By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LEESVILLLE, La. (LBM) – For many years Gil James and his wife, Karen, believed they were Heaven bound based solely on their good deeds.
But on a late July evening, during a phone call with Karen’s brother-inlaw, Eric Jarell, the couple finally accepted that they could enter Heaven only through a relationship with Christ.
Moments later, they prayed to receive Christ in their living room, and months later they publicly declared their faith through baptism at Canaan Baptist Church in Leesville.
“We had been going right along with our regular life for quite a few years and knew something was missing,” James told the Baptist Message. “One night it hit us we needed to change our life. The morning after we gave our lives to Christ we both woke up with this feeling of newness. Months went by and we realized that we needed to take that next step of obedience through baptism in front of our family members. Both of us lived all these years without Christ and now we can’t get enough of serving Him every day.”
SOW AND REAP
The Jameses were among four people baptized Sept. 8, and nine since January, at Canaan Baptist Church.
Pastor Jason Nolde said the baptisms reflect an increased passion for reaching people where they are and discipleship by his congregation, which averages 125 for its Sunday morning worship services.
On Sunday evenings at Canaan the adults gather for discipleship training and bible study classes.
Meanwhile, the youth take part in Wednesday night bible studies, Sunday night mission classes and weekly visitations to homebound members and others in the community.
Most recently, the church members joined others from Vernon Baptist Association to serve breakfast to carnival workers at West Louisiana Forestry Festival.
Their labor of love helped sow Gospel seeds that resulted in a spiritual harvest that included the baptism of an inmate from the Vernon Parish Jail.
Nolde said he is thankful to serve as pastor of a church with a huge heart for others.
“It’s great to be a part of a church that is an ‘amen’ church,” he said. “They are the most loving and giving church I have been a part of, and they are willing to help anyone in the name of Christ.
“One of our mottos is ‘come on out and let us love on you,’” he continued. “We do nontraditional things to reach out to folks who may not come or may not be able to come into the church building. You won’t lead anyone to the Lord by beating them with a Bible. It may be by simply living it out loud to love them to Jesus. We realize that we all have our problems and we love on them where they are.”