Benefit concert set at ESM

Published 5:03 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

Allen Barber, the son of Acy and Sheree Barber of Bogalusa, will once again be giving back to the community he loves by performing a gospel music benefit concert. Barber has helped to provide food for the needy in the area by teaming with the Bogalusa Help Center for the past several years. His latest concert will be held at Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial Methodist Church at 510 Ave. B on Saturday, May 27, at 7 p.m. Cash donations or canned goods will be accepted as admission to this worthwhile event.

“We are so excited to have Allen performing for us again,” said Gene Hayman, director of the Bogalusa Help Center. “He has blessed us year after year with his awesome talent and ‘can-do’ attitude. He continues to encourage and touch lives with his personal testimony of faith and courage in the face of difficult health challenges.

“By attending the concert you will not only be helping to feed the needy in our community, but you are sure to leave encouraged and blessed by this young man’s story. When I met with Allen and his grandfather, Lawson Shilling, recently, Allen just radiated his love for the Lord and others. Please keep Allen in your prayers as he strives to share the ‘good news’ in music. You don’t want to miss it!”

Twenty-one-year-old Barber has faced many challenges in his young life. He was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in 2014 during his senior year at Ben’s Ford High School. On the day Barber was to begin classes at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, he was instead at St Jude’s Children’s Hospital beginning treatment. What he and his family hoped would be a short bump in the road has been a long journey.

After completing the first protocol of treatment, a scan was performed in 2015, which showed the old cancer had been eradicated. Unfortunately, in its place new cancer had grown. An indefinite series of chemo began. In February of 2016, all scans were clear. Upon finally hearing this news, Barber and his family collectively sighed with relief, hoping to put an end to this chapter of life.

“I was so thrilled that God had healed me,” Barber said. “I charged ahead, trying to make up for the time I had lost. I went in for a checkup every three months just to make sure everything was ok. Looking back, I suppose I was naive, but it was a good few months anyway. At my checkup in August of 2016, the cancer was back.

“I am now undergoing experimental treatments. I never really know what each day will bring. Some days are dark and depressing. On those days I’m not sure I want to get out of bed, and I wonder when the next shoe will drop.

“Fortunately, I have other days when I am filled with the peace of God. I can honestly say that my cancer has been a gift. I have experienced God’s grace and mercy through His people. I understand more about God in my few years than I would have otherwise understood in a lifetime. The Lord’s amazing love for me keeps me going. I’ll be here serving Him until He takes me home.”