specifications to construct the Tabernacle, His concern was not a piece of real estate; but that His presence dwell there.

I hope you will choose to embrace God’s presence with every fiber of your being.  Give Him your all in your public and private worship experience.  The call has gone out. How will you respond?

Donna Renay Patrick is an award-winning author of two praise and worship-themed devotionals; At All Times, and It’s In Your Praise. She also co-authored two other devotionals; one to encourage women in the workplace, and the other a stewardship-themed devotional called,The Perfect Seven. She is a musician, worship leader, transformational speaker, and host of The Donna Patrick Show, an internet-based segment on The Fishbowl Radio Network.  With ministry-focused guests, her show emphasizes the priority of worship in the 21st century church, and how to tap into next-level personal and corporate worship.

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Are you “Leading with Integrity?” 4 good questions for growth.

A Leader of Integrity

Some believe that personal character has little to do with leadership. Do you agree? If so, then ask yourself these questions:

Do people of low character influence you and inspire you to action?

Do you have good relationships with people of low character?

Do you admire people of low character?

Would you welcome them leading you?

Like it or not, agree or disagree, character counts in leadership. Warren Bennis, who has studied and written extensively on leadership, says, “Leadership is character in action.” “Ninety-nine percent of leadership failures are failures of character.” (General Norman Schwarzkopf)

The greatest character quality is integrity. Integrity is what people will remember about you more than your brilliance, ingenuity, competency, and energy. Integrity (or lack of it) is your legacy, what people remember about you.

Daniel, an Older Testament leader, incarnated integrity. As a Jewish teenager, he was exiled to Babylon. In Daniel 6, at the age of 80, he’s a leading official in the godless Persian system. Darius the Persian king appointed 120 managers (satraps) to run his kingdom and over the managers were 3 administrators (or, Vice Presidents). Daniel was a VP, a top-level position, just under the king. Power was at his disposal. He had respect and elite status. The king could trust Daniel. Over the years, he never lost his integrity in this God-hating Persian system.

Several things stand out. First, Daniel had a fabulous work ethic. “Daniel distinguished himself among the administrators and managers BY HIS EXCEPTIONAL QUALITIES and the king planned to promote him over the whole kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3) “Exceptional qualities” is literally “an extraordinary spirit.” Daniel stood out. He wasn’t like everyone else. He did his work well because he saw it well. His perspective shaped his work performance. Daniel excelled. When review time came, he was promoted.

How’s your work? Do you do it well? Are you the best leader you can be?

How’s your attitude? Granted we all have bad days, but is every day a bad day? Is the problem a bad day or a bad life?

Are you easy to work for or with? How would others rate your leadership performance? Are you a tough guy, the boss, control freak, or a servant leader who is considerate and respectful of others and their ideas?

How’s your spiritual perspective toward your leadership? Does God fit into your leadership role every day?


(To be continued)

Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site is www.livinggraceministries,com and his email is fred@livingraceministries.com.

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Leadership Character and Integrity, by Fred Campbell

Leadership Character and Integrity

Leadership Character

John Wooden, coach of the UCLA Bruins, was a cut above other leaders. During his tenure, he coached the Bruins to 10 national basketball championships in 12 years, 7 in a row. He was relentless when it came to character development among his players. In his book They Call Me Coach, he wrote, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

It seems that personal character gets little attention and work when it comes to leadership. When was the last time in a leader’s training and education they took a course on:

• dealing with relentless temptation?
• losing well?
• handling a situation that derails the leader?
• what to do when everything has been lost?
• what to do when people don’t follow the leader?

Surely there’s more to leadership than the skills, abilities, and techniques that supposedly bring prosperity and success.

Mark Miller (The Heart of a Leader) likens leadership to an iceberg. “How much of the iceberg sits above the waterline? Only 10% is visible while 90% lies below the waterline—unseen, invisible. Let the part above represent leadership skills, the things leaders do; the part below represents leadership character, what a leader is. 90% of a leader’s effectiveness is determined by what’s below the waterline.

Leadership character ultimately drives what leaders do, why they do it, and how they handle a negative reality.”

Many leaders spend a lot of time and energy developing the 10% above the water.
*They earn BBA/MBA degrees from fine universities.
*Spend hours attending leadership seminars and courses.
*Seek professional consultation.
*Work hard, make major decisions, and lead countless meetings.
*Communicate and listen.
*They do whatever it takes to make them “successful,” “great,” “prosperous.”

However, how much time do they spend developing the 90% of their leadership character, who they really are as people? If little to no time is spent, are they not like a man who built a nice house—beautiful, big, comfortable, loaded with luxury. The house looked good, impressive, well-built, but it was foolishly constructed on beach sand.

You’ve heard the story. When a hurricane hit, the house collapsed—like a valued, long-term client saying NO to a multimillion proposal you must have, your business going bankrupt, key people who made your company successful leaving, your marriage ending, your family falling apart, your ministry dwindling.

Then what?


Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop.

He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site is www.livinggraceministries,com and his email is fred@livingraceministries.com

Faith Life, Online edition!, Uncategorized

Helping Kids Cast Out Their Fears, by Rachele Smith

Local Author Patrice Maguire Helps Kids Cast Out Their Fears


By Rachele Smith


Childhood fears can be very real.

From spiders to rainstorms to worrying about the future, children can become afraid of almost anything.

But local author Patrice Maguire wants to change that.

In her recently released children’s book, The Many Fears of Miela…the Cat, Maguire tells the true story of Miela, her family’s pet.

According to the book, which is illustrated by Eric Pipes, Miela is abandoned by her first owners. Lost and alone, Miela must overcome many fears before learning to trust and finding love and acceptance again.

Maguire said the book is a tool to help children not only recognize their own fears, but to bring those fears to God.

“It’s learning to trust God,” she explained.

“When you watch and see how God has answered your prayers, your spiritual eyes open, and your faith grows. You know he loves you,” she added.

The book is Maguire’s first, and, in a small way, is proof that she can trust the plans God has for her, plans that some believe go back almost three decades.

“When I was a teenager, maybe 15-years-old or so, my family and I were invited to a prayer meeting at someone’s house. We were there to listen to a woman everyone called a prophet of God,” Maguire explained.

As members of Bethany Church in Baker, Maguire said the night was interesting, especially since the “prophet” knew things about her that no one else could possibly know.

Before the service ended, Maguire recalled the woman began praying over families.

“I remember when she started praying over me, she said that I was going to write books,” Maguire said.

The idea baffled Maguire who never really thought writing was her talent.

“I mean, I liked writing more than math, but I definitely wasn’t passionate about it,” she laughed.

After high school, Maguire joined the United States Marine Corps, married, and became a Mom. Even though she said her mother would often remind her that she was supposed to write books, Maguire only occasionally allowed herself to remember that night.

As time persisted, and her three children began transitioning into adulthood, Maguire developed a medical condition. It mandated she change her eating habits, and Maguire began creating recipes.

Then something amazing happened.

“The Lord spoke to me,” she said, with water-filled eyes.

“I still get emotional whenever I talk about it. I mean, it wasn’t an audible sound, but I could feel him speak to my spirit. I don’t know how I know, but you just know that you know,” Maguire said, adding she was told she going to write a book, which she immediately interpreted as a recipe book.

“I did a real ‘Sarah’ thing,” Maguire said, explaining how just like Abraham’s wife, she forged ahead with her own plan.

“I began typing all of my recipes into my husband’s laptop,” she said.

But the more she worked, the more drudgery she felt.

“In my prayer time, I just turned to God and said, ‘God, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it,’” Maguire recalled.

That was the Summer of 2017, and the Maguire’s were moving from Baton Rouge to Zachary. She still felt a calling to write, but even though she continued to work with her recipes, she said the Lord began to show her things about Miela, the stray cat that joined her family shortly after Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

Finally, the desire to write Miela’s story became so great Maguire gave in.

“I wrote the story in one day,” she said.

In the days that followed, Maguire began editing her story and noticed a problem: God wasn’t mentioned.

Certainly, the works and moral authority of God were understood, but Maguire wanted more. Once again, she turned to the Lord in prayer and eventually wrote the final pages of her book. There, she gently leads her young readers, with their parents as guides, to recognize fear, call it out and bring it to God.

“It was an Ah-ha moment,” she said, noting that the only Scripture used in her book is 1 John 4:18, “…perfect love drives out fear.”

Maguire explained that she hopes her book will encourage bonding, transparency about childhood fears and prayer between parents and children.

She said she is constantly amazed at what God can accomplish, adding that not only did the Lord lead her to Little Oaks Publishing, a local book publishing company, but he also helped her recover some of the publishing costs required by finding part-time work.

Another unexpected bonus was the opportunity to donate some books to schools and to new “adopted” parents at a local cat shelter.

“This has been a journey of learning and exploring,” said Maguire, who has already finished writing her second book, one she hopes will help children understand sadness, another difficult and confusing emotion.

While she prepares her new book for publication, Maguire knows it will happen in God’s time.

After all, he has taken her this far.

“I’m so humbled by everything. I mean, who am I that God would use me like this? I’m nobody. The only thing I’ve done is make myself available to God,” she said, adding, “I’m just his vessel.”





















Rachele Smith is a South Louisiana-based freelance writer, copy editor and English teacher. Her writing has appeared in both broadcast and print mediums throughout the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. She is especially thankful for the many talented and inspiring people she has met along her writing journey and feels blessed and truly humbled to share their stories with others.


Online edition!

Goals and a prayer for 2019, with Dr. Todd Shupe

Setting Goals For 2019



As the new year approaches so does a surge in membership applications to local fitness centers.  Many of us make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, and this is a great resolution.  Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


At this time of the year, I like to reflect on Isaiah 43:19. “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  The prophet Isaiah is referring to the past deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and giving assurance that He will return them from captivity by the Babylonians.  I wonder what “new thing” God wants to do in my life.  I look forward to each new year with joyful anticipation to see how God is going to move in my life and those around me.


So, what new thing do you have planned for 2019?  Researchers have found that 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions will fail by February.   This begs the question of why?  I would like to offer up the following possible reasons for your consideration.

  1. No plan. If you do not make a plan to succeed, by default you have made a plan to fail. The Word teaches us in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
  2. Not realistic. A foolish person does begin by seeking first “His kingdom and His righteousness” as we are encouraged to do in Matthew 6:33. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15).
  3. Not known. We must be in community with others.  If we disclose our goals to our small groups, they can help us refine them and keep us from going astray.  Matthew 18:20 teaches us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
  4. No reward. Many of us are not motivated if there is not a reward.  There is no true reward on this earth.   Our real reward awaits us in heaven and is described in Matthew 6:19-21.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


I try to avoid the typical New Year trap by prayerfully setting goals that I know will bring honor to God and therefore He will honor in His way and in His time.


As you set your goals and resolutions for 2019, I ask you to consider the following guidelines.

  1. Find a secluded quiet place and ask God what do you need to prune to become more like Him?
  2. Talk with your pastor and share the results of your time of prayer and listening.Do not be discouraged if you are unable to discern His will.  Be open and honest with your pastor, and God will speak through him or her to you.
  3. Find a small support group at your local church to keep you on track with your goals.
  4. Check in with your pastor as often as you are moved by the Spirit.


Prayer for 2019.


Numbers 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you
 and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”




Todd Shupe is a native of Carrollton, IL, a small rural town in west central Illinois.  He is most proud of his son Kyle (age 16) and Emma (age 18).  He earned his BS and MS in Wood Science from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Wood Science from Louisiana State University.  He has a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma and is a Green Associate in LEED.  He worked as a Professor and ISO 17025 Lab Director for 20 years and now works as a wood science consultant at www.drtoddshupe.com to continue to help companies bring new building products and wood preservatives to market, conduct in house training, improve product quality and production, and serve as an expert witness.  Todd is currently in training to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the direction of the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is concurrently in training to become a Lay Minister under the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, fishing, and writing inspirational Christian blogs at toddshupe.com and todd-shupe.com.

Online edition!

So excited to have Pamela Gauthier excited to be a part of our writing team!

HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013. Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area.

Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed.

Online edition!

Are you getting excited about our online edition? Get ready to meet our writers!

We are about to begin introducing our team of writers. Meet Alton and TaShawda Jamison!

Alton and TaShawnda Jamison are the founders of The Empowerment Zone. This is a ministry designed to “empower people for everyday life”, through products, events, and messages. Alton and TaShawnda Jamison have been sharing the gospel together for over 20 years. They met in college on the campus of Old Dominion University and started teaching Bible Study together and the rest, they say, is history. God has gifted them in the areas of Families and Finances, and they have been blessed to be able to share their message around the country. They have recently completed their first book together: Purpose, Passion & Prosperity: 3 Keys To A Godly Marriage. Alton is the author of three additional books: Get Off The System: Moving From Lack To Abundance, No More Handcuffs: 5 Keys To Removing The Mental Handcuffs From Your Life, and Biblical Principles For Entrepreneurs. They have a genuine love for God and being transparent to others about their failures and successes. God has also blessed them with two beautiful children. For more information about Alton and TaShawnda or The Empowerment Zone, please visit: www.empowerlives.net

BRCLM Lagniappe, October 2018

Christian Media Gains Momentum Part 2, Behind the Scenes

Christian Media Gains Momentum, Part 2: Behind the scenes

Christian Media Gains Momentum: Part 2

Actress Amber Nelon Thompson is a Dove Award recipient and the third generation of the famed gospel singing family The Nelons, (founded by her grandfather Rex Nelon). In Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine’s September issue, Amber talked about her transition to acting and important observations about her generation.

On her role in A Question of Faith…
Being in the movie A Question of Faith was a dream come true for me. I had always wanted to act. I never really thought much about it because I knew my gift from God was singing and that is the path I’ve chosen. But this opportunity came about and I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I’d be good at it. I was a nervous wreck.

At the time I was dealing with some vocal issues. I had nodules on both my vocal chords. That means a long rest! So when I read the role for Michelle, it talked about how she lost her voice, and she went through a really hard struggle of finding her identity. I know what that felt like, that you are supposed to be using your gift that God gave you. When you cannot use it at the moment and there is nothing you can do about it, you feel helpless. And you feel the depression setting in. I feel like I can’t do anything for God anymore because my gift is gone. By going through that situation, I learned that there were other gifts I could use for God. And I figured out that God does not need me to have his glory shown. I’m just a vessel. But if I’m open and willing to be used as a vessel, he can make his glory known to anybody.


A Question of Faith has been a blessing … an honor. The cast has become a family and we all keep in touch. It’s been an amazing journey and maybe someday down the road God allows me to do it again.

On her dream role…
I would love to be a Disney princess in a movie … I want to do the voice. I know every Disney song, I have every DVD … We go there (Disney World) every year. We have season passes. I just love the family environment … I think it’s because it’s a happy place, it’s always positive. It was always an escape when I was younger. If I had a bad day, I could watch a Disney movie and escape for a little while and go to this magical place.

On reaching millennials…

I’ve talked to so many kids about this. Often times the church can seem so judgmental — there is just no better way to put it. Not all of them, but they can look at these millennials and this generation is so different. They are very opinionated. They study everything. There is information fed at them all the time, 24 hours a day. It never stops. There is the internet, TV, Facebook, Twitter, any social media. But no one is listening to them. And what I think we need more of is just sitting down with young people and hearing what they have to say. We don’t always have to agree, but at least if we are willing to just sit down and listen to them, they just might be willing to listen as well. I went to school and got a degree in counseling and I hope to get a master’s degree because I want to help kids who feel misunderstood … like nobody cares and nobody is listening. That is what God does for us. He listens. And that is why we pray to him because He does listen when nobody else does. And we are supposed to be that to other people.

Dr. Cameron Lewis grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and practices oral surgery in New York. He felt called to use his talent in other areas and became the executive producer of A Question of Faith, which starred Heather Nelon Thompson. As a man of God, Dr. Lewis spends a great deal of time supporting charitable organizations, including the Mississippi Center for Autism, where Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine caught up with him for an interview.

On his faith…

My faith is unwavering. Sometimes we question our faith, but God is always there for me. When we go through trials and tribulations, setbacks and disappointments, I know who I can call on and who is always there for me. At the end of the road, He is the one who will give me that push so that I know I can make it through. You know that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.  A lot of times we increase our faith and get stronger and stronger as life takes us through different situations.


On his upbringing…

We were born and raised in church, but one thing I thank God every day for is that my parents did not throw it in our face. They did not push us in our faith. They wanted us to know God for ourselves. You need to know God for yourself. A lot of times people think that they want to throw faith at their kids when they are like five years old … I had heard about Jesus when I was little but I didn’t know it for myself until I was fourteen. Then I knew for sure that God is real; there is a God out there. I thank God for my parents who let me understand so that I could make a decision for myself. It’s one thing to give children the information that they need, but it’s another to let them decide for themselves.


On his career…

My vision does not stop with oral surgery. God has so much in store for me to do to serve his people. Where did you want to take my career? As I was reading about starting a business, it was right there in Deuteronomy 8:18 — “Remember the Lord thy God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth … which he may establish his covenant which he shares with his Father as it is this day.” Once I realized he gave me that Word …. He gave me the power so I need to go out and reach what I need to do. And don’t just be a talker; go and do the work. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Don’t stop when it gets hard. You have to persevere, dedicate yourself. You’ve got to be very strong-minded in what you want to do. Faith without work is completely dead. We are not here to be served; we are here to serve. So if everyone would realize that we are here to help one another … we are here to bless others as we are also being blessed.


Michelle Duffie is the CEO of the D3 Entertainment Group in Nashville, along with her twin brothers. She is considered the premier liaison, deal-maker, marketing strategist and quarterback between the African American faith and family consumer and the corporate, entertainment and sports world. She has structured marketing strategies generating $1.3 billion in revenue for various companies. Born in extreme poverty just outside Chicago, Michelle credits the strength and faith of her mother, the support of her five siblings and the lessons from her mentors as the fuel for propelling her forward. In the midst of promoting her new venture as executive producer of the movie Beautifully Broken, she found time to talk with Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine.

On her background…

My brothers and I grew up singing in church. My mom actually birthed that music and entertainment in our system by always pushing us in that direction. After many years of working in the music industry, I was running a record label for CeCe Winans (probably 2003). I envisioned getting into the television and film industry. Wrote it on my vision board. Started doing research on how to get involved. I took a Hollywood 101 class, which sounds so simple, but it helped prepare me for what I didn’t know was right around the corner. Because we’d been doing independent marketing for music for so long, the industry as a whole recognized what we did. A movie marketing company came to me and said, “You guys know everyone in this African-American faith and family space. Do you think you can lend your expertise?” Without even thinking about I said yes. That movie was very successful for us and from there the floodgates opened. So God really was the wind behind our backs.

On living in God’s will…

Where God has you in life, especially if you are participating in His plan, it’s for a reason … and He needs you to be in certain positions, certain stopping points so He can show Himself strong. It’s the children of Israel at the Red Sea. If they had taken a left turn or a right turn, you miss the whole opportunity for God to do something incredible — to part the Red Sea. A lot of us try to run from our story and from our situation. But if you just stay the course, that story will turn into one of the great stories of all time. And that story turns into one of the movies we’ve seen today. It’s important to own your truth, to own your story, to be comfortable in it, to not compare yourself to anyone else’s journey. Then you get to where God needs you to be so that He can absolutely flourish what He’s planted in you.

August 2018, Founders Forum

Founders Forum

Founders Forum, Scott Gaspard, As for Me and My House….

The Gaspard Team, Mary DiBenedetto, Scott Gaspard, Linda Gaspard, and Cindy Carroll

It’s fitting that Scott Gaspard and his wife Jessica have a plaque in their home informing guests and visitors that … As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. The scripture takes on an even deeper meaning when you consider that as a realtor, Gaspard is in the business of matching people and homes, and he views his profession as another way to serve the Lord.
The search for a realtor is often tied to a life-changing event such as a divorce, a move to a new city, the death of a parent, a new marriage, or a financial setback. The reasons to buy or sell a home can be happy or sad, Gaspard said, but there is usually an opportunity to connect spiritually. Gaspard doesn’t advertise his faith when he’s with clients, but neither does he hide it.
“Guiding people through big decisions gives me an opportunity to get to know them over time. People tell you about their family, their finances, their dreams. Sometimes, this leads to a deeper relationship that happens naturally. There have been occasions when I’ve prayed with my clients on a very personal level. But even if we never connect in that way, I know that my work is still a blessing to them.”

Gaspard understands that faith is sometimes a long and winding process. He attended church growing up, but pulled away from religion during his high school and college years. At one point, he went to live with his brother, who had given his life to God. “I saw how it absolutely changed his life,” Gaspard said. “It created a lot of conversations between us, and eventually I professed my faith as well. My wife, Jessica, also drew me closer to God. She knew that she wanted a God-centered marriage, and I knew that I wanted her to be my wife. I was blessed tremendously that she came into my life.”

Today, the Gaspards have 12 children — yes, 12. “We sleep very little, we work very hard, and we love a lot,” he says. “It’s not as difficult as it might seem. We didn’t have them all at the same time, you know. Managing such a big family works for us because everyone contributes and we live our lives according to our family motto: God-centered, others-focused, seriously fun!”

Gaspard works with his mother Linda, who has been in the real estate business for more than 30 years. The Gaspard Team also includes Mary DiBenedetto and Cindy Carroll, and the firm has been a supporter of Christian Life Magazine since its beginning.

“I think it’s important to share our faith when we can,” Gaspard said, “and it’s good to know that Christian Life Magazine is shining a light on our city and showing people what God is doing here in Baton Rouge day in and day out as he moves through our community. We need to hear those kind of stories.”