Young Christians in New York City have united to bring the world a progressive ministry, one where members work tirelessly to spread the importance of faith among the hip-hop generation through music, preaching, and fellowship.
Specializing in bringing revival to churches across the New York metropolitan area, His Everlasting Love Prevails (H.E.L.P.) Ministries, plans to tour Westchester, NY.
Individuals who have experienced these one-night revivals, according to H.E.L.P, have gone on to find a church to call home, teach their own bible studies and create their own ministries.
Ministry leader, Freedom H. Weekes, 22, is a product of the church—having been raised within it. In September 2010, he transitioned into life at the Dobbs Ferry Campus of Mercy College. Focused on disposing his “church boy” image, partying, drinking and other such activities became part of his weekly routine. During these social gatherings, he often found his friends asking for life advice–something that felt like more than just a coincidence.
“Every time that would happen, I would hear God tell me ‘now if you would have shared with them the love of Jesus Christ what do you think would have happened?’ sarcastically,” he says. “After those conversations, I would feel so convicted, like I should’ve said something.”
One night, a then 18-year-old Weekes dreamed that he and a group of strangers/future H.E.L.P. members led a worship service in the lecture hall on campus. He soon decided to return to his spiritual life and make the dream a reality.
Later, while en route to a party, he ran into Jairus McNeill, who presently serves as H.E.L.P.'s music director. The two bonded over solely having Christian music on their iPods. In that moment, Weekes also told McNeil of his dream.
“We both felt let down that we got to Mercy College and there was no Christian ministry,” says Weekes, something the school allegedly claimed would be present and active on campus.
The two arranged their own Bible study in Weekes’ dorm and brought in Jasmine Lee, H.E.L.P’s Director of Operations. McNeill and Weekes prepared the night’s agenda—songs and scriptures
The first gathering exceeded expectations with students having to stand in the hallway. The crowd expanded weekly, prompting a fellow student to volunteer her larger room.
The campus, Weekes claims, was difficult when trying to make H.E.L.P a club—stalling the paperwork process.
“They were telling us at first that you’re not supposed to have meetings like this if you’re not a club. We said, ‘Well, we started without being a club and we’re going to continue that way,’” he explains. Worship services continued in classrooms until one was officially assigned.
“It’s not the most popular thing to do while in college. I took quite a bit of persecution as I transitioned from being a popular student athlete to religious Christian,” says, H.E.L.P Member, Najja Beaulieu, 23.
McNeill, 24, says that as a ministry leader, his accountability to do the right thing was much greater than most on campus.
Five years later, the ministry has grown substantially, gathering 1,253 likes on Facebook and gaining new members with each one-night revival across New York. There is a strong presence and active participation among youth of color. However, H.E.L.P’s reach stems across race, gender and class.
A 2012 Pew Research Poll found that a growing number of Americans, especially young adults under 30, don't identify with any religions. But, H.E.L.P is attempting to prove that the data isn't capturing the whole story.
“It’s not that they [young people] don’t want to know God. They want to have an experience; they just don’t want go to church. They want to see people healed. If they aren’t seeing that, why would they want to come?” says Weekes.
In one instance a young man confessed to McNeill that he contemplated suicide moments before experiencing H.E.L.P. “It was through God using me to minister that night that [he] was able to find hope again,” says McNeill.
According to Lee, 24, “The atmosphere is always liberating, judgment free and loving.”
The ministry makes an intense effort to reach those who may not be active practitioners of any religion, believing that those in the church already know the gospel and need encouragement. Lee has personally prayed with lost souls on her New Jersey porch with anointing oil—subsequently aiding them with successful rededication to Christ.
One crucial tool that H.E.L.P uses which appeals to young people is original music. They will be releasing an EP this spring featuring multiple genres – including pop.
Weekes credits the team’s success to a prayer that he once said in his dorm.
“I said God, if this is the direction that you want me to go you’re going to have to supply me with everything that I’m going to need,” he says. Since then the group has never worried about anything—people, money or space.
Currently, H.E.L.P. isn't based in a physical church but that may be a possibility in the future. “We really focus on following God,” he says. “If we don’t feel God is directing us somewhere, we don’t do it.” Says Weekes.