Faith Matters for Saturday, June 29, 2013

The memory of losing her home to fire more than 20 years ago draws a hearty laugh from Alice Castle.

Castle reacts that way, because she can look back on that incident — and the loss of her job at a plant shortly thereafter — and thank God for how far he’s brought her.

“It was real hard,” said Castle, a member of New Gideon Baptist Church for 13 years. “I had to lean on him.”

And Castle, 65, can testify of how leaning on God has brought her to a place of contentment in her life. After the fire and losing her job in Jeanerrette, Castle moved in and assisted her ailing parents (who have since died) and eventually moved to Baton Rouge 18 years ago.

“When you’ve lived through something like that, you can know that what Romans 8:37 says, you are ‘more than a conqueror.’ You got to get God in you to do it. You can’t just do it on your own,” she said.

The retired Castle said her life now is driven by a three-letter acronym: JIM for Jesus in Me.

“And once you get Jesus in you, you can do a lot of things,” she said. “I’m working now for the Lord and JIM.”

Castle credits her parents who raised her in the church and helped provide the foundation of her faith. She said her father, a minister who died at 94 years, pushed her until she was able to learn to play the piano by ear.

“Sometimes you think your parents are hard on you, but no they are not,” she said. “They are only trying to teach you.”

A bit of that teaching prowess also carried on to Castle, who teaches a Sunday school class at New Gideon in addition being a deaconness. “Once you get involved with people, you find out a lot of things and then God can use you if you go along.”

On the air

Souls are Nichelle Landry’s passion and she’s trying every avenue she can to try to reach them.

“It’s my hearts desire and prayer that all men would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Not just know him as a historical Jesus, but savior and Lord,” said Landry, the pastor of Victory International Ministries in Baton Rouge.

Landry’s latest soul-reaching venture has been television with the launch two months ago of “Tune In to Victory” at 9 p.m. Sundays on Cox Cable Channel 117 WLFT. Replays can be seen at 7 a.m. Tuesdays.

“I was told that Christian television could not compete with primetime on Sunday night and to select another day/time, but that’s the time I believe the Lord was leading us to select and I obeyed,” she said. “Since, we have received many phone calls, donations, and letter of support saying how the broadcast has been a blessing.”

Landry said the broadcast has been a blessing to people like her mother, who is homebound and unable to attend services.

“Saddened at first, this made me realize what a vital need for television ministry, being able to reach the sick and shut-in,” Landry said.

The 2-year-old Victory International Ministries, 10128 Florida Boulevard, was birthed out of a small group Bible study from Landry’s street ministry four years ago. Church services are 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

In December, Landry released her first book, “Lord, Fix my Heart!”

Faith blogger

Blogger Emmanuel Ogunjumo, 29, is no chump when it comes to sharing his faith.

“What God gives me is just too good to keep in,” said Ogunjumo, a Baton Rouge engineer who spends much of his time encouraging people through his blog. “For me, it’s about reaching one person. It’s about doing what God has called me to do.”

Writing the blog is his purpose and calling and not a duty, said Ogunjumo, a native of Nigeria, a ministry school student and a member of Healing Place Church. “God has called me to be an encourager.”

Ogunjumo’s blog — found at diaryofasuperchamp.wordpress.com — is based on his book “Diary of a SuperChump: My 40-day Journey Back to God.” The inspirational book is his personal diary of “spiritual enlightment and growth.”

“A super chump is someone who is outside the will of God,” he said. “In 40 days, God transformed me from a super chump to a super champ. That means when we allow our lives to be controlled by God we become champions in life.”

Usher ministry

Ushers are the most neglected people in most of the churches today, an author claims in what he calls the most “comprehensive guide specifically addressed to the needs of the usher.”

In “Ushering with a Mission: A Training Manual for the Development of the Ushers Ministry” (Crossbooks), Victor L. Davis deals with proper protocol and responsibilities of ushers. But more than that, Davis stresses the importance of Bible study, prayer and evangelism in the life of each individual usher.

“Ushering is not something we do because ‘it’s our Sunday to usher.’ Rather we do it because it is a lifestyle resulting from the overflow of the Spirit-Filled life,” Davis writes.

Davis offers church leaders a guide to expand the role of ushers to beyond merely “doorkeepers” to being ministers. He challenges ushers to become “Great Commission Ushers.”

Among the topics Davis discusses in the 73-page book is the Biblical foundation for the usher ministry, ushers in worship, ushering techniques and ushering universal rules and signals.

“Jesus has His disciples function as ushers on many occasions. They prepared the way for his coming. They introduced people to Him, and in general, directed people who had come to hear Him speak to be touched by his healing,” Davis writes.

The book is helpful for workshops and other teaching opportunities with fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice pages included.

Davis, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, is pastor of the historic Bethlehem Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.