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March 22, 2024

Letter to the Editor - Re: Revival of Bogalusa and Washington Parish

The following was submitted by Ben E. Clayton as a Letter to the Editor. 

Pastor Clayton had previously spoken on Unity at the March 19, 2024 meeting of the 

Bogalusa City Council (video presented below).


Wikipedia discloses the following:

“Incorporated in 1914, Bogalusa is one of the youngest towns in Louisiana. It was founded by Frank Henry Goodyear and Charles Waterhouse Goodyear, lumber barons of Buffalo, New York. In the early 1900s, the brothers bought hundreds of thousand of acres of virgin Longleaf pine forests in southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi for the timber and [to] further their strategy to build railroad spurs to bring the wood to market. In 1902, they chartered the Great Southern Lumber Company and bult the first sawmill in what became Bogalusa, a company town built to support the mill. The sawmill was the largest in the world at the time. The Goodyear interests built the city of Bogalusa to house workers and supervisors, and associated infrastructure. They also bult the Great Northern New Orleans Railroad to New Orleans to transport their lumber and products to market.”

“The city, designed by architect Rathbone DeBuys of New Orleans and built from the ground up in less than a year, had several hotels, schools, a hospital, a YMCA and YWCA, churches of all faiths, and houses for the mill workers…It was called the “Magic City” in praise of its rapid construction. The manager of Great Southern Lumber Company was William H. Sullivan. As sawmill manager, he acted as town boss when the city was built. After Bogalusa was incorporated as a city on July 4, 1914, Sullivan was elected as mayor by white voters (blacks had been disenfranchised), and repeatedly re-elected, serving until his death on June 26, 1929.”

The online Wikipedia article goes on to recount a history of racial tension and violence in the town, including acts of violence and murder. The article also discusses the fact of the decline of Bogalusa. In the 1960s, the city had more than 21,000 residents. The 2010 census showed a population of 12,232 and the 2020 census saw that number decline to 10,659.

Bogalusa has been bleeding population, talent and vitality for some time now. Some of the successful business people and professionals who were born in Bogalusa but left to become residents of St. Tammany Parish and elsewhere include attorneys, judges and even a current Louisiana Supreme Court justice, to name a few. Bogalusa sorely misses the skills, talents and vision of these departed native sons and daughters. Imagine how they could have contributed to the strength, vitality and prosperity of Bogalusa had they remained here!

The present state of Bogalusa is well-known: drug addicted, crime ridden, potholed and in despair. How long will we sit by passively, watching as Bogalusa bleeds to death?

The name Ezekiel means “God strengthens.” The prophet Ezekiel was well-named, for he understood through his relationship and encounters with the Lord that the only hope for a fallen, wounded society is divine intervention. The 37th chapter from the Book of Ezekiel (KJV) is instructive. Let’s review verses 1 through 6:

  • The hand [power, force] of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.
  • And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley, and, lo, they were very dry.
  • And he [the LORD} said unto me, Son of man can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
  • Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
  • Thus saith the Lord God, unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.
  • And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

If we go on to read verses 7 through 14, we will see that once Ezekiel had obeyed the Lord and prophesied life to the dry bones, a miraculous resurrection occurred, specifically, the resurrection of the nation of Israel, which had fallen deeply into sin. The divine judgment and correction for that rampant sin was Israel and Judah being taken into captivity in a foreign land.

It is true that the Lord is sovereign and He can and at times does act of His own volition and initiative, without a request for assistance (prayer and fasting) from a human. But this passage shows that the Lord may also act through a human prophesying His word. He instructed Ezekiel in verse 4, “…Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.” The resurrection of the valley of dry bones came through divine intervention, but the Lord required Ezekiel in this instance to speak to the situation prophetically. In verse 4, the word “prophecy” is No. 5012 in the Strong’s Concordance, and in Hebrew the word is naba (naw baw), which means “speak or sing by inspiration.”

THE QUESTION THEN IS THIS: who will be an Ezekiel to Bogalusa and to  Washington Parish? Who will first repent of his or her own sins to “get a clean slate with God,” then go on to intercede for the city and the parish? This question is for born again Christians, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord has entrusted much to us, but what are we doing with what He has entrusted? How low will we allow Bogalusa and Washington Parish to sink before our desperation level exceeds our complacency level?

Every significant Christian revival or move of the Holy Spirit is preceded by diligent prayer, fasting and Bible study. The list of such revivals is too lengthy to repeat here, but some include:

  • *27 A.D. Revival in the Samaritan village of Sychar (see John 4, i.e., Samaritan woman at the well encounters Jesus Christ, recognizes Him to be the Messiah, resulting in many in the town of Sychar receiving Jesus)
  • * 30 A.D. The day of Pentecost (see Acts 2)
  • * Protestant Reformation
  • * The Great Awakenings
  • · 1800 Red River Revival
  • · 1815-1840 New York Revivals
  • · 1904-1905 Welsh Revival
  • · 1906 Azusa Street Revival
  • · 1949 Los Angeles Revival
  • · 1960 Charismatic Movement
  • · 1967 Catholic Charismatic Renewal
  • · 1967 Jesus Movement
  • · 1995 Brownsville Revival
  • · 2008 Lakeland Outpouring

IT IS THIS SIMPLE. II Chronicles 7:13-14 says, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people, If my people [the born-again Christians], which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

THE PRESCRIPTION FOR THE HEALING OF BOGALUSA AND WASHINGTON PARISH is very simply this: 1) each individual Christian is to confess his or her own sin to the Lord and repent, 2) pray specific, targeted prayers for Bogalusa and Washington Parish concerning the relevant issues, and 3) put aside our petty, imaginary grievances with each other. Psalm 133 speaks of the power in unity and the blessings that flow from that unity. Stop allowing denominational labels to separate us from each other and come together as the body of Christ, in His unity, to proclaim His word and do his work, that is, be a disciple of His and make disciples for Him (see Matthew 28:19-20).

Very truly yours, Ben E. Clayton, Pastor Ben E. Clayton, City of Refuge Ministries, 411 Sabine Street, Bogalusa, Louisiana 70427

Ben E. Clayton Comments at Bogalusa City Council meeting on March 19, 2024 from Mt. Hermon Web-TV on Vimeo.

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