And how the maligned former street preacher ended up in a restaurant unwittingly sharing a piece of pie with President G. W. Bush.
(New Orleans, LA)—As reported earlier on Breaking Christian News, the Southern Baptist denomination made history on June 19, when they elected Pastor Fred Luter, Jr. as their first African-American president.
On a CBN News interview, Luter, a descendent of slaves and a former street preacher, has spoken of the victory and what it means.
One of the first major challenges that faced Luter as a pastor in New Orleans in 1986 came when he was appointed to a grow a dying church. The head of Southern Baptist missions reportedly had doubts Luter could perform the miracle needed to do it. Luter says the missions' leader told him, "Son, you are not my choice for this church. But evidently these people want you, so this is my job description for you: you either resurrect this church, or we are going to bury it."
In so many words, Luter's reply was, "I am in no mood for a funeral … we are going to resurrect this church."
With God's grace and Luter's dedication, the church was, indeed, resurrected. It grew to 8,000 and then Hurricane Katrina hit. It took another miracle to open the doors to the church two years later.
"I never will forget my sermon was from the book of Habakkuk," Luter notes, "and my title was 'From Disaster to Dancing.' And I literally danced across this pulpit," Luter said.
In one of the interview's most surprising revelations, Luter shares of how he met with then president, George W. Bush at a local restaurant during post-hurricane reconstruction.
Says Luter: "He [President Bush] had strawberry shortcake and I had pecan pie, which is my favorite dessert, and I guess he saw me enjoying it. And he said, 'Is it really that good?' And the president of the United States of America took his fork without even asking my permission and said, 'Let me try that' and took some of my pecan pie."
"That," he says, "is a moment I will never forget."
Speaking of his early days as a street preacher in New Orleans, Luter says, "There are people who will see me today and say, 'Man I remember you when you were on the street corner. I thought you were so crazy man."
"Some people, they will wave at you. Some people will give you the finger. People will curse you out. But that is where I got my start, and I really think that my ministry on the street prepared me for ministry in the church."