An atheist played a part in the Rev. Robert Scott’s journey into the ministry.

Scott was newly saved after running with a notorious street gang, excited about God and was looking for a church home in 1995 when the admitted unbeliever directed him to King David Baptist Church on Harry Drive in Baton Rouge.

“An atheist that didn’t care nothing about the Lord and said he could be healed by the molecules in the universe just looked at me and said, ‘Go to Harry Drive. The angels are walking there,’” Scott said.

Scott, a Baton Rouge native, said he found the church’s address in the phone book. He said he worshipped at the church six months before realizing it had a main location on Blount Road.

“That’s how lost I was for church,” he said.

In 1996, during a revival at the church, Scott answered his call into the ministry.

“For 20 years, I’ve been serving (God) in various capacities,” Scott said.

That included street ministry and prison ministry at Greater King David and Star Hill Church in Baton Rouge before he was selected to pastor historic Nathaniel Baptist Church in Centreville, Mississippi, seven years ago. Scott served briefly at Nathaniel under his grandfather and succeeded him when he died at age 94.

“The Lord’s really blessing us up there,” Scott said of the church on the Louisiana-Mississippi line.

Scott, 47, has come a long way from the streets of Old South Baton Rouge where at age 15 he joined the Southside Wrecking Crew street gang, led by Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed and others.

“Most of my friends are dead or in Angola or on death row,” he said.

Jail and chemical dependency were a way of life for Scott — until one day God called.

“We were riding around one day, getting high and we came on North Foster,” he said. “I’ll never forget that day.”

He stopped at the home of a friend whose father was a preacher.

“That man preached to us for four or five hours,” Scott said. “The excitement on his face grew as he shared the Gospel. And as he was sharing, I was like a sponge, because at that time, I needed a savior. That day, I accepted Christ in my life.”

Scott started bringing others to the house to hear the word of God until he was told to find a church home. He did, thanks to the atheist guide.

“When God saved me in that house, I’ve been running for the Lord ever since and being faithful to him,” he said.

A graduate of Capitol Senior High School, Christian Bible College and a student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Scott is a passionate believer in the word.

That’s why he was honored to have his Mississippi church for the first time attend the Fourth District Baptist Association’s 26th annual Congress of Christian Education on June 6-10 in Baton Rouge.

“If you could find a good well to get some water for your people, you might as well go to that well,” said Scott, whose church is part of the Homochitto Baptist Association in Mississippi.

Twenty-four members of Nathaniel made the one-hour commute to Scotlandville Magnet High to take part in the event that included nearly 40 classes.

“They really enjoyed it,” Scott said. “They felt welcomed. We’re going to make it an annual event. I think it was very well-rounded, and it was very beneficial because of the fact that they were able to go to one place and be able operate in their ministry capacity … They’re willing to make the sacrifice. They’re willing to get on the road. They’re willing to get off of work and travel and come back.”

The Rev. David Thomas, president of the Fourth District Congress of Christian Education, said Nathaniel was one of 84 churches participating this year. More than 1,100 adults and children attended.

“Overall, everything went very well,” Thomas said. “This is definitely the biggest event the district does each year.”

A gathering of boys

LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones and Southern University standout football player Lenard Tillery will be among the featured guests at “A Gathering of Neighborhood Boys” set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 2, at New St. John Baptist Church, 1455 South St., Baton Rouge.

The second annual event for young men ages 8-18 will include group discussions dealing with peer pressure, the importance of education, crime and community issues.

Jones and Tillery will speak during the first part of the program, said event organizer Drusilla Carter.

“Their presentation will be as a mentor, to encourage boys in the basics: staying in school, getting good grades … and hopefully give them life experience that they have had,” she said.

The second part of the event will feature an oratorical contest. The subject will be “How Can We Eradicate Poverty and Violence Within Our Communities.” Monetary awards will be presented for first, second and third place and certificates to all participants. The youngsters will present before a two- to three-judge panel.

“They’re to give a little three- to four-minute talk about how they feel in their mind how to get rid of some of the violence, the bad feelings, the bullying in our neighborhoods,” Carter said. “We try to encourage them to prepare and speak in front of an audience.”

“A Gathering of Neighborhood Boys” is a vision of New St. John Pastor W. Marshall Myles, Carter said.

“He likes to do things for young boys because that’s an area of the community where we have to be more,” Carter said. “We have to be mentors. Even the women have to be mentors. Studies have shown that black boys do not always graduate from high school and their reading is so much at a lower level than girls.”

The event will culminate with a cook-out and fellowship.

For information, call (225) 383-5280, email newstjohn@aol.com or go to newstjohn.net

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