MILLEDGEVILLE — The Milledgeville Ebenezer Seventh Day Adventist Church plans to kick off what organizers hope is a life-changing event later this month with the I Still Have Hope series.
The kickoff event, slated for Friday, June 21, will feature National Football League player Michael Vick, of the Philadelphia Eagles and formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. The event will be held at Walter B. Williams Park gymnasium beginning at 8 p.m.
As a one-week series, Milledgeville Ebenezer’s John Boston II, pastor, hopes to reach out to the community by helping those who desire to restart in life.
“We have a tremendous amount of passion to reach people who feel they don't have a future. What we wanted to do, first as Christians, is inspire them and let them know they have another chance,” Boston said. “We pursued Michael Vick because Michael Vick knows all too well what it means to make a decision. He knows what it means to hit rock bottom and then pick back up and reach the top.”
The impact on the community has already begun with an overwhelming desire to serve and help with the I Still Have Hope event.
“The impact is already happening,” Boston said. “I can’t tell you how many people who have wept on the phone, who can't believe we're willing to do this in the community.”
The I Still Have Hope website has experienced approximately 25,000 visits and close to 3,100 ticket downloaded for people to attend the event on June 21.
In an effort to reach as many Baldwin County residents as possible, the Baldwin Recreation Department was chosen as the site of the I Still Have Hope event.
“With recreation, you kind of have a cross-section of the community, it's not one side or another,” Bill McNair, Baldwin County Parks and Recreation director, said. “It's neutral, it's not a church, it's not a particular school; it's a community center. It's neutral, and I think that's what they were going for with this.”
McNair said the event will impact the community as a whole rather than the recreation department itself.
“I think any time you can have someone who basically fell from grace and hit rock bottom, but built themselves back up is a testimony for anybody,” he said. “I think it's a great opportunity for the citizens to hear from someone who is still trying to get back.”
Boston said Vick's testimony is one that people can relate to on a personal level.
“The simple truth of the matter is that he just happens to be on a bigger stage, but anybody can make mistakes,” Boston said. “It's not about where you're coming from, but about where you're going.”
Boston said he understands the controversy that has surrounded Vick in the past, but contends the purpose behind I Still Have Hope is to focus on peoples’ desire to change and help them do so.
“A lot of people feel Michael Vick is not the best role model,” Boston said. “In my humble opinion, someone who has done wrong, paid the price and recognized that they've done wrong, is the best role model. The truth is 90 percent of people need a second chance.”
Seating capacity is limited for the event. For more information visit www.istillhavehope.com or call 404-433-9914.
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