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Faith Matters: Andre Morrison leaves the streets behind for a life in the church

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Pastor Andre Morrison and Pam Morrison

The preacher's son had more interest in running the streets than going to his father's church — or any other church for that matter.

Andre Morrison thought he was living his best life.

"I was living a life that wasn't pleasing for my life. It wasn't healthy for my body. It wasn't healthy for my soul, and it wasn't positive for my family," said Morrison, 46. "I got down to pretty much nothing. My wife told me it was time to leave the streets and get my life together."

At 26, he began that journey. 

"After that point, I made a decision that I didn't want to lose my family," Morrison said. "I wanted to be a better man, and God started to mold me. He started to bring me places."

One of the places Morrison ended up was in the pulpit at Word of Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge, taking over as pastor when his father died in 2015.

Morrison actually served as an assistant minister for several years under his father, the Rev. Lynn Morrison Jr., who was well-known for his wit and sound word of faith teaching.

Through the tough times, it wasn't only the voice of his wife, Pam, that was speaking to Morrison's heart.

"Even though I had been through trials, (God) never left," he said. "You have to really sit still and sit quiet and know his voice."

His earthly father and pastor also didn't give up.

"People say preachers' kids are some of the worst kids," he said. "It wasn't (about being) the preacher's kid; it was my will. It wasn't that my father wasn't praying. I just wasn't ready at that time."

He encourages parents to do the same for their wayward children.

"Don't put pressure on them, but continue to pray for them. Continue to love them, and God will bring them back in his perfect timing," Morrison said.

In taking over the ministry, Morrison endeavored to be his own person.

"A lot of people would want me to imitate my dad, but I had my own personality," he said. "For a while, I tried to do that, then I began to be myself."

That meant sharing his own testimony.

"New Christians base their experience on what somebody else has been through, and you don't do that," he said. "You have to have your own story. I can't get in the pulpit and tell them about what somebody else is doing. I have to experience it for myself. And that's what my part is — not to give them some fairy tale but give them the true word of God."

That passion for communicating the word was one of the key lessons Morrison learned from his father.

"He taught me how to teach and he taught me how to study the word of God — not just put a message together — but to understand people's hearts when I'm preparing a message," he said. "My vision and my goals are to teach them how to fulfill these goals — not just be a talker."

Another lesson from his father that has helped Morrison as a pastor: being patient and loving to people.

"When we go into our ministry, we don't go in looking for people's faults. We understand we're not perfect," he said. "The church is a hospital; you're going to take a lot of different patients in, and they're not going to be diagnosed the same." 

As a pastor, Morrison said he is called on to love people of different backgrounds, cultures and races.

"How do you love them? You have to love them with the love of God," he said. "You teach them they don't have to be in the situations they are — not being judgmental to them but teaching them the Bible principles of how they can get through whatever they're dealing with."

Morrison said he believes God has called Word of Faith Christian Center to impact the community by focusing on youth, domestic violence victims and the homeless.

"A lot of people are lost, and we're just forgetting about them," he said. "We want to attack those different areas."

The church is not forgetting about the youth being raised in difficult circumstances at home, including those affected by domestic violence. 

"We want those kids to know that they could still make it despite all they've been through," Morrison said. "We just want to encourage and let them know we are here for them."

In October, the church hosted a candlelight vigil for victims of domestic violence.

"I would ask them to lean on God's power and God's presence and begin to understand that it's not easy, but the peace of God which passes all understanding will help them," he said.

The church also assists people released from incarceration and married couples.

"We believe in rehabbing people who've been in jail," Morrison said. "We believe in young marriages, teaching them how to sustain."

Since moving to its new location at 8844 Greenwell Springs Road in December, Word of Faith Christian Center has more resources and space to reach out to people in the community.

"God has tremendously blessed our ministry," Morrison said. "It's a place where people can come in and feel at home. We love people. We love God's people. We love the youth. We really love to have fun."

The church sits on 16 acres with a 2-acre lake. Morrison said Word of Faith regularly hosts married couples for fellowship and lunch on the grounds after church on Sundays. The church has also hosted fishing events and crawfish boils and back-to-school events.

"I just want to be able to get these kids off their cellphones and focused and teach them to play outside and do things outside — to teach them how to fish, to teach them how to ride a four-wheeler and enjoy life outside of television and game systems," he said.

Morrison said it's part of a long-term vision to help and educate children, including starting an early learning school.

Morrison said God has given him his own vision for Word of Life, but the idea of a school is one he shared with his father.

"A lot of goals that he didn't fulfill, I believe in God that I'm going to fulfill those dreams and goals he wanted," he said. "I believe in God for the resources and the right channels to be able to carry the torch and to continue the legacy of this ministry."

Another day. Another blessing.

Luke 19:40: "I tell you,” (Jesus) replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

God wants our praise. God wants our worship. God wants our shouts of joy, happiness and glory unto him. But truth be told, he doesn't need them.

If we want to sit down on our praise, if we want to be silent about ALL God has done for us, if we want to forget his benefits, if we refuse to share the testimony of how good God has been to us, if we want to be ashamed of where he's brought us from, then God says, "So be it. Have it your way, but I am the way. If you don't want to give me praise, I don't want it. And if you want to give it with an attitude, then I don't need it." But then God says, "I got some rocks. I'll hear their shouts. I'll hear their cheers. I'll hear their praise."

Shame on us if a rock can outdo us in getting God's attention. A rock doesn't have a voice or hands to lift up in praise, but we do. Shout to the Lord with the voice of triumph.

Email Terry Robinson at trobinson@theadvocate.com.