Pastor John Russell was born in Shreveport, La in 1969 to Reida Russell and John L. Kennedy. He was the fourth child out of five. He grew up in a fatherless home and as a result suffered many of the same ailments most African American boys faced. As a teenager he began to smoke cigarettes which lead to the use of marijuana then to alcohol. On the many days he attended junior high and high school he was at most times under the influence of some substance. While participating in many sports such as baseball, boxing, and track and field, he realized that he had a love for basketball. During his years at Airline High school, he became one of the most outstanding basketball players ever to grace the court. As a result of his skill, he was awarded a full scholarship to play ball on a college level. His first two years of college he attended Bossier Parish Community College earning him an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He went on to the University of New Orleans, where his stint was short due to some difficulties within the team. He then went on to Park University where he received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
During his college days he met and married his first wife. The marriage was short lived due to Pastor John Russell’s heavy use of alcohol and marijuana which eventually led him to crack cocaine. He returned back home to Shreveport full of disappointment and embarrassment. This led to depression and more drug use and then to criminal activity which led him to jail. After getting out of jail he went back to his old ways. One day while dropping by his sister’s house to take a shower and get a hot meal, he looked at himself in the mirror. John realized he had a problem. He began to seek help at a treatment facility in Shreveport, La. After his 30 days were up, he knew he needed more help and requested to be transferred to another facility. They sent him to a drug rehab in Pineville, La. He did well for a while but it didn’t last. And he spiraled more into drugs, alcohol, and criminal activity. At his wits end, on a cold winter day, he made a phone call to a family friend, who hung the phone up in his face because he could no longer take the up and down behavior. Pastor John Russell thought life wasn’t worth living and he decided to end his life. But God intervened and brought him to a safe haven in a place called the Grace House in , a homeless shelter for men sponsored by the Pentecostals of Alexandria. There, He began to seek the face of God.
After being in the grace House for several months, he met his current wife Rolanda along with her two children. Eight months after meeting, they became a family and started working in the ministry.
Pastor John Russell began his ministry as a bus route driver and Sunday school teacher. After some soul searching and seeking the face of God for his purpose in life, he soon realized the gift to communicate the Word of God through preaching. He began to preach at prisons and soon was on the evangelistic field.
In May of 2004 Pastor John Russell was brought on staff at the Pentecostals of Alexandria as the first African American minister. His ministry included the SPOT, Grace House, House of Mercy, and he is heavily involved with the Pentecostals of Alexandria Training Center. He did all this while evangelizing.
In June of 2007 he was approached by Pastor Anthony Mangun to consider pastoring Calvary Tabernacle, a daughter work of the Pentecostals of Alexandria. He accepted the challenge and on January 1, 2008 became the Senior Pastor of Calvary Tabernacle. Today, the church thrives under his leadership and has seen a profound church growth. The church has just recently completed part 1 of Operation Sanctuary (the expansion of the platform) and is excited about the future.