The Christians that Meet on Livingston Avenue

In February of 2020, I received a wonderful email from a sister-in-Christ I had never met named Jan. My close friend, Janice McDonald, worships with Jan and let her know about my book Your Fresh Start, suggesting it as a potential resource for sharing the gospel with the women she teaches the Bible to at a local jail. Jan loved the idea; so, after our initial email exchange, we chatted on the phone about my own volunteer work I enjoyed within a similar population in Oregon and we started brainstorming how to use my book to best serve these precious souls. 

Only a few days after that phone call, Christian Miller, a preacher’s wife in another part of the country, sent me a happy email about how she had created a couple of beautiful PowerPoint lessons for the two lessons she had volunteered to teach from Your Fresh Start to her local ladies' class. She was open to me sharing the material with Jan and when I let Jan see Christian’s beautiful work, she was game for also using Christian’s work for her classes at the jail.

When Mark and I walked into Livingston, I was excited for him to meet some of the wonderful people whom I had had the joy of worshiping with in my previous travels, and to meet Jan in person, as well. We chatted for a while about some of the ins and outs of the program at Pasco Jail. I was delighted to learn that there were quite a few programs in which Christians in and around Florida were participating in both jails and prisons for both men and women inmates. I also discovered that although Jan’s program had only begun in March of 2018, in that short span of time, it had already touched 250 women’s hearts to learn about Jesus. The men’s studies began six months later and had reached more than 75 male inmates.  Unfortunately, these efforts had been put on hold temporarily due to the pandemic, so though the sisters still keep in touch with the women in prison through written correspondence, Jan is traveling to Ocala, Florida, to assist the prison ministry that is still open there headed up by that local congregation.  

Jan, in her beautiful volunteer spirit, would love for other Christians in other communities to begin a work like this. She welcomes any questions you may have about this kind of work and may be reached at regarding her group’s approach to handling the details of this kind of ministry. Every institution will, of course, have its own individual guidelines, but Jan has had experience working in more than one jail or prison.

God has used this congregation in so many beautiful ways, including sustaining the soul of my precious friend, Janice, for years. One reason is due to the high quality of the sermons at Livingston. The Christians at Livingston not only have a volunteer spirit, but they also love a deep dig Bible study and they worship from their hearts. I believe part of this maturity comes from the depth of the classes and sermons that contribute to growing hearts like Jan’s and Janice’s that are so “others” centered. One of the evangelists, Edwin Crozer, was kind enough to send me his outline of the sermon he preached during this visit so I could share a portion of his inspiring sermon here.  It is taken from Isaiah 62 where God says: 

“...the Lord will take delight in you,
   and your land will be married.
 As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.
 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
   and makes her the praise of the earth.” (vs 4-7)

Let me ask you. Does it seem to you that the church is diminishing in our nation? Does it seem like the nations and the kings of the earth are thinking less and less of the church? Does it seem to you like the world thinks the church is more and more forsaken? Is it possibly because we’ve been allowing God too much rest? Is it because we think too small in our prayers? Is it perhaps because we pray too little? What might happen if Christians everywhere started praying Isaiah 62? What would happen if Christians everywhere beseeched the Lord to wake up and make a stand on the earth? What would happen if Christians everywhere pleaded that the Lord arise and wondrously show His love and favor upon His city, His heavenly Jerusalem, and display us as the crown jewel in His hand? What if we prayed that He prepare the way, that He build up the highway, that He clear it of stones, that He lift up a signal over the peoples? 

You know, it took only Daniel praying to provoke the Lord to fulfill His promise to release Israel from Babylonian captivity and restore them to the promised land. What might happen if Christ’s church decided to keep God awake with prayers for Him to bring victory to His kingdom in the world? And what if we simply decided to keep praying like that until He did, even if it took 100 years?

I get it; we can’t get the whole church the world over praying like this. But we could start ourselves. What if we decided we would do our part to keep God awake as much as we can? What if we decided right now to make [this] the year we did our dead-level best to keep God awake? Remember, when we pray, God works.

How many friends do you have that tell you to keep them awake all hours of the night, to call them any time day or night? Only one. And yes, I know that is because God doesn’t actually sleep. But isn’t it great to have at least one friend like that? How about we start right now pounding on His door?” ~ Edwin Crozier

As long as we are living on the road, we plan to winter in the Tampa area each year in our home that we rent out in Wesley Chapel for the remainder of the year. During the course of purchasing that rental, I’d built respect and trust with my realtor Rich Gant, who is an elder at Livingston, and selected this congregation to be our church family. Soon after, I took Buddy Payne’s and Andrew Robert’s classes on The Restoration Movement and was absolutely blown away by all I learned.  We also knew it was a good fit when immediately Heather Ladd invited us to their small group gatherings, and when my sister-in-Christ Marilyn Payne asked permission to perhaps create a corresponding workbook for my book Your Fresh Start. As if that were not enough, my ambitious brother, Steven Ladd, who is quite skilled in videography, suggested we transform this same book into a video format for broader use in bringing souls to Christ.  We feel at home in this congregation of  “go-getters'' who understand and support the value of our outreach around the country. We had found our family. 

The Christians that Meet on Livingston Avenue
18308 Livingston Ave.
Lutz, FL 33559
(813) 949-3789