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A Great Day! February 12

A great day of worship, visits and sharing the Gospel story in the streets of Haiti!

We begin the day with an early breakfast and then headed off to Croix-des-Bouquet for Worship. In Haiti many of the churches begin early with Bible Study and then have Worship with numerous churches having multiple times of Worship. We worshipped at the Nouvelle Eglise Evangelique Baptiste in Croix-des-Bouquet. We had a sweet time of Worshipping with the others gathered to Worship Jesus. The singing in a Haitian church is sweet. I had the opportunity to preach in the morning services.

Following the Worship Service I was asked to meet with the leadership team of the church. The leadership team expressed appreciation for the support of Louisiana Churches and shared vision for the future of their churches. Pastor Odvald and the other pastors working with him have a vision to reach the lost in their community as they assist with meeting simple physical needs such as providing one hot meal a day for children. One of the things I appreciate about Pastor Odvald is that he expects and calls the people his churches to lead in the sacrifices of gifts and is not just waiting on foreigners to take care of everything for them. The mother church now has six churches it has started and it is joy to see those other pastors continuing to work together with each other. While meeting we were also able to hear the adult choir and the student choir rehearse and oh what a blessing.

The church does their rehearsals after the services since the people are already at the church.  The pastor said they often offer opportunities for training and handle business of the church following the Sunday Worship services again because the people are already at the church.

During the late afternoon we were able to visit Mark with the IMB who has been in Haiti for twenty-nine years. Our team member Jim Louviere who is working on church planting in Haiti has been communicating with Mark via email about church planting. The time with Mark has been most helpful to hear about the long-term work Mark has been involved with in Haiti along with church planting.

During the evening we participated in the Worship Services at Good Shepherd Baptiste Church where a crusade is going on Sunday through Wednesday of this week. The Crusade Team includes David Burton from the Florida Baptist Convention and the Strength Team led by Mike Hagen. We had a great time, as we were able to walk the streets with the team as they did some demonstrations and share the Gospel Story. We also had opportunities during the demonstrations by the Strength Team to share the Gospel with people walking up and asking what was going on tonight. At the time of invitation there were many responses as the people came forwarded and ushered inside the church to receive counsel. The entire crusade is being held outside in front of the church. Please continue to pray for this team as they share the Gospel in Schools, Market Places, in the streets of Port-au-Prince and at the church this week.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this blog and for praying for the people of Haiti and us. I hope you will consider joining Louisiana Churches as well as other churches that continue to minister in Haiti.

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay Johnston

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The beginning of a great day!

Today, has been a wonderful day of opportunities to share the Gospel, to live out the Gospel and to encourage others as they live out their life for Jesus. During the morning service a young lady name Sandra committed her life to follow Jesus.

I will share more in an update that I will finish writing and posting sometime tomorrow. The day has been long and we will be travelling to Jacmel in the morning so I must  get some rest.

A Good Day in Haiti

A Good Day

February 9, 2012

I am writing from Delmas, which is a community within Port-au-Prince, Haiti!  I am leading a great team this week made up of two medical personnel, one expert in the care of orphans, two experienced church planters and two pastors willing to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are all here this week for the purpose of establishing Strategic Ministry Opportunities for Louisiana Baptist to carry out the Great Commission in Haiti.

We are thankful for safe travel to Louis Armstrong International Airport this morning and for a safe flight from New Orleans to Miami and Miami to Port-Au-Prince today.  We rounded up our luggage with the exception of one team member whose luggage we later discovered was taken by someone else. Pastor Odvald who pastors the Croix de Bouquet Church whom we are teaming with to consider ways we can support him and the church he pastors met us at the airport. Our interpreter Youdell also greeted us at the airport.

We departed the airport and made it to the Florida House where we are staying until next Wednesday. Our trip was very brief for noon in Port-Au-Prince. When asked about why the travel was so light today we were informed that Haiti is currently experiencing a shortage of fuel. The locals believe it is just a short-term issue. I had also noticed how clean and clear the parks were near the airport and found that incentives were given for the people to relocate from their tents and other temporary housing in order to make the airport a safer environment.

Once we unloaded our luggage we spent the first ninety minutes at the Florida House in prayer and discussion with pastor Odvald about the needs he continues to see and how we might best come along side and serve him and the people of Croix de Bouquet and Canaan.  Towards the end of our time I received a call from the Construction Project Manager for Orphan’s Project. I learned prior to departing for Haiti that Orphan’s Project an entity within the Florida Baptist Children’s Home had begun construction on a plot of land in Bon Repos for an orphanage. We were thrilled to learn that this was being built because we had team members from previous trips to Haiti express a desire for an orphanage on this particular piece of land. We went out this afternoon to visit the Construction Manager at the property as well as seeing Pastor Edmond a very delightful pastor who is doing well. I will post pictures of the land taken in May 2011 and photos taken today February 9, 2012.  Our medical personnel were able to dialogue and offer guidance into plans for a medical clinic that will be part of the orphanage. This visit was all in God’s timing because the Project Manager returns to the US in the morning for a short respite.

On Friday we will be spending the day with Pastor Odvald and some of his key leaders to pray and listen as we our team in cooperation with Pastor Odvald began building a strategic ministry plan.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us. The team is doing well and committed to being obedient to the call of Christ.

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay Johnston

A Tribute to Jerilyn

A Tribute to Jerilyn

Thirty Years ago today I took Jerilyn Gaspard as my wife. Jerilyn and I first met while I was leading music for a Student Led Revival in Pine Prairie, LA. The story is told that Jerilyn came to the revival because she was dating the preacher and her Granny told her that she came to see the wrong guy when I came out on the platform with the choir.  This revival was one of many being held in Louisiana to not only raise funds for summer mission opportunities for students but even more importantly it was to allow students to testify of the work Jesus was doing in our life as college students with the hope that many throughout the state would come to Jesus. While we met in Pine Prairie, Louisiana and went to college together we did not start dating until seven years after we first met each other.

Our dating relationship began during the latter part of August of 1980 when I asked her to be my date for a friends wedding.  I was now in Seminary with about 18 months left to finish seminary and Jerilyn was a year away from her college graduation. Since we were students and I was serving on a church staff our dating relationship was largely spent with family, friends, church members and classmates.  We did have some time together where Jerilyn helped me study for my seminary classes and I spent time listening to her practice the piano which seem to be an encouragement to her because she was a piano performance major and she had to spend hours practicing in preparation for her senior recital. (I will add here that I still enjoy hearing her practice and play the piano.) Jerilyn continues to teach piano today and the Lord has used her to not only teach students piano but has used her to help students grow in their personal relationships with Jesus while developing exceptional piano skills.

We also had some wonderful opportunities on a Saturday to walk along the country roads near her parents or visiting some people that were special to Jerilyn. We also had the opportunity to enjoy walks through the streets of New Orleans where I was in Seminary when she was able to come my way for a weekend.

We dated just a few months before we became engaged. During our dating relationship and engagement we were blessed to enjoy special moments with friends from Oak Park Baptist Church where I was serving on staff and those friends have become life long friends along with friends from the church where her dad served as a pastor and many of our college classmates and my seminary classmates.

Upon marrying we moved into an apartment on the West Bank of New Orleans until we were called to FBC of Pensacola. We were called to FBC Pensacola in the fall of 1981 and I started in January 1982 while at the same time commuting from New Orleans to Pensacola for two month to finish the last of my Seminary classes. I graduated from NOBTS in May 1982.

Our days on staff of FBC Pensacola were foundational to our ministry as we were bless to have people that loved us, cared for us and were willing to help me learn the ropes of working with volunteers. The staff members were a group of loving caring people that enjoyed working and playing together.  We thought we would be at this church for the rest of our lives because we loved the people and the city. However, during the late summer we received a knock at our door from a man by the name of Bob Cook who was working with the Florida Baptist Convention and he wanted to visit with us about coming to work with him on the staff of the Florida Baptist Convention. We were also expecting our first child in the fall of 1984 so while the invitation was intriguing we had to weigh a lot of decisions including living people whom we had grown to love, moving further from our family and uprooting within just a few months before our first born entered this world. We went through the process and as we did we believe it was God’s will for us to leave FBC Pensacola and move to Jacksonville, Fla to work with the State Convention.

We were in Jacksonville just two months before our first-born son John Grady came into this world. He was a blessing to us and quickly became a favorite son to many folks, as he and Jerilyn would go with me all over the state of Florida as I worked with churches to develop ministries to Families, Singles and Senior Adults.  We were enjoying the opportunities of meeting many new friends and helping churches prepare for the shift in adult population with single adults and prepare for the coming age wave while challenging families to invest in their nuclear family. We were blessed to live in wonderful neighborhood, became members of a church plant and were enjoying everyday God was giving to us when within just two short years we were called away from the convention work.

We left Florida after being called to serve on the staff of Germantown Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. We knew that God was leading us and we continued to use the things we have been learning to build a Single Adult and Young Professional Ministry at GBC. We were also called upon to build a ministry to those who were widowed and divorced and it was through this ministry we became friends with the Hannaford’s who continue to be friends after twenty-five years along with many other friends. The Lord used us here to lead many people to Jesus. In fact the days we were at GBC the Lord was using the faithful preaching of our Senior Pastor and the intentional witnessing and discipleship ministry of the staff and lay leaders to see people baptized and disciple week after week. We were very content with being at GBC when we received a call from Horace Kerr with the Sunday School Board now called LifeWay asking if he could come and have breakfast with us. We knew and loved Horace so we said sure we would love to have breakfast with you. We were not expecting the conversation to go the way it went when he asked us to consider coming to work with him and the larger Sunday School Board team. I was honored by the invitation and at the same time could hardly believe what was happening. The short side of the story we went through the process of being interviewed and joined the staff of the Sunday School Board in August 1988.

We were glad to be in Nashville and serving at the Sunday School Board. We made lots of friends in Nashville and quickly found it to be our home. In 1990 our second son Jody was born and tin 1997 my parents moved in with us after closing up their business and home in New Orleans. Our sons made their Professions of Faith in Jesus in Nashville, made commitments to full time ministry during these years along with them both graduating from High School in Hendersonville, TN. We are grateful the Lord allowed us to live and enjoy Nashville for twenty years before my position at LifeWay was eliminated.

In January 2009 we moved to Louisiana where I serve as the Associate Pastor of FBC Covington. I have responsibilities here for assisting the Senior Pastor in Ministry and Preaching Responsibilities, Supervising the Music and Worship teams, Media Team, Evangelism and Missions Minister and the Congregational Care Minister along with other daily responsibilities as assigned by the Senior Pastor. In addition I am giving pastoral Leadership to the Celebrate Recovery Ministry and involved in one-to-one discipleship ministry.

I share this overview as part of my tribute to Jerilyn. She has been a faithful wife and mother while I served on local church staff and served many churches through my years in denominational work.

First, I can say that on this our thirtieth wedding anniversary we are the best of friends, marriage partners, committed parents and co-laborers in the work of God’s Kingdom. We are blessed to pray together, read god’s Word together, and we often have opportunities to witness to others together about the love of Jesus.

Second, We are grateful to the Lord for blessing us with two sons who walk in truth. We are grateful for Grady’s wife Ann and we continue to pray for the lady God has for Jody. Our sons and daughter-in-law are faithful servants of Jesus through the local church and we thank God for the work He is doing through them.

Third, Jerilyn was a wonderful daughter-in-law to my parents. I will always be grateful for the love and support she gave to my dad and mom. She helped me honor them throughout all of their days on this earth.

Fourth, Jerilyn has been the best encourager a husband could have as I went off to be the breadwinner for our family. She was always supportive my travelling while serving on denominational staff or ready to provide refreshments for any evening meetings I would have while serving on local church staff. She has always been faithful and supportive of the work God had me doing. She was always eager to fix a meal for one or for one hundred people we would have at our home who were in town for business meetings at LifeWay. She would often fix meals at LifeWay Conference Centers that fed fifty to one hundred people.

In addition to her cooking skills one could often find Jerilyn in a group praying for bosses, my co-laborers and me as we served churches through LifeWay.

When I came home to tell her my position was being deleted at LifeWay she wept with me because she knew how much I liked working for LifeWay and their networks and customers we call churches. We will never regret the time spent because we were blessed to meet many people and build some life long friendships. The Lord used me to evangelize and disciple many folks through our twenty years in Nashville.

Upon beginning the search for new work Jerilyn and I prayed for the Lord to open a door where we could take the things God has taught me and be able to use for His glory. In the midst of praying for a new place of ministry Jerilyn was diagnosed with Breast Cancer the very first day I was no longer employed at LifeWay. We thought about the timing and we could say three years removed we have no regrets. She walked through that season with a love for God that challenged all of us in our family.

Jerilyn continues to be used by God to help me be the best that I can be for Jesus. She has a great ear to listen to me, encourage me and serves as my prayer partner and best friend.

She continues to pour into our family as a prayer warrior, a person who trust God and His Word first and foremost, a friend, an encourager, and just simply loves to cook and host family, friends and guest into our home.

She is a friend to my friends and our son’s friends and has made incredible sacrifices for us.

She exemplifies Jesus as a wife and mother. May the Lord continue to pour out on her as she lives her life for Jesus. If the Lord tarries I hope he gives us another 30 or more years together as we live out our life for Him.

Happy Thirtieth Anniversary Jerilyn!

I love you,




Haiti Update 7

Haiti Update 7

Today was departure day for the Louisiana/Florida-Haiti Strategic Mission Team. I am thankful to the Lord for a team of men who understood the mission of discovery and multiplication this week.

Joel, Charlie, Roy, Malcolm,Jay H, Rock, Jay J, Chuck and Tim


While this type of work is hard and team members worked through their personal feelings to accomplish the larger goal. One reason I think this is hard for many people is because we often want to fix things and see immediate results. I believe every team member learned some valuable lessons this week and we will continue to seek the Lord for direction as to how He will involve Louisiana Baptist in Haiti. I also think we will gain a greater understanding of equipping and multiplication.

After leaving the Florida House and clearing the security check-points at the airport the team gathered together for thirty minutes to clarify as a team of our next steps and to pray together. We will be working on the strategic ministry plan over the next two weeks before we submit it to the state leaders in Louisiana and Florida along with their counterparts in Haiti.

Upon arriving in Miami different team members shared with me about people they sat by on the flight from PAP to Miami. We had team members that met schoolteachers, agriculture leaders, mission leaders and development leaders for Haiti. We were all encouraged by these encounters and anticipate that god will use these contact to further His ongoing work in Haiti.

We had some time in Miami to grab a quick meal and walk around before we begin boarding the plane for Miami.  As opportunities presented themselves I was able to lift up the name of Jesus with several different airport vendors. I am always amazed about the openness of people to the Gospel. We just need to have our eyes open and a willingness to share as Jesus leads us.

We soon arrived in New Orleans and it was sweet to see a group of men shaking hands and hugging each other as we said so long for now. We truly experienced brotherly love and fellowship among this group. I will always be grateful for the way God worked in each of us and guided our hearts with the reminder that this life is not about us.

I ask that you continue to pray for us as we work to finalize a strategic plan and that God will continue to raise up laborers for the harvest here in Louisiana, throughout the US, Haiti and around the world.

With a Grateful Heart,



Haiti Update 6

Haiti Update 6

Our last full day in Haiti for the Louisiana/Florida-Haiti Mission Partnership brought us many good opportunities.

The construction team headed out early to put a roof on the house they have been building this week.  Upon arriving at the job site the team had devotion with the Haitian nationals and spent time learning more about them. After the devotion the team was waiting on the arrival of materials so they had an opportunity to spend some time visiting with a NC Baptist Men’s Mission Team who were working in the same area for the week because of another assignment falling through for them.

The material arrived and the construction team was able to complete the roof on the house they and Haitian Nationals built. The team shared to their amazement how quickly the house cooled down once the rooftop was in place.  The door to the house was to be hung on the house today and the family was moving in this weekend. The houses are 12 x 16 and are made out of cement blocks, while the roof is a metal and then a door is put on the house prior to the family moving into their new home. If you are interested in helping with the Haiti Rebuild effort I encourage you to contact the Florida Baptist Convention to learn more about how you can support through financial giving or personally going and helping Haitian Nationals build homes. I also know of other groups building houses and if you want to know more leave a comment with your email address and I will be glad to share that information with you.

Malcolm, Charlie & Chuck at front entrance to Bon Repos House






I am grateful for the construction team and the work they were able to do this week. They had some obstacles to overcome in the midst of the operation and personal biases with their knowledge of construction and the way things were being built and run. I believe the team learned some valuable lessons this week that will produce much fruit in their life as disciples of Jesus Christ. One example is that I believe they now have a greater understanding of cooperation and encouragement rather than just getting the task completed.  They also saw some personal needs among some of the nationals and were generous in helping. One of the examples is that one of the team members gave a pair of boots to one of the Haitian workers who had been coming to work with blown out tennis shoes. They also invested in eternal opportunities by sharing Christ with them, praying with them and showing the love of Christ to them.

The multiplication/vision team spent the day continuing to discovery strategic ministry opportunities and meeting some potential ministry partners.  Throughout the day we had divine appointments to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to share about two early morning encounters we had with some Haitian people. One was with a man named Claudy whom we shared Christ with after He gave a works answer to a key question while visiting with him. As the Gospel was shared it became clear that he had invited Jesus into his life at an earlier time but was not living out as a disciple of Jesus. We encouraged him to find a Biblical pastor in the area that would get him into an intentional discipleship process. We encouraged him to start this week by finding a group of people to begin worshipping with at least weekly. We ended our time by praying for him and his family. The other person we call the painter was a man with a very tender heart for Jesus and quickly shared his understanding of being a person who believes in Jesus Christ but is not connected to a local congregation where he can be nurtured in his relationship through the ongoing functions of the church. He was also encouraged to find a church with a Biblical pastor and begin worshipping regularly with other believers.

The multiplication/vision team worked hard this day as we covered a lot of territory throughout PAP. In some cases we could see immediately some site visits were not where God was leading while others remain for now as potential ingredients for the work we believe God will define for us to be involved with in Haiti.

Upon returning to the Florida House we were able to grab some dinner. After dinner most of the team members pulled back from the table and sat around sharing their heart about the week and future ministry opportunities we should consider.

The last full day in Haiti for this team was full and met with a lot of emotions as God continues to stir the hearts for Haiti. We agreed that we would spend time praying over the next week as we began working out a strategic ministry plan for Louisiana Baptist to minister both to and with in Haiti.

I invite those of you reading this to join us in praying that not our will but God’s will be done.

With a Grateful heart,



Is is just good intentions?

WOW! Today is the 30th day of 2011. Is this the year you committed to exercise five out of seven days? Is this the year you were going to get out of debt? Is this the year you committed to work on restoring a relationship? Is this the year you were going to read the Bible every day? Is this the year you were going to start family devotions? Is this the year you were going to start praying every day? Is this the year you were going to ask God to show you someone with whom you could share Jesus with at least once a day?

WOW! Exercise, Getting out of Debt, Restoring Relationships, Reading the Bible, Family Devotions, Praying or Sharing Christ all sound worthy of our time and energy. So, how are you doing with these are other resolutions, commitments that you made at the beginning of 2011?

We can have good intentions to do something for God, our self, our family and our friends but until we put it into action it is just a good intention. I have found that people with good intentions spend a lot of time talking about their intentions but you see little if no action. I would like to encourage you today to stop talking and start doing something. You may reprioritize your 2011 commitments or resolutions and over the next thirty days give your best to your top pick. However, before you begin I would encourage you to seek God about your list. Take your list to the Lord by praying and asking God over the next twenty-four hours, seventy-two hours or the next week if your list matches up with His list. This would be a good time for you and me to meditate on Jeremiah 29:11 Holman Christian Standard Version “For I know the plans I have for you” — [this is] the LORD’s declaration—”plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  WOW! This is good news and I want to share today one additional word from the Bible. This word comes from Proverbs 16:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible 1 The reflections of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. 2 All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the motives.  3 Commit your activities to the LORDand your plans will be achieved. 4 The LORD has prepared everything for His purpose—even the wicked for the day of disaster.”

Let’s commit to the Lord to not just think about good intentions but let’s seek Him to accomplish His plans for our life!

WOW! Life is exciting!

For those reading this that has invited Jesus into your heart let’s live today because Jesus lives in us. For those who have never made this decision to accept Jesus into your heart I encourage you to send me a message and I will be happy to share God’s Plan for you.

With a Grateful Heart,


On Track

Are you right on track with your New Year Commitments? How are you doing with your spiritual exercises like reading God’s Word, praying, sharing Jesus with others, disciple-making and ministry opportunities? We want to do this because we encouraged to do this as we read in 2 Timothy 2:15.

It is said that every day is a gift from God. Here is a break down of time that we have been given since the beginning of 2011. Today is January 14, 2011 that means we are 14 days or 336 hours or 20,160 minutes or 1,209,600 seconds since the start of the new year.  So, how much time have you spent exercising your faith in Jesus Christ?

I encourage you today to take time to read God’s Word, pray and then attend today or tomorrow a local church where you can worship Jesus Christ with others and fellowship with other believers. Once you have taken this step ask the Lord to open an opportunity for you to tell someone about Him and what He is doing in your life. The opportunities for us to tell others about Jesus are all around us. Ask the Lord to provide the opportunity for you to tell someone about Him this week!  You will then need to be alert to the Holy Spirit working through you to see the opportunity when it comes your way.

While I have focused on spiritual exercises for 2011 perhaps you are trying to evaluate not only your spiritual exercises but also other commitments you made for 2011. No matter where you are in practicing spiritual disciplines or other commitments the best word I can give you is to take time today to work on them.

I hope you continue to work on growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ first and others second. May you not become discouraged because you missed a day of reading God’s Word or an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus.  You have today 24 hours, 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds so go use this wonderful gift God has given you called TODAY! Perhaps you have never accepted the greatest gift God has provided and that is eternal life. If you have not and want to know how send me a reply and I will be glad to share with you how you can receive God’s greatest gift.

With a Grateful Heart,