Category Archives: Christian Living

A Haitian Pastor!

Feb. 16, 2012

Today, I want to tell you a little bit about Pastor Jean Odvald Louis who goes by Pastor Odvald. This pastor had a heart for Christ, a love for his family and a commitment to equip the people he is leading and working everyday to see the ministry is about multiplying with the hope of reaching one more for Jesus everyday.

Pastor Odvald along with his wife Jeannide Lafleur Louis, Daughter’s: Lmadnide, Marie Phoebe (baby) and son Bertsley  live in Croix-des-Bouquet (pronounced Creole: Kwadèbouke or English: quad a bouquet). Pastor Odvald and his wife love the local church and committed to reaching those around them for Christ and to disciple them.

I have found Pastor Odvald to be a man constantly seeking the heart of God. He is a man prayerful in his ways, strong in teaching God’s Word, visionary leader that gets things done.

The Louisiana/Haiti Missions partnership will be working hand in hand with Pastor Odvald and the churches under his leadership. I ask that you place Pastor Odvald on your prayer list as we begin working with him.

If you are interesting in serving on a Mission Team in Haiti please let me know and I will get you connected to groups that will be going every month beginning in May 2012.

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay

Follow Jay on Twitter @jaygjohnston

A Love Story!

February 14, 2012

We took off for the town of Thomassin to visit a church plant and orphanage to learn more and see what we could take from this visit. We spent time first visiting a Church Plant that the Lord is blessing with people making life-changing commitments to Jesus. This was an encouraging time to the team to see and hear about the ongoing ministry of the church plant. 

We then went to visit a guesthouse that provides housing for ministry teams and for parents who are adopting children from a local orphanage. After visiting the guest house and having questions answered from the house mom we then took off to see an orphanage. The orphanage is currently renting multiple homes to care for the children while permanent construction is taking place.  We were able to visit two of the classrooms where the children are being taught. In one of the classrooms the children were in English class. The curriculum they are in requires the children to learn, English, French and Creole. The classroom had a great atmosphere and the children seem to be very happy. We had a great time visiting the children.

After visiting the toddlers and older children’s portion of the orphanage we went to visit the home where newborn to two year olds were cared for at the orphanage. The care and attention of the staff was impressive and the babies were precious. As we talked to the babies as they lay in their baby beds you could witness smiles of the infants and the team members.

The love that is being shown by the orphanage, which is part of God’s Littlest Angels Ministry, was outstanding. The children at the orphanage are not only being cared for but the staff is intentional about sharing the story of Jesus with all of the children.

The Guest House directors are Nikki and Brandon Jordan. This couple are from the United States. We were thrilled to learn that Nikki Jordan formerly Nikki LeBlanc is from New Iberia, Louisiana, The Jordan’s along with their children are doing a great work for the Lord through this ministry.

We also had time to eat a meal away from the Florida House during the late afternoon and spend a few minutes walking in a nearby town. During our walk around time the Lord provided us numerous opportunities to share the story of Jesus.

The day was truly about love that comes from God as we witnessed the love being shown in the orphanage and by team members sharing the story of Jesus with people on the street.

May the Love of Jesus flood your heart today!

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay Johnston

You can follow Jay on Twitter @jaygjohnston.org

A Day of Ministry and Blessings in Canaan and Port-au-Prince!

Feb 11, 2012  

Today has been a day of blessings as we ministered among the people of Canaan and spent some time on the streets of Port-au-Prince.

We left for Canaan early today to participate and assist with the Children’s Ministry taking place today. Upon arrival we had about 12 children greeting us and soon we had another 43 children come to the church. One of our team members is Ashley Davis who works for the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and another team member is Steve Armstrong who is the Pastor at Westside Community Church in Addis, Louisiana. Ashley has responsibility on the team to walk us through with the protocol and administrative actions for developing and building an orphanage. Steve has the responsibility for ministry involvement. The two of them lead most of the activities for the morning time with the children and they did a really great job. It is obvious they have the right assignment by the way they interacted and lead during the morning with children.

We took a hike through Canaan to top of the first large hill in the development. As we made it up the hill the view of hundreds of homes not visible from below let our team know that there is much work to be done in Canaan.

We then made our way back to Port-au-Prince where we had the opportunity to visit with people living in various types of housing across from the Palace. This time allowed us to share the Gospel with many and we also met many Haitian’s living their life for Jesus. I had the opportunity to speak to a gathering of people on the streets to share with them the love of Jesus. I then with the help on my interpreter asked them one by one where they stand with a relationship with Jesus. One of our team members Jim Louviere is planting a church in Metairie and working with us to assist with planting churches was able to visit with a man that came to Christ right after the January 2010 earthquake and shared with Jim how he continues to live out his life of faith in Jesus. I met a young adult man who came to know Jesus because a group from Daytona Beach Florida came to Haiti and shared Jesus. He is now living his life out as a street evangelist and intentionally disciple other men. I also saw a man by the name of Livonia who works in the market area. I had previously met him and we were able to enjoy a short visit. He continues to live his life for Jesus and is being intentional about sharing Jesus with all he sees.

All in all it has been a good day. Please pray for us as we minister in Croix-des-Bouquet on Sunday. I will be preaching and excited for this opportunity. We are staying at the Florida House this week and the Florida Baptist Convention is sponsoring a crusade near the house and the Strength Team is leading the crusade. I ask that you also pray for David Burton the State Evangelism Director for Florida and the Strength Team as they minister in Port-au-Prince this week.

Our prayer request for clarity on building a strategic plan remains a request and the team is humble by your prayers.

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay

follow Jay on twitter @jaygjohnston.org

 

Louisiana/Haiti Partnership Missions 2012

Good Afternoon! We had a great morning of Worship today at FBC Covington, LA. I hope your morning has been a time of meaningful worship.

I am writing because I will be leading a team to Haiti this coming Thursday. The group going with me is significant to the future work of Louisiana Baptist in Haiti. The team members going have specific responsibilities while on this trip in the areas of Medical, Orphanage Work, Church Planting, Ministry Development and Simultaneous Revivals. We will be working toward the strategic development of building a multiplying ministry in Haiti that will include the construction of a medical clinic and orphanage. If finances support we will also build a housing unit for volunteers to stay in while in Haiti. The housing unit would be built on the site where we intend to build a Medical Clinic and Orphanage if all goes well with purchase of land. We will be working east of Port-Au-Prince in Croix des Bouquet pronounced quad a bouquet and as well in a large populated area near Croix des Bouquet that is referred to as Canaan. The pastor we are working with has already planted one churches  in Canaan since the earthquake of 2010.

We will meet with Pastors and Business Leaders this week about this plan for a Medical Clinic and Orphanage in this area. Our key pastor is very excited about the potential of establishing a medical clinic and orphanage in this area along with working with him to plant churches and develop ministry opportunities such as Bible Schools. The Pastor has respect among the Haitian Baptist Convention leaders and people where he is serving. He will serve as a good advocate for the work. In the future we will have agricultural specialist travelling to explore, what crops might be grown in this area to sell at market. In addition to agricultural specialist, we will have others who will begin looking at teaching people to sew while exploring some other trade options with the people.

I will send reports at least once a day if possible while in Haiti from February 9 – 16 to keep you updated.
Here are some way’s to pray for us:
1.       That the plans we are discussing will be in accord with God’s plan.
2.      As we discern where God is leading we establish clear next steps for land purchase, building of the medical clinic and orphanage
3.      See clear ministry opportunities like Bible Schools, Church Planting and Simultaneous Revivals
4.      To be faithful to share the Good News of Jesus all along the way.

While I am excited to lead this group to Haiti my heart aches for the lostness right here in Covington, the Northshore as well as the Southshore of New Orleans. I will be praying for you to be light to a darken world as you live out each day. I will give my all until I leave for Haiti to share Jesus with those here at home and will look forward to rejoining you in the work upon my return.

With a Grateful Heart,
Pastor Jay
Jay Johnston, D.Min.
Associate Pastor, FBC Covington, LA.

Follow Jay on Twitter @jaygjohnston

www.jayjohnston.org

 

Have You Heard?

This is the first of numerous articles I am writing for Awaken 2012. You can read more about awaken 2012 at http://www.lbc.org/Awaken/

Have you heard about Awaken 2012? When I first heard Pastor Don Masteller share his heart about the condition of Louisiana, the US and the World I wept with him. When he began painting a picture of how an awakening might affect Louisiana. I began thinking about how God might use such an awakening in my life, my family, the church I serve along with the community and the state of Louisiana where I currently live.

After hearing Pastor Masteller cast a vision and calling Pastors to begin preparing for such a time by asking the Lord to prepare our own hearts for such an awakening in Louisiana. I accepted the call that was issued to pray for this possibility. I began asking the Lord to prepare my heart for such an awakening by removing from my life those things that would hinder my relationship with Jesus. I begin asking God to show me the sin in my life that I need to confess and change my ways to become God’s way of living. I have spent a year seeking the Lord as to how He desires to awaken and refresh me and what God might do in our churches and throughout Louisiana. I will continue seeking Him so that I continually abide in Christ.

I am expecting God to continue the work He has begun in me and I pray that as Louisiana Baptist gather one year after Pastor Rod Masteller first gave a vision of what might be (If) we are to see a Spiritual Awakening occur by calling Louisiana Baptist to a Solemn Assembly on Monday night November 14. I see this as an opportunity for Louisiana Baptist to put action toward this vision. May the Lord use this assembly and the season of preparation to follow for His people in Louisiana to be Awaken in 2012!

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay Johnston

Associate Pastor,

FBC Covington, La

A Tribute to Jody Johnston on his 21st birthday!

On this day 21 years ago Jerilyn and I had our second son Jody Johnston. The birth of Jody came 6 years and 8 days after the birth of our first-born son.

The birth of Jody was not without issues as Jerilyn went into early labor at twenty-four weeks before the due date. At thirteen weeks Jerilyn was put on total bed rest. During this time we were blessed by the love and support of our family, friends and co-workers. Our parents went the extra mile during this time as Jerilyn’s mom stayed with us until Jody was born except on several weekends when she went home and my parents came to Nashville for long weekends that allowed Mrs. Jeannie a time to go home and rest. During this time we received hundreds of card and letters from people throughout North America telling us they were praying for us. I can tell you the prayer support, cards, phone calls were used by God to keep our eyes on Him through this season of life we were living.

On the afternoon of October 21, 1990 I received a call from Jerilyn that the contractions had increased and that we were to go straight to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, TN. I came home and picked up Jerilyn and we went to the hospital. The hospital staff thought because of the contractions Jerilyn has been experiencing that they would give her something to slow the contractions and we would be sent home. The afternoon turned to evening and the contractions did not slow down. We were moved from one area of the hospital to another section where we were placed in a room that looked like a closet and the only thing hooked up to Jerilyn was an IV. It was about 9:15 pm when Jerilyn said to me I think the baby is coming. I went and retrieved a person who was in residency at the hospital and told him the baby was coming. He looked at me with unbelief and came quickly with me. He did a quick examination and a look came upon his face that was of something from a sitcom. He ran out of the room and within a minute returned with a nurse and together they started rolling the bed out of the room and down the hallway to what I guess was some type of birthing room. I was directed to stand in one part of the room while people came running from everywhere taking their place near Jerilyn and within a few minutes Jody was born. They took Jody over to a corner of the room and worked on him and then a doctor and a nurse started making their way out of the room with Jody in the arms of the nurse and told me to follow them. We went halfway down the hallway into an area labeled NICU. I was told to stand in one spot while the doctor and nurse placed Jody on a small table where they worked on him. It was about thirty minutes later when they told me that the lungs were not developed and were not producing surfactant and that Jody would need to stay in NICU. He was placed in a one of those clear boxes for ten days where he was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and lines. I stayed in the NICU until they assured me he was going to be okay and then I made my way out of NICU to locate Jerilyn. I was brought to a room where she had been moved to and told her what was taking place with our baby. We cried and prayed believing Jody and Jerilyn would both be okay.

A few days later Jerilyn was discharged from the hospital while Jody was to remain at the hospital. The drive home was strange because we were going home without our baby. When we arrived home our son John Grady was standing outside with Jerilyn’s mom holding a sign he made to welcome his mom home. During the days Jody was in the hospital we made multiple visits to the hospital each day at the time we were allowed to see Jody. I went every morning at four so I could see Jody before work and before the shift change in NICU. On the seventh day of Jody being in NICU I walked in and the nurse asked if I would like to give Jody a bottle. I started crying and she took Jody out of the box with all the tubes and wires and placed him in my arms.  I wept as I gave him a bottle. Upon finishing the bottle the nurse took him from and I called Jerilyn to tell her what took place. The nurse told me to have Jerilyn at the hospital by seven so she could give him the next bottle. Needless to say Jerilyn was at the hospital ready and waiting to hold Jody in her arms for the very first time.

Over the next three days we continued this routine until he was moved to the regular nursery for another two days before being released from the hospital.

We quickly begin learning about Jody’s personality. He brought smiles to all who came in touch with him. His nursery workers at church told us how joyful he was and that he brought smiles to all of them. In fact one of his teachers wrote an article about him that was published in a church magazine.

Over these twenty-one years we have enjoyed every day with Jody. He begin showing an interest in the violin at age two and begin taking lesson in the first grade. It seems like only yesterday that we went to bed every night listening to music cd because of the violin method he was learning. If he were not playing his violin he would always be singing. As he grew older he continue playing the violin along with learning to play the mandolin and guitar. We love hearing Jody play and sing along with many of his friends coming to the house playing music with Jody and his brother Grady. During the first of this month Jody was home for two days and oh how we enjoyed his singing. Jody mom and I encourage you to keep playing and singing because you remind us when you sing how much Jesus loves you and us. The Lord has used you in my life to be free to Worship Jesus and I encourage you to continue leading and teaching people to Worship the King.

When Jody was five and a half he was going with me on a weekend trip where I would be preaching and teaching for the weekend. For several months Jody had been asking us about what did it take to become a Christian? Jerilyn, Grady and I along with others would answer and nurture these conversations. As Jody and I were driving down I-65 heading toward the Alabama line Jody continue to ask me questions about becoming a Christian. He then became very quiet and at mile marker forty-three he looked up at me with tears coming down his face and said dad I want Jesus in my heart. I pulled over and share with him what the Bible says and ask him is that what he believes. He said yes and he invited Jesus into his heart. I prayed over him a blessing and we hugged each other. I got back on the road and at the next exit we went to a service station and called Jerilyn for him to share what took place. (This was before cell phones in our life.) After he called Jerilyn he then called our friend Sharon and shared the news. We then got back in the car and proceeded to our destination. We were staying at Jerilyn’s parents so when we arrived he jumped out of the car and ran into to tell them. He then called my parents to share the news. The Lord gave Jody a heart for to tell people about him. The first person Jody led to the Lord was at the age of six and it took place in the back seat of my parents car when he shared Christ with my cousins son Randy and he invited Jesus into his heart. I thank the Lord that Jody’s heart has not grown cold as he continues to share Jesus with the lost.

Jody has brought many laughs to our home from his days of potty training until now. On one occasion we were playing charades while waiting in ER for Grady to get a cast on his leg when Jody it was his turn in the game we could not figure out what he was doing. He then demonstrated that it was mom spraying a Lysol can.

We enjoyed his days at Hendersonville High as a member of select chorus, participated in plays and a leader of the FCA.

One of the most priceless moments was when my position at LifeWay was deleted and I told Jody what was happening to us. He dropped his head and then looked back up and said  “Dad, are you okay?” I said Jody I am okay and his response was then I would be okay. You see this took place at the beginning of his senior year in high school so his response was beyond his years.

I am proud of Jody Johnston and grateful for the way he lives his life. He loves God, his family and friends. He has a relationship with his brother and sister-in-law that blesses Jerilyn and I. The Lord Jesus has called him into a vocational ministry and he continues to prepare for that journey.

Jody I can tell you that mom and I are proud of you. My thanks to Ricky, Sharon, Luke, Molly, our family members, neighbors, your Sunday School Teachers, School Teachers and Music Teachers for pouring into you. We continue to thank God for you and look forward to seeing how God will continue to work in your life.

May you finish strong at Liberty University and know we are praying and cheering for you. Thanks for allowing God to continue to work in your life. On this your 21st birthday may God continue to keep His hand on you and extend your platform of writing, speaking and singing so many will come to Jesus.

With a Grateful Heart,

Dad

A Tribute to our son Grady Johnston on his 27th birthday!

On October 10, 1984 our first born son Grady Johnston was born at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. The next few days and months Jerilyn and I begin learning firsthand about parenting. We also had my work family at the Florida Baptist Convention and our church family eager to encourage and support as we begin parenting our first born son. My position required me to travel throughout the entire state of Florida and as a result we found support, encouragement and received a lot of advice from the Florida Keys to the Florida Pan-Handle. We were all so blessed to be loved and encouraged by so many. At work the love and support of the Stringers, Bennett’s, Cooks, Nichols, Carmichaels, Billingsley and Woods family blessed us as they encouraged us in the work and encouraging us as we care for our new born. Grady adapted too many different beds as we traveled and spent nights in the homes of numerous people or on the grounds at Lake or Blue Springs Assembly. We were also blessed in the early months of his birth to have the help and support of mine and Jerilyn’s parents along with some life-long friends like Ann Alexandria Smith and the Besson’s who came and stayed for a few days in our Jacksonville home.

Grady begin eating fresh seafood early in his life and enjoyed his first raw oyster just a few weeks after his first birthday at a little seafood hut in Marianna, Florida courtesy of Dr. Robert S. Cook. Dr. Cook and Grady became big buddies while we were in Florida and always enjoyed the opportunities of seeing each other after we moved to Tennessee when Dr. Cook came to Nashville for meetings at LifeWay or we would see him at Ridgecrest Conference Center.

Grady became no stranger to people and made friends quickly. One such friend was one of the employees that worked in the kitchen at Germantown Baptist Church where I served on staff for two years prior to going to LifeWay. He somehow won the heart of one of the cooks and on the days he went to Mother’s Day Out he received upon dismissal fresh baked Chocolate Chip Cookies. He also became close to many families but one that comes to mind today is the Landrum family. Mrs. Landrum had Grady in Mother’s Day Out and her daughter was often our first choice baby-sitter. He also had many other influences from the Hardaway family, Fry family, DeGutis family and White family. He was also the adopted son of many of those in the Single Adult Ministry at GBC. He had sayings that stuck and even today we can talk about some of them that bring back memories of some wonderful people who loved us.

Grady was no stranger to the people I was going to work with at LifeWay in the Family Ministry Department. We enjoyed many great times on the 9th floor of Sullivan towers and at Chautauqua’s and other ministry related events I gave leadership to through LifeWay. As a young pre-schooler and elementary student he sat under some of the greatest preachers and music leaders in America.

The travels slowed down as his new born brother was born six years and eight days after him. It was here we saw his pastors heart because Jerilyn went into early labor with our second born and Grady was always quick to love on his mom and show care and encouragement to her. He had a great appreciation for his school teachers and friends. He was like one friend said he is an old man in a little boys body the way he lived out his life. He was always full of life and shared in the encouragement of many who came into our home. We had a blast at bedtime as we read stories, memorized scripture and prayed together. My work required me to leave often before the rest of the family needed to awake so every morning before Grady and then eventually his little brother went to school Jerilyn shared Scripture and prayed with them every day that they went to school. During this time Grady auditioned and was accepted into the Nashville Children’s Choir and took Piano at Belmont School of Music. We shared in great times while living in the Antioch area of Nashville with the Cryar’s and McCoy’s who were also from Louisiana and by God’s design had us all living within blocks of each other.

After a few years in that area we moved north of town to Hendersonville where God blessed us many new friends and were able to live closer to some friends that God brought into our life many years earlier. We had a Red Beans and Rice meal every Monday night in keeping with the New Orleans tradition of having Red Beans and Rice on Monday. During the first year of our living in Nashville the Lord brought into our family a couple who had two children at home that had many of the same interest as our sons. As a result the Skaggs family became our friends, prayer partners, encouragers and life-long friends that even distance cannot separate. We were also blessed to be part of a great church with a God fearing Pastor.

After living in this area for several years my parents moved in with us and that became a blessing to our family. My dad was a fan of our sons and loved to be Jerilyn’s number one dishwasher. My mom was consumed with her bookkeeping and though never too busy to attend a ballgame or school function. She also provided odd jobs for Grady and Jody. Grady was involved in many activities at church and always had a special relationship with our Children’s Pastor Jeff Lake who took time to encourage and invest in Grady.

Grady answered a call into ministry while attending a Summer Conference with me at Ridgecrest. It was the last evening of the meeting and during the invitation he looked at me and said it is time I make this decision public. I walked with him down the aisle in Spillman Auditorium where he took the hand of one of the counsleors and shared his decision. This did not come as a surprise because we had been talking about this for several years. Grady was in the 6th grade at the time and upon returning home he followed up that decision by making it public at FBC Hendersonville. Many people came by to encourage him. Jerilyn and I recognized the call was not just for when he finished all his formal training but it was then as much as it is for today.

Grady has been faithful to follow God’s call and upon graduating from high school he went to Liberty University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, married and serves as pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Dillwyn, Virginia and will soon finish his Seminary degree.

It is a joy to pay tribute to a Mighty Man of God who is our first born and today is the husband to Ann. It is a joy to see the two of them together and the way God is using them in and outside of the church to share the love of Jesus.

Grady on this your 27th birthday I want you to know that I continue to thank God for you. I am proud to be your dad and just simply proud of you. I continue to pray for you and Ann daily and I am thankful for the way God is using you in my life and the life of others. You and Ann are a blessing to many and I pray the Lord continues to bless you as you honor your wife along with preaching and shepherding the people of Bethlehem.

I hope that your birthday be filled with many blessings.  

I love you,

Dad

David’s Blueprint for Personal Peace, Wisdom, and Tranquility!

Psalm 37: 1-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

 1 Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

 2 For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants.

 3 Trust in the LORD and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely.

 4 Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act,

 6 making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. 

 7 Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who

   prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans.

 8 Refrain from anger and give up [your] rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.

David’s blueprint for personal peace, wisdom, and tranquility:

We are “to trust in  the  Lord   and do good.”

We are “to delight in the Lord.”

We are “to commit our way to the Lord.”

We are “to be silent before the  Lord.”

We are “to refrain from anger.”

I am personally grateful for the way God is teaching me through this Psalm. May we all be found faithful in trusting Jesus for our security.

With a Grateful Heart,

Jay