Category Archives: Cover Story

Jason Fredericks: Life Goes On

Jason and Kevin Fredericks [source: Facebook]
I first learned about Jason Fredericks from viewing videos on YouTube such as “How To Shout In A Black Church” by the comedic group known as the Playmakers (consisting of Jason, his brother Kevin and their friend Anthony Davis).  Later on I became more acquainted with his individual style of comedy through a Periscope line up that he, Kevin and their friends Cheryce Thompson and Sheri Anderson would do when Periscope was a huge craze and Facebook/Instagram Live were ideas for the future. You may know him from social media as well or if you have ever conducted any scheduling for Kevonstage, chances are you have communicated with Jason. Jason Fredericks is much more than a comedian, a writer, a businessman and the brother of Kevonstage. He is a husband, father, basketball coach and a cancer survivor.

On July 12, 2017 Jason took to social media asking for prayer stating “I’m going in for a biopsy today. They are checking for a cancer in my bone marrow called Multiple Myeloma. If you see this post stop and say a quick prayer for your boy. Thank you. I appreciate it.” Twelve days later he shared an update that there was cancer found in his plasma and it was attacking his bones. He had stage three cancer and was looking at six months of chemotherapy treatments and a possible bone marrow transplant. But let’s rewind a bit and go behind the social media updates and find out exactly how things unfolded.

For months upon months Jason suffered from back pain. He sought professional assistance for his back pain from the chiropractor and massage therapist. He went to appointment after appointment and finally relief was occurring after a year. As life would have it, Jason and his son, Julian a.k.a. JuJu, were involved in a car accident. Due to complaints of headaches from his son they made a trip to the emergency room to be examined, as a precaution. He went to get a quick check up because of a car accident, but that quickly changed. After medical examination for both Jason and his son the doctor advised that Julian was well but expressed concern with Jason’s X-rays. Jason’s bones appeared as bones of a man sixty years of age or older. The doctor could see that Jason was not an elder gentleman but 37 years of age and wanted to do more examination on him. After additional X-rays and an MRI the doctor advised Jason that they needed to admit him to the hospital. At this point Jason grew curious of what was happening and asked the doctor if the situation was truly serious enough where hospital admission was necessary.

Jason receiving his treatment (photo courtesy of Jason Fredericks)

At that moment, in front of his son, Jason learned that the back trouble he was experiencing for over a year was due to his bones eroding and he could have cancer. He was immediately admitted to the hospital and unknown to him at the time, he was admitted to the oncology floor of the facility.

When asked about his initial reaction to his diagnosis Jason thought about his health practices and actions over the years. He stated “I questioned why it had to happen to me and I didn’t know how to deal with it.” Multiple Myeloma is not typically a form of cancer that young adults are diagnosed with, but more commonly diagnosed to older individuals. Jason, just as many others, was living his life with an understanding that life is what it is and he would do everything he could to make the best of it and eventually, one day when he is old God would take him on to heaven. With this bombshell announcement in his life he was now open to a new outlook on life.

Everyone handles things differently and when it came to how to handle this news he made a decision to share with his followers and friends via social media. It was not for attention. “I didn’t want it to be one of those things where something happened to me and later down the road people say it came out of the blue,” said Jason. He knew from the onset that there would be a testimony and from the moment he began to share on social media, in regards to his medical diagnosis, he received much more encouragement, testimonies and prayers than he anticipated and for that he is grateful.

Jason has pulled from his faith and scripture to help get him through this new journey. One scripture he referenced during the interview was Luke 22:42 when Jesus prayed for God to take the cup from him just before he was crucified and in his next breath a prayer of acceptance that if it was God’s will, so be it. Jason has grown to see Multiple Myeloma as his cross to bare and he will try his best to work through it. 

“It [cancer] has strengthened a lot my relationships with my family. It has put a lot of things in perspective of what matters and what doesn’t matter,”said Jason. His time with his wife, children and other family hold more value than it did before because he treats each moment as if it may be the last time that he can have with them. Not because he doesn’t believe he won’t live a long life, but because immortality is more of a reality to him now than it was before he received his diagnosis.

“I don’t understand why it had to happen to me, but I thank God for giving me the strength to endure everything that’s been going on with me.” While Jason wouldn’t choose to go through life with this experience, for whatever reason he is and he wants God to get the glory.

Crystal Perkins Trusting God with Goals

A little over 2 years ago I was scrolling through my timeline on Facebook and came across a video of a young woman sharing her testimony of God answering her prayers and blessing her family with a vehicle from a total stranger. That woman was none other than the Faithful Chics founder and owner, Crystal Perkins. After watching that video I was encouraged as a woman of faith and an entrepreneur and began following her and her brand. So, when she accepted our invitation to be interviewed for this issue of Nouveau Exposure I was ecstatic. If you aren’t following her, you need to! She truly is a faith filled chic and involves God in every aspect of her life.

– Only God Can Do It –

Crystal’s testimony of God bringing her through trials and tribulations may sound a bit cliche,` but it is the truth. Several years ago she had lost her father and grandfather and her family began experiencing hardship after hardship from losing employment to losing their home. On top of that her marriage was on the verge of divorce. Crystal and her husband have known each other since 9th grade but married life wasn’t coming to them as the union they hoped it would. Things were rocky. One day she was driving and talking to God and she heard God speaking to her saying he was going to restore everything that she lost and what he required of her was not to give up and to share her testimony with everyone she came in contact with. At the time she couldn’t see it happening because she and her husband were a dark space in their lives. In Spite of that, she pulled over immediately and called her husband to share with him what God had given her saying, “We can not give up, God wants to use all of this for his glory.” They made the choice to fight for their marriage.

Their fight wasn’t physical or mental, it was spiritual. Counseling sessions didn’t really work for them. They realized that they had to find themselves in Christ before they could work on healing their marriage. As they learned to pray with each other and open up the line of communication between them by offering vulnerability they began to see a change in their marriage. These changes taking place in their individual lives and their marriage was the foundation for God to begin to bless them and open doors that he had promised.

– Faithful God –

Faithful Chics Boutique Arkansas Location

Crystal eventually began Faithful Chics while working as a counselor for those who were blind or visually impaired. Her days typically consisted of her having her time with God, going to work, coming home to prepare dinner, spending quality time with her daughter and husband and as they shut down for the night she was working on anything related to Faithful Chics from design and planning to packaging and shipping. While her days and nights were long and full, she loved her job and she loved her business/ministry.

One of her coworkers shared a word with her that God revealed to them that her ministry was growing so fast and she was going to have to make a decision soon about pursuing it full time. After some time God began to reveal those same things to her and before she knew it she found herself at work one day hearing the voice of the Lord say that she could not return to work the next day. With tears in her eyes and an obedient spirit she began packing her personal items and went to let her boss know that she would not be returning after the day was over. She received her confirmation during that conversation. Her boss let her know that at the time when Crystal began working for the organization they were losing faith in God and it was ignited seeing Crystal’s faith in action and witnessing her relationship with God. While Crystal thought her assignment was having the job to be there for her clients and the favor of being able to grow and operate her business while working, for her boss it was to inspire them to renew their faith in God.

The next morning after leaving her job she logged into her website for Faithful Chics and said “Here I am God.” Two weeks later she received a call from a new outlet mall in her area in Arkansas. They found her company on the internet, loved her brand and wanted to offer her space at the mall. She opened a kiosk located outdoors during early fall of 2015. She prayed to God for an indoor location due to the weather changing and God allowed her to have her first indoor location by November of 2015. Later her company left indoor location at the mall for her own storefront location by January of 2016 known as the Faithful Chics Boutique. Crystal remembers thinking “If I would have stayed at my job, I would have missed out on all of this.”

Her ministry and business began growing and thriving. Faithful chics boutique was not your average store. Part of the policy to open the store was to pray and worship before the doors opened. The boutique became a sanctuary for customers. They were welcome to come there and be free to talk about their struggles, be emotional, pray, worship and more. Crystal was witnessing the promise God gave her from years prior coming to past.

-On to the Next –

When it comes to what God has in store for the Perkins family you should always be waiting for more. By spring of 2017 Crystal announced via social media that God had given them the assignment of uprooting from Arkansas and moving to Georgia. It wasn’t a real surprise to Crystal for God to have them do this. God had already shown her in visions that a move was going to occur and as she put it, “Every time he [God] gives me a vision about something, it happens.”

 

Perkins Family

 

Because of her faith and obedience she was ready to move. She admits that it was hard to leave family and let go of the boutique. She prayed and prayed for God to make a way for the store to remain open. It wasn’t for the financial benefit of having a physical store versus an online presence and pop up shops but for the customers who loved the environment of the store and all that it offered as a sanctuary to them. Finally God answered her saying if she could not let go of the boutique then it had become an idol to her. After that she stopped trying find ways to keep it open and followed God’s instruction. It was an emotional process leaving everything that they knew, but she and her family came to terms with separating from everything they loved about Arkansas to establish residency in the Atlanta, Georgia.

 

The transition itself was easy. Crystal has experienced God’s provision for the vision over and over. He hasn’t failed her yet and she doesn’t doubt for one second that he will. While they don’t have a physical store in Georgia at this time God has provided for them in other areas from blessing them with their place of residence to their ministry and business continuing to thrive. At this time their residence is the operating site for Faithful Chics but they are bursting at the seams and currently praying for the best location to launch their boutique in a new city. She believes a physical location is in their future within the next six months to a year. In the meantime Crystal has launched a new opportunity for individuals to become licensed to sell Faithful Chics apparel. Along with the licensing they will be receiving one one one coaching sessions with Crystal and tools to help them become successful entrepreneurs. She and her staff received and reviewed over 200 applications and recently contacted the first group that was selected for this experience. Be on the look out, you may have a licensed seller in your area to see for all of your Faithful Chic Apparel.

 

Crystal has not allowed herself to be defined only by the label of her company Faithful Chics. She is branching out and becoming a serial entrepreneur by launching her latest business, God and Goals. God and Goals is a consulting company founded by Crystal to show other entrepreneurs how to move forward in business with hard work, perseverance and faith. She didn’t start doing this out of thin air. She began doing faith and purpose consultations a couple of years ago. But God began to pour into her and show her how to develop God and Goals. Her desire is to teach others to keep God at the forefront, pray over their business and seek God with decision making. God and Goals is the tool to allow her to accomplish that desire. There are services for the general public to sign up to receive and membership perks as well. Services not only involve consultations, but also include branding and marketing assistance, workshops, brand audits, and access to apply for scholarships and grants.

 

There is a special customer that Crystal has been serving lately and that is her beautiful daughter. Crystal’s daughter Kennedy (8 years old) has already come to her parents on her own with a business plan and a mission. She has witnessed her parents apply faith and hard work for their businesses and she is taking notes for her own endeavors. It will not come easy. Her parents are teaching her to that the development of a brand and business takes time. She recently did chores to earn funds to have a logo created and moving on to the next step. Talk about legacy!

– Penny For Your Thoughts –

Crystal did share a few words of wisdom with us for someone who may be going back and forth with making the decision to launch a business. “There is never a perfect time. The right time is when God confirms that it’s the right time.” She has learned from experience that life is never going to stop and when God gives a vision and confirms it, it is time to fulfill it. “You need to literally drop everything and be obedient. I obey God flat out. I don’t try to negotiate with God. I do it.”  if you only take one thing away from reading this, Crystal hopes that it’s to make sure that your dreams/goals are aligned with God’s will. Remember in all the hustle and bustle of making business decisions to keep God at the forefront of all decision making. And last but not least, stay humble.Increase, influence, prosperity comes in stay hungry, don’t get so comfortable that you feel like you have reached the final level of success. You should never stop growing, never stop grinding and never stop working hard.

Fight For Your Fairytale w/ Stacy Ike

O! M! G! Have you heard of the phenom who is none other than Miss Stacy Ike? This young woman has captured the attention of thousands between her YouTube channel, red carpet interviews and most recently her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) show OWN Tonight!

The​ ​Who,​ ​What​ ​&​ ​Why…

She is a native of Houston,Texas who began her journey as an adult when she left Texas to attend college at the University of Missouri with a major in Journalism. She hit the ground running after graduating with her bachelor’s’ degree, but felt as though she wanted more. By January 2014 she took a leap of faith and moved to the city of Los Angeles, California with nothing but dreams of what could be. Stacy knew what she desired to do but honestly did not have a clue what it looked like in reality. She learned what she had a passion for by thinking about all the things she didn’t want to do first. As Stacy put it, “Before you leap make sure your passion is in the right place.”

Stacy, like many in the entertainment industry, has worked restaurant jobs and taken acting classes. During her first year in Los Angeles she met so many great people. She set off to prove to herself how much she wanted the career she desired and it became a challenge to leap and go for her dream. Her determination and faith has helped drive her to push forward every day since she made the choice to move to L.A.

She isn’t ashamed of sharing how instrumental God has been in the opportunities that she has been blessed to have. Stacy was raised in the church. Both of her parents have been and still are heavily involved in church. They taught her how to develop a relationship with God. But, as Stacy put it, you can’t depend on the relationship that your parents helped you to build. There has to be development based on personal interaction between yourself and God. Stacy has definitely had some faith stretching moments since she made a faith move in 2014. She has been able to witness the attributes of God and has learned that other than relationships with her parents and close friends this is the one positive relationship she can depend on. God will always have her front, back, side and everything else.She has developed a confidence in her relationship with him and she has learned from situations when he is moving or not.

The​ ​When​ ​&​ ​How…

Stacy recalled a time where she was offered a job but didn’t’ quite feel right about it in her spirit. She turned the job down. A few days later she was presented with an even better opportunity with SmashBox Cosmetics to do a talk series with influencers. That job was exactly what she was working towards and led to other opportunities for her career from Baller Alert and Regal Cinemas to Tribune Publishing and the Hollywood Reporter.

Interview after interview and assignment after assignment afforded her opportunities of speaking to hundreds of individuals from Snoop to Oprah Winfrey. So how did this young woman go from being the new girl in town working for free to being on OWN Tonight? She was observed doing her craft and was simply asked to come to do just what she practiced doing all the time on a different platform. Yes, it was just that simple. You never know what opportunities God will allow you to be presented with. She was honored by the invitation. Of course she accepted the opportunity to host a show on a network founded by one of her role models.

It was a fun experience getting to ask questions that fans at home wanted to ask the characters of the hit show Greenleaf. She herself being a fan and experiencing the angst from watching the show genuinely had a passion for interviewing the actors and celebrity fans. She shared on the excitement through her social media accounts that the goat, Larry King, contacted her to congratulate and share some wisdom with her. When asked what she has taken from her interaction with Larry and Oprah that she will carry with her throughout her career she stated that they shared with her where she is today is because she worked hard and it was preparation meeting opportunity. It has nothing to do with luck. “While you’re working you have these moments where you think to yourself why am i doing this?,” said Stacy. C.S. Lewis said it best, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” Stacy has found that she is living her fairytale.

Her fairytale wasn’t achieved solely on her own strength and knowledge. She has learned over these last few years the importance of being surrounded with people who know more than she does so she can learn from them. She has been willing to partner and network with others. Stacy still has more fairytale to fight for as her journey continues. She wants to put her acting classes to use as well as complete projects of service work and inspire women through her organization NAOMILiving (Not Afraid of My Imperfections). She wants everything that she does to point back to the purpose God has given her. She even aspires to have her own production company. If something doesn’t point back to a higher purpose than herself then it doesn’t have a point.

The​ ​Golden​ ​Nugget…

Stacy shares nuggets with her followers on a weekly basis doing a segment titled OTS Tuesdays via her YouTube channel and Instagram page. Be sure to check out her blogs from time to time on her website www.stacyike.com. During 2017 she has gone as far as hosting events in person and via social media to share these nuggets as well. When asked if she had any words of wisdom to share with you, our readers, she shared on the importance of starving insecurities and feeding the greatness God has placed within you. Never allow fear of the unknown and unseen to keep you from achieving the purpose that God created you to achieve. Fight for the fairytale!

Lights, Camera, Action

The entertainment industry can bring out the best and worst of the people involved from singers and dancers to actors and athletes and everyone in between. The “church” has a way of demonizing anyone who isn’t specifically working for a Christian organization, but let’s face the reality of it all. We are not of this world, but we do live in it. While we are being realistic, let’s keep it 100 and admit that our televisions and stereos tune in to plenty of sitcoms, movies, reality shows, and musical recordings that aren’t produced by a Christian company for a Christian audience. Whether you’re a fan or not, by now you have at least heard of the hit show on FOX network, Empire. The show has casted a catalog of actors, from Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson to Nia Long and Phylicia Rashad. Antoine McKay was blessed with the opportunity to play the role of Bunkie Williams on Empire and yes, he is a Christian.

Mr. McKay is a native from the Detroit, Michigan area. Did he always want to be an actor from childhood? No. Mr. McKay attened Eastern Michigan University and started out studying Forensic Science. For a moment, he considered studying Political Science to become a politician but, with humor, stated he didn’t want to be assassinated. He was bitten by the acting bug when he witnessed his brother perform in New York for the musical Oklahoma and the audience gave a standing ovation. Mr. McKay jokingly admitted he wanted to act to get the same reaction. He joined the Theatre program and studied under Uta Hagen. Uta Hagen had an intense program that Mr. McKay called “crazy hard,” but he appreciated the training that helped him prepare for his now 27 year acting career. That’s right, 27 years.

Mr. McKay has lived the typical life of an actor working several jobs at a time including waiting tables as he auditioned for opportunities to share his craft. He was eventually accepted as a part of Second City, a satellite theatre, in Detroit. He was invited to Chicago for their shows as well. He accepted the offer thinking he would become a famous actor in Chicago and eventually earn an Oscar. That’s the dream…right?

– Rising Action –
His acting career began to take off the way he hoped. He landed a role on Prison Break, but while his professional career was approaching the runway for takeoff his personal life was experiencing turbulence. You see, Mr. McKay wasn’t saved at the time. It wasn’t that he was ignorant of God or even “un-churched.” He attended church for 17 years during his youth but he didn’t know that Jesus was God.

He recalls getting drunk all the time. It was at this point in his life when his wife, Rebecca, gave him an ultimatum. She and the children were attending church on a regular basis and she was becoming strong in her faith walk. He had to choose the life he was living without her or get his life together, stop the drinking, attend church as a complete family and be present for the children. It was then that he promised God, “If you get me out of this I will serve you.” How many of us have prayed that prayer?

It was shortly after that that he made the decision to turn his life over to God and change his habits and actions and he became the youth pastor at his church. He served for 5 years with his church in this role of leadership and he considers that time one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. Talk about restoration!

– The Climax –
10 years ago, when Mr. McKay and his family moved to Chicago he hoped that his career would fly off like a rocket and he would be up for Oscar nominations. While he has had some diversions to his dream his film career is really taking off. Many may recognize him as Bunkie on Empire, but since that time he landed a role on the Amazon series, Patriot, as Gregory Gordon. He has also acted on the movie He Sends Rain as Arthur Sims, which can be viewed on Pure Flix or Amazon.

Mr. McKay has taken in as much as he can from all the experiences he has had while working with different actors. He mentioned, “People can get star struck and fold and mess up but you realize when you’re working with them that they are human.” He makes it a practice to remind himself of the saying in the bible to fear no man but to fear God.

When he does this, he can shake off the nerves to focus on working. He recalls an instance when he was doing lines for Empire and was standing in a circle with Taraji, Terrence, Lee and Gabby and while he was struck knowing that everyone in the circle but himself had Oscar nominations he still spoke up and gave his opinion on things that were being discussed to make the scene performance as amazing as possible. Mr. McKay stated, “You have to be focused, they are great. They can carry a whole show.”

Mr. McKay credits every opportunity he has had to God. He exclaimed, “Jesus is real man!” He feels that there isn’t a reason in the world why he, a person from Michigan should be presented with the opportunities he has been aside from anyone else. He believes that God put an individual in places and they can grow.

– What’s Next? –
“Theatre is my first love, obviously, but T.V. pays more,” said Mr. McKay. He and his wife, also an actor, began teaching an acting group, McKay Art, in their home six years ago. They simply chose a room in their home, painted all the walls black and went for it. He finds it to be an amazing form of ministry. Mr. McKay believes that acting can teach an individual a lot about their likes, dislikes, areas they are willing to compromise on or not and more. They offer classes for children up to adults.

Through McKay are they put on sketch comedy and plays. Currently they are working on an original play titled The Unspeakable Gift and written by Veronica Stoffa. Mr. McKay shared that the play shows the characters experiencing real and transparent struggles on their faith walk. It will be opening in October 2017. They will also have a comedy sketch, Hot Lava, coming in October 2017. Be sure to mark your calendars and catch a show if you are in the Chicago area.

– The Dilemma –
When an actor lands a role, they are hoping that the ratings do well for the project and that their performance is so great that it will help them land the next job. But wait, if it’s a Christian actor they are thinking about how this role may affect their family and their witness as a believer. Mr. McKay has been presented with decisions like this time after time.

During his acting career, he has developed a couple of rules that he will not bend for the sake of having an income. He and his wife, of 12 years, agreed years ago that there would not be any roles where he would do kissing or intimate scenes. He also takes into consideration what performances his six children can observe him doing. While Empire has been a bit racy, he has recorded the show and they watch his scenes and then turn the show off. There have also been times where he has had to simply turn a job down. An example is the sequel to the Harold and Kumar movie. While the opportunity could have proven to have a huge impact on his acting resume, the film was a bit egregious and he did not want to be a part of the cast. There has even been an instance where the script had a last minute proposed change that Mr. McKay wasn’t comfortable with doing. Thankfully, he was asked about his comfort level with the changes and when he spoke up that he was uncomfortable, the changes were not made to the script. Whew! God is faithful. Mr. McKay admitted that he “understands that the time will come where I will toe the line one of these days,” as his screen acting career progresses. But never the less he will continue to remain true to his ethics and choices for his craft.

Jessica Chow: Lost & Found

Hollywood has a stigma of being sin city and full of nothing good but there are plenty of individuals in the entertainment industry who have shown the world that no matter their residence Jesus is Lord of their lives. Jessica Chow is one of those people.

~ The Testimony ~

Jessica didn’t grow up in the church. She didn’t experience life as a child and teen in the knowledge of who God is and how much he loved her. It’s because of that she chooses every day to live for him and prays to be used by him. She said, “I think knowing life without the Lord really sets me on fire to remain in him. I know what this world can offer and it’s empty.”

During Jessica’s teen years, she became sexually active and stated that she was always in relationships. She began drinking alcohol while in high school as well. Education was important to her mother who dreamed for her children to accomplish things that she did not have an opportunity to. From high school Jessica went on to attend college. After graduating from college Jessica began using drugs and had two abortions.

Jessica admits that she has success as the world measures it. She was previously employed through one of the top talent agencies in the world, Creative Artist Agency. While there, she was in the limelight. She attended the hottest events along with being around people that many would kill for the chance to meet. Surprisingly, Jessica stated this point in her life was one of the saddest. At that time, her life focus was herself and what she could gain. She remembers feeling broken and alone.

Jessica’s brother, Jeff, drew her to Christ. She began noticing a change in his character. She remembers her brother having a callused heart and being angry but this change caused him to be peaceful. She became curious about a God and church that brought about this change in him.

Jessica & her brother, Jeff

 

While the transformation God was doing with her brother peaked interest for Jessica about God, she recalls an encounter she had that opened her heart.  It was an experience she had at a rave where God began to tug at her heart. Jessica explained how she felt different and felt the presence of God telling her that he loved her and understood the regret and shame that she felt. Her friends were asking her if she was okay or needed to rest or a glass of water and her response was that she felt like everyone at the party were “a bunch of lost souls.” Her friends responded with offense. Jessica tried to brush it off but it felt real. She became repulsed by the people around her and their actions. Jessica stated, “Nothing about my physical state was sober. I laced five different drugs and yet God met my spirit in sobriety in the most gentle and loving way. My dying spirit recognized His almighty powerful presence and I listened because I felt his love for me to chase me down in the darkest place of life. We can’t hide from God.” Jessica believes if it’s God’s time to call you, it doesn’t matter where you are. He will meet you where you are.

Between the changes that Jessica noticed in her brother and her encounter at the rave, Jessica was ready to attend church and learn more about God. It helped that her brother had a cute friend she was interested in as well. Jessica mentioned, “God can use anything if He wants to. Something as sinful as being lustful for man. He redeemed my sin just to get me into church.”

~ The Transformation ~

 When Jessica attended service for the first time the worship experience drew her. She thought it was weird that they turned off the lights while singing but she joined in and began singing the words to the songs. She recalls the lyrics to songs such as “Oceans” by Hillsong. As she began singing the words tears streamed down her face. She was worshiping, but she didn’t know anything about God and wasn’t too sure if she wanted to trust him only to be let down like everyone else had done. She felt like there was a catch. But, God was a gentleman. She never felt God was forced on her. She was drawn in by the love of the church community and the feeling she received from her God experiences. She didn’t know how to go about changing but she was willing to try. In 2012 Jessica was baptized taking a step to accepting God in her life.

Jessica remembers praying for God to help her stop doing the things that she shouldn’t. Jessica’s prayers were answered. Jessica attended a party and as her routine went for partying, she did drugs. Only this time about five minutes later she began to vomit. Her friends were concerned. Jessica tried to ignore it and took more drugs but vomited again. She went to the bathroom and felt God tell her in a gentle way that she could no longer defile her body that she belonged to him. Jessica left the party. She figured there was no point in trying to take drugs over and over only to vomit them back up. God didn’t stop there, the last time Jessica had sex she was with her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend. They felt as though a wall was between while they were in the act having sex.  They stopped mid-way and apologized to each other for violating one another. They accepted each other as a brother and sister in Christ.  About a month later they ended their relationship.

~ All Things New ~

Everything became NEW! Jessica’s life began to transform from her acquaintances to her employment. When Jessica quit her job, she began acting. She has been acting for five years now appearing on sitcoms Jane the Virgin, Bad Teacher and more. When she goes out to casting calls and auditions she is not shy about sharing the gospel with others. She is confident in the love God has for her and she isn’t afraid to share her testimony with anyone. She developed a desire to see others transformed just as she has been. Her prayer is that God uses her as a tool to draw others to him, she knows that she doesn’t have the power to save anyone. She doesn’t want anyone to feel that God is forced on them.

Jessica Chow doing interview

Jessica went through spiritual and emotional healing from the guilt and hurt she had from having two abortions by going to counseling beginning 2015. Her counselor advised her to write a letter to her best friend explaining how she felt about everything that happened, except her best friend would be herself. Because of the feedback she received for her letter, she began her blog. The blog allowed her to express her thoughts of things she had experienced in life from the abortions and the loss of her mother to dating as a Christian and more. In September of 2016 Jessica began doing her YouTube series 31:30. The title is influenced from Proverbs 31:30. She works with her brother and his friend who have their own cinematography company. She interviews individuals who are involved in the entertainment industry in some way who are also believers. Her desire is for them to see God for the gentleman that he is and receive his forgiveness so they can walk in freedom.

 

Jessica’s message to anyone who is lost and feels like they need to make themselves perfect before God accepts them is “God’s mercy triumphs over judgement. There is nothing that he can’t forgive and that he has not already forgiven. We will never be completely perfect” Isn’t that the best news ever?! God will accept anyone, don’t delay another day of having Jesus as Lord of your life. God sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of the world, John 3:16. Accept his gift and be lost no more.

Aventer Gray – Faith & Favor

Aventer Gray is to Pastor John Gray as Michelle Obama is to former President Barack Obama. She is the depiction of the Proverbs 31 woman and defines what it means to be a wife and mother for her family in a way that inspires other women.

-Meet Aventer-

Aventer hails from the southern city of Dothan, Alabama, where she graduated from Northview High School, with honors. During her childhood, she participated in various competitions from oratorical to pageantry. She attended the illustrious Historical Black College/University (HBCU) Florida A&M University (FAMU) and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Cardiopulmonary Science, and earned her Master’s degree in Health Service Administration from Strayer University.

Aventer has always had a passion for the performing arts. She started dancing in her hometown at the age of three at the Dothan School of Dance under the direction of Tracy Solomon. It was there that she gained her foundation in ballet, jazz, modern, pointe, acro and African dance. At the age of 13 she obtained a teaching apprenticeship at the Dothan School of Dance. During her teen years, she joined the Southeast Alabama Dance Company and Performance Team and preformed with the company for five years. Throughout her time with the dance company she received various awards from the New York City Dance Alliance and Dance Masters of America, Chapter #33. Her love for God was evident as it poured over and ignited her passion for dance. This kindling inspired her to begin her first dance ministry at the age of 14. Since then, she has led several ministries from high school through college. Her unrelenting desire is to bring glory to God through intermingling the technical aspects of dance with the spirit filled manifestation of the Word of God.

When she is not busy hosting many conferences, master classes, and ministry guidance classes around the country; through The Reign Dance Company in Houston, Texas, where she is the founder and director; she is working on curriculum and programs designed to be used as tools for other dance ministries. The company is comprised of people Aventer has met during her life as she has been involved in dance, and that have the same desire to share biblical principles and give meaningful training in dance.

-The Faith Stretch-

Aventer has had her share of faith stretching moments in her life prior to getting married. They began while she was attending FAMU as a freshman. First, her mother was diagnosed with three aneurysms and given a terminal prediction in 2001. It was during that time that Aventer began to mature in her relationship with God by relying on what she had been taught in church, in conjunction with fasting and praying. God performed a miracle through medical care and Aventer’s mother is still alive today. However, this was not the only difficult moment she experienced. During her sophomore year in college, Aventer needed to have an emergency appendectomy procedure. Although this was an obstacle, it did not stop her from keeping up with her course work. The trials continued as she learned that her brother was diagnosed with lung cancer, although he never smoked a day in his life. She was concerned about her brother’s health and traveled back and forth from school to home to check on him and be with her family. She learned on February 10th of her senior year of 2005 in college that her grandmother had passed and two days later, on February 12th her brother as well. Determined to finish school, she persevered and completed her classes. While those hardships are not standard for everyone, Aventer believed her mountains played a major role in the woman she is today. She stood firm that God knew her future and what she would go through to develop her character, not only for herself, but for the qualities that her husband, children and friends would draw to and from as well. She stated, “As a believer, you’re going to be faced with things that will test and try you to see how strong you are and how weighted in the Word you are. With each issue, it makes you go to God even more.”

-Family & Favor-

Some may know of Aventer through the talk show “The Preachers” during the summer of 2016 when the ministers brought their spouses/significant others on for the last episode. Her and her husband John Gray III have been married for 6 years and have two beautiful children, John Gray IV and Theory Aspyn-Sky who are affectionately known as Four and Tutu. The Grays have experienced a whirlwind of opportunities within the last few years. However, they understand the importance of putting in the work and time, yet waiting on God to give direction for their destiny. She commented that, “Anything worth having is worth working for, no matter how long it takes. When you try to shorten or rush the process, there are things that may be necessary for your development that can be lost. There must be trust in God that he is in control and will lead you in the right path. God’s timing is best”.

John Gray IV, Aventer Gray, John Gray and Theory Gray as seen on Book of John.

If you follow Aventer on social media you have had the honor of seeing glimpses of their life, whether it was seeing announcements for Pastor Gray to speak at Lakewood Church or other churches, family moments, or holiday happenings. She speaks highly of her husband and appreciates no matter where she has traveled with him, Pastor Gray is the same regardless of where they go. God uses him in a unique way to reach people and minister to them. She expresses her love for her husband and children on social media from time to time. As like any mama bear, Aventer is very protective of her family as well. Negative comments of her family and dedication to God, will be addressed eloquently, yet unyielding to inform you otherwise, and rightfully so. When asked if sharing their lives on social media has affected the family in a negative way, Aventer responded she believes in sharing with transparency allows the world to see they are not exempt from struggles. “We don’t promote perfection, we promote our love for God and our faith and our hope in him through social media,” said Aventer.

One might say it’s due to the transparency of Pastor Gray and Aventer that they have been blessed with opportunities to minister around the world. Nearly one year ago, Aventer re-posted a photo on Instagram of herself, her husband and the beautiful Oprah Winfrey. The caption mentioned that after filming for the Super Soul Sunday television series the couple shared a conversation with Oprah and the discussion led to a dream coming true for Pastor Gray. By August of 2016 there was an announcement shared on Instagram to submit an email of interest if someone wanted Pastor John Gray to be a mentor and encourager to them and their family. God blessed them with a new platform to be a blessing.

The Gray family was favored to film a docu-series that will be airing on OWN Network April 15th at 10 pm est/9 pm cst. The series is titled “The Book of John Gray.” The series will feature Pastor Gray as he mentors various individuals to overcome difficult moments of their lives. It will also share moments of the Gray family life and how they go through their own situations. You can enjoy the premiere episode now with access through the OWN Network application or through the website link. Be sure to check your local station listings and watch this new series. To keep up with Aventer and the Gray family until then you can follow her on Instagram at grayceeme.