The arts were Shaffon Grodger’s first love.

“I love to sing. I love to write my own songs. I love dancing,” said Grodger, a native of Jamaica and a fine arts student at Baton Rouge Community College.

In 2009, Grodger got saved and experienced a newfound love relationship with God.

“I love going to church,” she said. “I love ministry toward other people, but I love what it means to have a relationship with God and not just have religion with God.”

Grodger has combined her love for God and the arts to help minister to others and herself.

“I pour my heart into ministry because I feel like ministry helps keep me alive. It helps keep me grounded. I see so many people that I can help in any way that God wants me to,” said Grodger, a member of Cathedral World Worship Center in Baton Rouge, where she has worked with the dance, women’s and youth ministries.

Ministry, Grodger said, is a big part of who she is. It gives her an identity and purpose, something that didn’t come easy for an adopted child who has had her share of difficult moments in life.

“I don’t really know a lot about my background,” she said.

She learned she was born in Jamaica before moving to New York as a child with her family, including nine brothers and six sisters.

In junior high school, Grodger moved with her family to Connecticut. She became estranged from most of her family in high school and was supported by a teacher.

“My parents stopped really supporting me when I was in high school,” she said. “(My teacher) became a real rock to me.”

A bad experience with her family also caused Grodger to fall away from church.

“I became bitter toward the church,” she said. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with church — not at all.”

After high school, Grodger attended a community college in Connecticut before her teacher/mentor talked her into visiting LSU.

“It seemed like a nice place,” Grodger said.

She enrolled at LSU with plans to major in French, go to law school, then move to New York to work at the United Nations. Grodger now speaks several languages, including French, Japanese and Spanish.

But the arts kept calling

Grodger left LSU after a year to attend BRCC. While going to school and working two jobs as a waitress, Grodger has found some success in the arts. She has had some singing engagements, appeared in a local hospital commercial and has worked with some movie productions, including “Pitch Perfect 2” and “NCIS: New Orleans.”

Even while enjoying some artistic success, Grodger said she still was experiencing difficulty in other aspects of her life. She said it was her conversion experience in 2009 that gave her a revelation of God’s love and gave her the faith to get through the tough moments.

“I’ve been living all my life thinking that nobody cared,” she said. “God cares for me enough to die for me. … I realized that all this time, God’s been covering me. God’s been protecting me. God’s been shielding me. Even though I’ve been going through some rough patches, God has never really abandoned me.”

Grodger, who visited with her adopted mother last year for the first time in nine years, said she now knows what real adoption is.

“God literally has adopted me. God has literally taken me in,” she said. “I feel like I want my life to be ministry. Leaving a legacy is really important to me, because I don’t really have any other ties. I can’t track my background, but I’ll definitely leave a trace forward.”

Gospel under the stars

The third week of October is a special time for Kerwyn Fealing. The longtime Baton Rouge radio personality said the weather is always nice and his birthday is Oct. 18.

In honor of that, Fealing has hosted the “Gospel Under the Stars” musical event the past several years. This year’s event is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the SYI Catering and Event Center, 7227 Exchange Place.

“What is so special to me about ‘Gospel Under the Stars’ is that it is unique and brings together some of the most anointed talents I can find,” Fealing said. “Imagine, if you will, a crisp Sunday evening after all of the pomp and circumstance of our regular Sunday services, you have the opportunity to experience the splendor of God with the sky as our ceiling and with no walls to contain us.”

Guests will include New Revelation Gospel Ministries, Majestic Ensemble for Christ, Tina/Trina, On 1 Accord, Tinisha Walton, New Ark Dance Ministry, Kenya Harris, Marshaun Robinson, No Strings Attached Puppet Productions, Baton Rouge Revolutions Outreach Ministry and Alan Buckley.

The nighttime event, which includes singing, dancing, mime and the spoken word, is inspired by the line “and the heavens declare the glory of God” from Psalm 19.

For more information or to become a part of “Gospel Under the Stars,” contact Fealing at (225) 993-5370 or email him at fealinggoodproductions2011@gmail.com.

‘War Room’

The low-budget, faith-based film “War Room” continues to do well at the box office, though panned by critics.

The acting isn’t all that great for a “drama,” some aspects of the movie may come across as far-fetched and even the most ardent of believers may deem it too preachy. But despite all of that, “The War Room” is enjoyable and inspiring, and the message of the film is clear: There’s life-changing power in prayer.

“War Room” was made for $3 million and so far has grossed $55 million.

The movie stars Priscilla Shirer, a popular Christian speaker who has visited Baton Rouge in recent years. She’s stellar in her role as successful real estate agent Elizabeth Jordan who’s in a troubled marriage.

Another star is the elderly prayer warrior Miss Clara, played by Karen Abercrombie. She delivers the funniest and most memorable lines of the movie, such as, “You say you only attend church occasionally. Is that because your preacher only preaches occasionally?”

The movie was produced by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendric, who are responsible for the other Christian movies “Fireproof” and “Courageous.”

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