NOLA Features Anna Donahue Ministries in their most recent Blog!Who Is Anna Donahue?
Posted by Teena L Myers / NOLA Blogger
April 28, 2008 5:00AM
Categories: Anna Donahue, Editorial, Testimony, Video
I saw her for the first time as I walked by the TV carrying a basket of laundry. Just a glimpse, I didn't pay much attention. I wondered who she was but had matters of greater importance on my mind - dirty underwear and mismatched socks. On the way to the grocery, I recognized the voice on the radio and turned up the volume. The woman I saw on TV had a name, Anna Donahue. While I surfed the internet, you guessed it, there she was again, Anna Donahue.
Anna's ministry website overflowed with activities: television and radio; annual daytime retreat for women in Mississippi; "Mirror Mirror" conference for teenagers; "Adopt a Widow Tea"; "Coming Up Higher Bible Studies" in Metairie, the Northshore, and Old Metairie. I entered the date of the next "Coming Up Higher" in my palm pilot.
I easily found the home hosting "Coming Up Higher" by the cars parked on both sides of the street and the ones looking for a place to park, including mine. I followed some women into the living room, already full, and consider myself fortunate to find an empty chair. As soon as I sat down, the woman next to me gushed with information about the profound affect of Anna's ministry on her life.
"Which one is Anna?" I enquired.
"She's not here yet," said the woman.
I turned my attention to the notes that had been thrust into my hand, Rise Up and Take Your Place! neatly assembled in a three prong folder with pictures, major points in bold print, each thought backed up with scripture, and a checklist at the end. Anna clearly invested her heart and soul into this teaching.
Anna burst into the room charging the air with life and greeted most of the women by name. The stranger among them, me, did not escape her attention. Her concern for everyone in the room was unmistakable. After the teaching, I approached her with my "card" and inquired if I could write a story about her ministry. Some might be suspicious of such and offer, Anna received my inquiry with grace and humility.
Anna and I met for coffee several weeks after the Bible study to talk about her ministry. She flooded me with questions more concerned about who I was than talking about herself. Slowly, a fascinating story unfolded. Anna was a sophomore in college and life was fine. One night, she was watching television with about ten friends when Gail Walls walked in. Anna saw a woman beaming like a light and heard muffled warnings.
Gail's presence quickly cleared the room. Anna had just met her husband of now twenty-seven years, and began a conversation with Gail about the new relationship in her life. Gail looked at Anna and said, "The bottom line will be your relationship with Jesus Christ."
Gail's comment haunted Anna who wondered what Gail meant. Anna rationalized that she knew God. She was raised Catholic. Anna looked up the scripture that said you must be born again, but her friends refused to talk about it. She dismissed Gail's warning and immersed herself in her journalism studies, but there was no escape.
Questions tormented Anna. What if Gail was right? What if there was more than being raised in a particular religion? Driving home in her brown Dodge Dart, tears streaming down her face Anna pulled her car to the side of the road and kneeled on the rough pavement. "Please," Anna prayed, "if you're real I gotta know. I need help." Suddenly, peace entered her heart and everything around her intensified. The grass looked greener, the sky bluer. A bird flew by, and Anna was struck with the realization that God made the bird. "I can take you to the exact spot I was born again," Anna assured me.
Anna graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, married and settled in San Antonio, Texas where she obtained a job at KENS TV Channel 5 and sporadically attended a Catholic Church. Anna's brother told her about the 700 Club, so she decided to watch the program. Pat Robertson spoke about being born again and, once again, Anna kneeled. She prayed with Rev. Robertson for Jesus to come into her heart.
Rookie weekend reporter making $5 an hour started her career, and Anna was thrilled. She eventually worked her way up to heavier stories. When a plane crashed, Channel 5 sent her to obtain a comment from a family grieving the loss of their son. Anna objected. The station demanded her to go. Anna obeyed but knew this kind of broadcasting was not for her. She no longer enjoyed her work but felt like she could "stick this out." While she endured the next year and a half with Channel 5 thoughts of Bible College entered her mind.
A job change for her husband relocated them to Indianapolis where Anna was exposed to a Protestant church for the first time. Anna was starving to learn more about God. When her neighbor invited them to attend services at a Christian Missionary Alliance church, they accepted. The members were some of the kindest people Anna had ever met. Anna and her husband were baptized in water and attended the church for six months before they relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana. They had already visited several churches when they walked into Victory Fellowship. The pastor, Frank Bailey, reminded Anna of her brother. His sincerity and rich teaching convinced Anna and her husband to join the church.
Hungry to learn more about God, Anna began taking classes at Victory's Bible College. She hosted the television show New Orleans Arise sponsored by Victory Fellowship, which ended after a three-month run due to finances. Anna taught Bible Studies and served as a section pastor assisting Parris Bailey who led the churches large women's ministry. During this time, Anna learned submission and yielding to God's will and timing. She also fell in love with people. Anna said, "I didn't care who they were, what they looked like or how they smelled, I willingly embraced them. It was like a born again experience."
As early as 1992, Anna dreamed of Anna Donahue Ministries. God waited until her dream died, and she handed the reins of control to him, before he released her from being a section-pastor. "The year 2002 was shaky," said Anna. "I knew it was time for me to start my own ministry, but didn't know how." During a staff meeting, Parris asked Anna a question about dates for upcoming events and Anna responded, "No, it's time for me to leave." September of 2002, Anna officially left Victory's staff. Fifty women gave Anna a baby shower to celebrate the birth of a new ministry - Anna Donahue's Ministry.
I couldn't understand why I had such a difficult time getting a head shot of Anna to post with this story. Pictures abounded with eyes closed, mouth open, too light, too dark, and expressions she would not want public. I decided to corner Anna for a head shot at the Annual Daytime Women's Retreat. Ever gracious, she agreed to meet me outside for a photo. Anna arrived with three friends. "Take a picture of all of us," Anna said. Even though Anna finally let her friends step aside so I could take my photo, I knew I would not use it. As I spent time with Anna and those God gave her to shepherd, one thing shone brighter than the many facets of her ministry; the love between Anna and those who sit at her feet. Anna cannot be separated from her flock.
Who is Anna Donahue? A woman being mightily used by God.
To read more blogs about Anna, visit http://blog.nola.com/faith/.
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