November 2015

CASA: Answering the Call for Children in Need

by Jehan Seals

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” -Proverbs 31:8

Growing up we’ve witnessed our fair share of bullying. On some occasions we’ve stood as support for those in need. Now as we’ve grown into adulthood the bullying of a child calls for a more active response that we are all asked to answer.

“Children need to do more than just survive. They deserve safe, permanent homes with loving families where they can grow and thrive. However, some children have been removed from their homes for their own protection due to abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents or caregivers, “ said Jennifer Mayer, recruitment coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). “These children need a voice to speak up for them, and CASA volunteers provide that voice”.

CASA Recruitment Coordinator Jennifer Mayer and Volunteer Mike KavanaughJennifer speaks weekly to the 19th Judicial District Court jury pool to share information concerning CASA and to express the ongoing need for volunteers.

“Children are continuously entering the foster care system, so CASA always needs volunteers in order to continue serving every child who needs a voice.” While diligent in her efforts to reach every juror, Michael Kavanaugh was one of the few who responded to the call.

“Prior to hearing Jennifer speak, my mind was preoccupied; I wasn’t necessarily happy about the time I’d be missing from work. However, after hearing Jennifer speak and final juror selections were made, some of us were released to go. I was relieved and headed to my car but not without hesitation. I recognized God’s presence, which lead me to CASA, and in my 17 months as an advocate I gained more than I had imagined.” Michael completed his CASA training in February 2014 and accepted his first case in March 2014.

“Once I heard David’s voice I deeply understood the need for CASA advocates,” Michael said. “He hadn’t yet reached puberty and his voice was still at that developing stage. I learned a lot about David and his family dynamics. He shared his heart, which in return, I gained the greater gift. I had the opportunity to speak up concerning his needs and make a difference in his life.” Jennifer explained how although CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation, nor replace social workers, their testimony is highly influential.

“The CASA volunteer gets to know the child and speaks with everyone involved in the case – foster parents, child protection, biological family, etc. Prior to each court hearing, the CASA volunteer submits a written report to the juvenile court judge including pertinent information about the child and recommendations advocating for what is in the child’s best interest.”

“Concerning David’s situation, I gained a greater appreciation for what I have. I realize that God gives his blessings so that we might be a blessing to others. Each time I would speak to David over the phone, the one thing he would always ask for was prayer.” Michael said. “I believe [it] made a difference in his life as well as my life. “

CASA’s goal is to advocate for timely placement of abused and neglected children in permanent, safe, and stable homes. CASA strives to continue providing a volunteer advocate for every child in East Baton Rouge Parish who needs a voice.

“When children’s needs are being met appropriately, they are able to grow and develop optimally, but due to the circumstances they face in foster care, their growth is at risk, even developmental skills,” Jennifer said. CASA’s mission cannot be met without volunteers. We can easily join to provide a voice for these children. More information can be found at Answering the call to get involved as a CASA volunteer could be the difference in a child’s life.

November 2015

Baton Rouge Hogs Chapter: Blessing soldiers with the love of Jesus and a little bit of ‘home’

by Beth Townsend

Some see a need, others meet a need. When it comes to our soldiers, Christy Smith just couldn’t pass up on the chance to serve them as they protect us.

cfs and heritage“It was January 2008 at a Baton Rouge Hogs Chapter Meeting. We were discussing our quarterly drives to collect items for soldiers, and that they needed a new leader to head up the project.” Christy recalled. “It was God, I just found my hand going up and tears coming down my eyes. Since He has shown his hand many times in this project.”

The next drive will be just in time to bless our soldiers for Christmas. One shipment will be for soldiers and their unit from the USS Harry. Additional packages will be sent to the Louisiana War Veterans Home is Jackson, La.

Though they send packages four times a year, the current drive to fill one-gallon zip lock bags with needed (and wanted) items will assist with the current need that will end on Friday November 6. “We try to make sure we get an individual gallon sized baggy for each soldier in their unit,” she added.

Stuffing bags at HOGItems are easy to pick up and can be dropped off at the Baton Rouge Harley Davidson off of Siegen Lane any time between now and November 7. Needed items are cookies, protein bars, beef jerky, water bottle drink mixes, trail mix, individual coffee, toiletries, canned meats, hand cream, hand sanitizers, playing cards, puzzle books, pens, pencils, prepaid phone cards, small tablets, razors, crackers, and the like.

“They love chips, especially Zapp’s,” she laughed. Gospel tracks are also included in every bag, ensuring to make sure each soldier hears about Jesus and His love for them.

Christy added, “Ninety percent are between 18 and 21 years old. It’s amazing, they are babies!” she said. “It is like Christmas for them from what they tell me, and it doesn’t take much to let them know we care about them.”

On Nov. 7 they will be stuffing care packages for 41 sailors on the USS Harry Truman and 133 Veterans. They need items for 10 female sailors and 3 female veterans. All items for these packages are due on Nov. 7, and they invite area volunteers to come and help stuff bags and get the packages ready to mail. Items can be dropped off at Temple Baptist Church, as well as Sharon Baptist Church, or can be picked items up from you if needed. For additional information or to help stuff the bags, contact Christy Smith at

A letter from a soldier who received a care packageThe most rewarding part goes beyond knowing what a blessing they are to the troops. Christy’s favorite is when they get letters.

“Some have said, ‘I haven’t gotten any other mail, all my family is gone, nobody writes to me, my father just passed; your track was such a blessing to me.’ Sometimes they will send pictures and even flags. We are just trying to bless those out there that are trying to protect us here,” she said.

Monetary donations can be made through Temple Baptist Church (3650 O’Neal Lane, BR 70816). “They have been gracious to setup a mission account for us so we can take tax deductible checks. When we get money, we use it for postage (which is very expensive) or to go buy stuff that we still need.”

Additional drives are in February, May, and August. Drops offs are appreciated all year. Simply label it “Soldiers”. Christy smiled and added, “I send small Christmas trees to them every November.”

November 2015

Open Air Ministries: People Serving People

by Susan Brown

It is hard to understand until it is experienced. Some 150-200 people gather in a parking lot to worship despite the heat, cold, or rain. It is a church without walls of culture, socioeconomic standing or denomination. Over time, Open Air Ministries has grown from a handful of homeless people to a fully functioning church body and community outreach.

Sunday School teacher Judith Hunter with kidsEvery Sunday at 11:30 a.m., the crowd forms at the corner of 17th and Florida streets to sing, pray, and hear the Gospel. The message is compassionate and direct. Pastor Joseph Moore has walked in their shoes, and he lets them know it. Moore, a 25 year veteran of the Baton Rouge Fire Dept., says he went through a “desert place” after his divorce. He now sees it as a training ground for his ministry.

“Instructions that the Lord gave me when he sent me out there was to be firm but be compassionate, and to preach on my knees,” Moore explained. “I give God the glory for it because when I’m on my knees I’m not looking down on them; I’m looking at my brother, my sister…They recognize that my stories are real stories, not that I created, but that I walked through.”

Four churches – University Baptist, St. Andrews United Methodist, First Presbyterian and Broadmoor United Methodist – committed early to support the ministry one Sunday per month with volunteers and supplies. Doctrinal differences are set aside.

“When everybody’s downtown, it’s like one accord, said Mike Grace, a member of St. Andrews United Methodist Church. “And God’s gotta be smiling on that.”

But it’s tough for people who have never experienced homelessness to throw a “Hail Mary” into the heart of the homeless community, according to Drew Hall of Christ Covenant Church. Pastor Moore bridges the gap. He can relate.

IMAG0755“He is plugged right in the heart of the homeless community,” said Hall. “From inside, he is able to get supplies where they’re needed. If somebody’s about to lose their electricity or somebody’s about to get kicked out of their house, or if somebody really needs medication, Pastor Moore is plugged in where he can channel those resources.”

Open Air finds its roots in the A.C. Lewis Branch of the YMCA where employee Ginger Ford observed the daily dilemma of people on the street. They struggled with homelessness but also hopelessness. In 2001, she mounted a convincing campaign to redefine her role into one of pure community outreach. She began by collecting donations at each YMCA branch, then found a parking lot at the corner of 17th and Florida streets, next to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Then came the stream of people. She parked the big white YMCA van in the parking lot, opened the back doors and began passing out goods. A petite woman with a few volunteers faced a mob of some 40 people asking for food and clothes. A YMCA board member, new to the process, stepped out of his truck ready to contain the crowd and organize the situation. But Ford’s strategy caught him by surprise.

“I guess Ginger saw it in my eyes,” said Trippe Hawthorne of University Baptist Church. She redirected him to a young man, bruised and in need of someone to listen. “That, to me, really set the tone and set the example of what we were there to do,” Hawthorne said. “And that was not to fix, just be community, just listen, sit and talk.” He was hooked. Eventually, he expanded the ministry to include bicycle repair and distribution.

An Easter Sunday service led to a request for consistent Sunday worship at the site. Moore said the results have been astonishing. “More than 2,000 homeless folks got saved on that parking lot,” he said. He now baptizes believers, performs marriages and intervenes on behalf of at-risk children. He also offers a lawn care service to help men earn immediate income. He is at the parking lot Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 11 a.m. -1 p.m. with clothes, food and toiletry items. When it’s hot, he asks for donations of mosquito repellant. In cooler weather, he collects socks, gloves, head gear, blankets and coats.

In an answer to persistent prayer, volunteers have appeared. Judith Hunter drove up one Sunday with a commitment to teach weekly children’s Sunday School. She was new to the area, but felt God’s call.

Trippe Hawthorne and other volunteers with donated food to hand out after service“So here we are wrestling with how we are going to start a children’s ministry,” said Hall. Basically what God has revealed is we just throw up the tent and he’ll do the rest.”

As the ministry has grown, so has its ability to meet needs. Churches provide Christmas presents for children and adults. Pastor Moore brings donations weekly from each YMCA site for clothing and toiletries. St. Vincent de Paul works side-by-side, passing along many resources, including food from Trader Joe’s and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

“It is a good synthesis because it is the same community and the same people,” said Kyle Beall of First Presbyterian Church. Monetary donations are now handled by Friends of Open Air Ministries of Baton Rouge, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. All of the money goes to the ministry, according to Beall.

The idea is to keep the ministry organic: people serving people, Beall explained. Volunteers listen, teach or donate resources.

“You can ask yourself, if you were homeless, what would you want someone to bring you? And it can be that simple,” said Hall. “You can actually come on any Sunday and hand it to someone. This is the opposite of bureaucracy. This is – think it, pray it, do it. So, come as you feel led.”

For more information, visit

November 2015

A Review of: Southern Greats

Review by Cheri Bowling

southern_greats_lessons_of_love_and_life_learned_on_the_bluff_by_howard_white_candace_semien_0990815811Southern Greats by Howard L. White highlights the exceptional success of 46 individuals who attended Southern University and the significant part that historical black university played in shaping their lives. It is also a personalized study of those characteristics that define exceptionalism.

Inspired by a message from Southern Great Rev. Ladell Graham, White reflects on key themes in his book: “How many of us live life and don’t use our potential. Once we start to move from the position of potential toward purpose, I truly believe that it will ignite our true passion. When you are pursuing your goals, your objectives, and your purpose with passion you are unstoppable. If you don’t move away from the potential position, you will never bless the world with your true gift: your true purpose.”

The 46 individuals interviewed by White reveal what happens when one recognizes their potential, realizes their purpose and becomes passionate and unstoppable. Achieving success in a wide range of areas, from accounting to broadcasting, the space program to the military, these men and women from both poor and privileged backgrounds found the Southern University system to be their vehicle to achievements beyond their imagination. Their stories will be an inspiration to a whole new generation who have yet to begin the journey towards greatness.

November 2015

Thanksgiving: The Life Breath of Believers

by Steve Foster

stevefosterMy back hurts. The house is a mess. The car won’t start. My kids are always fighting. My spouse isn’t meeting my needs. My job is too stressful. My computer is too slow. My bills are too high. My income is too low. The weather is too hot. The government is too corrupt. The traffic is too crazy. Life is too unfair.

And the list goes on…

As humans, we are natural born complainers. And living in a sin-corrupted world, we have plenty of things to murmur and gripe about.

But as saints, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are called to a life of thanksgiving.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Think about it. Paul sums up the will of God for Christians as living in joyful daily dependence on Him with a heart of gratitude.

It sounds nice but often seems so impossible. When the pressures of life increase, when unexpected problems hit, when relationships go sour, the last thing on our minds is thanksgiving. Complaining seems so much better, doesn’t it?

But God knows that the murmuring heart soon becomes the bitter, cynical, joyless heart. That is why He commands us to, “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God,” Ephesians 5:18b-21.

When we yield to the Spirit and allow Him to control us, He puts a song of praise in our hearts that overflows in a life of thanksgiving and submission.

In other words, thanksgiving is not just a nice thought. It is not just a day on the calendar. It is not just a verbal response to someone who gives you your food at the drive-through.

Thanksgiving is the very life breath of the believer in Christ.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

Did you catch that? Everything we do and say is to be infused with tha

November 2015

Steve Eagleton: New Dunham Head of School Grateful for Opportunity to Lead

by Lisa Tramontana

IMG_7707Steve Eagleton’s career path has been marked by quite a few twists and turns. His spiritual path, however, has been pretty clear since he committed his life to Christ. Interestingly, those two paths converged to lead him to his current role as Head of School at the Dunham School.

A native of Linlithgow, Scotland, Eagleton came to the U.S. on a soccer scholarship in 1986. After college, he worked briefly as a fitness director and then landed a job as a soccer coach in Baton Rouge. By 1999, he was serving on the Baton Rouge Soccer Association as director of coaching, but he felt called to do more. A close friend had led him to Christ and Eagleton had been asking God what he should do with his life.

“I was living with a friend,” he said. “I had sold my car, and I actually had a plane ticket back to Scotland. I kept saying, ‘Okay, God, now would be a good time to let me know what I’m supposed to do. And you know me … it’s likely that I’ll miss your sign unless you make it really obvious.”

He smiles when he remembers those days. “I was just days away from leaving the country,” he said. “And then I got a call about the Young Life program.”

Copy of IMG_0158Young Life is an international youth ministry program that had achieved success in the public schools, and local organizers wanted to expand it by taking it into the private schools. As they searched for someone who could work well with teenagers, Eagleton’s name kept coming up. They asked if he would meet with them.

“We were sitting there at the Cane’s on Lee Drive,” Eagleton said. “We were discussing Parkview Baptist and within minutes, a group of boys from Parkview walked into the restaurant. And I knew several of them. A little while later, we were discussing Dunham … and a car pulls up and a group of Dunham students get out. And again, I knew several of them. It gave me chills. I knew I had my sign and I agreed to the job right then and there.”

Eagleton’s work with Young Life led to a series of jobs at Dunham … Bible class instructor, coach, teacher, director of technology, dean of students, principal, assistant head of school … and finally, head of school. He calls himself a servant leader and says he is blessed and grateful for this new role which he believes was God’s plan all along.

IMG_7739“Our school is as academically strong as any school in the city,” he said. “But as a Christian school, we also have to be Biblically excellent. We stress Biblical values and we provide an environment where our students can investigate their faith in a safe manner and develop a strong relationship with Christ.”

The choice of a Christian education, Eagleton says, is the smartest decision parents can make. “The students find so much strength from having not just Christian teachers, but Christian coaches, mentors and other leaders.”

But parents have to do their part. “It’s important to pray with your children,” he said. “To read Scripture with them. To understand what it means to walk with Christ. Dunham is a special place where the teachers, the parents, the school and the church are all aligned in their mission … to train young hearts and minds for Christ.”

November 2015

Research Gives Hope to Diabetes Community

by Stephanie Ryan Malin

Robby Huey_PenningtonStoryRobby Huey’s life today is much different than it was five years ago. Today, he is active, involved in the community and full of energy. Back then, he was struggling to manage his diabetes, tired and often frustrated.

“It was a life changing event to be diagnosed with diabetes. At first I was in denial,” said Huey.

In 2010, Huey was experiencing weight gain, an all-encompassing lethargy and he was unsure where to turn for help. When he retired from his full-time job in warehousing and purchasing with the City of Baton Rouge last April, he decided to volunteer for a research study at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Huey was screened for diabetes at Baton Rouge’s Life After 50 Expo, where he found out his blood sugar levels were out of control.

“That was really a wakeup call for me – almost like God trying to tell me to slow down and stay awake for the ride,” said Huey.

Huey had always seen opportunities for research advertised on Pennington Biomedical’ s billboard on Perkins Road, but had never taken the steps to join a research study. The wakeup call from his doctor was the catalyst he needed to make the call to Pennington Biomedical to learn more about improving his health.

After talking with study recruiters at Pennington Biomedical, Huey found a perfect fit as a volunteer for the GRADE Study. GRADE is looking to find the best combination of medicine to maintain normal glucose levels in people with diabetes. The study’s goal is to find which of four FDA-approved medications works best with metformin (the most common diabetes medication) to manage blood sugar.

After joining the study, Huey saw quick and positive results. His A1C levels (a measure of a person’s average level of blood sugar over the past three months) returned to a normal range, something he describes as astounding.

“It was great news! My doctor was very excited and encouraged by the progress I’d made in the study, and she gave me the thumbs up to keep going with it,” said Huey, who notes that he has learned how to better incorporate exercise and a balanced diet into his daily routine by working with Pennington Biomedical’s health experts.

“Life is a balance, and being part of Pennington Biomedical’s GRADE study, for me, is a part of that balance, without question,” said Huey. “In November, we often think about being grateful, and I really am thankful for my good health and that Pennington Biomedical cared enough to help me get there.”

November is American Diabetes Month, a great reminder to talk with your doctor about factors that may increase your risk for the disease, including:

  • A family history of the disease, especially those with a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Those who are age 45 and older
  • Having had gestational diabetes
  • Being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • A history of heart disease
  • Being of African American, Alaskan Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, or Pacific Islander American descent

In Louisiana, 1-in-10 people have diabetes and 1-in-3 people have pre-diabetes, a condition that could lead to diabetes if left unchecked.

Huey regularly encourages his friends and neighbors to talk to their doctor about diabetes and to see if they qualify for a research studies at Pennington Biomedical.

“I would just say don’t be afraid to give it a try! I’ve seen the positive results, and down the road, your contribution and volunteering your time could help someone else like your kids or grandkids live better, healthier lives,” said Huey.

For more information about the GRADE Study or other research studies, go to or call 225-763-3000.

November 2015

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Offers Support to At-Risk Individuals

by Kristen Hogan,YMCA

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and as a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of the Capital Area is encouraging people in Baton Rouge to understand their risks for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and take steps to prevent the disease.

According to the CDC, 79 million Americans age 20 and older are at risk for developing Diabetes. In Louisiana, approximately 181,000 individuals were reported to be at-risk for developing Diabetes, which is an increase of 10,000 individuals since 2009.
The YMCA is working hard to reduce this number and improve the lives of those who live in our community through the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about healthier eating and increasing their physical activity in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. The evidence-based program is delivered over a 12-month period with 16 weekly core sessions then monthly maintenance. There are two goals of the classroom-based program: reduce and maintain individual weight loss by at least seven percent and increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

Based on the national Diabetes Prevention Program study led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention program have been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

Just two years ago only two Ys offered this program. Today, 77 Ys in 33 states are offering it in their communities. The YMCA is committed to making the program available to everyone in the community. All individuals with a BMI over 24 and who have two additional risk factors or have been diagnosed with prediabetes are eligible.

If you are interested in knowing your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, please visit your local YMCA or visit us online at to complete a risk assessment.

November 2015

Mexican Ministry Changes Lives

by Lisa Tramontana

photo-1Phillip Juban’s outlook on life changed a bit in 2011. That’s when he first got involved with the Mexican Indian Training Center in Cordoba, Vera Cruz, Mexico. For four years now, he has put his time and energy, his heart and soul into many of MITC’s projects, helping the less fortunate and spreading the word of God along the way.

MITC was founded in 1956 as an outreach of Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge. Through its Bible school, mission churches and medical missions, MITC offers pastoral training to locals, who become ministers and bring others to Christ.

Juban, president of Juban Insurance Group, says he is touched by the people he has met through MITC. “We get so wrapped up in our own world that we don’t see all the hurt and pain out there,” he said. “We forget that there are people starving for the word of God. During my visits, I’ve been surprised to see people who are so happy with so little. They say, ‘We have Jesus Christ, our Lord with us. How could we not be happy?’”

Bible School
MITC’s Bible School offers a formal education for those who desire to become ministers and establish Christian churches in rural areas. Tuition is free thanks to charitable contributions from donors. “The premise is to train locals who can spread the gospel more effectively than Americans can,” Juban said. “Often, outsiders are just not as effective as those who understand the culture and traditions of the people they are trying to reach.”

photo-8The school offers a 4-year program for full-time students who live on campus and take classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday. For three hours a day, students work on the school grounds learning skills such as animal husbandry, gardening, carpentry, music, cooking and building maintenance. These skills ensure that the ministers are self-supporting when they complete the program. For those who already have families or full-time jobs, the school offers a Saturday program.

The final year of both programs features on-the-job training as a full-time missionary at one of MITC’s mission churches. The school encourages a strong personal relationship between the staff and students. For this reason, they not only spend time together in class, but they also work together, live together, share meals and interact socially.

Treating addiction

Juban has become personally involved in establishing an addiction center on the grounds of one of the local churches. When his friend Tom Harrison of Shreveport told him about the need to provide treatment for those suffering alcohol and substance abuse, Juban was anxious to help. He agreed to spearhead fundraising efforts for the project and in a short time, raised the money to begin building the center.

“Here in the states, if someone has an addiction problem, they have places to go for recovery. But in Mexico, such facilities are almost nonexistent,” Juban said. “And even if they could find a proper facility, most could not afford the expense.”

Thanks to the generosity of donors, patients in MITC’s service area will now receive treatment that is Christian based and free of charge. “The Lord answered our prayers,” Juban said. “I will be forever grateful to those who stepped up and provided those funds. We had to rely on volunteers to build the center, and it has taken almost two years to complete, but it should be open by the end of the year.”

Health and medicine
Medical missions are a crucial element of MITC, and churches from all over the U.S. routinely send teams of doctors, nurses and assistants to provide a variety of medical services and health screenings. These events often draw large crowds of villagers who would otherwise not have access to medical care. Many travel long distances to receive care. The biggest needs are for eye surgery, OB/GYN services and general surgery.

Added to this list is general dentistry, a medical mission that Juban took a personal interest in a year ago. He approached his son Michael Juban about making a trip to MITC and providing free dental care for people (children especially) who had never before seen a dentist. Michael was happy to participate and contacted two colleagues who made the trip with him last November — Dr. Joe Yale of Denham Springs, and Dr. Cody Cowen from Shreveport.

“The three were friends in dental school and decided this would be a good way to serve the Lord through their profession,” Juban said. “The work they did last year was amazing. They worked long days and in the few days they were here, saw about 600 patients. They are also tremendous witnesses. They make sure the patients understand that they are doing the Lord’s work spreading the gospel of Christ.”

The group will make their second trip later this month.

Other projects
MITC also organizes a one-week summer camp for youth each year, staffed by students from the Bible School. It’s a chance for campers to combine faith and fun in a Christian environment, learn leadership skills, and be exposed to future ministry opportunities.

There are many ways to get involved with MITC projects, Juban said, including Bible conferences, music conferences, and evangelistic crusades. He encourages others to visit the website at to learn more.

November 2015

Share the Blessings

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

Picuture“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 

Jesus is a spirit and as Christians he has given all of us certain gifts and visions to help others along the way. With that being said, we must all go to work not for our selfish gain, but for His glory, and we in turn will be blessed because of this.

November is the time of year in which everyone wants to give back and give “thanks”. But as Christians, shouldn’t we do that all year long? Every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, the shelters are full folks attempting to give back, but they are left begging for help at other times of the year. As one body of Christ we should always give back showing others the goodness of Christ which has continuously filled our lives.

We receive His blessings more than five times out of the year, (the major holiday observance schedule), so why not bless others in the same way we’ve been blessed. I am challenging you all to give as Christ has given unto you on a daily basis. Everyone you come in contact with should know that you are a Christian by your actions and your giving.

So instead of looking at yourself as just a Christian, look at yourself as “God’s Provisional Specialist”, or a GPS for someone else’s life. Sometimes all folks really need is someone who will listen and guide them in the right direction. Think about what it would be like if you didn’t have the voice of the Lord leading and guiding you; where would you be? We are graciously thankful for the blessing of His voice—now let’s share it with others!


November 2015

Rev. Rodney Wood Prays for and Preaches Unity

by Mark Hunter
The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood tells how each time he enters the Louisiana State Capitol Building he goes to the observation deck and systematically prays over the city, the state government, the area's educational systems, including LSU, business and industry along the Mississippi River. Photo by Mark H. Hunter
The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood tells how each time he enters the Louisiana State Capitol Building he goes to the observation deck and systematically prays over the city, the state government, the area’s educational systems, including LSU, business and industry along the Mississippi River. Photo by Mark H. Hunter

Politicians speak about it and preachers preach about it, but until the Christian church actually practices it, unity will only be a lofty goal.

That’s why the Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood spends much of his time praying for unity while ministering to disparate – but similar – groups of people in Baton Rouge.

Every Thursday at noon he leads the “Gathering of Men,” an interdenominational Bible study for businessmen in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church.

During the legislative session he leads a weekly “Legislators’ Bible Study Prayer Breakfast,” where differences of party affiliation, race and denomination are left at the door.

“They experience a wonderful unity in Christ,” he said. “They really care about one another.”

“That’s why unity in ‘the church’ is so important – because that is our testimony to the world,” Wood said.

Referring to what is known as Christ’s High Priestly prayer recorded in John 17, Wood quotes verses 21 and 22, “That they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory that you gave me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Wood defines his ministry, The Mission Foundation, as a “relational ministry” that goes beyond the businessmen or legislators to include individuals around the Capitol building. After 23 years of walking the marble halls he knows nearly everyone and offers to pray with them and for them whenever there is a need.

There is a misconception, he said, that some voters may have about the public service of Louisiana’s legislators.

“As a body our legislators are a group of men and women who really are seeking, as best they understand it, to do what is right,” Wood said.

"Rulers: Gospel and Government," is a compilation of essays edited by Charles M. Garriott, discussing "the intersection of faith and government." The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood of Baton Rouge wrote chapter 2, "Pray and Serve Whomever God Puts Before You in the Halls of Government."
“Rulers: Gospel and Government,” is a compilation of essays edited by Charles M. Garriott, discussing “the intersection of faith and government.” The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood of Baton Rouge wrote chapter 2, “Pray and Serve Whomever God Puts Before You in the Halls of Government.”

Last year Wood penned a chapter to a book, “Rulers: Gospel and Government,” a collection of 10 essays by eight authors, edited by Charles M. Garriott, executive director of Ministry to State, a Washington D.C. based ministry. (

The book’s theme, according to Garriott, is “a paradigm shift in which Christians must not try to better our nation by merely advocating certain policies, but instead by supporting, praying for, ministering to, and encouraging our nation’s leaders.”

Wood’s chapter, “Pray and serve whomever God puts before you in the halls of government,” describes his journey from being a pastor of a Covington area church to the Capitol ministry now approaching its 23rd year.

Wood also devotes countless hours in prayer at the Capitol. When he climbs the wide front steps he prays for the state each step represents. During the legislative session he sits in the House or Senate chambers and prays for each person present in the cavernous room.

He often takes the elevator up to the observation deck and while overlooking Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River, he systematically prays for the state and local governments, the lawmakers, the bureaucrats, the business community, the educational systems including LSU, and the industry along the river.

He also prays for the federal government and encourages Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine readers to do the same.

“When you look at Washington – what do you see? Unity?” he asked. “Certainly not. We need to pray for Washington. We also need to pray for our Capitol in Baton Rouge that the unity that is there will grow and it will be protected.”

Wood also teaches in seminaries, Bible colleges, and attends preaching seminars several times a year in foreign countries such as Albania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Croatia. This past summer he taught courses in Tanzania and later this fall he will travel to Peru to teach a seminar there.

21148803664_baf3a52205_oHe’s been married to Rebecca “Becky” Hunter Wood for 43 years. They have three grown sons, Jake, Jim, and John – all medical doctors – and 10 grandchildren.

His favorite Bible verse is Matthew 9:2 where Jesus tells the paralytic man, “Take heart my son – your sins are forgiven,” Wood recalls. “If I could have only one verse in all of scripture it would be that one.”

A central theme of his ministry is a slightly different perspective on the theme of “unity” discussed in this story and can be summed up, he said, with two words: differences and distances.

“We can have differences in the way we see things but our differences should not lead to distances,” Wood said. “We need to draw even more closely to one another – that is how the world will know that we belong to Jesus.”

November 2015

LaTangela Sherman: Walking with Purpose

by Krista Bordelon

FullSizeRenderTo know LaTangela is to know faith. Whether scrolling through her Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it is apparent that God is so much more than just a hashtag for this media personality. And she is taking the entertainment world by storm.

It’s not hard to see why she is leaving such a mark on the media world. Her infectious personality, loving mentality, and pure, raw talent draw you in from the moment you first see the sparkle in her eye or hear the laughter in her voice.

To hear others speak of LaTangela is to hear of true leadership. Her platform is one she uses to mentor, inspire, and move throughout the community. And she is succeeding.

Her life is on the go, constantly serving those around her. One moment she is being asked to speak at a teenager’s pool party, the next to host an amazing event at a nightclub. No matter the opportunity thrown at her, or how it may be viewed, LaTangela uses it to be a witness of a Christian life.

“You get access to all these different things. What you do with that access shows who you are. I am cautious about the things I grasp and how I use it.”

Remaining strong in faith and influential in ministry while serving in a mainly secular atmosphere requires a firm foundation, discipline, and a complete knowledge of one’s true purpose. “I just make sure I’m always walking in my lane, serving my purpose, and not becoming what I know was not intended for me,” LaTangela says of her life in the spotlight.

At 15 years old, while attending Baton Rouge High, LaTangela wanted to participate in the radio program. Although the program wasn’t full, she was turned down. Instead of seeing that rejection as an end, she decided to instead go to the local radio station to try to get into “real” radio.

Master P happened to be holding open auditions for the “Partners in Peace” teen talk show. LaTangela was asked to host and later produce the show. “I started working at the station after that. They got tired of telling me ‘no’ because I was too young. In fact, I said, ‘You’re going to get tired of telling me no before I ever get tired of asking,’ so they put me on an old school overnight show that I loved. It’s been 18 years and it hasn’t felt like a job so far.”

FullSizeRender“I still get to talk to a lot of kids and see what is going on, and that was the intention from the jump. The Partners in Peace show was a show by us, for us, that let parents know what was going on. I still get to do that a lot. I go into schools and visit them at church. I get to catch them in every day life, but my job keeps me cool enough to still [influence them].”

On being viewed as a community activist and public face, LaTangela has this to say, “It’s cool when people know you are the go-to person. That’s pretty much what I want to be. If there’s [something] going on in the community, it makes me feel good that people will say, ‘She’s the one who will care enough to tell people,’ and they know it’s not about my job at that point. Once you become engaged in what you’re doing and you care, you become the filter.”

And that is what she desires to be as CEO of 430 Status, LLC. “I want to be the umbrella for everything people need. Whether it’s a program or a mentor, etc. I want to be the source that will lead you to the right place and not just throw you off.”

When asked if it’s hard keeping up with so many events and speaking engagements as well as doing her regular daytime work, she replied, “Once you make [being involved in the community] a part of your daily routine and your lifestyle, it’s not work. You are walking in purpose.”

“I don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘I want to be a role model,’ I just wake up, say my prayers, and ask God to lead me in the right direction. I try my best to make the right decisions.” As a DJ for MAX 94.1FM (heard Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST), as well as the host of “The LaTangela Show” (seen midnight CST on NBC following “Saturday Night Live”), and owner of her own YouTube channel, she certainly is heard, and respected, by many.

FullSizeRender-1“Working at a hip-hop station people are always like, ‘She parties so hard!’ And I do enjoy my work, but I know how to do my job and not be something I’m not. I do think sometimes we become so uptight that we think we can’t go out and have a good time, but I’ve never had a drink, I’ve never done any drugs, and I started working in the club when I was 15 (well, I would broadcast from the parking lot because I was too young to even get in the club).”

“We have to learn the difference between entertainment and reality, and I can help impressionable minds understand that we are responsible for the decisions we make. It’s a lot easier to say, ‘This or that made me do it, or that’s what everyone is doing,’ but that isn’t true.” LaTangela herself is a strong example of what it means to be in the world and not of the world. She lives her life immersed in the culture, yet not tainted by it, and instead has left her own mark everywhere she goes. God truly has blessed her decision to not waver in her faith while on her platform.

“My grandfather, the late Rev. Jesse Lafayette, taught me to pray. He never told me, ‘Don’t do this or don’t do that,’ he just showed me what to do every day. He taught me the biggest life lesson is don’t ever judge somebody because where they are now you could be tomorrow.” LaTangela remembers every day that her life choices are how she got to where she is now, but that a different choice could have landed her in a completely different situation. She lives that truth with those around her.

No matter what she is faced with, LaTangela has decided not to waver from her beliefs while on her platform. “You can’t keep fighting someone who is trying to do the right thing. How are you going to criticize someone for telling girls to remain virgins, or for saying she doesn’t want to drink? Also, that’s my resounding message, but I’m out there living it. Now, some people don’t want you telling the truth all the time, but that’s who I am. I’m going to do what I’m going to do, and that is spread the Word. They know who I am and how I do that, so shame on them if they get upset at me for wanting to continue to do that.”

As the Production Director at Cumulus Media (the 2nd largest broadcasting family in the states), LaTangela has to keep one thing at the forefront of her mind in regards to her career. “Do titles become our gods? These microphones are powerful. They are 100,000-watt flame-throwers. I may not meet 75 percent of the people I talk to every single day, but they become familiar with me. I have to be careful what I say at all times. This mic is mine today, but it might not be mine tomorrow and God will hold me accountable for every word I said while I had it. I’m accountable for it all.”

LaTangela uses her voice in all media platforms to speak life to the world. Her album “Mixed Emotions” is available on iTunes, and in May, her book “A-Z, Lord, Let It Define Me” hits the shelves. This self-motivational book began as a personal journal. Writing this book is what carried LaTangela through the hardships she faced with the death of her grandparents.

“People say my grandfather would be displeased with this or that, but he wanted to make sure I was a good person and that I always stayed connected to God. Women in Media recognized me as the on-air personality of the year. When I got to the rehab facility to show my grandmother my award she already had the newspaper clipping. I don’t know how she got it, but she did. She was my biggest cheerleader. I just want to continue to make them proud of me, and to live my life serving God.”

“Every day we should ask ourselves, ‘What did you do in your purpose in life today that led somebody to Christ? Were you the example?'”

November 2015

Senator Bill Cassidy & Senator Sharon Broome: Setting Differences Aside and Finding Commonality in Christ

by Beth Townsend

Unity in community starts with a common foundation. Despite our differences, as a body of believers we have a supernatural commonality. There is a firm foundation from which we can build stronger relationships with others based on our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

We are called to unity throughout the Scriptures. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ,” 1 Corinthians 12:12. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others,” Romans 12:5.

We belong to one another; to work together, to pray together, to serve together, to worship together, to live together as one body. Together. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to speak with two deeply committed Christians, both servant minded leaders, yet from different political parties. What a unique opportunity to put our differences aside and seek to unify as a body of believers. United States Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) is open about his faith and demonstrates it constantly, as does La. Sen. Sharon Broome (D-Baton Rouge), who asked to open our interview with prayer.

November is the month set aside to be thankful. Let’s come together as we thank God for our country, our differences, our churches, and above all else, one another. We need each other.

Whether by their example at home or in top-secret government meetings, Godly leaders must be unafraid to speak of their faith in Jesus and walk it in their daily lives. They can and must exemplify unity, and as people of faith, set aside political and philosophical differences to demonstrate goodwill. As they lead and pray for us, let us also pray for them, learn from them, and give them an opportunity to speak to our community about their faith, as well as their hopes and dreams for our city, state, and country. As they serve us, let’s serve them by praying for them daily.

Bill Cassidy

Bill_Cassidy_headshotSenator Bill Cassidy understands the importance of a strong foundation. From early memories, he recalls tender moments in his family when his faith was nurtured in a home where Christ was not only their savior, but the motivation behind the family’s commitment to a life of service.

“My parents were faithful about bringing my brothers and I to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I had Sunday school teachers in elementary school who would come and speak to us. I’m sure they thought it was a thankless task, but I remember those Sunday school lessons,” he smiled. Understanding the privilege and opportunity to speak into another’s life has impacted Cassidy so profoundly that he teaches Sunday school at The Chapel on the Campus to children faithfully every week when he is in town.

“We forget the impact we can have when speaking to a child. Speaking to a child about God and the metaphysical, although they wouldn’t understand the term, is profound.”
Cassidy’s faith was also shaped early on by his brother. After going away to school in Boston, his brother would come home and speak of his faith.

“I recall praying for the first time in second grade. I am not sure I prayed to receive Christ then, but certainly seeds were planted,” Cassidy recalled.

Evangelism is the call of the Great Commission in the book of Matthew. That foundational instruction should be the central focus that brings us together as a body of believers. Louisiana’s junior U.S. senator was gifted to be around men and women that lived the great commission.

“If evangelism is moving someone closer to God, then hopefully they make a commitment to Christ. But even then we continue to go from glory to greater glory! It is all part of our individual pathway,” he said. “So I look back to those Sunday school teachers, and my brother, and my parents to see how they would continually water those seeds, then plant and water [again].” Cassidy’s later commitment to receive Christ was during a Bible study offered through The One Way Movement while he was in high school. Once again another’s influence impacted and deepened his faith.

“There was a fellow there, Mike Clark, who was an upperclassmen. We would often have the study at his house. It was then I prayed to receive Christ; that would have been in 9th grade. Then after that, of course, we all live through grace right?” He concluded laughing, “Thank God for grace!”

As a physician, Cassidy has the attitude of a servant and the confidence of a professional. His purpose is demonstrated through a series of decisions where he has taken leaps of faith to seek to honor God while serving his community.

“The purpose of people’s life in seeking unity is walking in the fullness of your purpose, fulfilling what you are great at doing. You have to let one decision lead to another.”
His ability to lead reflects his early foundation. “My parents modeled serving to others who were less fortunate,” he recalled. “There was a man who use to teach forestry at LSU who was quadriplegic from polio. Just as the polio epidemic was going away he got a case of it. Dr. Tom Keister was his doctor and needed assistance, and my parents were among those who would give assistance.”

“My mother would give people rides to north Baton Rouge to doctors visits who otherwise did not have transportation. My parents had a strong sense of what can we do for those less fortunate.”

He recalled how that affected his upbringing, “Frankly, there were people who were so kind to me when my mom was working. Mrs. Cartwright next door would look after me until mom came home from work. And there was [also] Mrs. Hull; she would be so gentle when my mother was not around. That sense of community as a child [is important], you know that these people love [you].”

Becoming a doctor is no easy feat, yet when you’re driven by a sense of purpose, you can push past ordinary difficulties. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in college, but after health scare I saw a lot of physicians and realized how rewarding that could be,” he said. Everyone is called to service, yet often there are so many options, choosing one can become difficult.

“We are each called to serve. Be aware of what is being presented to you and seek those opportunities. I think sometimes we want to start a big missionary organization that is going to send 10,000 people overseas. Mother Theresa once said that it’s the smallest act of kindness that truly makes the difference,” Cassidy said. “Do you embrace somebody that others would never embrace? I think Pope Francis was at his best when he hugged the person with obvious illness, then the transgender who otherwise felt rejected. He showed them love. We are best when we show our love.”

There is no doubt one act of service that never returns void is fervently praying for our leaders and our nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Cassidy kept it simple yet profound, “Do you believe prayer is more powerful than the physical? Go back to those children. Children believe in prayer, yet we as adults understand that it seems that you pray for something for a long time and it never happens. Then we become discouraged about prayer in general.”

“Let’s go back to this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and the second is likened to it you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ He speaks to all of us that no matter what our role in life. No matter how much we may disagree with someone politically, we should still attempt to love them.”

Cassidy continued, “Sometimes I go to the Episcopal church with my mother on Sunday nights. There they offer an opportunity to pray for our leaders. It is nice as they mention them by name because you have a Democratic Mayor, a Republican Governor, two Republican Senators, but a Democratic President. It is a nice mix there in which it is acknowledged that however much we might disagree, we are to pray for them all. Again, if we take God’s commandments as we should, that softens our heart.” After a brief chuckle he said, “All that said, at times you are going to see me upset and fussing and fuming so I acknowledge that I thank God for grace.”

In discussing how to apply the admonition to pray for others, even for those we disagree with or perhaps are angry with, his response was quick: “Don’t waste your anger on that. Just don’t. Instead pray about it and pray that the person with whom you are angry about would have Godly insight.”

Taking away references to Christianity in public arenas and eliminating school prayer unsettles many and remains a hot topic in the news. On the subject Cassidy referenced foundational principles, “I look at the family and the church as far more important in a child’s spiritual upbringing than I do public institutions. At most times in history there’s been a tension between that which government would recommend, and that which churches believe in,” Cassidy said. “It should not surprise us that government is antagonistic to anything that defies government. Government wants to have control. Clearly we have public policy that is not good. The Planned Parenthood videos are an example. There is always going to be tension. And if God has set that up for us to show our light in the midst of a dark world, then it is a great opportunity.”

Cassidy Family PhotoRaising Christian families today in an increasingly secular nation seems daunting. Often the news makes Christians feel as though we are fighting a losing battle. Yet Cassidy refers to history as an example, “We can see where the church started and where the church grew despite being what was officially a pagan society in which Christians were actively persecuted. Under an atmosphere of persecution is when the church began to truly flourish.”

Once again, for what my advice is worth, I refer back to my family,” Cassidy paused and smiled. “My parents would take me to church. They modeled giving, they modeled service, it was clear. They had me in Sunday school so I was exposed to others. My brother shared his faith with me. At some point we have to trust that God is moving. If we enter into fellowship as we are commanded, acknowledge him in our actions as he asks us to, and pray for our children as we are encouraged to pray, then our children will grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Not sure it is a formula, but it is an act of obedience.”

Cassidy spoke of grace repeatedly, “Once I had an engineer explain grace to me. He explained that we, in our earthly wisdom, think that grace is like a wave. Whereas getting back in touch with God when we’ve drifted and feel separated. ‘Boy I sure want to get back close to God again,’ he recalled the engineer saying. Yet, in his growing understanding of grace over the years, he came to redefine it on a more personal level. ‘Indeed it is more like this, we are with Him or we are not. He is always close to us. It’s just a question of whether we acknowledge and partake or whether we turn our back and don’t.’”

Cassidy continued, “I guess the big spiritual lesson is this: we are only a prayer away from fully partaking in God’s grace. And if we are not [partaking in God’s grace], well, it is our choice, not His absence. That Billy Graham hymn that we used to sing at the Chapel… ‘Just as I am, without one plea?’ Think about that. Without one plea!”

The health of our community affects us all. In seeking ‘unity in community’ we must do our part to bring together the body of Christ as one, regardless of our differences in other areas of life. Nothing matters more than the health of that body across the world, throughout the country, the state of Louisiana, and in and around Baton Rouge.

He added, “All of us have been in a situation where there is someone we know that has a great need. We’ve been in great need. We can pray for sensitivity to help, to meet those persons’ needs, and how to be creative as we meet them.”

According to Cassidy it’s simple, “In God’s economy our principal focus should be the family, then church. If we focus on our family and then our church, the church becomes a living, breathing, growing place where bless each other and that attracts others to come in and be a part. That is evangelism.”

Yet, he acknowledged that it can be complicated, “There’s always been tension between the social gospel and evangelism. Yet, Jesus totally resolved that tension! He would forgive, heal, and feed, always in the context of strengthening the church. As he strengthened the church, that was evangelism. Evangelism is bringing someone closer to God. It might be that you touch someone here, but their point of salvation is there,” he said. “Somewhere along the way people continue to touch them, yet you have just as much a role in a person’s coming to Christ as a person who actually prays with them.

“Christendom is about serving one another. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus makes it totally clear. If there is a verse that I try to focus on, it’s Mark 10:42-45. Such a powerful statement of how we as the church should differ in how the world approaches leadership and command.”

Sharon Broome

DSC_0210bLouisiana State Senator Sharon Broome looked around at her office; so many pictures and plaques. “When I look back on my life now, the older I got and the more mature I became in the Lord, I can see how God was weaving that thread in my life from when I was a little girl. It’s when I totally surrendered that He was like, ok now I have got you on the path!” she chuckled.  Though originally from Chicago, Broome as her destiny dictated is from Louisiana.

Broome’s dad was born in the small community of Ethel in East Feliciana Parish. and her mom in Kosciusko, Miss. They were part of the migration of African-Americans from the south in the Great Depression. Her father was born in 1903 and her mother in 1912; they later met in Chicago.

“I was born and raised in Chicago, but my parents were both products of the South.  I was the only child of that union. My dad was 53 when I was born and my mother was 44,” Broome laughed. “I always like to say I am a product of an Abraham and Sarah story, for real, right? The older my dad became the less tolerant he became of the cold weather. After I graduated from college we moved back to Louisiana.”

Senator Broome became a Christian early. Strong family influences made it seem a natural part of childhood. “I accepted Jesus as my savior at the age of 7, but it wasn’t until after I became an adult that I really became a committed Christian,” she recalled. “I’d come to a point of wanting things out of life and recognizing things weren’t happening like I thought they should. Then I realized that I had not made that level of commitment of having Jesus as Lord of my life. That was when everything started changing for me.  That was 1980,” she remembered. “Since then I have been a growing and maturing Christian and have loved every moment of it.”

Broome’s “calling” was birthed out of a deep place of frustration in life. Sharon says she felt God was leading her to do something productive with her frustration.

“I think a lot of people associate a calling with five fold ministry or being in the pulpit. But the truth is, God calls Christians to every sphere of influence to be salt and light,” Broome said. “I can remember back in 1988 as I sat in front of my television set, I was frustrated with some of the things I saw going on in the community. Right then I sensed the Holy Spirit saying distinctively to me ‘you can help do something about that.’ From there, without any name recognition or support, I took on the message of being our brother’s keeper. Soon I was walking door to door running for city council. I won in 1988 and that was my entry into politics.”

While many grow up dreaming of being a politician, that was not true of Broome. “You know some people have a plan, I am going to run for this and then I am going to run for that. I never had that kind of plan! All I wanted to do… I get emotional,” tearing up she continued, “All I wanted to do was to serve and do what God wanted me to do.”

“After running for city council I ran for the state legislature in 1991 and I’ve been in the legislature since 1992 when I took office, having been blessed to serve in both the house and the senate. Now I am at the end of my term,” she said. “It has been a very good experience of public service and I’ve worked hard to surrender to God throughout the process and be in step with the Holy Spirit. You know I haven’t been a perfect public servant, but who is perfect? But I’ve tried to be deliberate in wanting to be used by God.”

Though Broome’s term ends soon, she quietly shared her plans to run for Mayor-President of Baton Rouge next year. Though soft spoken, her excitement was evident as she talked about it. “It’s exciting; another step of faith,” she beamed.

Marvin and SharonDiscussing unity in community, Broome feels that the Christian faith should be rooted in a sense of obedience and commitment to the Word of God. “To me it is about obedience. God tells us in 1 Timothy to pray for those who are in authority, those who rule over us. If we would just exercise that first and foremost, I think God would be pleased. I believe in James 5:6, that the effective fervent prayers of a righteous man and women availed much. So if we couple those two together and obey what God has told us about praying, that would be powerful.”

“Prayer is the catalyst for any change that we want to see,” Broome offered. “Whether that change is in our home, in the political arena, or in our church, prayer is the foundation. It’s about being on God’s side,” she explained. “Certainly God gives us choice. We choose to be in one (political) party or the other. But ultimately we have to listen; our intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be the motivating factor on how we treat others.”

Continuing, Broome shared, “If we as a body can get that right—the common denominator of love—that will take us a long way. We also need to understand that communities rise and fall together. When we understand the interconnectedness that God designed for people—regardless of their race, regardless of their party affiliation— [we see] that His desire goes way beyond those things, [it’s] for us to be unified. And, so we really have to keep our focus on Him the author and finisher of our faith.”

The natural tendency for many is to grumble and complain when watching the news. The polarization of politics can bring out the worst even in the most good-willed people. A call to prayer for our city could serve as an example for other cities, should we come together as a body.

On the subject of political polarization, Senator Broome added, “Amen to that! God has lain on my heart during the month of October to be in a dedicated season of prayer and fasting. If we want to see change, we need to pray. I was just reading yesterday in my journal that all battles are basically spiritual battles. So you don’t fight spiritual battle with earthly or worldly means. You fight spiritual battles with spiritual means and that is prayer.”

When discussing the growth of the secular movement and the resulting removal of Christian symbols in public places, Broome offered words of wisdom.

“I believe one of the challenges is that many Christians have backed down and have succumbed to actions that go distinctly against their Christian beliefs and convictions. I always use Jesus as our model. Jesus was not revered. He was not liked by men, yet he loved all men. His message was not received, but it did not stop him from conveying his message on a consistent basis.” She continued, “He was on a mission and he did not let up on that mission until they crucified Him. We as Christians should not give up. We should not succumb to defeat, instead we should walk in our authority as believers of Jesus Christ!”

“That does not mean that we can’t do it in a loving manner,” she continued. “The Bible talks about ‘speaking the truth in love’. We can have the tendency the let the actions of the world influence how we respond. But we are different; we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Christ should be our example; Jesus Christ should be our example for everything we do.”

Senator Broome’s passion is evident as she discusses her faith. “I love to study the style of communication of Jesus,” she states. “He talked to people in parables. He made analogies and illustrations so they could understand. And it all pointed back to the Word of God. The Bible speaks to every issue that we face. What does the Bible say about these issues and how do we understand them and become more informed on theses issues? Then we can speak to these issues as informed voters, citizens, advocates, prayer warriors.”

Broome frequently mentions the authority of Christ. While common to strong believers, how to teach that message so that others walk in the authority afforded to believers becomes key. That power is for all who believe.

“Homes and churches should be the teaching center; time spent reading God’s Word as a family; it’s about establishing priorities. When we take care of his priorities he will take care of our priorities. He has given us very clearly in his Word what we need to do. ‘If my people will call on my name will humble themselves turn from their wicked ways, pray I will hear from heaven and will heal their land.’ He has laid it all out in terms of what our role is.”

Senate inauguration with family - left to right - Husband_MarvinMost Christians are concerned that the foundation of family is under attack. Yet there are ways to remain focused on raising Godly children. The senator’s perspective is clear, “I believe Godly parental leadership is the key. Parents have to lead by example, to solidify their relationship with the Lord and with one another. And then they have to train up their children in the nurture and admonishing of the Lord. That does not mean they won’t have attacks on their family, but it has to be ingrained into the fiber of that home. Just as Joshua said ‘as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.’”

“It is vitally important for Christian parents to maintain a consistent relationship with their children. Because there are many things vying for their attention, trying to abort their plans of destiny that God has for them. The first role model should be parents,” she said. “And yes, I get it, I know parents are busy in today’s society. Many moms work, dads work; two-parent families have to work. But, I am convinced that when you make God your priority he will help you achieve a stellar career as well as a stellar family.”

As a wife and mom, Sharon speaks from experience. She smiles when explaining how unique her family life has been. “I was single until the age of 42. I’d never been married and had no children. At 41, I met a widower who had been married for 25 years and his wife succumbed to cancer. He was raising three children and lived in another state. We met through mutual friends. Almost a year to the date that we met we got married. When I got married I became a wife and a mom,” she smiled. “A mom in the way of a second mom to our oldest son who was in college. Our daughter was 14 and our son was around 10.  But you know what, but for God,” she looked heavenward in gratitude.

“I knew how my mother had raised me, but of course times have changed. So one of the messages that God gave me was the message of not thinking about myself but thinking about them above all else. Not being concerned if they loved me but me demonstrating love to them. I treated them as though they are my biological children. I never called them stepchildren, I always say my children. Because of the love between my husband and I that we have demonstrated to one another and to them, God has unified our family through love.”

Continuing on the subject of marriage, (redefinition, divorce rate, its impact on the family, etc.), Broome summed it up by saying, “Once again pray. Focus on developing yourself more than developing your spouse. We are still a work in progress. My husband and I ironically teach the marriage class at our church, Star Hill Church where our pastor is Raymond A. Jetson. It’s important to be transparent and for couples to be around like-minded individuals. So many times we wait until everybody is on the edge of divorce and we then we say ‘pray for me.’ We should be supporting one another prior to getting to that point.”

In order to build unity in community, the ability to influence others is key. We are called to “make disciples” which means reaching others for Christ. While it may not be easy, it’s one of Jesus’ commandments. Broome smiles at the idea of her influence, “I’m just an ordinary girl that has surrendered to God’s plan for my life. God has a specific plan and purpose for each and every one of us. The sooner we get connected to that purpose, the more fulfillment we will have. But we have to listen to that still small voice. If we don’t have that intimacy with the Lord we end up going on tangents and trying this and that.”

Finding stillness is a key, as demonstrated in the life of Christ, “Take time to be still and know,” she said. “The world we live in this hectic world at such a fast pace with this sense of urgency, and we don’t take time to be still and know that he is God. He wants to communicate with us. Take time do whatever it takes for you to connect to the purpose that God has for you.”