By Quinn Lavespere, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT – It was a program that was virtually down to nothing until a determined associate pastor and his children’s teachers decided to get out and do something.[img_assist|nid=7799|title=Ford Park Children's Ministry Team|desc=Ford Park Baptist Church Associate Pastor John Newman (in shirt and tie) and his staff – teachers (from left) Linda Nicholson, Carolyn Gohring and Delene O’Rear (back row from left) Michael O’Rear and Pat Wood – have helped to revive the church’s children’s program.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=480]
Ford Park Baptist Church has seen a major revival of its children’s program since Associate Pastor John Newman and those assisting him began going out into their community and finding more children for the program.
“Ever since we began, we’ve seen so many exciting things happen. Lives have been changed, souls have been saved, and needs have been met,” Newman said. “It’s wonderful to see children learn to love the Lord and learn more about the Bible.”
Last spring, Ford Park’s children program was down to only three or four children before Newman and his children’s teachers, Delene O’Rear and Linda Nicholson, went out into the Pinecrest Village trailer park and began a bus ministry. O’Rear’s husband, Mike, joined the visitation team and became one of the drivers for the kids.
“I had two teachers at the time, and I called them and said, ‘We’ve gotta go out there and start knocking out doors,’” the associate pastor said. “The first time we went visiting, we had only three little girls on the bus. But we were excited to have three! As the weeks went by, we continued to increase in children and teenagers, and we are thrilled to say that in the first six months, we have brought in 116 (adults, teens, children) different people to hear the Gospel. On one particular Wednesday night we brought 48 children and teenagers to church, not counting the adults.”
“The bus ministry is really not the key,” Newman continued. “Our motivation was simply to obey what Jesus said to do: ‘Go!’ So we did exactly that. We went, we knocked, we shared and God blessed. We have children whose parents are not going to bring them to church, but they will let us go get them.
“Every Tuesday evening we go from door-to-door giving out flyers to parents so they can read about who we are. If they allow their child to come, we go get them on Wednesday evenings on the bus.”
The associate pastor gave thanks to the Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association. “Brother Wayne Dubose, who is our director of missions, and his assistant Lane Moore, have been very supportive and encouraging to me and our group about our efforts,” Newman said. “They’ve prayed for us, they’ve prayed for me, and the Associational Office even helped pay for supper for some of our children who couldn’t afford it.
“Whenever they tell me something uplifting about our outreach, I come back and tell my workers because we each need the encouragement,” Newman continued. “Likewise our chairman of deacons, Brother Jim Durham, has been a regular encourager, as he comes with a smile on his face nd tells us what a good job we’re doing.”
The associate pastor said a typical Wednesday children’s program at Ford Park includes supper, children’s choir and Bible study time that has allowed attending children to grow in biblical knowledge.
“We’ve had children who didn’t have a clue as to where Genesis was,” Newman said. “It means so much that they now know where books of the Bible are and have memorized several Bible verses.”
“I’m amazed at how there are many pastors and churches that consider door-to-door visitation to be something that no longer works, but it does!”
The associate pastor added that God’s blessings on the program were almost too numerous to recount.
“After six months the Ford Park children’s ministry now has three teachers, two assistants, and three drivers,” Newman added. “My teachers and workers are superb. I can’t say enough about how amazingly wonderful they are. I love them all and I want them to know without question that I love them.”
As for the question of Ford Park Baptist’s ultimate goal for the future, the associate pastor had a powerful answer.
“Our ultimate goal is to get into every single home that surrounds this church, no exceptions!” Newman said. “You can’t look at people in a house as just people; you’ve got to look at them as souls Jesus died for, no matter who they are or what color they may be.
“It’ll take time to do it, but we’re gonna do it by the grace of God,” Newman said. “As Adrian Rogers once said, ‘God’s work, done God’s way, will get God’s results.’”
Freddie Williford is pastor of Ford Park Baptist Church.