Medical school was part of the grand plan for Brenda Bolds as a young adult.
"I had been accepted into medical school — and didn't go," Bolds said. "God had another plan."
Instead of a career in medicine, the Rev. Bolds has spent the past 42 years in ministry helping save souls.
"I would have been a great physician, but without truly knowing God, I would have been lonely," said Bolds, a Maringouin resident who serves as an associate minister at St. Michael's Spiritual Church of Christ in Baton Rouge and Greater Union Missionary Baptist Church in Fordoche. "I would have made money. I would have done well. … (But) I would have been unfulfilled."
Bolds, 70, recalls the day her medical school plans ended and her journey into ministry began.
She was a biology student at Southern University in New Orleans with pre-med classes at Dillard and Tulane. One day, Bolds was studying for a genetics test outside a lab on the SUNO campus when she received a revelation of God's creative order like never before.
"I really understood then that there is a God because everything has order," Bolds said. "I had been in church all my life. But it came to me everything is ordered from the smallest atomic particle … plant life, human life, the fetus, the blood, everything. There has to be one intelligence that orders everything. That's when I became a true believer. … That's when I really started on my true journey to ministry."
The exhilarating experience opened Bolds' mind, so much so that she can't imagine life without God.
"My relationship with God is my life. My relationship with God is my existence. I don't exist apart from God. There's no me without him," she said.
God then brought people into Bolds' life to help her grow in his word.
"God started directing me to people who actually understood the Scriptures — not just that knew and read the Scriptures," Bolds said. "The word ministered to me."
Bolds said she soon began her calling as an evangelist. Her mission includes winning the lost, building the kingdom of God, and educating and equipping believers with the tools to be better Christians.
"I have an apostolic, pastor-teacher, prophetic anointing on my life," Bolds said.
She labored many years in New Orleans with different ministries while also working in secondary education in Orleans Parish schools.
Hurricane Katrina forced her out of New Orleans in 2005, but that didn't stop Bold's work for the kingdom. She relocated to Rosedale, an area where she visited her grandfather as a child.
"After Katrina, God told me to stay here," Bolds said. "There's a lot of work that God has given me here."
Bolds said God promised to enlarge her territory, and that has certainly been the case.
In addition to being an associate minister at two churches, she also helps to provide educational opportunities, mentors younger ministers, holds Bible classes and travels around the country teaching and preaching. She is affiliated with and helps assist numerous other organizations, including Fruits of the Spirit Ministries in Baton Rouge; the Divine Kingdom Builders radio ministry in Maringouin; the National Congress of Black Women; and a re-entry program for former prison inmates.
"This is something God has told me to do," she said. "He wants his people to know that he sees them and he loves them."
Bolds said she serves through the grace and power of God, referencing Ephesians 6:10: "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."
"It's his might," she said. "I do nothing of my own power. This journey is awesome. Honestly, we can trust God. … It's his power that's done it, and it's his power working through us. And we thank him for that."
She shares with people the power they possess through the Holy Spirit, Bolds said.
"We have to be taught how much power we have and how to use it," she said. "The Holy Bible teaches that, and my job is to unwrap it for them."
Emphasizing Christian education
The Fourth District Missionary Baptist Association offered church leaders valuable workshops and also the opportunity to hear two of the nation's most sought after preachers during the Leadership Enhancement Conference last week at Mount Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
The three-day conference, hosted by the association's Pastor's Division, featured workshop discussions geared to enhancing the leadership skills of pastors, associate ministers, church staff, deacons and ministry leaders.
Rene Brown, host pastor and moderator/president of the Fourth District, said more than 200 people attended the nightly workshops, including some from Monroe and Mississippi.
"I was in shock," Brown said. "I was kind of expecting 100 people, and I felt that if I had 100 people that would do. I thought the facilitators did a great job. Everything went well."
Brown led discussions on church administration and the role of men in the church. Other sessions were led by Dale Lee, of Jones Memorial Baptist Church of Philadelphia, who discussed church leadership; and Randall Fears, of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, of Dallas, who talked about the role of music ministry.
Two nights of worship on Wednesday and Thursday featured the dynamic preaching of the Rev. Marcus D. Cosby, of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, and the Rev. John Adolph, of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Beaumont, Texas.
Despite bringing in the well-known preachers, Brown said the conference sought to stress Christian education and to urge pastors and participants to take what they've learned back to their churches.
"To see them come in great numbers to the class without emphasis on the worship service was really what I was after," he said. "The worship service was just a bonus to the classes."
Brown said the next Leadership Enhancement Conference is planned for Feb. 5-7.
Don't shut up
Some people will try to do all they can to stop your shout.
They will try to muffle your praise, drown out your testimony, block your blessings, stunt your growth, question your faith and discourage you. They don't want to hear you shout the name of Jesus. They don't want to hear you shouting in praise to God for all his goodness.
They don't want to hear you shouting already for things that God has not yet done. You probably work on their nerves. They want you to just shut up. But that's when you should shout all the more; shout louder.
The New Testament has several instances where desperate people were shouting for Jesus and people around Jesus, even his disciples, asked them to shut up. An example is in Matthew 20 when, not one, but two blind men shouted for Jesus from the side of the road.
The story continues in Matthew 20:30-33: "The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
The blind mens' shouts got them what they needed: the restoration of their sight. Even while blind, they were able to see more than people with sight. Don't let agitators and detractors stop your shout for God and all his goodness — even in church. Shout all the more. Shout for joy. Shout even in sorrow because God will bring you out. Shout the victory.