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Dr. Raymond Baird

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Dr. Raymond Baird Obituary
Dr. Raymond Biard

Jackson

The fourth of seven children, Raymond Owen Biard was born on the 17th of March, 1934. The proud parents, Vaughn and Luella Biard, lived in a log cabin in rural O-Neal , Arkansas where they reared their children.

As parents do, when their children are quite young, the Biards often asked their children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Young Raymond always said, "I am gonna be a preacher." Not that unusual for a child, except this child had very little exposure to church as his parents were not saved at the time and they did not take the children to church. As he grew older, his thoughts of being a preacher never changed. It was as if he knew that he had been born for that purpose.

He accepted the Lord as his Savior at the age of 12. The minister told him at that time that God had called him to preach, which was a confirmation to what he had wanted to do all along. At the age of 14, he began preaching. His mentors in ministry were Reverends Leonard Lofton, Joseph Thornton and W.S. McMasters. Much like Abraham, Pastor Biard left home at 17, not knowing where he was going - but going in answer to the call of God on his life. He was in full-time ministry by the time he was 18 years old. His seasoning in the ministry came from much prayer, consecration, fasting and seeking God's face for wisdom and directions. The first church that he pastored was Emmanuel Tabernacle, located on Highway 49 North in Jackson , MS . He was 21 years old at the time.

In 1960, he moved the church to Porter Street and changed the name to Jackson Revival Center Church and in 1962, the church became an affiliate of the International Ministerial Association. In 1964, he erected and dedicated a new building at the Porter Street site.

During the late 60s and early 70s, Pastor Biard spent many hours laying before the Lord crying, yet again, for direction. He was commissioned to go into all the world and to preach to all people. All the world - all people. "How, Lord? Prejudice, both racial and religious, is so prevalent here. So strong. So cruel. How do I do what you command?" Knowingly, he put his life at risk by slipping into black neighborhoods and homes to preach, teach and pray. Other members of the church took chances by allowing blacks to come to their homes to receive prayer and words of exhortation from Pastor Biard. The sick were healed, the lost saved, the possessed and the oppressed delivered. Yet, he felt that slipping to minister was not the way.

By the mid 70s, he knew that he must open his church doors to whomever would come and he did just that. He placed a sign on the front lawn of the church that read, "Everyone Is Welcome." Though his family did not quite know what to expect, they stood in agreement with the vision of Pastor to preach to all people. The inevitable happened. A young, black man read the sign and entered the sanctuary one Sunday evening for worship. Pastor Biard welcomed him with an open heart and opened arms. Because of this decision, many of the members of his congregation left, but God sent others to replace them. Most of them were men and women of color.

Friends of the ministry said it wouldn't work. Persons, many of whom were not members of Jackson Revival Center or who were members that were not faithful to the church, felt that to racially integrate the congregation was a mistake. They felt that blacks should worship with blacks and whites with whites. It was obvious that they failed to look at what God was doing. They saw the natural, but not the spiritual - a trap that the adversary always sets for God's people. Nevertheless, his church became the 1st church in the state of Mississippi that was of the "Full Gospel, Pentecostal persuasion" so to speak, to become a fully integrated congregation. There was a struggle at times. But the struggle was the Lord's. Victory was His.

By 1987, the congregation had outgrown the facility on Porter Street and was moved into the facility that it now occupies at 519 W. Silas Brown Street .

Desiring to reach out to more persons in ministry, Pastor started broadcasting on radio over 45 years ago. He has preached to an undetermined number of persons not only in MS, but also in other areas of this country as well as Cuba , Guyana , Trinidad and the Caribbean Islands . He has done mission work in Belize , Central America , Mexico and Costa Rica . He has sent persons from his church to minister in Haiti, Guyana and the Philippines . His mission work includes feeding and caring for children in an orphanage/school in Haiti that his church build and feeding over 800 families per month in the Jackson metropolitan area. He had an International Broadcast on the Word Network as well.

With Sunday morning services at 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Pastor Biard was the Undershepherd of a congregation of approximately 550 active members with over 600 persons attending worship on an average Sunday morning. The actual numbers of members of the church exceed 1000. However, many are in ministry in other areas of the country. Several have moved to other locations, but chose to attend church under the watch-care of other ministries as they remain members of Jackson Revival Center . He has 16 organized auxiliary ministries (teaching/discipling, performing arts and ministries of helps) within the church structure. And he has several "sons" of the ministry who are pastoring churches under his mentorship.

When we think of the little boy that knew nothing about God except what all persons are instinctively born with; and when we look at the young age he was when he made up his mind to follow God no matter what; when we think of the responsibility there is to pastor a group of people, we must accept, without doubt, that he truly was a called and chosen vessel of God. Pastor Raymond Biard, saved in a Baptist church under a Methodist minister in 1946; licensed to preach in June of 1952; a recipient of a conferred Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Calvary Bible Institute in November of 1986; and the recipient of an earned Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Southern Bible Institute in June, 1995, had no desire to be anything except what he knew God called him to be. His vision for people was to show them how to come together, putting aside race and denomination, in an effort to become more Christ focused. Further, it was to see them saved, filled with the Spirit of the Lord and loving each other as Christ has commanded. "How?" you ask, "has he been able to see the fruit of this vision?" Well, he often said that, "a man on his knees is taller than the trees; and the only way up is down." It's been because of his prayer life, his daily walking out what he preached and his courage and his faithfulness to stand on God's promise to him.

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Dorothy L. Biard, Jackson , MS ; children: Timothy O. Biard (Brenda), Joseph L. Biard (Angela) and Rev. Jennifer R. Biard all of Brandon, MS. Libby Beard (Glen, Sr. ) of Weir, MS and Kenny Long (Linda) of Clinton, MS and Paulette Barkdull of Brandon, MS. Honorary Son, Steven P. Mitchell (Denise) and honorary daughter Gale Robinson of Jackson, MS; two sisters: Evelyn Dowell of Bethesda, Arkansas and Patsy Moore of Batesville, Arkansas; 11 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, 4 honorary grandchildren, one God-son and one God-grandson along with a host of nieces, nephews and ministry sons and daughters.

Visitation will be 5-8pm Sunday, June 5, 2011 at Jackson Revival Center. Services will be 11am Monday, June 6, 2011 also at Jackson Revival Center with a one hour visitation prior to the service. Interment will follow at Floral Hills C
Published in Clarion Ledger from June 4 to June 6, 2011
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