Long before becoming a megachurch pastor and presiding bishop of the influential Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, Joseph Walker was just another Southern University student with big plans. And they didn’t include ministry.
“I was going to law school until God called me to preach,” said Walker, who recently stopped at Southern during his “Reset” tour based on his newest book, “Reset Your Life: Make A New Start.”
After majoring in English at Southern, Walker went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 1992, at age 24, Walker took over as pastor of the 175-member Mount Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The church has grown to more than 30,000 members. Last year, Walker was elected to succeed founder Bishop Paul Morton, of New Orleans, as head of the Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship.
He hasn’t forgotten the role Southern played in his journey.
“This is where I was launched. This is where my destiny was launched. This is where I was called to preach. I was told I could do well here,” said Walker, a Shreveport native.
During his years at Southern, Walker attended Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. Jesse Bilberry.
“That was a real great opportunity,” he said. “ (Bilberry’s) a great man of God. I was faithful. I learned a lot from him.”
Walker said it was special to bring the book tour to his alma mater. The event included a service where Walker preached, followed by a book signing at the Smith-Brown Memorial Union.
“It means more than anything else, because this is home base for me,” he said.
Southern was the seventh stop on Walker’s book tour, which shares the message of how God can turn around or reset any situation in life.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in life,” he told the crowd. “It doesn’t matter what setback you’ve had. It doesn’t matter what crisis you’ve been through. Sometimes the devil says, ‘It’s over, receive it. That’s the prognosis. Deal with it.’ But I’m telling you God will reset your life. The rest of your life can be the rest of your life.”
Walker said God gave him the “Reset” message a few years ago when he took his cellphone to be repaired. He was told the phone required a “hard reset” and he was going to “lose some things.”
“God spoke to me right there and said, ‘That’s it. Stop whining over what you’ve lost, because I’m going to bring greater in your life,’ ” Walker said.
The thrust of Walker’s “Reset” message is based upon the life of Mephibosheth from 2 Samuel 9. Mephibosheth was the crippled adult son of King David’s late friend Jonathan.
King David summoned Mephibosheth from the desolate town of Lodebar to the palace.
“(Mephibosheth) goes from a place called lack to a place of no lack in 13 verses. He goes from struggle to success in 13 verses. He goes from a place of no hope to sitting at the king’s table,” Walker said.
Just as Mephibosheth’s life was reset in a moment, God offers all of us that same opportunity, Walker told the crowd.
“There’s a moment where God says, ‘Everything in your life is going to change,’ ” Walker said. “There is a time when everything collides together, and God will put you in the right place with the right people, under the right word to tell you, ‘This is your time for a reset.’ ”
Among the guests at the event was Bishop Charles Wallace and Bishop Gregory Cooper, both of Baton Rouge. The Southern University Gospel Choir provided the worship music.
In tune with God
The “most holy significant and reverent utterance” believers have at their disposal is communication with God, Baton Rouge author and Bible study teacher Michael T. Abadie says in his new book on prayer titled, “Tuning in to the God Frequency” (iUniverse).
“The prayer taught by Jesus (in Matthew 6) provides the framework, or pattern of a perfectly designed model prayer constructed in order of importance for us to humbly present before God, our father,” Abadie writes.
It’s the opening six words — “Our Father who is in heaven” — that sets the “divine tone” for the entire prayer, said 67-year-old Abadie, a member of the Journey Church.
“This greeting builds the foundation for who is being addressed, what his relationship is to his followers, and declares that his residence is not of his Earth,” he writes. “Jesus prayed our father, attesting that we corporately share the same heavenly spiritual father.”
In the 119-page book, Abadie discusses the key phases in the Lord’s Prayer, sharing revelations that helped expand his understanding — often spiced with his unique humor. In a bid to the book’s title, Abadie says there’s spiritual frequencies that exist for those seeking to transmit and receive.
“There are hundreds, even thousands of intelligible frequencies intercepted by our televisions and receiving devices, but we’re only aware of the precise channel we are tuned to at any given time,” Abadie writes. “It is also a fact that innumerable frequencies are present on and around the Earth, with vibrations or frequencies also emanating from parts of the universe within range of our perception and reception. In a comparison to heaven and Earth, mortal life seems to be tuned to a different channel or frequency of comprehension. Is it possible that heaven might exist all around us and even inside us and, at the same time, on a different frequency to which we’re not yet tuned to fully perceive?”
Chapters in the book include “The Grand Opening”; “Could You, Would You, Can You?”; “The Need for Heed”; “I’m Sorry, I Thought You Said Howard”; and “Our Father, His Father, My Father.”
Abadie’s book is available from the publisher iUniverse, Amazon.com and through most bookstores.
Religious organizations from throughout the area are gearing up to mix it up at the YMCA.
Missions, churches, schools and various others are expecting to take part in the first Ministries Mix set for 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Paula G. Manship YMCA, 8100 YMCA Plaza Drive, Baton Rouge.
The “bring your own table” event will give organizations an opportunity to set up ministry information at their table, share what they are doing, share resources and share fellowship with other ministries.
“We need to begin to meet and step outside of our comfort zone,” said Beth Townsend, organizer of the event and publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. “We need to support one another’s events. We need to meet people who are doing creative things for the body of Christ — not only if we have a need but when we come across a need, we can tell people where to go to have that need met.”
The free Ministries Mix is part of the first anniversary for Christian Life, the monthly magazine launched by Townsend to help bring awareness to people or groups doing life-changing work in the name of Jesus.
“We’ve done a real good job so far of telling stories of what people are doing. ... We’re very encouraged by the fact that we are hearing about so many creative things. I think we’ve been very surprised by the amount of activity that we didn’t know was going on,” Townsend said.
Among the many people profiled in the magazine are local news personality Sylvia Weatherspoon; former LSU and New York Giants star Corey Webster; LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas; and Baton Rougean Jarred Coates, co-producer of the Christian film “God’s Not Dead.”
Townsend said the Ministries Mix will include refreshments and a “pass this microphone” segment.
For information, call (225) 910-7426 or go to batonrougechristianlifemagazine.com.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached by phone at (225) 388-0238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.