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Faith & Family: Church group gets fit for service

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Adrian Frisby, center, leads a health and wellness class at Mount Bethel Church Friday evening in Natchez.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Adrian Frisby, center, leads a health and wellness class at Mount Bethel Church Friday evening in Natchez.

NATCHEZ — Adrian Frisby has battled what he called “a touch of high blood pressure and diabetes” for several years.

So when the opportunity for a health and wellness program was presented to his church, Mount Bethel Church, it provided just the opportunity Frisby needed to help manage his health.

“It was a godsend,” Frisby said. “My wife had been on my case about walking and stuff, but I could never get excited about exercising before this.”

The Alcorn State University Extension Program began a three-phase health and wellness program in June 2012 at Mount Bethel. The program, which has approximately 10 participants, focuses on nutritional education, home gardening and exercising. Participants have learned how to read food labels to make better meal choices, grow fresh vegetables and get into an exercise routine.

“It started as something we did on Mondays, then it went to Mondays and Wednesdays, and now it’s Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” Frisby said. “It’s been a big success.”

For Frisby personally, he’s gone from taking three blood diabetes pills to two, and from two blood pressure pills to one. If his progress continues, his doctor said he could get off the other blood pressure pill and one of the diabetes pills.

“My testimony is, my suits are now too big in the waist, and the jackets are just kind of hanging off my shoulders,” Frisby said.

He’s not alone. Church member Jessie Dorsey said the program has allowed her to get in such good shape that others have taken notice.

“This year, I went back to school, and they said, ‘Wow, Ms. Dorsey, you really look good,’ and that made me feel good,” Dorsey said. “It’s helped me maintain my weight.”

Rosie Thomas said she’s lost two dress sizes since beginning the program.

“I knew I needed (to exercise), but I didn’t have the money to invest in a gym, and I didn’t feel comfortable exercising with people I didn’t know,” Thomas said. “This is very special, because it’s free, and you have the opportunity to exercise with people you know.”

Julius Chambers said he’s lost 16 pounds since beginning the program and has no intention of slowing down.

“I want to lose 16 more,” Chambers said. “I can do certain things I couldn’t do before, and it makes a whole lot of difference. I also sleep better.”

Gerald Jones, an Alcorn Extension agent who helped start the program, said he’s been impressed with the ownership the participants have taken since it began. He also said he’s trained other members to eventually take over running the program.

“They took off and never stopped running,” Jones said. “Some people lost dress sizes and weight, and their endurance increased. It’s really been a win-win situation, because when you have a healthy congregation, you can praise Him better.”

And that’s the most important aspect of the program, Frisby said.

“We can’t do the things we’re supposed to do (as Christians) if we’re sick all the time,” Frisby said. “If I feel well, think of how much better I can be a witness for Christ.”

Thomas pointed to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 as to why believers should take care of themselves physically.

“Our bodies are God’s temple,” Thomas said. “When we feel better, we have more energy to do the things we’re supposed to do as Christians.”

Frisby said the program is not exclusive to members of Mount Bethel, anyone in the community is welcome to participate.