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Facebook Live broadcasts stir need for baptism in Louisiana

Pastor Johnny Morgan (center) baptized Angela Martinez and her boyfriend, Jordan Head, during the worship service at Live Oak Baptist Church in Denham Springs, La., Aug. 2. Screen capture

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BP) — Angela Hernandez had faithfully watched the online services at Live Oak Baptist Church since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic but sensed something was missing in her life.

Hernandez, who accepted Christ years earlier, had seen Pastor Johnny Morgan baptize others via the Facebook Live broadcasts and asked God to give her the courage to follow through in obedience to Him. Her chance came when Morgan came to her office July 21 to obtain a permit to demolish a building on church grounds.

Through the course of their conversation, Morgan invited Hernandez to get baptized during an in-person worship service Aug. 2. She accepted.

“In my heart I knew this was something I had been needing to do for quite some time but kept putting it off,” Hernandez said. “Pastor Johnny coming to my office was a sign from God that He was reaching out to me and telling me now was the time. Once I followed through it was like a great weight was finally lifted off of me.”

Hernandez is one of 17 new converts Morgan has baptized this year, including nine since mid-March. The baptisms reflect the spirit of a congregation that has continued ministry despite challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Adapting to the inability to meet in the worship center until mid-May, the congregation livestreamed its services on Facebook. Four Sunday school classes met through the Zoom web conferencing platform and another used a weekly e-mail for its lesson.

The church, which now averages 140 for its Sunday morning services, held a prayer service for local school leaders Aug. 2 and was part of a multi-church effort to distribute food to needy families during the height of the pandemic. Live Oak Baptist joined Christ Community Church in Denham Springs, Judson Baptist Church in Walker and Satsuma Baptist Church to cook meals and then deliver them to a central location for distribution to households throughout Livingston Parish.

“It was very rewarding to be a part of the food distribution and pray with and encourage families as they picked up their food,” Morgan said. “I enjoyed seeing my members be the feet of Jesus as we ministered to the community. We got outside our walls and lived out our mission which was to share Christ with our community.”

Morgan said the future for Live Oak Baptist is bright.

“Ministry hasn’t stopped and we are still moving forward,” he said. “I believe Live Oak Baptist will come back stronger because of our presence in the community and the baptisms that have taken place. God has been doing a big work here.”

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