Priscila Parson

What is a blessed life?

I am 36 years old. In 36 years of life I have heard many people’s perspective about what it means to be blessed. I have seen people relate “being blessed” with wealth and possessions, education and status, health and size of family, location and country. Although, all these can be important to live in our broken world, I want to share with you what I believe to be blessed. 

I grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My mom was a single mother of three. I was the oldest one. I was my mom helper, babysitter, maid, and best friend. My siblings always looked up to me. They saw me with great admiration. I was raised to be responsible, to protect, and to care for my siblings in a very early age. During that time for me being blessed was having a little to eat every day, a roof over my family’s head, and having my siblings with me. It was a hard life but full of richness. We were healthy children and my mom was a very hardworking woman who tried to love us as best as she could. 

So then I reached my teens. I fell in love with basketball. During that time I was so blessed to be able to play ball and help my mom financially.  From 12-18, I traveled places, met people, played ball, and financially supported my mom. During that time, I started to think about myself and things I wanted to do. 

I went to college at age 20 and started physiotherapy. Back then colleges in Brazil were starting to give full scholarships to athletes and I had the opportunity to transfer to “Universo”, in Rio de Janeiro; where I lived for almost two years. There I was contacted by a coach in Texas asking me to come and play basketball in the US. I did not think twice. It was my dream to come here. I left my family, my friends, my country to pursue a dream. 

When I came to US at 23 years old, life was very different, food was different, and culture was different. Athletes were irresponsible with their food, drinks, and their bodies. During that time I forgot about responsibilities, I forgot about my dreams, I forgot that my family looked up to me. Everything became about me. When I was alone I was very unhappy. My world had shifted and I did not know what to do. Being blessed to me during this time was to keep my status before friends. It was hard and most of the time I felt alone it was like I was living a lie. Sometimes I felt shamed, depressed, and lonely. 

I made choices that I am not proud during college. I was horrified when I found out about my pregnancy.  I lost my scholarship. I was ashamed; then, I really felt alone, all my “friends” left me. I lost the privilege to live on campus, I was homeless and I was hungry. It was the darkest time of my life.  I hit rock bottom and the solitude was unbearable. I felt darkness, pain, anger, fear, surrounding me. I was paralyzed. There was nothing I could do. Until God showed up, God is so good that in all things, in every situation God can pull out the good and turn our situation around. In 2005 I asked God to help me; and God heard my prayers; and God touched my heart; and God transformed me. If you believe that God still does miracles, you are looking at a miracle of God. God transformed the way I thought, the way I saw the world, the way I behaved, the way I understood what it is to be blessed. 

Think with me, a single mom, without any family support, be offered full scholarship (Full: I did not have to buy a pen during college) to play basketball. I graduated with prestigious awards and finished my first master degree in 2010 at no cost. My son attended a day care at Campbellsville Baptist Church and at age 3 my son could read. God blessed me when He opened my eyes. God blessed me when He touched my heart. Because when God touched my heart it was like a revelation that God exists, that God is with us, that God can heal, and that God can transform. Some people say God’s touch I say God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit is within us and this Spirit connects us forever. God’s Spirit connects us to people who can open doors for you, who can bring comfort, who can bring a word of peace. 

My world changed because I learned that my greatest blessing was to know that God is alive and God cares about me; God cares about you. I have discovered that God is good, God is our friend, God is our counselor, God is our source of love that keeps us together and ties us together despise our differences, and that is a blessing for me! God’s Spirit is among us and there is hope for everyone. We can find comfort, we can find healing, and we can have our lives transformed. 

Today I am married to a wonderful and understanding man. I have two children. I have been approved to purchase my first house, and I am moving to a state that I don’t know well but because I am blessed with God’s presence I know I will be ok. Thank you Broadway Baptist, for sharing the blessing of knowing God. As I leave this place I want to let you know that I learned a lot from you and that I will also bless those who come on my way. 

Andrea Smith

If you would have told me a few years ago I would be standing in front of a large group of people affirming my faith and desire to join the church, I would not have believed you. However, I have been attending Broadway for the past 10 months now, and couldn’t be happier to be part of such a wonderful church.

Last summer my career brought my little dog and me to Louisville.  Serendipity brought me to Broadway. A few weeks after my move to Kentucky, I found myself on a hiking trail with random people I did not know. Our group ran into Janis Eberenz on the trail, who was lost and trying to decide which path to take. After much convincing from our group, Janis decided to join us since most of those strangers seemed to know the trail well. 

Janis chose to walk along-side of me and we started chatting about Louisville.  She mentioned Broadway. Unbeknownst to Janis, my faith journey was new and part of me was seeking a church and people to help support me as I started this walk.  But part of me was hesitant about attending a church. 

Ultimately, when Janis invited me to Broadway, I decided to come because if random strangers could help her find her path in the woods, maybe random strangers could help me as I learned to navigate my path with Christ. 

I am so thankful that those strangers became friends. I have learned what a church family is, and I have found a safe place where my faith can grow.

A friend once told me that God can do impossible things with your life, if you just get out of his way. I used to think there was no truth to that, until I stepped aside. About two years ago literally everything in my life had changed. I started that year with my own plans and on my own path. It was a very destructive path that was suffocating and didn’t allow me to really live up to God’s potential. A lot of seemingly terrible things had happened within the first few months of that year. My life, which I had worked so hard to build seemed to be falling apart around me.  I discovered later that through all of this, God was placing the right Christian people in my life for when I finally hit a point where I would be receptive to their words. As much as I was trying to resist God in my life and deny his existence, he was becoming so evident that denying became impossible. When I made the decision to start living my life for Him, things started working beautifully. 

One of my favorite verses is Luke 17:33, which reads “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” Over the course of the last few years, I have learned that God can heal the deepest of wounds. He can pick up the shattered pieces of your life and turn it into something beautiful, if you let him. 

I am very thankful for friends along my journey who have shown me what faith can do. I have had such a unique opportunity to start my life over, and I know that not every woman who is in the situation I was would have had that opportunity. I am also grateful that Janis did not assume I had a church home, and that she extended an invitation to attend Broadway. 

We are all on our own journeys, and being baptized today is just one step in my journey. What makes this moment even more amazing for me, is being baptized by a good friend who has helped me navigate this journey of mine. Equally amazing is being surrounded by supportive people who are just as excited for me to take this step. For that, and so much more, I am thankful.  

Jean Breneman

A few months before my birth, the Great Depression crippled the economy of our nation. For most of the population of Mississippi, it was devastating, but the economy was already so bad that may people hardly noticed the difference. 

My father had a good, secure job representing Southern Bell Telephone Company in a part of the world that was struggling to exist in January of 1930. 

We lived next door to the pastor of the Methodist church. He and his family, along with others of the neighborhood, provided a caring community at a difficult time. 

In the summer of my first year, we were invited to revival services at the Methodist Church. With no air-conditioning, the congregation managed the heat with vigorous use of "funeral home fans" -- one to a family. 

My mother put me on the floor at her feet, gave me some "silent toys" to play with. She checked on me every now and then. 

When the sermon ended, the evangelist begged for people to come down the aisles. (You know the pattern.) I am told that I continued to play quietly at my mother's feet. 

The congregation stood. They sang "Just As I Am" verse after verse, fanning to the rhythm of the music. There was brief interruptions occasionally for the ministers to plead for sinners to come forward. 

My mother, looking down at her feet during a lull in activity, was alarmed to find that I was no longer there! She panicked. She whispered above the singing to tell Daddy. 

Strangely, he was not alarmed. In fact, he was smiling as he directed her attention to the front of the pulpit. The pastor--our friend, neighbor, who often carried me in his arms -- stood with one arm reaching out to sinners; and in the curve of his other arm was a happy little child who had crawled to the front of the church because the man she knew and had trusted said, "Won't you come? Come just as you are!" 

I cannot claim a "profession of faith" at that moment, but perhaps it was a beginning. 

Our family moved the next spring to a larger city, Vicksburg, where we lived for the next twenty years. During that time I made more normal, thought-out profession of faith. 

During those years, my Dad began a Sunday afternoon mission, preaching to anyone who would come. Some who attended had never seen a New Testament nor had any experience of the Gospel. 

It is said that Delta stretches from the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to Catfish Row in Vicksburg. For several weeks every year the area floods beyond normal use. It had a kind of biblical feel about it -- mission callings to people who fished for a living -- even though the people had no knowledge of the image projected. 

After the first spring of floods, Daddy found a new location, also flood-prone, but better. It was an abandoned one-room school house on the banks of the Yazoo River. No electricity was available, but windows allowed some light and circulation in the afternoons we were there. 

An old pump organ was transported to the mission every week. "Special" music was presented by whoever was present form our mission team. Sometimes, we had six or eight voices. More often, we had enough for solos or duets. 

Daddy preached (I think it was the same sermon every Sunday); someone played the organ (sometimes that person actually knew how); and we sang from old, worn, donated hymnals. 

We had conversations! I had become accustomed to the pattern of people making professions of faith after years of orderly progression through graded Sunday School classes, GAs, RAs (remember those organizations?), but these people had not had that opportunity. All they knew of Christianity was what they witnessed on Sunday afternoons after Sunday afternoons and limited contacts throughout the year. 

Most of the people in our little congregation were looked-down upon by others. They fished for a living, grew a vegetable and chickens. One family planted a small amount of cotton. Mostly, however, they fished and eked out a living in the world that hardly knew or cared that they existed. 

We found them not only responsive to our care, they were excited and grateful to hear the Good News. It was a wonderful experience for everybody involved. Eventually, the mission evolved into a bona-fide, functioning Baptist Church. 

Those of us who spent Sunday afternoons on the banks of the Yazoo River will never forget the experience. For me, it all started when a loving voice said, "Come," and I responded crawling to the front of a Methodist church in the summer of my first year. 

Noelle Bailey

Noelle Bailey
  Before coming to Broadway I considered myself to have a relatively
  simple faith. I generally intuit some things before rationalizing them
  and that went for my faith as well. I have always been okay with the
  idea that we can't always explain everything or fully understand
  everything bc we are human and God can't be put in a box. I don't
  necessarily think that viewpoint is wrong, but my parents raised me to
  value education and being educated requires critical thought and
  questioning and even doubt. Broadway has given me not only a "place"
  that encourages that kind of thought, but "people" who encourage,
  nurture, and challenge me to grow.  I have been fortunate to be
  surrounded by friends at Broadway who have God at the center of their
  lives and the love of Christ in their hearts.  They've encouraged me
  and helped me to live not just an internal faith, but to become more
  comfortable expressing my faith to others.  Without Broadway and her
  people I never would have gotten there on my own. I've felt confirmed
  in my own beliefs but challenged to grow and contemplate my faith in
  new ways.  And I've been able to hear other people express beliefs
  verbally which at times I've held deeply in my heart but didn't have
  the words to express.  It's been the people of Broadway living their
  faith that has had the biggest impact on my own faith over the last
  several years.  So I guess the thing that has become most apparent to
  me since I've been at Broadway is a pretty simple concept: that we as
  a church body and as God's people are charged to be representatives of
  God's love. That challenge involves being responsible for the growth,
  education, and well-being of our church family, but is meant to extend
much further than that. We are lucky. We have each other, but there are so
many people outside our walls who don't have the same support.
  I've learned at Broadway that we aren't expected to always be perfect,
  goodness knows I'm not, and it's not our job to judge and condemn.
  It's our job to support each other, to love each other, and to show
  Gods love to others. The people of broadway have done that for me more
  than I can put into words, and through our focus on missions I've seen
  it in action outside church walls as well.  Ive also gained a greater
  understanding that it is our job to love our church. And showing love
  in that regard equals a duty to serve where needed.  We are called to
  give of ourselves, but in reality I've learned that giving is
  symbiotic with receiving and I've gained just as much, if not more, in
  those moments.  "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will
  be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even
  more will be demanded." Luke 12:48.  I've learned I'm so lucky to be
  here, at this church, surrounded by amazingly supportive people, and
  because of that I know I have an even greater responsibility to this
family and to the people outside our walls who aren't so lucky.

​Wanda Johnson

Wanda Blanche Bennett Johnson

February 13, 2015

Church has been my life. Soon after my birth, the last of seven children, I was in church being cared for by volunteer baby workers. My parents were very active in our Baptist Church. Growing up in the church and attending Sunday School, Training Union, Sunbeams, Girls’ Auxiliary, and all youth activities, I learned about God’s Word. At 9 years of age, I accepted God as my Savior into my life. I grew in my new-found life through my local church. 

Church has still been my life. I attended a Baptist college, was active in a church there and met my future husband. Our life together brought us through many and sometime unexpected ministry opportunities. The “final touch” of this journey brought us to Louisville where Bob served as Dean of the Boyce Bible School at Southern Seminary. We survived without being terminated or pushed out prior to his retirement time.

Upon moving to Louisville, visiting several worthy congregations and thinking, praying hard and long; we joined Broadway in November, 1990. In addition to the attraction of the worship and preaching ministry of the church several people were key to our joining. David and Marilyn Mueller, Bob and Becky Irvine were four such persons. The most influential, however, was Lucy Belle Shuck who never failed to keep in contact with us during this decision time.

The things about Broadway that stand out for me are: The efforts at inclusiveness for all and the intentional care that is offered by the various groups I have known as well as the ministerial staff; our dinner group (still active although this doesn’t seem to have much priority at the leadership level); biblical preaching without contrived guilt trips; all of the music ministry; the challenge of being church without promise of “entertainment” in exchange. Bob and I both appreciated the church’s courageous stand on denominational shift when we voted to abandon participation with the Southern Baptist Church.

Patricia Sullivan-Schrenk

When I think about my Christian Journey, I realize it is not unique or unusual or remarkable. My mom took myself and my two sisters to Church and Sunday School. My dad was Methodist. He was a bible reader and shared that with me. Mom was the living example of generosity in kindness and sincere concern. I believe our family was very typical. Both my parents worked. I was in Junior High School (Middle School today) when we had our first television. 

Between the early teen years.... 

Beth Kimbell

Although we come from backgrounds of faith, until we found Broadway, many times Scott and I felt out of place at church. In 2001 or so, about five years after joining Broadway, we began attending a Sunday School class that would quickly reactivate our long-stagnant faith journey. It was time for us get serious about what we believed. After all, we’d become parents and wanted to raise our children in an authentic faith. Louis Twyman led the way. With open minds and hearts, we looked at biblical teaching from many theological perspectives.

Bob Irvan Johnson Ph.D.

Bob Irvan Johnson Ph.D. 

In 1990, Wanda and I moved to Louisville from Kansas City, MO where I had served on the faculty at Midwestern Baptist Seminary for 11 years. My job here was as Dean of Boyce Bible School which was Southern Seminary’s undergraduate offering to potential ministers who were at least 21 years of age. I served for nine years in this capacity.

Our commitment to Broadway came through the influence of

Matt Ridge

I was raised in the church, baptized at eight years old but my faith was not really my own until I was about twelve. At twelve years old I began to understand the teachings of Jesus and came to realize that my life should be lived in a way to please Him. At twenty-five years old my faith changed dramatically when Mary Ann and ...

Sharon Lin

My faith story started 50+ years ago at Broadway, so I have numerous examples of how I came to faith and how faith at Broadway has influenced my life, but I believe one of the best examples was 13 years ago.  After 11 years of an illness, my body fell apart and I was faced with several serious surgeries.   Broadway was without a pastor and youth minister, so the ministerial staff was low. ...

Geri Kipp

When I was 2 days old, I was baptized into the Catholic faith at a Kansas hospital. An Air Force brat, I moved around a lot, but my mother brought my sisters and me to Mass regularly throughout my childhood and adolescence. I received First Communion at age seven and was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church just after graduating high school. I knew about Jesus, but I didn’t really know him yet....

Ashley Benz

As a child, my family wandered in and out of various spiritualities but could never find a faith that seemed to fit them well. In middle school my aunt invited me to join her at a large coffee-shop church. I felt at home there and decided to join their congregation. I was baptized in seventh grade and continued my Christian journey throughout college. Not having been raised in a Christian home, I felt that I missed out on some of what regular church-goers take for granted. Marrying my husband Mark after my sophomore year of college was a huge step in my faith journey. Mark was raised a Christian home and provided me insight, education and support for my journey...