All of the seats under the huge white revival type tent on the corner of Fillmore and Jewett Parkway were filled to capacity on the afternoon of Sunday September 9th. The occasion was a “Prayer for Peace Rally” hosted by the Most Valuable Parents organization (MVP) to cap their six-week presence in the Central Park area in the wake of multiple shootings.
MVP was there organizing and recruiting parents, posting peace signs and engaging the young men in the community.The group’s prayer rallies are rooted in Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Bishop T. Anthony Bronner of Elim Christian Fellowship and the Elim Church family opened its doors to the young organization to meet during their stay in the area addressing the rally on the importance of unity, Bishop Bronner’s words were uplifting, direct and instructive.
“If we are interested, invested and involved” with our children he taught, we will see a great and positive outcome. But we have to show unity and collaboration with one another in order for God, “who is always on ready” to make himself appear? MVP is so very important because it gives us a sense of unity,” he continued (and) “unity means peace…this is mind-blowing for the enemy.” He expressed hope that such a gathering and movement would be ongoing.
MVP founder Neal Dobbins shared a story of courage that riveted the audience. Arriving home recently he saw a young woman chastising some young boys on his street. He thought at first it was just a domestic argument. But when he heard the word “gun” he decided to investigate. “She was going in…she was letting them have it” he said, “and she is pregnant!” Her concern was that the boys were shooting in the neighborhood around the children. “She showed no fear” recalled Neal. When she identified the youth she believed had the gun, Neal approached him and asked him to turn it over. He gave it up without a problem.
But a 17 year old who arrived on the scene claimed the gun was his. “He had this kind of ‘I don’t care if I live or die attitude’ ” Neal recalled. He said he engaged the youth in conversation and offered to take him to get something to eat. Their conversation continued. A lot was revealed. Neal offered advice. They exchanged contact information, and in the end the youth broke down and thanked him for taking the gun and sparing him from “getting into trouble.”
That single act may well have saved a life. “We can’t expect the community to change and we remain the same,’ Pastor Anthony Brown offered. And the blame can’t all be placed on the youth caught up in these cycles of violence. “We have to ask forgiveness of our own sins…not just these young brothers and sisters. We have to take a full examination of ourselves to see if we’re fit for the race” he declared to shouts of approval. “If we don’t fit – then step aside!
“We’ve been poor saints,” he concluded. “But if we ever get on one accord, under the spirit of oneness…we will bombard heaven and God will open the floodgates and open doors that’s shut and shut doors no man can open!”
The rally, organized by MVP, was the vision of Neal Dobbins. Pastor Kenny Simmons of Cold Spring Bible Chapel, Pastor Anthony Brown of Mt. Zion Community Sanctuary, and Bishop T. Anthony Bronner of Elim organized the ministers participation. Additional spiritual leaders included Minister Dahveed Muhammad of Muhammad’s Mosque #23 (who delivered a rousing opening prayer); Pastor Carl Matthews, Fishers of Men Ministries; Pastor Fred Gelsey, One In Christ Temple; and Lenny Lane of the F.A.T.H.E.R.S. organization.
MVP will focus on the Fruit Belt area for the next six weeks, followed by another Prayer for Peace Rally. Pastor Michael Chapman and the St. John Baptist Church family is providing space for their meetings. Dobbins thanked the clergy for their involvement in MVP’s efforts to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of young people caught up in the violence, their victims, families and the community. -A.B.
(pictured above) Bro. Neal Dobbins, founder of the Most Valuable Parents organization, introduces his neighbor Shaureese, at Sunday’s Prayer for the Peace Rally. Shaureese courageously confronted some young boys with a gun on her street. The outcome, with Bro. Neal’s intervention, was positive.