Faith and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary have been the key factors to not only the longevity of Warden Burl Cain but also removing Angola’s title of the bloodiest prison in America. Angola’s success story is now being used as a model for other prisons in the United States, who have adopted similar programs.
North American Mission Board church planter Reagan Farris poses with his wife; Beth; daughters, 11-year-old Reece (middle) and 5-year-old Charlieanne and sons, 4-year-old Jude (left) and 8-year-old Asa. He meets in his home on a regular basis with attendees and teaches them new Bible stories and how they apply to their lives.
At the start and the end of each day, Royal Ambassador campers gather at the flag pole at Tall Timbers where they learn how to properly raise, take down and fold the American flag after listening to announcements for the day.
Forty-eight LSU students spent their Spring break on a mission trip to Colorado with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry to clean up tons of debris resulting from last September’s catastrophic floods along the Little Thompson Creek from Estes Park to PInewood Springs to Berthoud. More than 20 projects were completed and tons of forest debris was pulled from the creek bed so when this year’s snow melts there won’t be more flooding.
Tony Thibodeaux, pastor of Barataria Baptist, and his family answered God’s calling to come to storm-ravaged Barataria Baptist Church. He is helping lead his congregation as they work on building a new sanctuary with the hopes of moving into the new building debt free by the summer of 2015.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

ANGOLA – Walk into the museum just outside of the front gate at Louisiana State Penitentiary and one will notice a wall full of photos of all who have served as warden of the maximum security prison at Angola.

One of those is of Burl Cain, who has been warden of the prison 55 miles northwest of Baton Rouge since February 1995.

By Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans church planter Reagan Farris has a story to tell. It’s not the story of how he ended up in the Big Easy. It’s not the story of how a successful youth minister felt burdened for parents who weren’t discipling their children – because they in turn weren’t discipled.

By Kelly Boggs, Editor

PINEVILLE – The Louisiana College Presidential Search Committee is seeking input from alumni and other interested parties concerning what qualities the next president of LC should possess.

The Baptist Message received an announcement from LC July 1 indicating the Search Committee had established a survey on the Internet site QuestionPro, a company specializing in online research.

By Hannah Boggs, Message Staff Writer

PINEVILLE – Some young children may have trouble understanding the concept of donating money to a worthy cause but not twins Chloe and Sidney Burlew.

For their seventh birthday instead of bringing birthday gifts to their party, the twins asked people to bring donations for the Main Street Mission. Because of their unselfish act, the two little girls were able to gather more than $640 dollars and donate it to the mission.

By Hannah Boggs, Message Staff Writer

PINEVILLE – To find churches who are trying to “be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ” one needs to look no further than the Main Street Mission in Pineville.

Located at 312 Main Street in downtown Pineville, the Mission is a homeless shelter and ministry of First Baptist Church Pineville. And it has been meeting the needs of the homeless for more than 20 years.

By Mark H. Hunter, Regional Reporter

ANGOLA – Around 200 children got to spend the day with about 100 of their incarcerated fathers during the second Awana Lifeline’s Returning Hearts event held in 2014 on July 14, (the first was in mid-May) and along with finding forgiveness and reconciliation between the children and their fathers, 40 children accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, according to prison Chaplain John Toney.

By Mark H. Hunter, Regional Reporter

PINEWOOD SPRINGS, COLO. – Saint Manson was 1,400 miles away from his sea-level New Orleans home and about 7,000 feet high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains but despite the thin air, the athletic LSU freshman spent five strenuous days chopping tree branches with an axe and carrying them up out of a flood-damaged creek bed.

“I think it was pretty awesome being able to help people,” Manson, 19, a petroleum engineering major, said. “I enjoyed working and getting debris out of the river.” 

By Hannah Boggs, Message Staff Writer

PINEVILLE – It is specifically tailored for incoming freshmen at Louisiana College and the response, this year, has been tremendous.

Available for both incoming freshmen and transfer students, Front of the Line is to not only help incoming freshmen enroll at LC but also to start off their college careers on a positive note.

And it is not only for new students but for their parents as well so the transition from high school to college is a little easier.

By Hannah Boggs, Message Staff Writer

TIOGA – Getting a ‘full ride’ to college is truly an accomplishment.  Winning the Clyde and Elizabeth Smith Memorial Scholarship is even more so.

So, one can only imagine how excited Tioga graduate Paige Dubois was to learn she had accomplished both.

The Smith Memorial Scholarship, one of the highest honors given at Louisiana College, provides her tuition and room and board for four years at the school. And to earn the scholarship is no small feat.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Taxpayers could soon be paying for federal employees’ sex reassignment surgeries after the Office of Personnel Management lifted its ban on insurance coverage for the procedures.

The June 13 directive surfaced quietly as a letter to insurance providers, citing an “evolving professional consensus” on whether the surgery is “medically necessary.”

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

LAFAYETTE – Tom Lambert is alive but believes he really shouldn’t be.

Called the Miracle Man by some, Tom Lambert’s journey has taken him from overseeing a multi-million dollar sales force to overcoming bouts with cancer to surviving a near-death experience.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

GREENWELL SPRINGS – Changing the culture for Christ in a drastic way can take just 80 minutes a month, believes Walter “Hank” Hankins Jr.

And Hankins believes it can happen with churches of all denominations throughout the country, including Louisiana Baptists.

The target audience is the country’s elected officials.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

Students trickle into Helping Hands storefront classes which host between 60 and 70 students each week.

Throughout the hour of study for each student, tutors mix in questions about their day-to-day lives with lessons about the English language. Tutors enjoy the one-on-one connection just as much as helping the students learn to speak fluent English.

“The students drive me,” said tutor Sallie Brown. “You become a part of their lives while they are here.”

ALEXANDRIA -- Singer, songwriter and comedian Mark Lowry, along with Grammy winner Jason Crabb will bring an enjoyable evening of music, comedy and ministry to the Alexandria Riverfront Center in Alexandria on Aug. 9.

Presented by Muse Concerts and sponsored by Feed the Children, Mark Lowry Live will be held at the Alexandria Riverfront Center located at 707 Second Street in Alexandria. The show starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Mark Lowry is best known for penning the Christmas classic, “Mary Did You Know?” and for years

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

BATON ROUGE – The 2014 session of the Louisiana Legislature was gaveled to a close on June 2. Law makers of The Bayou State vetted and debated more than 1,500 bills, mostly without fanfare or controversy, during the three month assembly. 

There were, however, some bills introduced of a moral nature that have the potential to impact lives, communities and churches that are worth noting.

By Ronnie Floyd, SBC President

Years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention was looked upon as having a significant influence on American life.

When I was a very young pastor attending our annual meetings, I remember how our leaders would talk about the influence our Convention had upon American life, even in determining our nation’s future.

If this is true, what happened?

Ralph Tone, Phoenix-based church partner for LifeWay

While ministering as a missionary in Argentina, I had the privilege of facilitating prayer vigils in the province of Buenos Aires.

These prayer vigils would sometimes last all night. But it’s not necessary to pray all night to have a powerful prayer vigil.

You can start with a one- or two-hour vigil in your Bible study, church or even better, in union with another local church.

By Reggie Bridges, Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Ruston

After the smoke of spent fireworks disappear and red, white and blue paraphilia is formally retired after Fourth of July activities, I often step back and assess our church’s involvement in a so-called “patriotic” service. 

Such introspection has taken on new meaning this year as I read articles, blogs, and tweets that denounced any expression of patriotism within church life. 

By David Jeremiah, Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church

A century ago, the average person’s social network probably consisted of less than 50 family, neighbors, church members and co-workers.

Today, your social network can consist of hundreds, even thousands, of people. They can live anywhere in the world, speak a different native language, and be of a different religion.

The only thread that ties you together is a similar interest in, well, anything – or nothing at all!

By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor

There are atheists and liberals, some who are both, who believe there is no need for God in order for morality to be maintained in a society. They argue that people can act morally apart from a supreme authority.

I agree that people can act morally apart from God’s standard. However, the real question is why should they? If there is no supreme authority – no God – then why behave morally?

By Erich Bridges, IMB World Correspondent

Jacob (not his real name), age 8, probably isn’t up to speed on the cultural and spiritual struggles going on in America.

He’s a kid, for one thing. He doesn’t live in the United States most of the time, for another. His parents are Southern Baptist workers in North Africa and the Middle East.

He doesn’t understand why far more violent conflicts are exploding around him and his family, either. He just knows that he misses his friends.

By Joe McKeever, Author/Retired Pastor

Google “the number one sin of the church” and almost all the responses will be the same: Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, believes the number one sin is the churches leaders not crying out to God for the outcasts of this world – the prostitutes, the gang leaders, the druggies.

By Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary

A new television show, “Naked Dating,” recently debuted.

In each episode, a man and a woman dates two different suitors – with the goal of deciding by the end of the episode if any of the relationships will continue.

And, as the name of the program implies, everyone is naked from first meeting until final credits.

This new naked show joins a lineup of other recent shows with characters in the buff.

By Hannah Fleming, Message Staff Writer

WOODWORTH – “We’re hoping we’ll have boys come here who don’t have a relationship with Christ and through our services, missionaries and Bible studies they will get to the point where they will be ready to accept Him.”

Those are lofty expectations but according to Mike Collie, Royal Ambassadors camp director of Louisiana for campers, very achievable.

NASHVILLE (BP) – Contributions to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program totaled 98.38 percent of the budgeted goal through the third quarter ending June 30, SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page has announced.

The $141,298,445.60 the Executive Committee received during the first nine months of the fiscal year, Oct. 1 - June 30, for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget is 1.62 percent short of the $143,625,000 year-to-date budgeted amount.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

PINEVILLE – South Carolina pastor Don Wilton will be the keynote speaker for this year’s E4 preaching conference.

The pastor at First Baptist Spartanburg, SC, Wilton will bring messages during all three sessions over the course of the conference, scheduled for Sept. 19-20 at First Baptist Pineville.

Wilton is no stranger to Louisiana Baptist life.

By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer

This year’s PreTeen Invasion promises twice the fun.

For the first time, fourth through sixth graders and their leaders will have two choices of where to attend the annual evangelism conference that began in 2011.

Temple Baptist in Ruston will host the first PreTeen Invasion on Aug. 16 and First Baptist Lafayette will host the other on Aug. 23.

By Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (BP) – When Jim Jackson became the pastor of Faith Fellowship Church in Johnson City, Tenn., in January 2013, his first move wasn’t what most people might expect. He closed the church.

The church had been near its end for several decades as the community around it changed and the church didn’t adjust to better reach its neighbors. Faith Fellowship seemed destined to become one of the 1,000 churches Southern Baptists close annually.

But God didn’t appear to be finished with the church quite yet.

ON THE MOVE

Chuck Johnston is new as interim pastor at Pleasure Point Baptist Church, Homer.

Mike Thibodeaux is new as music director at Unity Baptist Church, Cotton Valley.

Cole Landreth has resigned as worship pastor at Colyell Baptist Church, Livingston.

Mike (wife Jennifer) Tricell new as music minister at Willow Point Baptist Church, Shreveport.

Todd (wife Amy) Young new as education/outreach minister at Summer Grove Baptist Church, Shreveport.

ON THE MOVE

Jim Wolfe new as pastor at Ridge Avenue Baptist Church, West Monroe.

Neil Wigley new as pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church, Eros.

Tom Harper retiring from First Baptist Church, Melville on Aug. 4 to Florida.

REVIVAL/HOMECOMING

Hebron Baptist Church, Summerfield: Homecoming Sunday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m. Lunch will follow the service in the fellowship hall. Pastor: Kenneth Nutt.