Pictured here is Barry Gautreaux who serves as pastor of Christian Tabernacle on Heritage Road in Pine Prairie. During his 30-plus years in ministry, he has brought the word of God from the throne, to the church, and to the world. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Longino)
A pioneering pastor
The pioneer spirit that made this country what it is today is still alive as new churches spring up to help spread the word of God.
“Every church in America and every church in the world, no matter what kind of religion it is or denomination, had to start somewhere,” said Barry Gautreaux who serves as pastor of Christian Tabernacle in Pine Prairie. “In our world of ministry, we call it pioneering because we actually start the church from nothing.”
Before pioneering Christian Tabernacle in Pine Prairie, Gautreaux did so in Russia and in some of the former Soviet Republics. He started ministering as he was preaching revivals and doing evangelistic work here in the United States. Then in 1994, he and some others were presented with an opportunity to go to Russia.
“We worked out of a Bible college in Moscow and went down to Tbilisi, Georgia, and down to Armenia right on the Turkey border near Mt. Ararat,” Gautreaux said. “When I preached revivals, I shared my vision and my burden to go into Russia and start churches. We’d go down into these countries with one of the graduating students from the college in Moscow, and we’d go preach crusades in the towns. We’d rent buildings, start churches, leave a pastor, and furnish Bibles.”
He described how hungry the spirits of these people were in the former Soviet areas. “It was absolutely awesome how receptive they were,” Gautreaux said. “You have to take into account that these people have been oppressed, and anybody who is oppressed is given hope when they’re being preached to. They were receptive, and it was nothing to gather hundreds of people into a building and to preach to them.”
Gautreaux returned home to the United States and felt the burden to pioneer a church here at home starting in 1995 and 1996. “I lived in the Oakdale area and was an assistant pastor of a church over there,” he said. “I came here to Pine Prairie and started looking for buildings. I found one on the backside of Pine Prairie that was an old video store. That’s where I started pastoring. We bought the three acres where the church is now and moved that little building and added onto it to make our second sanctuary. Then a few years ago, we built a new sanctuary.”
On January 5, Gautreaux will celebrate his twenty-first year of being a pastor at the church. He said that he is probably the longest serving pastor in Pine Prairie. Another honor came last year when he was nominated to head the Community Christmas. “We’ve got nine churches involved,” he said. “It happens right here at the Boggy Bayou Festival grounds on Heritage Road in Pine Prairie. It’s a coming together of all the churches.”
This year’s Community Christmas is set for Friday, December 1 starting at 6:00 p.m.
Gautreaux shared his message as the Christmas season approaches. “In this Christmas season, it is important for us to be reminded that it’s Jesus’ birthday,” he said.
“We should see what gift we should give to Him, and that gift could possibly be in the ways that we give to others.”
Over his 32 total years in ministry, Gautreaux has made it a family affair and proved the old adage of “A family that prays together stays together” to be true.
He said, “I met my wife Teresa when she came to a revival at the church I was attending. She was from Mississippi and came down here to meet some friends of hers. She was raised in church. We met, got married, and had two children.”
“Kisha was our first child, and then BJ came along a few years later,” he continued. “Kisha grew up and married a preacher who was already in ministry. They pastor a church in Oakdale. Then my son surrendered to the ministry probably at the age of 21, and he married a girl out of Arkansas. She is a preacher’s daughter, so both my children married ministers’ children.”
Aside from preaching and pastoring, the Gautreauxs also worship through music. “Both my kids have recorded music, and the last recording that we did was in Nashville,” Gautreaux said. “It’s all Gospel music. We sing, preach, and do mission work.”
“We have four grandkids, and they all sing,” he continued. “Three of them play music. The youngest one is nine-years-old, and we’re working on her to get to learn how to play.”
Gautreaux’s path of salvation was not always bright as the proverbial scales fell from his eyes while still in high school. “I was on a bad path,” he said as he described his life before his conversion experience. “I was a sinner, and I was a bad sinner. I knew all about Rock N’ Roll. I didn’t know a whole lot about drugs, but I had experienced it some. I could see in hindsight that I was on a bad road.”
“We were invited to a revival, and mom and dad took all of us kids to the revival,” he continued. “It wound up being a six week revival which is unheard of today. It just kept extending because people were getting saved. I got saved there in that revival, and I gave my heart to the Lord. I repented of my sins, and the Lord came into my heart and changed me.”
He spoke about how his own conversion experience affects his style of preaching. “When you’re preaching, it doesn’t always mean that you have experienced everything that you’re preaching because the Bible is so much bigger than us and God is so much bigger than us. I can preach my experience and what God delivered me from, but that only goes so far because that’s a human testimony. When I’m preaching the Bible and the word of God, I’m preaching the authority of God into people’s lives.”
Through all of his experiences in his life, Gautreaux gives all the credit back to God. “I would say that sometimes preachers can get a lot of credit for certain things, but it’s really the grace of God doing it,” he said. “The Lord has blessed us with some awesome people here, and we stay busy. You’re going to wear out doing something in life, so in our mind and our philosophy what better way than to wear out for the Lord and die and go to Heaven.”