June 3 & 4
Apostle Jessie R. Bates has been the visionary for Ambassadors For Christ Ministries since its beginning in 1997.
Ambassadors For Christ Ministries is a 501(c)(3), non-for-profit organization that birthed the Stop The Violence Project in 2005.
Apostle Jessie was a major drug dealer for 17 years, and that lifestyle ended in crack cocaine addiction.
God changed his life in Atlanta, GA, in 1990, and he began his journey to recovery.
Because of Apostle Jessie’s past background with the drug culture, his now 27 years of sobriety, along with over a decade of working with law enforcement, social service organizations, health care providers, small and large businesses, in communities throughout Central Illinois, Apostle Jessie has been a catalyst for change in inner-city areas since 2005, where he, along with the Stop The Violence Project, has established a reputation for assisting those communities in decreasing violent crimes.
Through Apostle Jessie’s remarkable testimony of recovery, he has seen drug dealers, gang bangers, prostitutes and many drug users lives change and become productive citizens, business owners, church leaders and counselors to those that are still trapped in criminal and immoral activity. He has become an example of how lives, no matter how desolate, can change when compassionate communities partner together and reach out for their fellow man.
Throughout the years, the Stop The Violence Project has not been limited to those already established Central Illinois communities of Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign, Danville, Springfield and Decatur, but has also conducted street festivals in Lincoln, IL, Elkhart, IN, Crestview, FL and Brownsville, TN; and, just recently was extended an invitation to bring the Stop The Violence Project to Litchfield, IL, Chicago, IL and New Mexico/Mexico in 2018!
All of this has been possible because of the incredible long-term commitment of partnering agencies, individual partners, volunteers and financial donations by those who have a heart and a passion to see lives transformed, one life at a time.
June 5 & 6
Raised in Woodstock, Illinois, Pat graduated from Woodstock Community High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and served as a Paratrooper.
Although he grew up in the Catholic church, his family never owned nor ever read the Bible. He always considered himself a religious person, and even volunteered as an altar boy while serving in the military and attended Chapel services with his wife on post almost every Sunday. On March 5, 1974, he and his wife had a house fire that destroyed their home and claimed the life of their three-month old son, Timothy. That same afternoon, a Baptist pastor visited them at his father-in-law’s home and presented the Gospel and God’s plan of salvation. Both Joyce and Pat accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and two weeks later were baptized into membership of the Freedom Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Three weeks after he was saved, Pat knew that the Lord was calling him to preach and made a public surrender of his life to His calling. For the next three years, while still on active duty with the 82nd Airborne, he began preparing for the ministry by working closely with Pastor Ed Wilson and taking Bible study courses from Moody Bible Institute. Within a year, he was licensed and ordained into the Gospel Ministry. Upon his honorable discharge in July 1977, he enrolled at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While there, he was called to Salem Baptist Church in Dalton, Georgia, where he began serving the Lord and has continued to do so for over 40 years.
June 10 & 11
Restoration Urban Ministries opened its doors in March of 1993. Under the leadership of its co-founders, Ervin and Marilyn Williams, the organization started a food pantry to the needy in the Champaign County area. This quickly branched out to a clothing pantry, a shelter for men, training programs to equip them to integrate into the community. Later this expanded into a motel with a full day program for 3 months and 100 to 125 residents at any given time providing training, case management, support groups, food and clothing pantries, drug counseling, and employment preparation as part of an 11 month self-sufficiency program. The program provides after-school tutoring for our children, drama training, and has developed a separate business that trains and employs residents from the program and community. It will be completing one of 40 mini-homes that will allow people who would not qualify for a standard mortgage to own their own homes.
June 14 & 15
The calling of God in Norm's life has given him a heart for men and their families. His calling as a child of God has birthed an emphasis on the gospel and relationship with Jesus Christ. It forms the basis for wisdom in all aspects of life and is the strength of Elijah Ministries. As a husband, Norm longs to see marriages that glorify God. His calling as a father of four, has given him a heart for family. When God called Norm into the pastoral ministry, God led him to disciple and encourage men. Leading people into the presence of God has come from his calling as a worship leader. The desire of his heart is to see God glorified in His people as they apply God's Word to their lives
June 16 & 17
Dave Miller has been in the ministry of evangelism through Gospel Express since 2001. Dave is the Evangelistic Director and continues to oversee community crusades.