Once he gave his life to Christ nearly 40 years ago, the Rev. Frederick Jackson started taking life — and church — seriously.

“I just got saved, and I didn’t want to play church like a lot of people do,” said Jackson, senior pastor of the Ministry of Reconciliation Fellowship in Baton Rouge. “Most people just go to church because it’s the thing to do on the weekend. But they’re really not making changes in their lives.”

One of the most drastic changes in Jackson’s life was his drive to learn the word of God and share Christ with others.

“When we get saved, we get saved to be disciples of Christ,” the 58-year-old said.

His decision for Christ came at age 20 after a tumultuous period for Jackson.

He graduated from high school in White Castle at age 17 and went on to Southern University. He left Southern, joined the military and returned to Southern, only to leave again under the weight of schoolwork, two jobs and “running women.”

“It was tiring. I just gave up on college,” he said.

But Jackson didn’t give up on learning.

After he got saved, he went on Jimmy Swaggart Bible College.

That would have a lasting impact on Jackson.

“It really opened my eyes,” he said. “I got a chance to connect with people from all over the world that were coming there. It gave me a different perspective of ministry.”

God also opened other doors, Jackson said.

“After I got my life together, I started doing insurance. And I won a lot of trips, so I was able to travel all around the world. But God opened those doors for me, because everywhere I went I was carrying the Gospel. And I’m still carrying it wherever I go,” said Jackson, who continues to work in insurance.

In 1992, while still in Bible school, Jackson started Ministry of Reconciliation Fellowship. The church at 6785 Goya Ave. has a mission to “worship God, mature saints and win the lost,” Jackson said.

“We’re really just trying to do something I don’t see a lot in the black community, which is really trying to educate people in the word of God and train people in ministry,” he said. “I know we have a lot of stuff going on, but it’s not biblical. For years, we’ve gone through the motions in church and then trying to put into practice the word of God without all the foolishness … You have to go through some people to really get to the real people who really just wants to do God’s will.”

In 1995, Jackson opened the Ministry of Reconciliation School of the Bible, where students pay only for their books and the instructors are nonsalaried. The school, at 4360 North St., has 28 students this semester. It offers a four-year curriculum “strictly studying the Bible,” Jackson said.

“Once they are finished, they will have a balanced approach to the Bible itself,” he said.

Jackson expresses disappointment that the church has gotten away from the Bible, including the Great Commission charged by Jesus to get out and make disciples.

Too many churches have put too much emphasis on the preachers or money and not enough on meeting the needs of the people in and outside of the church, he said.

“They’ve got people in those churches that’s got needs, but they’re too afraid of us to ask, and our goal is supposed to be taking care of the needs of the people,” he said. “We’ve got work to do. It’s a lot of hard work … We are our brother’s keeper and we need to do God’s way.”

Praising in pumps

A creative fundraiser turned into a full-fledged worship experience — with many of the worshippers doing it on their pumps.

The first Pumps and Praise event at The Center of Attraction recently honored 14 purpose-driven women of various backgrounds and helped benefit Dare To Be Different, a 7-year-old organization that inspires growth in young women and men through spiritual enrichment, leadership development and life preparation.

“Alicia Hardy of House of Judah (Ministries) took the stage and blessed up mightily,” said Quinetta Latham, founder of Dare to Be Different. “I mean God just came into that room and we were all connected again because we’re all so purpose driven, but, importantly, because we believe in Christ. It was a phenomenal component on that occasion to celebrate as believers of Christ.”

Honorees included Iris J. Williams, Sheila Simmons, Melvina Carr, Tammy Jetson, DeShannon Quiett-Wilmer, Pastor Cynthia Howard-Anderson, Kenya Jarmon, Marcy Fisher, Domonique Washington, Jessica Francois-Johnson, Kenetta V. Morgan, the Rev. Alexis Anderson, Ari Burns and Elder Shaunde Gray.

The event featured a silent auction and awards show. It was hosted by Dare to Be Different and the Divine Diva Pageant.

“Whenever we come together on one accord, connect through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, we can make a big impact,” Latham said.

Proceeds will support continued efforts of Dare To Be Different and The Divine Diva Pageant.

For more information or to make a donation, call Latham at (225) 747-4103 or go to divinedivapageant.com.

‘It Only Happened Once’

One time was all it took for Jane Yellow.

The Baton Rouge woman recounts the harrowing instance of domestic abuse in her three-year relationship and marriage that nearly cost her life in the new book “It Only Happened Once!” (Jozef Syndicate).

In writing the book, Yellow shares how God’s love helped her deal with losing love, children and friends and deal with deep physical damage and pain.

She also encourages victims of domestic abuse to gather through God to walk away from that situation.

“My inspiration to write this was given from above to heal, to revive, to comfort, to strengthen,” she writes.

The book goes back to 1989 when the then-35-year-old found herself in a “beautiful relationship, filled with love.” She was married in August of that year.

That seemingly perfect marriage was shattered on Aug. 5, 1990, when Yellow was severely beaten by her husband. The internal and external wounds, including clamps to close her face and head, were extensive, and Yellow still struggles with them today.

But over the years, Yellow, who has remarried, has used her experience to gain a closer relationship with God and to has helped minister to others.

Yellow writes: “When I realized God gave me a second chance a life to hear the birds, feel the sun, and see the rain, all of that meant so much to me … Each and every morning when God opens my eyes to behold a brand new day, I give Him thanks and praise because I’m still here. I’m alive! I’m happy in spite of my illnesses. There’s nothing impossible for God.”

Chapters in the 113-page book include “A Day I’ll Never Forget,” “The Trial,” “Ham Radio and the Holy Spirit” and “The Fixed Me.”

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