Terry Robinson’s Faith Matters column for Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013

Black History Month shouldn’t be the only time churches show an interest in educating and reaching out to their young people, a West Baton Rouge Parish pastor says.

“If all we do is come together once a year and tell them what happened in the 1700s, that’s not going to appeal to them,” said the Rev. Nelson Shaw, pastor of the St. Mark Baptist Church in Port Allen.

Shaw said the church can appeal to youths — many of whom are leaving the church in increasing numbers — by during the year consistently pointing to prominent black leaders today who serve as role models.

“Then maybe they won’t always feel they have to go to a hip-hop culture,” he said. “They could come back and realize that there is a culture with the other people that they’re just not aware of.”

Shaw will be the featured speaker at the Fourth District Baptist Association’s Young People’s Department Workshop for youth directors, ministers and leaders.

The workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Israelite Baptist Church, 1841 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge.

Introducing youths to some of their own and opening the lines of communication will help close that perceived generation gap, said the 62-year-old Shaw, who has been working with youths for about 40 years.

“We leave them out because we don’t know how to reach them, and because of that, I think young people have a tendency to not get involved in church, because they feel like no one is trying to communicate with them and understand their point of view,” he said.

Shaw recommends befriending young people.

“If you’re going to stand off as an adult that has the knowledge, and you’re just going to try to impart what you know to a youth, you’re not going to reach them,” Shaw said. “Young people have ideas, they have thoughts, they have questions.”

Shaw said if the church doesn’t give a consistent ear to the young people, they will seek answers from outside sources.

“If we can’t get to the point to allow young people to express themselves, then they’re not going to come to us,” he said. “We live in an information generation. And people want information; if they can’t get it one place, they’re going to get it somewhere else.”

The Fourth District workshop is helping leaders gear up for another active year, said Linda Coleman, director of Young People’s Department. The theme for 2013 is “What’s a Leader to Do.”

“This year we’re focusing on adults being vessels, because God has chosen us to give leadership to young people and give them some kind of substance, so they can won’t fall prey to all these tactics that are around them,” Coleman said.

After two adult workshops, the district’s first meeting of the year for youth is set for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 16 at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1920 Progress Road, in Baton Rouge.

The district will hold or participate in at least one major event each month for the rest of the year, including a rites of passage ceremony in April, a rally day in June and a Christmas fellowship.

Contact Coleman at coleman1254@att.net.

On a mission

Foreign mission work never gets old for the Rev. Kyle Sullivan, the pastor of families and young children missions at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

Sullivan, 29, will be making his sixth trip to Haiti as Woodlawn leads a mission trip to the Caribbean country on March 20-27.

“For me, missions is an opportunity to share with the world hope and the forgiveness of sin that is found in Jesus Christ,” Sullivan said.

Six or seven members from Woodlawn will be joined by representatives of at least two other area churches — Lanier Baptist, of Baton Rouge, and Westside Community, of Addis — and several churches and groups in Haiti and some churches from Sullivan’s native Kentucky, Sullivan said.

The work will include a pastors conference, revival, construction and an eyeglasses clinic.

Sullivan expects opportunities to share the gospel with patients as they are fit with prescription lenses. “We’re wanting to show the love of Christ in a tangible way,” he said.

A revival will be held in a hillside development called Canaan, near the capital of Port-au-Prince.

After the devastating earthquake in January 2010, thousands of displaced people settled in Canaan, and pastors from Port-au-Prince “have recognized that there are all these people now and there are no churches out there,” Sullivan said. “So they went out and started about five or so new churches in the area.”

Sullivan is still signing up people for the mission trip. The cost is $1,600 per person. Call him at (817) 753-1667 or email kyle@wbcbr.org.

Lessons from the trunk

In her book “Meet Me in the Trunk” (Crossbooks Publishing),” Baton Rouge author Yvonne Hilton Bourgeois describes how total submission to God helped change her life

“I needed God to take the steering wheel and I needed to get in the trunk,” Bourgeois writes. “From my place in the trunk I wasn’t able to reach over and take the steering wheel again when I felt I could go it alone ... I could rest assured God was in control.”

Bourgeois, 59, combines her love and knowledge of Scripture with experiences, including difficulties at work, marriage and with her children.

In the chapter titled “All Aboard,” Bourgeois opens with a passage from Mark 4:35-41, with Jesus proclaiming “peace be still” to calm the stormy wind and to the fearful disciples in a boat.

“When I was faced with this storm in my life, this passage was an anchor for me,” she writes. “Believe me when I say that there is no storm so powerful that Jesus can’t navigate safely through it. Sometimes, He will calm the seas, but more often than not He will take control of the helm and guide me through to the other side.”

Each chapter of the 99-page book is followed by two pages of questions.

Bourgeois attends Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge and The Church in Donaldsonville.

She is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a degree in psychology and sociology.

For more information, email Bourgeois at meetmeinthetrunk@gmail.com or go to http://www.crossbooks.com.

Faith Matters run every other Saturday in The Advocate. Reach Terry Robinson at (225) 388-238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.