Pastor John Russell
Trophy of Grace
In 1969, John L. Kennedy and Reida Russell gave birth to John L. Russell in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is the fourth of five children. He grew up without a father, and as a result, he suffered many of the same challenges that other African American males continue to experience today.
As a teenager, he began smoking cigarettes, which led to the use of marijuana and eventually, alcohol. On many of the days he attended junior high and high school, he was under the influence of some substance. He discovered his love for basketball while participating in a variety of sports such as baseball, boxing, track and field. During his time at Airline High School, he established himself as one of the best basketball players ever to grace the court.
As a result of his talent, he was awarded a full scholarship to play college basketball. He spent his first two years of college at Bossier Parish Community College, where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. Upon completion of his associate's degree, he then transferred to the University of New Orleans. However, his studies were short lived due to difficulties within the basketball team. Afterwards, he attended Park University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
While still in college, Pastor Russell met and married his first wife. His heavy use of alcohol and marijuana, which eventually led to crack cocaine, caused the marriage to end prematurely. He returned to Shreveport, La, full of disappointment and embarrassment. This led to depression, increased drug use, and criminal activity which landed him in jail. After being released from jail, he reverted back to his old ways. One day while stopping by his sister’s house to take a shower and get a hot meal, he looked at himself in the mirror. He then realized that he had a problem, and began to seek help at a treatment facility in Shreveport, La.
After his 30 day period was completed, he understood he needed more treatment and asked to be transferred to another facility. He was sent to a drug rehab facility in Pineville, La. He did well for a while, but it was short lived. He then became more involved in drugs, alcohol, and criminal activity. On a cold winter day and at his wits end, he made a phone call to a family friend, who hung up in his face because he could no longer take the up and down behavior. Pastor John Russell thought life wasn’t worth living and he decided to end his life.
God intervened as he started to jump off the Jackson Street Bridge, and brought him to a safe haven called the Grace House. This is a homeless shelter for men, sponsored by the Pentecostals of Alexandria. There, he began to seek the face of God. After being in the Grace House for several months, he met his current wife Rolanda. Eight months later, Pastor Russell, Rolanda, and her two children became a family and started working in the ministry.
Pastor John Russell's ministry began as a Bus Route Driver and Sunday school teacher. After soul searching and seeking the face of God for his life's purpose, he soon realized the gift of communicating God's Word through preaching. He began preaching in prisons and was soon on the evangelistic field.
May 2004, Pastor John Russell became a member of the staff at the Pentecostals of Alexandria. He is the first African American minister to serve in this position. His ministry included the SPOT, Grace House, and the House of Mercy. He was also heavily involved with the Pentecostals of Alexandria's Training Center.
Pastor Russell did all this while preaching the gospel!
In June 2007, he was approached by Bishop Anthony Mangun to consider pastoring Calvary Tabernacle of Alexandria, a daughter work of the Pentecostals of Alexandria. He accepted the challenge, and on January 1, 2008 became Senior Pastor.
Today, the church thrives under his leadership and has seen profound growth.