Church keeps seeing miracles of deliverance
JENNINGS—Nobody was surprised when Ramon L. Jones became a pastor. Coming from a family of pastors to the fourth generation it was sort of expected, in fact. But nobody thought that this ninth-grade high school dropout would do much more than preach what he had learned as he grew up.
Although he was born and raised in St. Louis, at the young age of 17 he was already pastoring a church in Arkansas. That’s not all, though. Even without a high school diploma he was able to get his GED and eventually go to Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) where he received his associate’s degree in general studies.
After there he went on to get a bachelor of science degree from St. Louis Christian College in Christian education with a specialization in Bible. He then went on to get his master’s degree with a major in counseling after which he became a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He is currently working on getting his doctorate from St. Louis University, while serving as the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Jennings.
In October of 2006, Jones and his wife, Tijuana, started a drug recovery program called Living in Divine Sobriety (LIDS). “The community was hit with gang and drug problems,” Jones said, “so I decided to approach the City of Jennings Committee Board. I let them know that I was going to start a program, so I could help those in need with issues such as housing, receiving a GED, transportation, and employment.”
The committee liked the idea so they agreed to endorse it. LIDS began with around 10 clients, and it has since grown to about 200 within the past 10 months. Jones said around 75-85 percent of those are converted.
“We believe that God can bless us mentally, physically, spiritually and financially. Ultimately, we believe that God has given us the authority to win those that are lost and ‘baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit,’” said Jones.
About 100 people who have gone through the LIDS ministry are active members of Fairview.
“Most of our clients suffer from co-morbidity which by definition means suffering from both a psychological and a substance disorder at the same time,” said Jones. This keeps people in such bondage that some feel hopeless in their addictions.
Mondis Doyle, who is the program coordinator for LIDS, began helping with the ministry last July. He oversees the transitional living program that’s held within the church and in surrounding houses that the church owns.
“We began with one client in the transitional living program and are currently servicing between 150-175 individuals,” said Doyle. “People come here feeling hopeless and rebellious, like they can’t be helped.”
Ruby Bolton, a woman who began the program last August, suffered from alcoholism.
“I knew about the Lord, but I needed to do more than just know about Him,” Bolton said. When she first came to Fairview she said, “I was very nervous because I had been out of church for so long, but I needed to learn about what it truly meant to have a relationship with Jesus, not just know about him.” On June 10, she got saved—delivered from death in sin to life in Jesus Christ.
A small diner just up the street from Fairview Baptist has been a major source of help and support to the LIDS program. Goody Goody’s Diner is owned by Richard Connelly, and there are two clients who went through the LIDS program who currently work there.
Mathew Patterson went through the drug program and is now hosting and bussing tables. “We use him wherever we can work him in; he’s very responsible,” Connelly said. Gary Amus is another dependable worker who went through the LIDS ministry. He serves as the floor supervisor and as a host.
“All those who have worked for me and have come out of Pastor Jones’ program are hard workers, are very trustworthy and honest,” said Connelly.
Veronica Edwards, who happens to be Jones’ sister, serves as the resource manager for LIDS and also ministers to those who are in the program. “It’s like a butterfly,” she said. “They start out as a caterpillar and blossom into a butterfly, all of different colors which show God’s glory in their lives.”
“We believe in going to the lost, the left out and the looked over,” said Jones. “God had humbled me all the way down to the basement so I can receive the blessings of exaltation. Therefore this ministry is a passion of mine and I am seeing others delivered.
“Their obsession has changed my perspective on life. Now I’m more passionate about this ministry and I am blessed to see people make serving the Lord their magnificent obsession.”