Frost Illustrated Staff Report
FORT WAYNE—Everyone is worthy of redemption and another chance to take the right path in life. That’s the message Joe Ayers, CEO and executive director of Ayers Communication Inc. has been working hard to share with the community through an ambitious annual community event.
From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Aug. 17, Ayers and a number of like-minded individuals and organizations from the community are scheduled to hold the Third Annual Amnesty & Deliverance Community Festival at McMillen Park.
“Our community is plagued with citizens seeking amnesty and deliverance from many personal afflictions,” said Ayers.
He said those afflictions come in a number of forms including physical and mental health issues, family problems, substance abuse, physical abuse and other issues that prevent a person from living a joyous, spirit-directed and spirit-filled life. Ayers said he personally can relate to such problems and that is why he created the Amnesty & Deliverance Festival three years ago.
“One of the reasons why I’m doing this is because I have had afflictions in my life and I want to be an example to my friends, family and community that once you start loving yourself and give yourself back to the Lord, you can get through anything with hard work, patience and endurance,” explained Ayers.
He said the church and his family served as a foundation and beacons of hope throughout his trials. Both, he said, were instrumental in his deliverance because Christ teaches the message of forgiveness, amnesty and deliverance as true love and healing through the church, and Ayers’ own family practiced that spirit-filled love through the years by not giving up on him. Ayers said he wants others to know that resources such as the church, the family and other community organizations and groups are out there to aid them in finding true relief from their afflictions.
The Amnesty & Deliverance Festival is designed to expose the community to those resources.
“The goal for this event is to bring awareness to the affordable, obtainable and different services that might not be otherwise known throughout the community,” said Ayers.
Among the agencies scheduled to be represented at the festival are:
• The MLK Club Inc.
• WIN (Women in NAACP)
• Brown Mackie College
• Lauren E. Jones-Monologue
• East Allen County Schools
• Fort Wayne Community Schools
• Kool Smiles Dentistry
• Para Dice Barbers
• Unity Barber Shop
• Karma Barber Beauty Hair Studio
• Glory Crown
• Magnificent Kutz
• Diamond Kuttz
• Flameboyancy Beauty Salon
Ayers said the schools and community organizations will be on hand to offer information that could help improve a person’s future through education and career exploration, while groups such as Kool Smiles Dentistry will hand out personal hygiene supplies and health information. WIN is scheduled to offer free school supplies to children in attendance. The various barbers and cosmetologists will offer free haircuts and the like while some will offer discount coupons for future services.
Additionally, a number of food vendors are scheduled to be there so that people can eat. The festival also will include activities for young people.
In addition to those services, he said a number of churches will be there to offer people avenues for spiritual support and counseling—and to minister to the public through the power of gospel music.
“There are so many gospel singers in our community that the community doesn’t get a chance to see. It reminds me of the old school tent revivals that the Rev. Jesse White used to have,” said Ayers. “It’s deliverance through music.”
Furthermore, he said, the music sends a message of unity, demonstrating that the community must work together to help people effectively.
“That’s our main mission, to bring churches and resource organizations to the community, to get a praise on together as one church, one community,” said Ayers, calling that a healing act.
A number of inspirational speakers are scheduled to offer messages of hope and guidance to those in attendance. And, said Ayers, a number of very special guests are slated to be honored during the festival. He said there are a lot of people doing “a lot of good work” in the community and, each year, the festival honors some of those people. This year’s honorees include:
• William Crowley of the Southeast Association Partnership
• James Winters of Metro Youth Sports
• The Rev. Stephen Terry of East Allen County Schools
• Attorney Edward N. and Edna M. Smith of Frost Illustrated
• Jim Whittaker, community advocate
• Attorney Jack Morris, political activist
• Diane Rogers, youth advocate
• John Pierce, community activist
Ayers said those being honored represent the idea that previous generations must work to teach young people how to succeed in life.
“It’s our generation that’s going to have to help the next generation to understand about moral values because that’s what was taught to us,” he explained. “We have to show youth, ‘you’re going to go through things, make some bad choices and good choices, but you can get through it with forgiveness and deliverance.’”
One of the big problems of today is violence—violence in many forms, said Ayers.
“We’re going to hold a Families Against Violence Rally at 4 p.m. We’re asking people to sign a pledge for non-violence for a year,” said Ayers, explaining that the pledge goes beyond shunning street violence. “That includes a pledge against domestic, elderly, child, environmental and educational abuse. My biggest is education abuse—babies coming home in the seventh grade not able to read. That’s education abuse.”
The Families Against Violence Rally is scheduled to include poetry, speeches and prayer, he said.
Again, Ayers said attendees are being asked to bring canned goods and other non-perishable items for Community Harvest food bank and perhaps a little more.
“This year I’m implementing a clothing drive, as well as household items for The Rescue Mission,” he said, to help emphasize the need for people to make a unified effort making the world be a better place by helping those in need.
MCs for this year’s Amnesty & Deliverance Community Festival include Chief Condra Ridley, Victory Worship Center First Lady DeShawn Moore and Peggy Simone.
For more information about the Third Annual Amnesty & Deliverance Community Festival, including sponsorship opportunities and information on how to sign up to volunteer, call Joe Ayers at (260) 348-6080.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.