Spring fest fun

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2016


On grounds that some have thought to be the city’s “sore thumb,” about 30 people prayed to begin a relationship with Christ on the day before Easter.

Spring Fest 2016, sponsored by I Choose Life Ministries brought around 500 people of all ages together at the old Knox Street ball fields Saturday for a day of music, worship and praise and loads of fun.

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Faces were painted, games were played, gift cards were won and more than 2,000 hot dogs were consumed. The extra food items that were donated were loaded into a wagon and trucked through the neighborhood and handed out free to all.

“It was a fun time for all who came and the real blessing was the gospel message that gospel rap artist timothygabriel laid down through his music,” said J. R. Peterson, founder and director of I Choose Life ministries.

“People of all ages were dancing – spirit dancing – to Timothy Gabriel’s music. Then, he ministered to the people for about 30 minutes about the importance of being saved and what it means to be saved. We didn’t have an altar; we had a flatbed trailer but the message brought life to those grounds.”

Peterson deemed Spring Fest a great success for the ministry that has been actively involved in Troy for about seven months. However, the ministry actually began about two years ago inside the walls of Draper Correctional Facility.

“Draper was the best things that ever happened to me,” Peterson said. “I lost four years in prison but I got my life back. If it had not been for Draper, I would be living a life of sin. But I’m out on parole and I can take I Choose Life ministries outside the church and into the community – looking for that one lost sheep.”

Peterson grew up in Troy during a time when there was “nothing for kids to do.”

“The skating rink had closed and the bowling alley,” he said. “We couldn’t hang around in the Walmart parking lot so we went to parties. I got caught up with alcohol and drugs. I got in trouble and was sentenced to prison for 15 years.”

Peterson spent the first two years of his sentence at Stanton Correctional Facility and, what came to be his last two years, at Draper.

“I knew when I got out, that I would be judged on my past instead of what I could do,” he said. “I had no choice be to rely on God. So, I decided to read this book called the Bible and, if talking to myself was called praying, then I was praying.   As I read and prayed, I became hungry and thirsty to know who God is. As I read and the more I prayed I fell in love with Him.”

At Draper, Peterson said he was influenced and supported by Chaplain Curtis Browder of Faith Crusade Ministries and “brothers” who raised him up and helped him find his calling.

“They all helped shape and mold me for who I needed to be,” Peterson said. “I began ministering to others inside the prison walls.”

When he was paroled, Peterson saw his freedom as an opportunity to take his ministry outside the prison. He also realized that some might view his ministry as “newfound.”

“But it is not,” he said. “For two years, I had spent every single minute of the day walking around the camp encouraging others to come to church, to stay off drugs and alcohol. Two years of ministering to those inside the prison. I was ready to hit the outside grounds running.”

Peterson said God has broken down barriers and he is allowed to go inside the county jail to minister to inmates.

“Once you are released from prison, you are not allowed to go back inside to prison to minister to the prisoners,” he said. “But God has also kicked that door down for me and I am allowed to go back. I go where I can to find that one lost sheep. God is leading the way for I Choose Life ministries. And, I am so thankful that He led us to the Knox Street ball fields, which is said be a dangerous area. On Saturday, it was a holy place. All the glory is God’s.”