Voices Against the Grain Turns 2!

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10, New Living Translation)

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Mixed with some trepidation but more exhilaration and freedom, I hit the “publish” button on May 28, 2013 to share with the world our first blog post. I was now “out there” with a bold message that would show everyone for sure who I was and where I stood on life issues. No going back. No retreat. I was living and speaking from my authentic self. No longer afraid of being politically correct or concerned about whose toes I might step on in the process of lovingly sharing God’s Word, I still remember that day as the Holy Spirit stirred in me. I stepped out of the shackles of worrying what others thought and boldly began sharing about Jesus Christ in hopes to free and embolden others. That was two years ago!  In this daily journey of yielding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings/instructions and putting our faith in action to share His Word, our ministry team has been AMAZED and HONORED to witness the consistent growth. All to His Name and Glory!! Since our May 28, 2013 launch we’ve:

  • Published 292 blog posts
  • Received nearly 16,000 visitors to our site (15,946)
    • Launched online 1-hour weekly radio show on September 4, 2013
    • Hosted nearly 30 shows with more than 30 guests
    • Transitioning from online-only radio network to a DC-based radio station w/wider reach
    • Have exponentially grown our social media reach
    • Became monthly faith columnist for GospelToday.com (since June 2014)
    • Gained ministry partnerships
    • Secured ministry events with select colleges

Praise God for how He has used our ministry platform as a vessel to equip and empower Believers; to bring clarity, truth and restoration through His Word to unbelievers walking in confusion, deception and brokenness caused by Satan’s counterfeit schemes. We are grateful to be in His service! With a continued mission and mantra of “Advancing God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing society’,” we are excited for what the Lord has done, what He is doing and will do through us and others.

birthday cake 2

I am grateful to God for each of our team members who He has gifted with talents, messages and their own ministries: Ana, Destiney, Herbert, Jason and Jill. Thank you for our ministry partners PureHOPE and The Family Hope Line who have blessed us with support. Thank you for each of our radio show guests who’ve brought excellent messages of truth and restoration to our audience since the show’s launch on September 4, 2013. Thank you to my amazing and dearly loved prayer partners, mentors, family and friends whose godly words, counsel, prayers have guided me on this journey. Blessed to serve and love in truth those who we are reaching through written content, messages from radio show guests, etc.

How did Voices Against the Grain start? What were my feelings about it? Read my first blog post from our May 28, 2013 launch. Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we grow and disperse salt, light, love and truth into the territories God has called us to! Love and Blessings to each of you and yours.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes and the VATG ministry team here. 

ICYMI: Freedom from Addiction, and Sexual Justice

Never too lost to be savedAre you still believing the lies? The truth will indeed set you free. This truth reverberated in conversations held with this week’s radio show guests. On Monday, guest Chris McArdle, founder of Absolutely No Condemnation Ministries, shared his candidly transparent and powerful testimony of how Jesus Christ rescued and restored him from alcoholism’s deadly grip. Chris’s consumption of alcohol progressed from casual drinking after work to becoming necessary for daily function. One evening during a semi-conscious trip to the ER and 30 minutes from death, Chris challenged God to prove that He was real and indeed, God showed up in Chris’s life.

From there, Chris read the bible from cover to cover, tucking scriptures in his heart, believing in God’s promises. He trusted in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Today, Chris shares God’s truth, love and hope to help others struggling with substance abuse. His message is “no matter how bad your path, when you come to Christ, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Listen to “Freedom from Addiction and No Condemnation: Chris McArdle.”  

Human_Trafficking“Are You Producing Sexual Justice or Fueling Sexual Injustice?” This was Wednesday’s conversation with guest Aszia Walker, Discipleship and Outreach Director for pureHOPE. Founded in 1983, and a Voices Against the Grain ministry partner, pureHOPE provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture and envisions a world free from exploitation and brokenness. To counterfeit God’s beautiful and compelling story of sex, Satan continues to assail, counterfeit, disparage and distort God’s character and the things of God in hopes to deceive and destroy many. He’ll even use unwitting Christians to do it.

This conversation will equip the Body of Christ, parents, youth, mentors, faith leaders and others to live a life in Christ Jesus that advances justice and purity rather than one that contributes to injustice and impurity. On-point in her messages, Aszia said, “Sometimes the enemy can twist and pervert the image-bearing story that we are built to tell.” Listen to our important and informative conversation.

Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svgWant great nuggets from both conversations? View our Twitter feed. 

Fifty Shades of Chains

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder of Voices Against the Grain

Bondage. Whips. Trauma. Romance. ??? Fifty Shades of Grey, the 2011 erotic romance novel written by British author E.L. James, criticized for its poorly written prose, sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages. In a world that pushes limits to constantly satiate the flesh, the book has been repurposed into a movie to release in theaters nationwide this Valentine’s Day weekend. “Fifty Shades of Grey” seeks to thrill audiences with erotica and sexual fantasy without true intimacy.

But there’s no storybook ending here. In society’s crush with the world, they’ll find they’ve cheated themselves out of true love and true intimacy. Long after the characters’ chains are removed, the chains remain for viewers.

While those in relationship with Christ Jesus enjoy the true love and intimacy He provides, our spirits are pricked with an urgency to address the state of emergency that plagues our world and its inhabitants: the persistent satanic agenda at work. A satanic agenda of counterfeit and deception. While Christ Jesus came to bring us true freedom and love, Satan presents counterfeit freedoms that destroy.

Many have been lulled into supporting more worldly freedoms such as fornication, porn cloaked in this satanic agenda—only to be perplexed by the unintended outcomes (destroyed families, broken childhoods, emptiness, objectification, etc.).

Sex is good because God created sex—in the context of a loving, God-ordained marriage between man and woman. Satan seeks to pervert everything good and of God, particularly sex. Our overly sexualized culture has bought into the lies, even justifying it as “entertainment.”

Excellently stated by our friends and ministry partner pureHOPE in their blog post “From Selma to 50 Shades,” about counterfeit schemes, “good” is viewed as “evil” and “evil” is viewed as “good” (Isaiah 5:20). We stand with pureHOPE to pursue a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness.

Voices Against the Grain delivers God’s truth to a spiritually blind, broken, deceived and dying world. We reveal Satan’s counterfeit schemes to help direct audiences to the One whose Word, who through relationship brings true freedom, true love: Jesus Christ. Like this song by Tasha Cobbs, our desire is to “break every chain” and bring restoration through the powerful Name of Jesus.

Addiction-and-Support

Authentic freedom (one that does not enslave) is found only in Christ Jesus. No other substitute. This is black and white. The world will always present counterfeit freedoms that operate in “shades of grey,” never delivering full freedom. They entice, offer temporary pleasure, then lead to life-long brokenness, enslavement and spiritual death.

Romans 8:5 tells us that, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Furthermore, Romans 8:2 promises us that “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (New International Version)

Are you truly free—or are you chained by shades of grey?

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Nixing the Nefarious: Ending Sex Trafficking

Note: Our Voices Against the Grain team has been discussing ways to eradicate the evil of sex trafficking. It’s a modern day global slavery that has emerged with a brutality beyond what’s visible in the physical. It breaks the spirit. We stand with our ministry partner, pureHOPE,  to review strategies and tactics to put a nix to the nefarious (“nefarious” meaning “vile, diabolical, heinous, evil”). To restore hope to the hopeless through the love of Jesus Christ. Thank you to our devotional writer Herbert Bowen Jr., who is also a pureHOPE advisory board member, for writing the message below. Following his message below, please view the 6-minute preview of the documentary “Nefarious” which gives more  insight into the dark underworld of sex trafficking and its victims.  As God’s people and concerned citizens, we are called to make a stand today.

Proverbs 12:1- To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

What a blessing it is to be in the presence of the Lord. What a blessing it is to see his plan unfold before our very eyes. What a blessing it is to commune with role models like my friend Noel Bouché from our ministry partner, Purehope. It’s through his consistent and avid guidance that gives me hope for today. It’s through his discipline and persistence to enact change in a world dominated by the perversion of men. It’s through hearing the Lord’s voice to remain faithful to the laborious task of ending the trafficking of women. Therefore, may we sympathize with this cause as if our sister, mother, son or daughter were showcased within this arena. For the spotlight is too refulgent for us to see the dire need of change. The reason we must shield the glare in order to uncover the atrocities cached within obscurity. Thus, let our eyes be opened to what lies before us and stand united as brothers/sisters against this nefarious evil. Amen


About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

 

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

168 Children Rescued: Don’t Let the Quiet Fool You

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Not in a faraway land. Right here in America. Next door.  “America’s children,” as FBI Director James Comey called them. On Monday, 168 of “America’s children” were rescued from sex trafficking during a nationwide FBI crackdown known as Operation Cross Country. In addition to the children rescued, 281 pimps were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

I know you and many will join Voices Against the Grain and our ministry partner pureHOPE, grateful that these 168 children were rescued from sexual exploitation. Justice is in progress and restoration can begin for these children and their families broken by injustice. In Joel 2:25, God promises to “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” We support pureHOPE in their mission of providing Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. We oppose sexual exploitation by teaching and modeling God’s design for sexual purity and relationships. To learn more about pureHOPE and their pursuit of justice in a sexualized society, read here.

In celebrating those rescued, the battle is not over. UNICEF reports more than 1.2 million children are trafficked yearly worldwide—a $32 billion commercial sex industry. Have we unknowingly walked by these children in our neighborhoods? In the streets? Are we too caught up in our daily routines to notice? Or does the quiet numb our awareness?

Human_Trafficking

A few Saturdays ago, I was awoken around 5:30 a.m. by a woman’s blood-curdling screams in my urban DC neighborhood. Screams that were raw and hysterical. Through her screams she was crying and repeated the words, “Why would you do this to me?! Why would you do this to me?!” I got up, walked to the window to see who was screaming. It was becoming clear something terrible had happened to her.

It wasn’t the rising sun peeking through my windows that awoke me. Nor the usual bird chirping or pigeon cooing that stirred my peaceful sleep. Wasn’t even the usual traffic noise of the city. The evil that occupies our world was here and it rang in the painful, guttural cries from a woman who I could not see but only hear from my window. Shortly, I heard the sirens of police arriving on the scene. To help from my position, I went to my knees in prayer for her that God would help her heal from whatever had occurred.

An hour later, the neighborhood was once again quiet and the birds were chirping. The streets gave no evidence that evil had struck there. The quietness gives the illusion that all is well. But that is precisely what has enabled some of our complacency, giving rise to more evil, giving it permission to occupy our communities.  Don’t let the quiet fool you.

At Voices Against the Grain and as the Body of Christ, we are called to be light in darkness and in a fallen world; to bring hope to the broken; to bring justice to injustices. God has anointed each of us to be the answer to a problem; to advance His Kingdom; to be His hands and feet where others dare not tread. If we’re silent on these and other matters, the darkness will surely prevail.

Are you being too quiet? Are you enjoying the quiet too much?

 

 

 

1 Year Later: Blessings, Joy, Service Continues

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Today, May 28, 2014, is the one-year anniversary of Voices Against the Grain media ministry. The blog launched on May 28, 2013, followed by the radio show’s first episode that aired on September 4, 2013.  In March 2013, the Holy Spirit prompted me to launch this bold platform where we are “advancing God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society.” A platform that allows God’s people to share the messages He has placed on their hearts to equip others in Christ and free those enslaved by the deceptions and bondage of this world. To bring clarity amidst confusion. To bring truth where there is deception. To bring healing where there is brokenness.

Within this past year, God has blessed us to be connected with more Kingdom-minded people, including our devotional writers, show guests, supporters and others. He has given us favor in areas and territories unexpected. He has allowed us to touch lives in ways I had not conceived. It is a joy to serve with the Lord and His people, as we equip and empower others to stand as Christ’s light and truth in a fallen world.

The blessings continue to come, as witnessed in the following post below. Our devotional writer Ana Martinez, through the almighty power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, was freed this year from 22 years of shame, self-hatred and brokenness brought on by sexual abuse and rape that occurred in her youth. Voices Against the Grain served as part of that healing when Ana bravely and authentically shared her testimony during our February 12, 2014 episode. After the show, many people contacted her and us to thank her for inspiring them to seek their healing. Today, she continues to share her testimony to help free others and remind them how the Lord will restore what was stolen from us. He will break the chains that enslave us.

I invite you to read her post, “Loss of Innocence, A Future Restored” published on the blog of pureHOPE, a ministry that envisions a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness by providing Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. pureHOPE and Voices Against the Grain became partners in January 2014, with a passion to combat porn and other forms of sexual exploitation. During the February 12, 2014 radio show, we were grateful to be joined by pureHOPE president Noel Bouché. We thank pureHOPE for publishing Ana’s story.

We also invite you to listen to today’s radio show as our team reflects on the past year in Still Punchin’: Voices Against the Grain 1-Year Anniversary.”

We have more work to do, but stay encouraged and stay staunch. Keep moving. We have the victory through Christ! We are excited to continue serving with you. Thank you for your support and prayers.

God Bless You,

Nicole