Her faith brought her ‘a mighty long way’
Vertis Lathers says the one constant in her life the past 35 years has been her faith.
It was her faith that the Baton Rouge woman credits with enabling her to beat her longtime battle with alcohol.
And she tells of how her faith never wavered when her husband and son died three months apart 10 years ago — or when her home was destroyed by fire.
“My faith is very strong in the Lord. He has brought me from a mighty long way,” said the 67-year-old Lathers, a member of New Hope Baptist Church.
Lathers said her life took a dramatic turn when she found Jesus Christ and started attending New Hope with the Rev. Leo Cyrus more than 35 years ago.
“That’s when my life starting changing through Rev. Cyrus’ preaching and teaching,” she said.
Lathers said she found something in Jesus Christ that she couldn’t find in alcohol.
“You drink to try to find peace and joy and try to forget, but you don’t have to do that when you accept Jesus Christ,” she said.
Lathers’ alcohol problems started when she was 17 and lasted about 18 years.
“The Lord took that away from me. Now I don’t ever have a desire for alcohol,” she said. “It was not a struggle. Jesus came and he just took the place of that alcohol. What I was looking for, I found in Jesus.”
Soon Lathers’ husband joined her in church. They both served on the usher board.
“When I really got into serving God, my husband was still out in the streets. I let him go in the streets. I prayed for him, and the next thing I knew my husband came and joined church and the Rev. Cyrus baptized him. We had a beautiful marriage after we accepted Jesus Christ.”
That 28-year marriage ended in December 2001 with her husband’s death to throat cancer. Her 37-year-old died on Feb. 14, 2002.
“It was rough,” Lathers said. “I know the Lord giveth and he taketh. I know that. But I had grown so strong in the Lord so that when I lost them I didn’t waver in my faith at all. I didn’t question God.”
Instead, Lathers, who retired 13 years ago after working as a counselor, said she spends her time working in church and praising God — even as she waits on rebuilding her home lost to fire.
“I’m still patiently waiting on the Lord and I have that faith that’s going to come through, and I’m going to be back in my house,” she said.
Strike up the band
Frank Williams has led hundreds of halftime shows during his 17 years at McKinley High School.
On Sunday, Williams led a “halftime” show of a different type — in church.
A band made of some student volunteers from McKinley High and Park Forest Middle School performed several gospel tunes, marched and danced, delighting the crowd at Living Faith Christian Center.
Emanuel Milton, the drum major at McKinley, helped lead the band into the church.
“It was fun and exciting,” said Milton, a 16-year-old junior. “We’ve been kind of keeping it a secret so it could be fun for the congregation.”
And by most indications it was as many in the congregation stood on their feet, waved their hands, pulled out their cell-phones for video and pictures or danced to the beat.
Williams, member of Living Faith, said the idea came from Wuan Miller, the church’s youth director and a former member of the Southern University band.
“It’s radical, especially the dance routine part,” Williams said of the idea. “What we were trying to do was meet the kids halfway. Some of these kids have never thought about coming to church, and they do it’s only on special occasions.”
The performance was part of the church’s youth day service as the massive youth praise team — wearing shirts that said “Strike up the band 4 Christ” — aided the band with some selections. The band’s selections included “Praise is What I Do” by Shekinah Glory, “Get Up” by Mary Mary and “Before I Die” by Kirk Franklin.
“It was a challenge because you have middle school mixing with high school, some believers and some who are not actually in church,” Williams said.
The bands had been practicing at their respective schools for a month and held one joint practice. It was hard work but also ministry, Williams said.
“Thinking about doing something to serve Christ gave them a good feeling,” he said.
Miller was pleased.
“This idea presented an opportunity to witness to the awesome students ... the same way that Jesus talked to the woman at the well, ate with those no one else wanted to associate with, and compelled Nicodemus at night. In other words, He engaged them for their benefit, not for status quo. Thus, these two bands performed Christian songs for our congregation with the highest level of respect and honor for the Lord. They were absolutely amazed, as well, at the level of free worship of the kids that participate in the LFCC Youth Ministry. And that inspired many of them to respond to the altar call at the end of the service. Thus, many lives were touched.”
New English Bible
John 11:35 — “Jesus wept.” — is generally regarded as the shortest verse in the Bible.
Not so in the bold, new Common English Bible that doubles the King James Version into: “Jesus began to cry.”
That’s one of the changes in the Bible that publishers claim has “uncommon readability and relevance for a broad audience.”
The Common English Bible is the product of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations working less than four yeas to translate the Bible into English from original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The complete English format was released this summer.
“Despite the English Bible market having so many options available, the Common English Bible stand apart from them all,” said Paul Franklyn, project director for the Common English Bible Committee and associate at the Somersault group which published the Bible. “It’s the result of large-scale collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers: conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities uniting to create a fresh translation using vivid natural language.”
Among the new Bible’s features is the extensive use of contractions, engaging conversational-style writing and detailed color maps from National Geographic.
Publishers claim the Bible is not a revision of any version and “nonpolarizing, denomination neutral and a new translation for the 21st century.”
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday. Contact Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email email@example.com.