Ferguson and All: Meet the Restorer of Our Streets

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Viewing this past week’s events of protests, rioting, vandalism and violence displayed in Ferguson, Mo., and nationwide upon learning the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August 9, 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown,  we know some things to be true: violence does not bring about justice. Hate does not bring about peace. None of these actions restores our streets or our dwelling places. None of it restores our lives. No such actions are fruitful in any way.

The following passage spoke to my spirit in considering the healing we want restored in Ferguson, in our nation and our world. Isaiah 58 shows how God will move mightily on our behalf when we fast, pray, humble ourselves to seek His will, His way. Instead of exhibiting peace one day and inflicting violence upon others the next, the Lord asks us to move in righteousness and 8- “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9- Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Think about it. I encourage Ferguson, those of our nation and world to meet the Great Restorer of our streets.Isaiah 58-12 restorer of the streets

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

 

About Nicole D. Hayes

Nicole D. Hayes is committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ. Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., she is a member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C.  Drawn to know Christ in her early childhood and saved at the age of 12, Nicole is a student and applier of God’s Word. She is also a successful public relations professional operating in Washington, D.C., with more than eight years experience of coordinating and delivering strategic communications and media outreach support for nonprofits and small business owners. During her career she has placed several nonprofits and small business owners in national, local and regional media spaces. She operates with a personal and business mantra of “making an investment in people.” Among many things, Nicole is also a motivational speaker. She has been invited to deliver messages to business leaders to not be misguided by the world’s view of success, to direct young people navigating through the world’s challenges, and to remind those who may have lost their way that joyfully, “God Has Not Changed His Mind About You.” Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amidst confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

 

 

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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

The Reaping of a Corrupt and Deceived Society

Reader: While many Christians love sharing the good and encouraging portions of Christ’s messages, few will boldly step to the line to dispense God’s Word when it challenges popular worldly activities, behaviors, policies or systems. At Voices Against the Grain joined by other unwavering believers, I am pleased to stand with folks who don’t shy away from delivering God’s Word in truth and in love. In doing so, God’s Word is designed to heal the broken, restore what was stolen, make the crooked places straight, free those who are bound, bring life where there is death and stem the tide of corruption. Pleased to share Ana’s message below.  -Nicole

 

Galatians 6:7-9.  7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (King James Version)

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

We live in a society that consistently sows to the flesh.  I am not here to cast stones but to speak truth.  If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, and if you open your eyes corruption is all around us: greed, lust, injustice, etc.  Sexual sin tends to corrupt our country the most, from the porn industry to human trafficking and same-sex marriage being forced upon us. As stated in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”

Furthermore, abortion is presented as a lifestyle while the reality is that millions of babies have never received the chance to live—and a lifetime of guilt and remorse plague the mothers. According to Planned Parenthood, approximately 3 out of 10 women in the U.S have had an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.  Nearly 80 percent of abortion clinics are specifically placed in minority neighborhoods with African American woman having the highest abortion rate. Since 1973 and the passage of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, more than 55 million “legal” abortions have taken place.

The enemy comes to destroy one’s purposes in their infancy, and too many people have bought into the lies they are being fed.  I am a firm believer in forgiveness through Jesus Christ and that He can restore all that has been lost, but we must repent and turn from our sin.  I encourage you to pray for our Nation and pray for people to wake up and see things for the way they really are; so they may be restored from deception and confusion. We want to preach the love of Christ yet we sometimes forget that when He healed, He also said “go and sin no more” (John 5:14, John 8:11)  We must die to our flesh as stated in (Romans 8:13).  And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23 (KJV)

Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

  Ana

You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made! And Your Accuser is a Loser

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

“Kicking the devil in the teeth every day!” Yes! Those words began this Wednesday’s radio show with Pastor Kimberly Jones-Pothier of RealTalkKim.com and Conquering Hell in High Heels ministry, and Ana Martinez, chef and Voices Against the Grain devotional writer. We ENJOYED our time in the Lord! We shared an authentic conversation on relationships, surrendering to God when you’re going through trials, how to ignore your accuser (Satan) who surfaces your mistakes, and “What Is a Proverbs 31 Woman?” In a society where “anything goes,” Proverbs 31:10-31 reveals the honorable woman. The conversation kicked off our month-long radio show series “March with Us, March with Her” as we highlight women of God who are equipping other women to live out their God-given purposes.

Several golden nuggets of truth emerged from our discussion to include:

  • There is nothing you go through that God can’t use for someone else’s benefit—you are getting through it for you and someone else
  • Deliberately set aside quiet time with God to develop your purpose
  • We all fall short—yet your past is not beyond God’s reach or restoration
  • God will accelerate your path and recover time lost
  • If you are not equally yoked or on the same page with the person you’re in relationship, they can destroy your future
  • Recognize your identity in Christ and don’t be defined by the world; get your eyes off of what the world portrays and pray for God to reveal to you everything He created you to be
  • God will finish the good work He began in you, no matter how broken your past
  • Satan is our accuser and will remind you of your faults to hinder your purpose—take away the devil’s authority by confronting your past and walk in God who has called you! You are a new creation in Christ who is fearfully and wonderfully made! You are more than a conqueror! Keep moving forward! Only YOU can stop YOU! (Psalm 139:14, Romans 8:37)
  • God’s plan is to prosper you, not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • A Proverbs 31 Woman is one whose confidence is anchored in the LORD

Want to hear more ‘truth’ nuggets? Listen here! 

Your Testimony Will Free Somebody Else

Your testimony, your healing will free somebody else.

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

On Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we heard a powerful testimony of healing and restoration from sexual trauma and self-hatred shared by our blogger/devotional writer, Ana Martinez. For 22 years, she stuffed feelings of shame and guilt, starting with being molested at age 8, statutory rape at age 13, and raped again at 15. Growing up in her parent’s church and loving the Lord, she then walked away from God and His call upon her life. Today, she is a mom and bold woman of God involved in several ministries and has received freedom by sharing her story with others—so they too can heal. The episode, entitled “Christ: Your True Heart Healer, Soul Lover” conveys how deep, wide and unconditional Jesus Christ’s love for us. He is our special Valentine. No matter how horrific and dark your past or present situation, He LOVES YOU more than you can imagine. He died, rose and lives so you may experience true freedom, joy and peace —not bound by things of this world that enslave.

We were joined by Noel Bouché, president of pureHOPE, a ministry that provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. Noel discussed how they provide strategies to equip parents to help their children navigate in this digitized world, where images and messages of sexual immorality are rampant. pureHOPE envisions a world free of exploitation and brokenness. As a new partner with pureHOPE, Voices Against the Grain will join them to fight the proliferation of porn and sex trafficking in our society. To win this fight, Jesus Christ is our HOPE.

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Immediately following the airing of Wednesday’s show, the calls, emails and text messages poured in from listeners (some in tears) who were positively impacted by the conversation. We could not have planned the perfect formation of elements that has begun the healing and restoration process for many since our discussion. God’s perfect timing unites situations, people and willing hearts to accomplish His purposes. Not a day sooner or later. Right on time.

Words cannot adequately convey what I feel in my spirit. In simplest words, I have a spirit of gratitude and humility that such a big God chooses to involve us in His greater plan. Thank you Lord. We love you.

Satan hoped that Ana would remain silent, ashamed and bound by her past. But God’s plan was already at work. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” As referenced in Jeremiah 29:11, which furthermore says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,” “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

As Ana says, “No matter your situation, your story, know that GOD can restore you. HE can heal you. HE is our Redeemer. He has a bigger plan for your life greater than you know. He will turn around the darkest things in your life and make them beautiful.”

Just like Ana, sharing your story, your healing will help somebody else.

Listen to the show here.