Pastor John Raymond is a native of New Orleans and grew up in the small country town of Springfield, Louisiana. His teenage years were filled with the joys of high school sports, hunting & fishing and being very active in his local church. John graduated from Bible College with a Bachelors Degree in Theology with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry. Pastor John & his wife Liz have been married since 1986 and have three wonderful children; John, Monica & Benjamin.
While living in Southern California for ten years John became an active lay leader at Harvest Christian Fellowship with Pastor Greg Laurie. Pastor Greg Laurie conducts evangelistic crusades throughout the world and serves on Billy Graham’s board of directors. Pastor Greg is affiliated with the Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Churches based in Southern California founded by Pastor Chuck Smith.
John had been a licensed Personal Financial Planner in Southern California for ten years when he was invited to conduct a training seminar for other financial planners in Baton Rouge. On the flight back to California, the Holy Spirit impressed on John’s heart to move back to the South and go into ministry.
After seeking the Lord’s direction through fervent prayer and trying everything to ignore the Holy Spirit’s call to leave a successful financial planning business and enter the pastoral ministry, John and Liz concluded that it was, in fact, the Lord’s will so they returned to southeast Louisiana. After receiving a prayer of blessing from Pastor Greg Laurie and other Harvest Christian Fellowship pastors, John embraced his calling into the full time pastoral ministry.
Pastor John’s non-threatening preaching personality and his unique teaching style blends in-depth biblical theology with practical and often humorous real life application which emphasizes the power of God’s Word engaging the life of the believer.
Birthday: February 21, 1962
Birthplace: New Orleans, LA
Previous Occupation: Personal Financial Planner
Education: BA degree in Theology/Pastoral Ministry
Marital Status: Married to Elizabeth ‘Liz’ since 1986
Children: John, Monica, Benjamin
Ice Cream Flavor: Blue Belle Banana Split
Movie: Last of the Mohicans
Novel: Hunger Games Trilogy
Bible Verse: Galatians 2:20
Flower: Ummm, seriously?
T.V. Show: Survivor
Q & A on a personal note¦
Q & A: What creates the passion inside of you that comes out in your messages?
My father was an alcoholic and died when I was twelve years old leaving my mom to raise five children by herself. I watched her faith being lived out day by day through very difficult circumstances. I discovered the foundation I needed in life through my involvement in a strong family oriented church and realized that faith in Jesus Christ could overcome any obstacle. When I teach God’s word I try to preach to those like me who are searching for the truth that can set them free from any self-imposed limitations or feelings of desperation. That’s why we have a motto at New Horizon that emphatically states, ‘Jesus is alive and all things are possible!’
Q & A: Why did you decide to become affiliated with the Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Churches which is located all the way in Southern California?
When we moved to California to open our own financial planning office we started looking for a church to join. One Sunday morning we attended a church close to our home and when we walked in the congregation was already standing up singing. We thought we were early but we picked up a song book and sang the last verse with everyone else. To our surprise, the pastor prayed and church was over. We actually missed the service because the time had changed that Sunday morning.
We laughed it off but decided to attend another church the following Sunday, which was Maranatha Calvary Chapel with Pastor Ray Bentley. The music was amazing and the Bible teaching was incredible. We knew we had found our church home. When we moved up to the Riverside area we began attending Harvest Christian Fellowship with Pastor Greg Laurie and deepened our love for Calvary Chapels with their style of contemporary music, expository preaching and an environment of grace and love.
There are over 1,500 Calvary Chapels world wide and range in size from 20 to over 20,000. Calvary Chapel started the Contemporary Christian Music genre with the birth of Maranatha Music during the hippie movement and was named ‘The Jesus People” by the national media We are happy to belong to such a wonderful fellowship if churches.
Q & A: Who is your favorite NFL football team?
Well, that’s a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one. As a pastor I am not supposed to have favorites, so I will remain completely neutral. However, let me quote a Bible verse. Psalm 16:3 (NASB) says, “As for the SAINTS who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight”.
Q & A: You were a castaway on the CBS Reality show Survivor: Thailand. What made you want to do that and would you do it again?
When I saw the promotion for Survivor: The Australian Outback, I knew I had to try out for the game. Growing up in Louisiana is the perfect way to prepare for surviving in the outdoorsÂ In my audition video I went into the swamp and caught a four-foot alligator. That seemed to impress the Hollywood casting people. Then there was a series of interviews and an intricate casting process that I’m not allowed to talk about. Out of 60,000 applicants I was one of 16 that were selected to be in the game.
Unfortunately, the fact that I was a pastor made me an immediate target. I was probably more focused on outdoor “survival” than the game of “survivor” Looking back I could have played a better game but I’m not sorry for being the first one voted out because at least I didn’t have to lie or deceive anyone along the way.
Picture: John & Jeff Probst, the most proficient, prepared and professional reality TV host of all time. He is the heartbeat of Survivor and one of the main reasons it has lasted for over 400 episodes.
Picture: John as a featured guest on the Caroline Rhea Show in New York.
After being voted out at Tribal Council the castaways remain in the country and have a great vacation paid for by CBS. I’ll never forget it. Once we got stateside we were on the David Letterman show, the Caroline Rhea Show, the CBS Early Show and I worked with the New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV 4 for a few years as a special guest commentator recapping the Survivor episodes each week.
The people at CBS were all wonderful and the producer, Mark Burnett, has impeccable integrity and is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. My answer is a resounding YES. I would do it again and if they call I would have my bags packed before I hung up the phone. I would play a completely different game today since the game had developed over the years.
Picture: John with Mark Burnett, the creator and executive producer of Survivor and many other reality TV shows such as The Apprentice, Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, Expedition Impossible, The Voice, and others.
I still get together with a wide variety of former Survivors, American Idols, Amazing Race contestants and other Reality
TV celebrities to raise money for charitable causes around the country. Last year I was honored to arrange a Sunday morning worship service at a Reality TV event in Virginia and was able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to a number of Reality TV celebrities and fans. You would probably be surprised at how many Reality TV celebrities are Christians.
Q & A: Tell us about the Radio Station.
When I attended a Calvary Chapel Sr. Pastor’s conference in California I had no idea that I would discover the possibility of applying for an FCC license to own a full power f.m. radio station. To make a long story short, the FCC has a very complicated and competitive process for non-profit organizations to apply for a radio station license. Out of a group of eleven organizations, New Horizon was selected as the recipient of this amazing radio contour. The channel 88.7 on the f.m. dial now belongs to New Horizon and is licensed to cast an impressive 100,000 watt signal to over a million and a half people in Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The Lord said, To whom much has been given, much will be required. We consider it both a privilege and a great responsibility to be the overseers of such an incredibly powerful and effective method of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of God’s word. “The Bridge Radio” will feature the dynamic teaching of God’s word from some of the nation’s most gifted and anointed Bible teachers as well as contemporary Christian worship music, talk-shows and coverage of a wide variety of local issues, news and community events.
Q & A: What have been your proudest moments?
Without a doubt, my children are my source of inspiration. When our oldest son, John Derek, received All-District honors in high school football and then went on to become a professional firefighter I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He is a great example of character and integrity.
When our daughter, Monica, led her high school volleyball team to its third state championship in a row and she was named MVP of the state tournament it was the pinnacle of emotion.
And then when our youngest son, Benjamin, took first place and received a gold medal in the Louisiana Southern Regional Speech Tournament in New Orleans we were humbled beyond words.
It’s not that my children need to achieve anything to earn our love or respect, but we have simply been blessed with incredible children that continue to teach us that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
Q & A: What have been your scariest moments?
Ha ha. Well, that’s an interesting question. I guess one might be signing the purchase of a 27,000 square foot church facility shortly after Hurricane Katrina and praying that we could actually succeed in leading a church to grow and fill it up. I thank God every day for an awesome church family who is committed to our vision and serving in ministry with me.
Another memorably scary time would be when I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from three miles in the air and I had a double-chute opening, which means that both my main parachute and my reserve parachute opened at the same time. It’s a recipe for disaster because if they became tangled I would plummet to my death at 125 miles per hour. At least it would have been a great ride, but I prayed all the way down and there was no further malfunction. When I touched down safely, I heard the cheers from everyone at the drop zone. Until then I didn’t realize that anyone was aware of the potentially disastrous situation but me.
Q & A: Okay, soooo we’ve seen you riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle around town. Are you going through a mid-life crisis?
Lol. Hmmm, maybe. I can’t really say for sure. But I actually won the Harley Davidson motorcycle when I entered a charity raffle while attending a New Orleans Voodoo arena football game with my two sons. The bike I won had a really cool Voodoo paint job on it but I didn’t feel comfortable cruising around with a picture of a skull and crossbones and a word that stands for witchcraft on my bike. So I asked the dealership if I could trade it in for a different model and they made me a really sweet deal. Besides, with the price of gas these days the upgrade will pay for itself. It looks like New Horizon is starting a motorcycle ministry, everyone’s welcome to join.