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By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Reflections on the goodness of God prompted Barbara Bryant to show her deep appreciation. Her response was the founding of an ecumenical non-profit organization to use her gifts to share the message of Christ Jesus.
Barbara Bryant Ministries, launched in 2000, offers a variety of programs and resources to help people. Her services range from assisting abused women to donating Bibles overseas to providing home care for the infirm.
"The theme of this ministry is ‘Gifted to Be a Gift.' God never charged me a fee to experience His deliverance, miracles, grace, mercy, healing, and power. These undeserved blessings were His gift to me," said Bryant."God gave me the gift of salvation and eternal life. So, I asked the Lord, "How can I use my gift to be a blessing to others?" As a result, Barbara Bryant Ministries was birthed," she said.
Starting a new endeavor takes faith, wise counsel, and preparedness. Fortunately, Bryant possessed all three elements.
A minister of the Gospel for more than 25 years, her deep faith was nurtured and continues to be strengthened during her long membership at New Antioch Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles. She united with New Antioch under Pastor James Lewis, and currently serves under the leadership of Pastor Jeffrey M. Lewis, Sr.
As for wise counsel, Bryant said, "My biological mother, Jessie Mae Stewart, and Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis, my spiritual mentor and former first lady, have been the strongest forces behind my ministry.
"My mother is a pioneer of the Church of God in Christ and has the gift of hospitality and loves giving to others. She always cared for the needy and she is my personal prayer warrior. Often, I would hear her as she prayed day and night for me, asking God to prepare and use me in His Kingdom," she recalled.
Her desire for a spiritual role model was filled by Mother Lewis whom Bryant credits with shaping her as a woman of God and giving instruction on operating in ministry. "Mother Lewis' passion for mentoring and discipleship, combined with humility, helped to guide my ministry. She is a creative thinker, insightful leader and is just a simple teacher of good things. Titus 2:3 says, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good."
Another key factor in starting her ministry was Bryant's ability to draw on her life experiences and connecting them to God's intentions for her life. "Just like Jesus knew His purpose, God clearly revealed to me through test and trials, the purpose and significance of my existence. My personal struggles began to fit into some kind of meaningful pattern, which initiated the programs available through Barbara Bryant Ministries," she noted.
Those programs include ‘Save Yourself' which aids Christian women escaping domestic violence. ‘GiftedConnections' donates Bibles, Christian literature, and educational books to men and women living in foreign countries. ‘Your Season Will Change' is an annual conference designed to help single mothers receiving government assistance achieve financial stability. ‘Gift Care' provides services to cancer patients such as cooking meals, house cleaning, grocery shopping, Bible reading and prayer.
Also, using her degree in Journalism, she has an e-publication titled, "Gifted to Be a Gift," which is emailed to over six thousand subscribers every month. The newsletter publishes religious writings by Bryant to promote spiritual growth.
For the younger generation, the Gifted to Be a Gift Foundation has the ‘Just For Youth' program, explained Minister Bryant who is also a representative of youth for Southern California First Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ and a licensed minister in the Church of God in Christ, Inc.
"I use this platform to empower youth to envision a better future, and then creatively construct a more positive life for themselves based on biblical principles. In addition, the ministry addresses the needs of youth by providing a whole solution addressing spiritual, emotional, social, academic, intellectual care and guidance," she said.
Looking towards the future, Bryant said although her goals "are ever-changing based upon a call of God," her immediate plans call for issuing a workbook for young women in ministry and a recording entitled, ‘Stop Trippin.' The song, aimed at ages 12 to 21, stresses the importance of honoring parents and elders.
Also, Bryant will release ‘Stedmon Makes Me Laugh and Pray,' a Christian children's book whose title character is named after her youngest son. Her other books, ‘Compensated Suffering' and ‘Gifted Inspirations,' are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and local bookstores.
For more information about Barbara Bryant Ministries, visit www.barbarabryant.com.