It has been an amazing journey! I know that I live in the blessing and favor of the Lord.
One thing I have truly learned on this journey is that when I finally get there, it will be a sure thing that I was not in the driver's seat. God has always had tremendous plans for my life and I've gotten this far by allowing Him to drive!
The devil has never liked me. Even before I was conceived, he had plans to end my life. At an early age my dad experienced tremendous problems with his health - rheumatic fever, heart attacks, and even paralysis from the dreaded disease polio. For six years of Dad's life he had to be carried everywhere he went. The doctors gave him up for dead. At the time, my grandfather was building a church and he and my grandmother, who taught me so much about the power of prayer, never accepted that Dad would die. They never stopped believing that God would perform a miracle. Because of their faith, six years later, my dad, who was now 12 years old, got up and walked. God had completely healed him.
The doctors said that Dad would never be able to have children because of the multiple illnesses, but when God heals - He heals. I was the 11th month wedding present to my mom and dad.
My mom and dad were both very active in my grandfather's church. Mom played piano and accordion and dad played guitar. They both sang and led worship. From the time that I was born, I was part of every service. At the age of five, Mom taught me three chords on the piano. I played the piano naturally. To this day I have played with the best and know that the gift that I have is a God-given ability.
Naturally, I have worshiped all of my life. Growing up in the Pentecostal church, worship and singing were the most important things in my life. They obviously did not hurt me because I am still using them for God's glory and now thousands of people every week are being changed by the powerful gift that God placed in my life.
My wife, Hope, and I met when we were just 16 years old. (Beware of 16 year old boys who show up to talk to your daughter. They just might be your future son-in-law.) She was beautiful then and even more now. I was smitten. But there was something deeper that brought us together. We were more mature than most 16 year olds that we knew and were around. There was a call on our lives and we were aware of it even then. Our faith was our foundation and singing together in worship was again an obvious reason why God wanted us together.
Hope came from a wonderful family. She had grandmothers and grandfathers who literally named the streets and painted the first street signs on the Louisiana Pentecostal Campgrounds in Tioga, Louisiana. Her grandmother had served many pastors and helped them to start new churches and remained faithful through every transition to see them become successful houses of worship. On her mother's side, there was the gift of song.
Our earliest memories were that of singing around the piano. One of the highlights of us being together when we started dating was that people would ask us to sing together everywhere we went.
We were married in 1989 and by the grace of God celebrated 20 years of marriage this January. It seems almost unbelievable because when we look in the mirror we still expect to see 16 year old faces!
After we were married, we served in music ministry in our local church while going to school and working. We accepted our first full-time ministry position in the summer of 1991.
I believe that you have to serve faithfully before you will ever be trusted with your own Vision. We did exactly that. We served three visionary pastors which required us to move from our home in Lake Charles to Baton Rouge. From Baton Rouge we moved to Sacramento, California, back to Louisiana and then to Austin, Texas. Through the moves and changes, I knew that God was calling me to start a church in Louisiana.
After two years in Austin, Hope and I returned to Lake Charles willing to do whatever God required of us. I think that He will use all of our circumstances to speak to us. I came back to Lake Charles with the feeling of, "I can't believe I am back where I started." Even though I was back in the same city, I was not at all the same boy. Now a man with a mission, I started to look for property. God gave us such tremendous favor because we were in His divine will. I learned that the finger of God never points where the hand of God won't provide.
We bought property with no money - only faith. We stepped into our God destiny and in October of 1999 we established Christian World. God was our obvious partner and when anything or anyone tried to oppose the mission and vision that God placed in our hearts, He only blessed us more. The church grew by hundreds in the first years. The little white building on College Manor rocked on its piers because of the praise that was in the hearts of the pastors - now transferred to the hearts of the people.
Everything has happened in 3's
We were there three years when God directed me to purchase the Cinema 6 building in Lake Charles. God has a sense of humor because as a Pentecostal boy I would never have set foot in a theater. Now I was leading a group of people as I was being led by the Holy Spirit, and we were purchasing a building that initially the realtor said they would not sell to me. God can do anything! We grew so fast in the first two months of being in the theater that we went to two morning services. I would just get through with one service - still be praying and ministering to people in the altar, then let out for a five minute break - only to return to the podium to take my place behind the keyboard and start all over again. I would give everything that I had in me!
I know what it feels like to give birth to a dream. I also know that there is a difference in God's dream and something that we just dream up. We are living God's dream for us and for the people of Southwest Louisiana. I am a multicultural pastor - a big city dreamer. I like entertainment, the best restaurants, shopping, culture and variety. I live believing that if you are going to think at all, you may as well think big.
I remember in one of my arguments with God about this city saying, "God I just don't see it there." I remember hearing the voice of the Lord speak to me so emphatically. He said, "Jerry it's not there because you're not there." When I accepted my place and my call to Lake Charles it literally opened up revival for our ministry here, as well as for many other churches that absolutely would not be here if Hope and I had not answered God's call to come home.
Nothing about our ministry is average. Nothing about Christian World has been normal. The most astounding thing to me is that people still try to get us to explain the growth and the blessings by what we did. They want me to say, "Well, I did this - and then I did this." Certainly everything has a process - but when all is said and done, I was only obedient.
The biggest test of my obedience came in 2006 when I received a call from Perry Gaspard, Pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship. He wanted to meet with me to discuss an undisclosed matter. I did not return his call for a month because God told me that I was moving to the church building where Perry pastored on Gauthier Road. I had been preaching to the church for months that we were moving to the Lake Charles Civic Center. The reason I was saying this was because - here we were again - three years later in a building that was no longer large enough for the revival that was in us! I told the congregation that if Joel Osteen could buy the Compaq Center in Houston, we could buy the Civic Center. That seems so funny today because I remember standing for the first time in the sanctuary at Gauthier Road, looking around and saying to the church, "This is sure nicer than the Civic Center." I remember Rev. John Bosman, upon leaving Lake Charles, walking up to me in a restaurant and saying, "You are going to need more parking. You do not have enough space for what God has placed inside of you."
God also used Bishop Tudor Bismark on more than one occasion to speak into my life. It was at this time that I could see every prophesy coming to pass. Perry Gaspard told me that God had put me on his heart for the past three years and that for those three years he had been watching me. (Again, God used the number "3" in my life.) Through a miraculous transition, Christian World purchased the campus at 200l E.Gauthier Road and for the first time moved into a facility that was built for growth, vision, and revival. With a 3,400-seat auditorium and so much potential, I knew that we were walking into a miracle.
For the first time we have a facility that was built for the revival in my heart. Is it about buildings? No, it's about people and that's why the building came to me. I am a lover of people. Buildings do not demand people - people demand buildings. We had the people and the vision. We came to Lake Charles with a God vision! I have lived and taught Word of Faith. Everything that we have today came from the spoken Word that I have lived and imparted to others. We must always confess the positive and remember to never despise small beginnings!
This is a part of who we are. I am not ashamed of the miraculous favor of God on my life. When we moved to Gauthier Road, the church doubled in one week. After two years, those who remain are a part of the powerful ministry and vision that God gave to me when I was serving another pastor in Sacramento, California.
Today, Christian World is a diverse house made up of all peoples. On a regular basis I am asked, "Pastor Jerry, how did you get all of those people to come to your church?" What they really mean is how do red, yellow, black and white people put aside their differences and worship together on Sundays? Statistics state that 10 am on Sundays is still the most segregated time in America. That may speak for America, but not for Christian World. Sundays at 10 am is one of the most exciting and integrated times for us at 2001 E. Gauthier Road! There are thousands of people who now come together, celebrating our differences and uniting our voices. We are part of a city that is changing. We have been part of the change and will continue to be a voice of influence.
When our worship team steps out to sing on Sundays, I am still behind the keyboard. The praise and worship is so powerful that you will not be able to stand still. You will find yourself moving, clapping and - better watch out - maybe even dancing!
I don't just preach. Preaching alone has not changed our world. If it had, all of our churches would be full. I still have a few empty seats - and I am big enough to say it.
I do speak a Monday word not just a Sunday word. The church has become experts at preaching to the choir. I have been in the choir since I was five, so I am tired of people preaching to the choir. I reach for those who should be in the choir but because of some circumstances have ended up in places that most preachers cannot or maybe better said, will not go. My goal is to preach and practice love because ultimately it's the only thing that works. If love won't do it, nothing else will. It's the same in any language including the Hebrew and the Greek!
Our mission at Christian World is to love people to Jesus Christ. I have been asked by the religious folks what we do once we love people to Christ. What they are really asking is if we are into cloning. Do we try to make them all alike - all look the same, talk the same, dress the same, and believe the same? Of course not, that would be wasting our God- given individuality, gifts and expressions. We know that love changes our heart and our heart is what God has always been after.
I believe the Gospel is Good News and pledge that you will never experience a worship opportunity at Christian World that will not be a good experience. For the Lord is GOOD! We have many avenues of reaching our city with the Gospel of Jesus. Sunday is just the first day of the week. Monday through Saturday is equally important to us in showing this city that Jesus loves. Take time to visit christianworld.cc and see all of the ministries that are available each week.
This year we will celebrate 12 years of ministry. God put it in my heart that this year was our year for Harvest. We are reaping now and know that the best is yet to come. It really feels good to not be the new kids on the block anymore. All of those who said it would never work have had to move on to somebody else, for what God starts, God finishes.
Hope and I came up from old time Pentecostal preachers. It will take more than a Red Sea or anything else that the devil would try to dream up to stop us. We aren't new to any of it. We are seasoned and know that we are in the right place at the right time. We will see 10,000 worship at Christian World. I preached it when we had 10 in attendance. Some left because they thought I was crazy. Guess what? They are back. It's amazing what a few seats will do in helping people to see bigger. I never feel like it's big because once again, our current building is not big enough for the revival that is inside of me. I preached it with just as much passion and compassion when we had 10 as I do today with thousands listening. Today through our vision and mission we are touching and changing our world! If God has done all of this in the first 9 ½ years, I can't wait to see what the next 9 will hold.
Dream your dreams! Live your dreams! Just make sure that they are God's and not your own. There are some people who have blamed God for things that He was never responsible for. If it's God's, it will be blessed. There will be abundant fruit on the tree.
There is a misconception about Harvest time for many people. You may feel that it is a season that you are going to kick back and rest, but you are going to find me out in the field everyday, picking what is ripe and watering what is not yet mature.
Christian World is here for the Harvest!