YOUNGSTOWN – Hundreds of men in the valley supported each other as they heard testimonies of the growing word of Jesus Christ at the 12th Annual Men in the Valley Gathering.
Michael Emery, 34, of Austintown, attended the rally at the Covelli Center on Saturday and said that too often men were not given the opportunity to engage with other men of faith.
“It’s good to be able to share common concerns” he said. “Too often we are busy with our work and supporting our families. We must be able to have brotherhood.
Phil “PJ” Davis, 68, and Joe DeMine, both members of Grace Fellowship Church in Niles, attended the rally because they felt the need to create a sense of oneness with other Christians.
“It is united that we are standing, not divided” Davis said.
Michael J. Brooks, 29, of Youngstown, was at the rally for the second year in a row.
“It’s very impactful when you have so many people with the same common beliefs” Brooks said. “It has been a blessing – bringing the word and the message to the glory of God. “
A member of the Greenford Christian Church in Salem, Brooks said he accepted Jesus as his savior in 2019. “Always put your faith in Jesus, he will never let you down” he said.
Bing Newton, 87, of Leetonia, one of the rally’s founders, said he and others started working on Men’s Rally in the Valley a dozen years ago when 96 believers intended to participate in a Promise Keepers program – but they learned it was not going to be in the area anymore.
“We prayed over it” Newton said. “God whispered in my ears: why can’t we make one ourselves? God taught us to put something like that together.
“Men must rise up and be the men whom God created us to be” he said. “Our country just needs God. When 50 percent of people don’t go to church, there is a need.
“I was one of them,” Newton said. “My wife prayed for me. On February 10, 1971, I was born again.
“These gatherings are contagious. When people are attached to Jesus Christ, it is powerful.
Newton said the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the rally last year and is not expected to affect this year’s schedule.
“God moves like never before” he said. “He blows up the top of this whole valley. What makes it different is that we live here, worship here, and the fire stays here. We are not trying to steal sheep from a shepherd. The shepherds bring their flocks with them.
Brian Chartreuse, 46, from Homeworth, was invited to a men’s rally in the valley two years ago by a friend but was unable to attend at the time.
“It stuck in my head” said Chartreuse. “I decided it was the year.”
He invited Tony Hoopes, 46, from Salem, who said it was important to be around like-minded people and supported him through tough times.
“I like to be around my brothers in Christ”, he said.
This weekend’s schedule featured several former athletes, including Markus McFolling, a former running back at Malone University; Joel Penton, a former defensive specialist at Ohio State University; and Vance Johnson, a former member of the Denver Broncos teams in the 1980s who kept the Cleveland Browns out of the Super Bowl.
Vance was on three Denver Broncos Super Bowl teams.
However, he did not highlight the highlights of his professional football career, but the pain of growing up with an abusive father who constantly beat and cheated on his mother – and a man who played and allowed his young son to read his collection. of pornographic films. magazines.
As a teenager, Vance vowed that he would not be like his father and that he would one day become rich and famous. He entered sports, mainly football and athletics. He neither drank nor did he take drugs.
He became a high school student and then a college athlete in Arizona. But then it started to deteriorate – drinking, drugs, gambling and chasing women.
Over the years, after being drafted by the Broncos, Johnson has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars playing and had eight children with different wives, lost a child in a car crash and nearly died.
Johnson warned that he had achieved all the physical goals he wanted but had lost his spirituality.
He has since started to change his life after being born again.