October 2018, Witness at Work

Witness at Work, Medical and Spiritual Healing

Medical and Spiritual Healing

Dr. Gray Bailey combines both

by Rachele Smith

Dr. Gray Bailey with his team

Dr. Gray Bailey is good at making people smile. And that’s not just because he’s been a dentist for the past 17 years.

Since opening Absolute Quality Care Family Dentistry in 2001, Bailey has helped thousands of patients with both preventative and emergency dental care. But while this graduate from the LSU School of Dentistry believes in providing the best medical care possible, he also knows about the complete healing that comes from God’s love and compassion. It’s why on any given day, you can find Bailey in his Prairieville practice not only building crowns or performing some of the latest laser technology in dentistry, but you can also find him sharing the love of Christ, both in spoken and unspoken ways.

“We do things differently here,” Bailey said, explaining that the direction of medical care and insurance in our country is unfortunately forcing some people to make difficult decisions when it comes to their health. “I’m not working for insurance companies, though. I’m here to just take good care of my patients.”

And for this civil engineer turned dentist, that means combining work and faith.

“I have pulled teeth for free,” he said, explaining that showing love to others is paramount to who we are with Christ. “The more you give, the more Christ keeps giving to you.”

Five years so, his attitude was much different.

Bailey always focused on the best care for his patients, but his faith life was struggling. Then one day at work, he developed severe pain. An ambulance was called, and on the way to the hospital, Bailey unmistakably found what he was looking for. “I had a talk with God about how I didn’t want to see him just yet because I didn’t think he would be too proud of me. I asked him for another chance,” Bailey said, softly.

Then just as the ambulance neared the hospital, something strange happened. The pain mysteriously began to subside. After some tests, Bailey was able to go home that night. It was believed the intense pain was from a kidney stone.

“That night, I was on my hands and knees in the shower,” he said, pausing as the intensity of those feelings returned. “I thanked God for that second chance and I asked him to show me his love.” Bailey remembers feeling that God “just scooped me up and held me.”

During the next two weeks, Bailey’s life totally changed. He described that time as a spiritual journey, noting that he hasn’t been the same since. “For me to share Christ with people now is an honor,” he said. “It’s not hard for me to do. I’m not ashamed of it. I love my God.”

Surrounded in Jesus’s love, he sees church today, not as a building of believers, but rather as the living hands and legs of Christ working to bring Scripture to everyone. “I asked God to show me what to do,” he said. “And he did.”

By focusing on Matthew 25: 35-46, where Jesus is found in those who are hungry, thirsty and in need, Bailey said he was led to start an organization called “Love They Neighbor.” As a ministry, the organization brings Bibles, food and clothing to anyone in need. It’s also why on any given weekend, Bailey, his wife, Beth, and others go into various neighborhoods and cook a huge pot of jambalaya (using a prize-worthy recipe he secured from his father-in-law). He explained that they are happy to physically and spiritually feed all who join them. “We’re there for anyone,” he said.

The father of three grown children and the grandfather of one, Bailey and his wife live on a farm with several animals, including a dog and chickens. But there are other critters, literally, buzzing around: lots and lots of bees. Originally, Bailey said he became interested in the insects for medicinal purposes as bee stings have often been associated with helping arthritic pain.

Today, thanks to his free services in trapping and removing unwanted bee colonies, Bailey now has 40 hives on his own property.

So, what does he do with all that honey?

Just as it was a sign of health for Samuel in the Bible, Bailey uses his honey to gift others. In the end, it’s just another way to keep people smiling.

Volunteers join Dr. Bailey to cook jambalaya for local residents through his “Love Thy Neighbor” ministry
Dr. Bailey and his wife Beth with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
Healthy Life, September 2018

Healthy Life, A Refit Revolution

A REFIT Revolution

“We believe fitness isn’t just for the fit … it’s for the willing.”
By Sharon Holeman

Erika leads a class at the Chapel in the Oaks. Photography by Sharon Holeman of Praise First Media, LLC.

What started as three friends teaching fitness classes at a church in Waco, Texas has turned into a REFIT Revolution! In 2009 Angela Beeler, Catherine Ballas, and Emily Field posted some original choreography on YouTube to help draw people to their classes. Rather than quick-fix results, the trio chose to focus on the joy of the journey – building a community of friends where everyone belongs regardless of their current circumstance. They wanted a place where people would feel acceptance and know when they walked in the door that “you belong here.”

The response to their teachings was astounding. By 2013 they had received enough encouragement and requests from fitness instructors wanting to teach their routines that they launched the REFIT Instructor Program. It combines dance moves to positive music and has been transformational to a great number of people. One of those is Baton Rouge’s Erika Bittner.

Erika was first introduced to REFIT through a friend at church. That invitation led Erika on a journey she was not expecting. “I never did anything related to dance, but as God brought REFIT into my life, a new love and passion surprised me,” she said. After two years of taking classes, Erika became a certified instructor.

“Physical health was a chore for a long time in my life,” she said. “I went to the gym because it was something I had to do. REFIT has changed my life because I enjoy the workout – but it is so much more. It’s a community of real people who do not judge. They encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves. And that gives me so much joy!”

Erika has multiple stories of how she has seen God working in the lives of those who become part of the REFIT community. She recalls with amazement a college friend who reached out to her to learn more about the classes. Her friend attended, and afterward approached Erika with tears in her eyes. The class had given her joy amid an overwhelming season in her life.

“The moment my friend shared her situation with me I knew God was in the details,” Erika said. “Nothing is too big or small for God. He wants us to trust and follow His lead! When we are in tune with the Holy Spirit and do the things we love, big things happen for His glory!”

Despite being a busy wife, dog mom, music teacher, and travel enthusiast, Erika makes time for REFIT. “Not only has REFIT transformed my physical self, but I have gained a new sense of confidence and fabulous community,” she said.

Classes are 55 minutes each, with fun choreography to songs that are positive or neutral. Attendees come to dance, sweat, smile, and laugh. “There is a release of stress,” Erika explains. “Nobody is distracted by cell phones, social media, kids, family, or work. It is a place for people to let go of the burdens of life and worship through dance. I see a huge difference in my attitude and mindset when I am doing REFIT. It is tough to minister to others if we do not take care of ourselves, and I find REFIT provides a place for self-care and stress relief.”

Erika ends each class with a pinky prayer “because we are too sweaty to hold hands!” The group sometimes shares a devotional or does a small activity. “This time really allows us to grow deeper and walk through life together, which is so powerful!” Erika said.

Erika teaches REFIT at The Chapel in the Oaks, along with instructors Morgan Barkas and Jessica Wright. While classes are on a brief hiatus during August, everyone is invited to brunch at The Crown at The Royal Standard on Highland Road on Saturday, August 25 at 10 a.m. Come meet some of the REFIT family!

Fall classes at The Chapel will kick off on Saturday, September 15 at 9 a.m. All classes at this location are donation-based, and everyone is welcome. Follow Erika and her crew on Facebook (I fit you fit REFIT) and Instagram (@ifityoufitrefit).

Other classes in Baton Rouge are held at Elite Gymnastics, Calloway’s Gym, Southern Oaks, and Women’s Center for Wellness. See refitrev.com for more information.

Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator, and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles-12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.