Improving the lives of young people by steering them away from the violence of the streets is the ultimate goal of an upcoming one-night revival which is taking a holistic approach to reducing the scourge of youth crime in Orangeburg.
Good Shepherd Community Ministries is hosting a one-night revival at 7 p.m. Friday, March 15, at the church located at 1178 Five Chop Road in Orangeburg. The revival is being held under the theme "Taking Back Our City."
"One of the things we hope it does is bring about peace and unity among our young people in the community. By coming together, we can foster a relationship of peace and unity and eradicate the violence and challenges that are facing our community with these crimes that are committed, especially the violence of shooting, killing and stuff of that nature," Bishop Dr. Hayes T. Gainey Jr., senior pastor of Good Shepherd Community Ministries.
The Rev. Desimond Antley of Orangeburg will be the featured speaker.
Preaching since the age of 6, the 22-year-old said he was divinely inspired to have a one-night revival one day after he officiated at the funeral of Raquan Middleton on March 3.
Middleton, 17, died after being shot in the parking lot of Cookout, located at 725 John C. Calhoun Drive, on Feb. 24. Trequan Tyreke Stokes, 18, of 219 George Street, is facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with that incident.
"At his homegoing celebration, after I gave the eulogy I had an altar call, and over 100 people got saved at the funeral. I said, 'It can't stop there.' So Monday morning, the lord laid upon my heart to have a one-night revival and here we are," Antley said.
"So many of the young people who were at that funeral are gonna be there. I'm inviting the whole city. We're calling the revival 'Taking Our City Back' because our city is in a turmoil right now with gun violence and senseless crimes done by our young people.
"We have to take them back to God. So this is very much needed," he said.
Gainey said the Antley had already eulogized another young life lost to violence on March 1.
"He went to Columbia to preach a eulogy of a gang-related death. So when he preached on that Sunday at Simmons Funeral Home, the spirit of the Lord was upon him so heavily that he touched many of those young people's lives. I would say around 150 to 200 came and gave their lives to Christ," Gainey said.
He said he wanted to keep the spiritual momentum going, along with partnering with other entities within the community to help youth with other issues, including finding employment.
"We're going to work with companies who're going to help us with getting jobs for them if they want a job. So we've collaborated with the entire community to make this happen," Gainey said.
He said representatives from the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office, the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Highway Patrol have all been invited to the revival, some of whom will make remarks. Other ministers will also be on hand to provide a listening ear for the youth, Gainey said.
"It is a relationship that is being fostered. We've also communicated with some of the judges as well as our solicitor, (First Circuit Solicitor) David Pascoe. We're working together to better our community.
"We want the young people to know that law enforcement are not the enemy, but friends. We want to foster a relationship, show that we can have a community that cares and shares and that when young people are going through something, we can help them" before violence happens, Gainey said.
He said black t-shirts with the "Taking Our City Back" theme emblazoned across them in white lettering will be worn on the night of the revival.
"The young people are really excited about that. With them anxious to be a part of taking our city back tells me that they are for the community changing from the violence and senseless killing toward the direction of bettering themselves in our community," Gainey said.
Gainey said he usually meets every Tuesday with the Rev. Jerome Anderson, pastor of Unity Fellowship Community Church, and Orangeburg Municipal Judge Virgin Johnson to talk about ways to improve the community.
"One of the things about this is that everybody is involved to make it happen. So our prayer and hope is that parents will get involved, along with the children and youth, teachers and schools and the entire community. We believe if the entire community gets involved, it will happen," he said.