By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
DRY PRONG – Jackson Cooper was devastated after his mother, Laura, died in an automobile crash last October.
However, instead of dwelling in grief and anger about the sudden loss, Cooper, 32, went on a spiritual journey that led him to find hope in Christ.
TRUST IN HIM
“Even though my mom and I were very close, her death didn’t make me angry at God or anyone else, but just got me to thinking about God’s plan for my life,” Cooper said. “When the pastor at New Prospect Baptist Church asked me, during a visit to our home, if I was a Christian, I told him I had my doubts.
“Once I understood that I needed to move from knowing Him in my head to accepting Him in my heart, my life was reborn.”
LED BY HIM
Cooper asked his wife, children, sisters and father to witness his November baptism at his childhood church. Since then, Cooper’s faith has grown to new heights as he daily testifies how Christ forever changed his life.
“It felt great to show my faith and show that I do believe in Christ,” Cooper said. “I’ve learned to embrace the Lord more often and keep Him close to me. Also, I’ve learned to let God handle everyday problems. My stress and everyday life have improved and I feel like I don’t have a burden each day – that I can embrace His plan.
JOINED BY OTHERS
Cooper is one of 26 people baptized since September.
Pastor Trey Lewis attributes the wave of baptisms to his congregation, which averages 170 in its Sunday morning worship service, seeking humbleness in prayer. For the past two years, the men in his church have gathered every Monday morning to pray together and God has answered them.
Also, the people have embraced a vision to constantly engage the community with the Gospel, he said.
Last summer, 16 children professed faith in Christ either during Vacation Bible School or summer camp.
More decisions followed in the fall after a two-month Upward Soccer season and then the Hope4U GO TELL Crusade which was held at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria.
Others surrendered their lives to Christ from among about 165 people who received Christmas gifts and heard the Christmas story during a special event in December.
“It’s a great response to a simple Gospel message,” Lewis said. “It’s not any one thing we are doing but it’s all God. I’m grateful the Lord is stirring the hearts. This is a small community outside of Pineville and we are one of the churches faithfully serving it. We wanted to reach our Jerusalem and have committed to go beyond our personal space to reach our Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world.”