He recently began teaching himself to sing and play guitar.

But Destrey Brown Jr. feels no urge to entertain. He merely entertains ways to touch people with God’s love.

“I’ve seen people I have prayed for healed of depression and anxiety,” he said.

His latest prayer is focused on an upcoming outreach.

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The 30-year-old Brown has organized Faith Hope and Love Church of God In Christ’s second annual free Block Party: Rise, Pray, Grind from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Ninth Street Park, Ninth and Short Wilson streets in Columbus.

The outreach that was his idea will include music, free hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and soft drinks, a three-on-three basketball tournament and a faith message.

Former Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown, who supported rebirth of the Ninth Street Park neighborhood during her term in office, will speak.

Last year’s inaugural gathering, organized quickly, drew more than 300 people. This year, Destrey Brown and church members are launching a new local, evangelical movement called Lost Lives Matter.

“So many of the churches today seem separated,” he said. “This a way to bring them together in one accord, whether that’s doing jail ministry or teen ministry or fundraisers or anything else.”

The event location carries a pointed purpose.

“There needs to be a continued (spiritual) light there (at the park),” said Destrey Brown, a resident of the Ninth Street neighborhood. “It has had a bad reputation.”

Those who use the park say that it once was marked by drug activity and vandalism.

Brown said he understands those kind of problems, having served one year at Branchville Correctional Facility for drug violations. He said he was addicted to meth and heroin for much of 16 years and tried nearly everything to quit.

“Then I really got ahold of the recovery part of it,” he said. “The renewal of my mind and Jesus was my X factor. I needed that supernatural power.

“And prison actually was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Brown said he has been clean for two years. Despite a past marked by turmoil, Brown said his present life is marked by “but God.” That’s a biblical reference to God’s intervention and turning of a situation from bad to beneficial.

He is outward enough about his faith to bring his Bible to work to read it on breaks at the restaurant where he works in Columbus. On the side, he has launched Glory Portraits, in which he specializes in startlingly real graphite drawings. His subjects have ranged from Muhammed Ali to Elvis Presley to TV actress and singer Chaley Rose Jackson, a Columbus native.

But mostly, Brown talks about his faith.

“I have noticed that one of my gifts is outreach,” Brown said. “But it’s Jesus who opens doors for me to do this.”

The Rev. Mike Harris, pastor of Faith Hope and Love Church of God In Christ, and Brown’s pastor, is excited about the leader’s enthusiasm.

“He’s definitely on fire for the Lord,” Harris said. “It’s always good to see young people so excited about what God can do.”

Harris added that he was impressed with last year’s Block Party crowd.

“I think he got people there by word of mouth,” the pastor said.

Brown mentioned that this year’s crowd will be larger, marked by a mix of area church and law enforcement leaders.

“It will be awesome,” Brown said. “This is all by the grace of God.”

Party time

What: Faith Hope and Love Church of God In Christ’s second annual Block Party: Rise, Pray, Grind. The Elizabethtown church is spending about $600 on the free event.

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ninth Street Park, at Ninth and Short Wilson streets in Columbus.

Admission: Free

Activities: Live music, three-on-three basketball tournament, hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and soft drinks, and a faith message

Information: Facebook page for Faith Hope and Love Church of God In Christ.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.