PreOrdained Ministries performs as New Destiny Fellowship Church minister James Licon grills hot dogs, Saturday. Chaunte’l Powell Photo
Brightly colored balloons adorned the gate outside of 213 E. 23rd St., Saturday afternoon. The smell of grilled hot dogs filled the air as the heavy bass from the up-tempo gospel music blasted through the speakers and reverberated down most of the block. In between songs, a booming voice urged kids to turn off their X-Boxes, stop watching Netflix and come outside to have a good time serving the Lord.
That was the scene as the Word of Encouragement ministry of New Destiny Fellowship Church hosted its summer block party for the youth in the area. For minister James Licon, this was more than just another opportunity for fellowship; it was an effort to combat what he sees as a growing problem in the area.
He recalled an incident that took place about a month ago, where he was threatened by a drug dealer and told to stay away from the neighborhood and those in it.
“After that encounter, my heart just sank,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what, this is ridiculous.’ Somebody’s got to reach out to them because, if the light of God doesn’t get out to them through his people, then it’s going to be the light of darkness that captures them.”
Those who came out had the chance to enjoy original musical selections by PreOrdained Ministries and even hear a short sermon by Licon. In the sermon he urged the youth to be above the gang influences that are plaguing the city. He said if the event touched just one life, that would be enough.
The festivities caught the attention of Mario Garcia, a local resident who happened to be passing by. Garcia said he commends everyone on their collective efforts to improve the community, despite the small turnout on the day.
“I think what they’re doing is actually pretty good,” he said. “I think they have a lot of charisma and they’re doing the best they can with what they have.”
Rene Herrera of PreOrdained Ministries said the group, originally based in Clovis, came out to support Licon and he wanted to do his part to uplift the young people in the community.
“I believe we’re in an hour where these kids are looking for something real,” he said. “I want them to know they don’t have to find it in drugs, or sex or alcohol. That stuff will only temporarily fill your void.”
Though Licon has no set activities planned right now, he said this won’t be the last function. The ministry wants to remain a strong presence in the community. He said it is important for the kids to have positive outlets and be shown that there is more to do than join a gang. He charges believers of God with the task of bettering the city.
He said, “If we as Christians and the body of Christ rise up and reach out to these people before the darkness does, we can actually see Roswell turn around.”