Geaux Life, September 2018

Sky is the Limit, Wings of the Spirit

The Sky is the limit

God Had Other Plans! This groups very first Mission of Peace (to Guatemala) included pilot Gerald Huggins and videographer Daniel Waghorne. But an accident ended the trip after just four days. Even so, WOTS worked through their doubts and ultimately found success.

BY: lisa tramontana

Tim Dixon, “I felt life God was preparing me for this ministry-the first mission trip, the pilot’s license, the move to Baton Rouge, and finally meeting Ryan. God put people and situations in my life according to his perfect timing and will.”
Gerald Huggins, “Working with this ministry has been so rewarding. We all have the same values and the same heart-to help others, to plant the Word, to water it and see it grow. When I met Ryan, he really pulled everyone in and kept us focused. Best of all, he let us share in is vision.”
Ryan Williams, ““I don’t know what the future holds,” Williams said. “I just know that when we let the Holy Spirit lead the way and guide us along the journey, amazing things happen.”

When Ryan Williams tries to explain how Wings of the Spirit went from a dream to reality, even he has trouble believing it.

Three men, unknown to each other, all wrestling with an idea God had placed on their hearts. Each man needing something to make God’s desire come true, but not knowing where or how to find it. And then one night at a church gathering (and by coincidence), the three men happen to be in the same room and everything starts to fit … like a puzzle waiting patiently for the final piece that brings the “big picture” into view.

Williams had just returned from a mission trip in Central America, and came home feeling that God wanted him to get his pilot’s license. Gerald Huggins, who owned an airplane maintenance shop, was dreaming of visiting his native Guatemala to distribute Bibles to people in remote villages. Tim Dixon had just moved to Baton Rouge from Ashland, Kentucky, where he had left behind his small plane. In the months before he moved, he had gone on a mission trip and felt called to combine his pilot skills with his mission work.

At the church meeting, through handshakes and overheard bits of conversation, the three men began to feel that they had been intentionally brought together. Within hours, Dixon offered to let Williams use his plane for flying lessons, Huggins agreed to help Dixon bring his plane back from Kentucky, and Williams began to envision an aviation ministry that would become Wings of the Spirit …

To say that the ministry got off to a bumpy start (see sidebar) would be an understatement, but by the spring of 2016, WOTS was literally flying high. On their “Mission of Peace,” volunteers visited four countries, covered 4,500 miles, and distributed 1,400 Bibles. God’s favor and blessings were apparent, Williams says, as the group’s needs were met at every turn, new relationships were built, and seeds of hope were planted.

In the two years since, the organization has branched out. When the Great Flood of 2016 caused so much destruction and heartbreak in the Baton Rouge area, WOTS volunteers immediately went to work helping local residents (and each other) clean and gut their damaged homes and get back on the road to recovery. They raised funds to donate 400 coats to Livingston Parish children. When a tornado touched down in Petal, Mississippi, the group mobilized a team to deliver water, tarps and supplies to the area. WOTS made at least five trips to Texas after Hurricane Harvey devastated the state last year.

“When our first mission didn’t go as planned,” Williams said, “we questioned whether we were doing the right thing. We had a lot of doubt, but it faded quickly as God began to show us the next steps. One thing we learned is that as the hands and feet of Christ, we were able to “serve where we stood.”

And so the group has gotten involved in outreach projects and disaster relief, some far away, but many close to home. Just last month, a group of volunteers drove a special trailer carrying three washer/dryers to a homeless community in New Orleans. For the men and women living beneath an interstate and wearing the same dirty clothing every day, this offer to wash their clothes was an incredible act of kindness and an acknowledgment of their dignity. The WOTS group also served meals and spent time with their homeless brothers and sisters.

“Our struggle now,” said Williams, “is to cast a wider net. There are so many opportunities to serve, and people are so grateful when you show them love and compassion. In order to see a change, you have to be the change, and we are willing to do that.”

To that end, Williams’ next dream is to build a “base camp” in Baton Rouge, from which to mobilize volunteer groups from local churches, providing them with the tools to serve in disaster relief and outreach projects. Many people want to serve, but are understandably hesitant because of the logistics involved.

“Our base camp would be a safe place,” Williams said. “A place to house 12 people. Beds, bath, meals … it would give volunteers the security and confidence to say ‘yes’ when the opportunity to help others arises.”

Wings of the Spirit has roots in Journey Church of Central, where its founders worship. But the ministry is open to all faiths. If you would like to know more about the organization, make a donation, or view videos of recent mission trips and relief projects, visit the website at wingsofthespirit.org. If you would like to serve as a volunteer, call Williams at (225) 773-4009.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” Williams said. “I just know that when we let the Holy Spirit lead the way and guide us along the journey, amazing things happen.”

Recipients find comfort in the Bible and a helping hand from the ‘Wings of the Spirit” Ministry.
Sharing with others and praying with people is very important to the team .
Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
April 2018, Cover Story, Feature Story

Purpose in the Pain, Troy and Tracy Duhon Step Out in Faith for World Impact

PURPOSE IN THE PAIN:

Troy and Tracy Duhon step out in
faith for world impact.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Troy and Tracy Duhon
God’s Not Dead 3 opened nationwide March 30. Photo to the right shows Tracy and Abigail Duhon playing with kids in a village in Gambia, the location of an orphanage constructed by Giving Hope.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - Gambia Orphanage

“Be careful what you pray for – God might send a Cajun car dealer,” laughs Troy Duhon. He shakes his head as he recounts the way God is using a rebellious pastor’s son to spread the gospel through the burgeoning Christian movie business, build orphanages around the world, and address human trafficking, hunger and prison re-entry from his base in New Orleans.

As executive producer of the “God’s Not Dead” series, Duhon works to equip Christians – especially young adults – to address conflicting ideas during the volatile high school and college years. The latest film, “God’s Not Dead 3,” is scheduled for release by Pure Flix this Easter season.

Duhon was sitting on a movie set in Los Angeles when he was struck by the idea. “We have a daughter (Abigail) who’s an aspiring actress, so she auditioned for a film and got the role. Because she’s a minor, parents have to go,” he said. Then, he received a phone call from a friend, Dr. Rice Broocks, author of the book, God’s Not Dead.

“He’s telling me that 65% of faith-based kids will walk away from Christianity because they can’t defend the gospel. And I’m like – that’s crazy,” he said. “All of a sudden I got hit by the Holy Spirit and I’m like, really, God, me do a movie? I’ve never done a movie in my life.”

Duhon approached David A.R. White, co-founder and managing partner of Pure Flix. “He looks at me and says, “Are you for real?” And 31 days later we signed the contract. Now, up to 40 million people have seen the film.”

The Duhons are part of a movement to take the Christian film industry to a new level. “When you do a film called “God’s Not Dead” there’s a very small market of people that are going to go to it. You’re entertaining Christians,” he said. “But when you take a story like “Hacksaw Ridge” (directed by Mel Gibson), you’re able to tell someone a story without preaching.” “Hacksaw Ridge” depicts the faith struggle of WWII medic Desmond T. Doss.

“We’re creating a new model to evangelize,” Duhon said. That includes the idea of producing horror films – popular among Millennials – with a faith resolution. “You can give them a finish that says there’s a Creator, and his name is God. I don’t care what devil you served, God will redeem you and forgive you,” Duhon said. They are also working to provide the story of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and stories of people who have faced hard circumstances because of their faith.

Duhon said personal tragedy often pulls someone away from faith: the loss of someone close, a broken heart, a profound disappointment. For others, it is a creeping realization that Christianity prompts questions – and they don’t have answers.

But with a faith animated by their own search for struggles, the Duhon family was uniquely equipped to embrace these issues head-on. Their own painful reality – similar to the tragedy experienced by the professor in “God’s Not Dead” – brought a stronger faith and deeper commitment to serve. But it was an agonizing process that Troy and Tracy share to encourage faith through crisis.

After giving birth to two healthy children, Joshua and Abigail, Tracy looked forward to a third baby in 2004. But she was told that the baby would not even survive her pregnancy. In faith, the Duhon family and members of their church prayed through scripture and trusted God for a miracle. But Baby Jonathan died on the day he was born. Tracy and Troy were devastated.

“You could have taken anything in this world from me – anything but my children,” Tracy said. She felt that God had let her down. “We did not receive our miracle the way that we believed.” But Tracy said God was working out a different plan – one that took shape with wave after wave of trauma.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded four of the car dealerships in their New Orleans-based business. Some 1,200 cars were under water. Troy set up a relief center for the community in his Honda store. Soon, they were servicing 1,200 cars per day. “What was incredible wasn’t the number of cars, it was the joy of watching our employees give back,” Troy explained. “And from that moment on, I made a decision that it was never going to be about how many cars I sold, it was going to be about how many people that I could bless.”

Then, tragedy struck again. In May 2006, their son, Joseph, was born and lived only seven hours. “Losing one child was pain enough, and then it happened a second time. Truly you’re going to doubt your faith,” Troy said. Depression set in, along with self-doubt: was there something in his past that caused present pain?

“It was way too much for a mama to walk through. I was totally broken,” Tracy said. “And one day in the shower I cried out to the Lord, screamed, yelled at him, ‘Why don’t you just take away this pain?’” Then, she sensed God’s direction; as she emotionally released her baby boys to him, she began to move forward. “I chose to obey one day at a time. He asked me to be faithful with what is in my hand, and at the time it was Joshua, six years old, and Abigail, three years old, looking up at me. Joshua said, ‘I’m going to keep kissing you ‘til you stop crying, Mama.’”

“You begin to try to justify or rationalize without knowing that God truly has a plan and a purpose,” Troy said. “Because if those events hadn’t happened, I don’t see myself here today adopting, building orphanages and doing the things I’m doing.”

“My pain became my purpose,” he said. “I told Tracy, ‘Baby, you’re going to be the mother of many before we go to heaven. I will build 20 orphanages – that’s my goal.’” In the meantime, Tracy gave birth to another daughter, Avah, now age 6, and they gained a daughter through adoption. Anna, now age five, was brought home from China in 2012.

“The extravagant love of God loved me back to life – gave me a passion,” Tracy said. There are three lessons she passes along to others. First, there is purpose in your pain and you must choose to let it go. Then, you must tell yourself and others that God has not failed you. Finally, you must recognize that there is hope, and while you’re waiting on your miracle, become a miracle for someone else. “God gave me the word Hope, and he told me never to let go of it. And H.O.P.E. became Helping Other People Every day.”

Gradually, God began to reveal their purpose: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25: 35, 36). The Giving Hope Foundation began to take shape. They commit a small portion of each vehicle sale to the foundation’s work.

Through their non-profit, the Duhons established Hope for a Home to help families with international adoptions. They built orphanages in Honduras, India and Africa, and plan a ribbon cutting for the orphanage in Moscow, Russia in July. Through a partnership with the New Orleans Mission, they have built the Giving Hope Retreat Center to serve men and women who face the challenges of addiction, mental illness and physical or sexual abuse. A Women’s Pavilion provides 100 rooms to battered women, victims of human trafficking and formerly homeless women. Giving Hope also works with inmates released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola through the New Orleans Mission.

Another branch of Giving Hope – H.A.T.E., Hope Against Trafficking Everywhere – educates and provides rescue and recovery for victims of human trafficking, the fastest growing crime in the world, with an average age of 11 to 14-year-old girls and boys.

Giving Hope operates a full-staff kitchen that cooks 1,000 hot meals every day in one of their car dealerships. Their food pantry partners with Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Second Harvesters to provide some 2.5 million pounds of food a year.

“So, I’m here to tell you today: God did not fail me, he has not failed you,” Tracy said. “His word came to pass in our life. But it came to pass much greater and much different than I had imagined.”

Their pastor told them, “The miracle of your sons living would have been incredible, but the miracle is that you and Troy are holding hands, walking back in church, moving forward, trusting God, because people can relate to your pain. They need to see someone who dared to believe and move forward and trust God again – that he can take it and turn it around.” 

For more information: givinghopenola.org.

Abigail, Tracy, Josh, Troy, Annahstasia and Avah
Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Left; Tracy with a native at Hope House in India. Right, Troy and Josh with dedication plaque for Honduras Hope House.

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. she was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds Master’s Degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional institute for Women.

November 2016, Witness at Work

There is A Reason to Smile

Mission Trip to Costa Rica

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

img_0584Dr. Farrell Frugé Jr., has been serving the Baton Rouge community as a dentist for 30 years. Farrell met his wife, Karen (a dental hygienist), in 1986 when he was in his 4th year of dentistry school at the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans. They are knit together by their faith and family which includes three children – Trey, Erica and Camille.

Recently, he decided to use his expertise in dentistry to help those in dire need by taking a mission trip to Costa Rica. Trey wants to become a dentist, so when Farrell heard about this mission opportunity, he thought it would be a great trip to take and bring his son along on. Dr. Frugé’s wife and daughters also wanted to attend, so the mission trip quickly became a family affair. During their time there, the discoveries they made were ones that surely helped their faith grow even stronger.

So many people in Costa Rica are unaware of the importance of dental care, and Dr. Frugé and his family quickly recognized the great need present. The Frugés travelled to Costa Rica on May 26th and stayed through June 2nd. Farrell and Karen felt that this experience would be life-changing as they exposed their children to the needs in a country where dental care is not as accessible as it is in America. Dental care is not affordable for the average resident, so this mission trip was one in which certain lives were truly touched by receiving proper dental care.

Karen and Camille shared how a young boy who needed serious dental treatment left a real impact on their lives. They were both shocked at what they witnessed in this 2-year-old boy’s mouth, but it also allowed them to educate his parents and other parents on how to properly care for a young child’s teeth. The family was concerned about his discolored teeth and the fact his teeth were decaying at such a young age. The dental team met with the family and uncovered the reason for the decay – the parents were giving their baby a bottle of milk or juice at bedtime in his crib.

img_0617This gave Farrell the opportunity to share that though it may seem like the right thing to do for the child at bedtime, it was actually not the best thing for the child’s teeth because the sugars in the milk or juice pooled in the child’s mouth at night resulting in cavities. Farrell and Karen thought that other parents might be doing the same thing, so they encouraged the pastor of the local church to make an announcement that would help educate parents on the high risk of tooth decay from putting children to bed with any such liquid.

The Frugé family truly grew in their faith by serving those less fortunate, and at the same time they felt love from those they served. During the mission trip, Farrell and his family served the parishioners at the United Methodist Church in La Carpio along with pastor James and his family. Additionally, they served the parishioners at the Platanares Church in Moravia along with pastor Christian and his family. Though the language barrier was challenging at times, it did not take them long to learn a few Spanish words to make their dental treatment a success. In both of the communities they visited, the pastors’ wives cooked and served lunch to the Frugés. “We were so thankful and appreciative of the meals they served our family,” says Farrell. “We knew that they were taking care of us, just as much as we had gone to take care of the families that came to seek dental treatment.”

img_0614As a strong Catholic family, the Frugés have always believed in giving back. Every Sunday they attend mass at St. Thomas More. They have always been active in their home church and Farrell and Karen have led by example to their children in terms of community service and the importance of being connected to others that are less fortunate right here in Baton Rouge. The Frugés cook and serve meals every 3rd Tuesday of the month to the men at St. Vincent de Paul. In addition, each member of the Frugé family has been active in some way at their home church.
Trey and Erica were altar servers from 5th to 12th grade. Their youngest daughter, Camille, continues to altar serve and will be confirmed at St. Thomas More on October 19th. Karen has served as a vacation Bible school teacher and Come, Lord Jesus! leader. Farrell was chairman at our St. Thomas More parish festival. In addition to their church involvement, it is very important to them that they spend time with their extended families. On Sundays, the Frugé family takes up two rows of pews at church including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sunday has always been a special day for the Frugé kids because they get to see other family members and hear God’s word.

img_0574Their bonds with other St. Thomas More families are tight as well. Farrell and Karen believe that their children’s desire to serve began at St. Thomas More School and grew even stronger at St. Thomas More Church. “We have taught our children that it is important to not only ‘give back,’ but ‘to pay forward’ — that is to give to others before there is a need,” says Farrell.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. The Frugé family understands what this means and probably even more so after they returned home from serving in Costa Rica — one’s gifts are to be of service to others.

February 2016, Geaux Life

Christ in China

by Lisa Tramontana

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

Although he was barely an adult, Jack Palmer knew that he wanted to be “a light in a dark world.”

In 2001, he was invited by missionary Roy Robertson to take a three-week trip to China to share the gospel with university students. The trip changed Palmer’s life, fueling a passion in his heart that has grown with each passing year.

chinachildren-2Palmer explains his deep devotion to God by recalling how God’s word transformed the lives of the young students he met. Although they had been raised with an atheistic world view, they were open to the message of the Bible. “We are created to be with God,” Palmer said. “Even in a place like China, people still have that yearning to know why they exist and to find true contentment. Even if they are silenced, their hunger for the truth doesn’t go away. As we shared the gospel, we could see that the spirit of God was working mightily to open people’s eyes and hearts. They were like fish jumping into a boat. They wanted to be saved.”

After his mission trip, Palmer came home to Baton Rouge to serve at The Chapel on the Campus and attend seminary. In partnership with The Chapel, he began sending summer teams to China and formulated a plan for a ministry there. In 2007, he got married, and two years later, moved to China with his wife Lucy. Their work has been a struggle at times, but always a joyful one.

China has the largest non-Christian population in the world with about 456 “unreached” groups, which means that less than 2 percent of these populations trust Christ. With about 1.4 billion people (nearly a fifth of the world’s population), China is clearly a country ripe for evangelization. Even so, government restrictions on evangelistic work, coupled with the deeply ingrained shame and honor mindset of the people, have proven to be an obstacle to church growth. However, restrictions have eased somewhat and today, Christianity is believed to be growing at about 3 percent each year.

Jack and Lucy had their work cut out for them when they moved to China in 2009 and officially established their organization, CIC and the Redeemer Network. Their ministry is based in a city with a population of more than 20 million people, and CIC seeks to plant gospel-centered churches that focus on bringing spiritual, social, and cultural renewal. This has grown into a thriving work among university students and workers in the city.

chinayouth-2Orphans and the homeless are two groups CIC helps, Palmer said. “Many of the children have medical issues from autism to Down Syndrome to cleft palates. We help care for the children on the weekends and sometimes foster them while they wait to be adopted. We also help arrange surgery for those who need it.”

Their densely populated city has a great number of homeless individuals, many with mental health conditions, Palmer said. “We physically help them by providing food, clothing, and counseling, but most important, we can offer them the hope of the gospel.”

CIC also partners with a ministry aimed at women who have been trafficked for the sex trade. After identifying those who want to return to their homes and families, CIC helps them, first by paying any government fines they might have, then by providing transportation back to their home countries and offering counseling services.

The life of a missionary is not an easy one. It requires great sacrifices and deep commitment. What is Palmer’s motivation?

“Everyone wants to be happy,” he said, “and we seek that ideal through different pursuits — career, relationships, power, money, love, and approval. At one point in my life, I was doing the same thing. Like everyone else, I wanted that feeling of being important and valued.

“But those things often take us away from God as they become the most important pursuits in our lives,” he said. “And they leave us unsatisfied. At some point, God’s grace opened my eyes and I understood that the very things that keep us from God are the things we eventually find in Him.” (1 Corinthians 1:24). He is the one reality, the only way to fill the desires in our hearts.”

chinabaptism-2The Palmers can be proud of their accomplishments in China. To date, they have witnessed hundreds of new followers of Christ. They have partnered with others to help start more than 50 new churches. And they have sent more than 250 laborers to 35 of the most unreached areas in China to engage those communities.

CIC welcomes those who want to join the ministry. “We can use counselors, teachers, doctors … anyone with special gifts,” he said. He lists three specific ways to help:

“Pray for the redemptive hope of the gospel to reach all people and for the churches to multiply. Come to China and serve short-term or long-term as a laborer for Christ. Or give to the ministry since all funding is through individual donations.”

For more information about CIC and Redeemer Network, call (225) 387-4416 or send an email to info@ciclsu.com.