A bout with throat cancer two years ago threatened the voice of the Rev. J. Bertell Davis Sr.
A voice Davis has used to preach the Gospel for more than 25 years and a voice that now testifies of God’s healing power.
“The Lord healed me like he promised he would,” said Davis, the pastor for 16 years at Magnolia Missionary Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
Throughout his battle with throat cancer, Davis said he never really stayed away from the pulpit.
But Davis, 61, hasn’t limited his preaching to the pulpit. He has been passionate about using his voice and his life to witness outside the walls of the church.
“We deem it to be a part of what us as Christians ought to do on a daily basis,” Davis said. “Our church is called a Missionary Baptist church, which is indicative of our call to evangelism. (Jesus) said to ‘go ye into all the world’ and preach the Gospel. It’s not a suggestion. It was a spiritual mandate from our lord and savior, and we take it very seriously.”
Davis is again leading his church in their outreach efforts.
An evangelistic rally, prayer service and musical is set for 6 p.m. June 5 at the church, 960 E. Buchanan St.
“It’s almost like a pep rally before the big game,” Davis said.
The following day — at 8 a.m. June 6 — Davis said the church will hit the streets of Old South Baton Rouge.
“When something is really good to you, you ought to be willing to share it with others,” Davis said. “We’ll be sharing the truth of the Gospel to as many who will receive it.”
The evangelistic team will then head back to the church for a different kind of sharing: food. There will be also be music from the choir, counseling, prayer, and Davis will lead a group of speakers.
“We’ll just be sharing a little slice of heaven to all the people who come back with us,” he said.
Davis said Magnolia holds rallies as it is “led by the Spirit,” but next week’s rally is the major one for this year.
“The results have been tremendous,” he said. “We bring people to Christ who may not have known him. And it renews the faith of those who may have for some reason — as the old folk used to say — backslidden.”
Being able to look in the eyes of people in the community is rewarding, Davis said.
“The spiritual experience provides answers to the questions that people have in their lives,” he said. “Even when you don’t get all the answers you need or that you’re looking for, at least you know there is some kind of connectiveness with other people who believe and some sense of community in the faith. And it’s a real blessing to many people to know that they’re not in this life alone.”
His faith is renewed when others come to Christ, Davis said.
“My joy is made full to see someone who has had only questions find some answers. It’s a blessing to me as well as the convert,” he said.
That joyous moment may sometimes be delayed.
“They don’t always receive it gladly initially,” Davis said. “But we have seen people that we have witnessed to a least a year ago and two years and three years and four years and five years ago, and one day the door opens and they step in. It’s as if a light has gone off.”
Davis said he trains his members for witnessing through Bible study, where he teaches on tenants of the faith and sharing techniques on winning souls.
He also leads by example.
“I do believe that you cannot lead where you are unwilling to go,” he said.
Davis’ cancer experience has also enhanced his witnessing experience.
“I’ve seen people that as a result of seeing my healing take place, their faith was built,” he said. “And some of them who have no faith at all or lost their faith found it renewed because of what they saw the Lord do in my life.”
For more on the church’s evangelism events, call (225) 953-4238.
High class program
Called one of the “best-kept secrets” in Baton Rouge, the Southeast Regional Biblical Institute has played a vital role in helping prepare students for the work of ministry.
The institute, an extension of the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, will hold its second Recognition Ceremony Program at 4 p.m. Sunday at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Drive.
The guest speaker for the program will be the Rev. Fred Jeff Smith, Shiloh’s pastor.
The graduating class will receive their certificates in Christian Training and advanced certificates in Christian Training from Samford University Ministry Training Institute. Kevin Blackwell, director of the Ministry Training Institute, will confer the certificates.
“Samford’s Ministry Training Institute is proud to partner with SRBI in offering quality biblical training to students who are serious about their faith and spiritual growth,” Blackwell said. “ SRBI had its beginning on Sept. 5, 2011, at New Life Church in Baton Rouge under the direction of the Rev. Mary Moss.
“It has significantly impacted our community because it is an affiliate of the prestigious Beeson Divinity School … and uses highly seminary trained biblical instructors to rightly divide the word of truth,” said Ruby Williams, a student and member of the institute’s Advisory Board.
‘Decade of Service’
Gloryland Baptist Church’s Gloryland Educational Resource Center has been a blessing for the surrounding community for the past 10 years, even as it has operated in anonymity to some.
“A lot of people are not aware that we exist,” said Joycelyn Green, GREC’s executive director and the church’s administrative secretary.
So in celebration of its 10 years and to bring more recognition to the program, GREC will host “A Decade of Service” Awards Luncheon at noon June 6 at Boudreaux’s, 2647 Government St.
“It’s a milestone for us in terms of the service that we’ve been rendering to our community,” Green said. “It’s a community affair although it’s sponsored through Gloryland and a nonprofit through Gloryland still it’s helping the community and basically it’s the 70805 and 70806 ZIP codes.”
The guest speaker will be Warren Drake, the incoming superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish schools.
As part of the luncheon, scholarships will be presented to the church’s graduating high school seniors and awards presented to other scholastic achievers. Also, a community service award will be presented to Amerigroup for its decade of service to GREC and an individual award for community service for volunteer hours will be given to Demetria Perkins at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
In its 10 years, GREC has provided an annual summer enrichment program, a Building Healthy Communities Health Fair, food and clothing pantry, after-school tutorial program and scholarships.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email@example.com.