By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SLIDELL – Glenda Ledet’s life changed when her hometown church went down in flames July 2, 2016.
It jarred her into realizing she needed to return to Bayou Baptist Church and her walk with Christ.
Surrounded by friends and family, Ledet was one of two people baptized Jan. 29, a week after the dedication of the church’s new facility.
“My dad was in ICU when we got the news that the church had burned,” Ledet said. “I felt this was a wake-up call, to come back to God after drifting away and return to the church I grew up in.”
She had professed Christ at a younger age, but had not been obedient through baptism.
“God was calling me back,” she said, “and since then I’ve never felt closer than I am now.”
The special day drew some of Ledet’s family members who had not stepped inside a church building in many, many years.
“I was so thrilled they came and I think maybe this will change their lives,” Ledet said. “A seed was planted and I am hoping and praying for them.”
She is equally excited about God’s plan for her church.
“My church has overcome a lot and I’m excited about where we are headed in the future.”
Like Ledet, other Bayou Baptist members are grateful for what God has done after the church experienced two separate cases of arson, respectively, in 2015 and 2016 – and significant damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But what Satan meant for evil, God used for good.
Determined not to close its doors, the congregation opted to worship in the fellowship hall of Covenant Baptist Church in Slidell for a year until the new facilities were complete.
Dedicated Jan. 21, the 6,200-square-feet complex includes Sunday school classrooms and a nursery, a fellowship hall with a kitchen, and a worship center with seating for 120.
Pastor Frank Treme said the baptisms Jan. 29 signify a time of renewal for the congregation, which averages between 30 and 50 for worship services on Sunday morning.
“Moving back here was like we were no longer homeless,” Treme said. “We are back where we should be. Anytime a flood, fire or another disaster separates you from the place you regularly worship, it’s totally awesome to come back where you were before.”
A GOD THING
Lonnie Wascom, director of missions for Northshore Baptist Association, said the story of Bayou Baptist Church is one of multiple churches coming together to help a sister congregation in need, such as donating money, handing over hymnals and providing a temporary space to worship on Sunday mornings. Wascom said the story “had to be a God thing.”
Looking toward the future, Bayou Baptist Church is optimistic about how God will use them to reach their community with the Gospel.
“My congregation is jubilant and happy to be able to come back to our own place again,” Treme said.
“We’re a small congregation but the Lord has blessed us. I pray even after I’m gone this will be a church that will use what God has given us to spread the Gospel in the area.”