So, I’m driving by WaterfrontPark one Saturday morning and I drive pass three gentlemen standing at the entrance of the park’s driveway. One gentleman was standing in a prayer posture (which I now know to be the human statue), and the other two were holding signs offering prayer to those in need. Immediately I felt a rush of excitement! Usually the only people standing outside with signs are asking passerbys for money or protesting something, but these gentlemen were offering one of the most powerful gifts of all, prayer. In seeking my own purpose in advancing the kingdom of God, I felt an exhilaration of motivated inspiration when I saw these guys stepping outside of the box, outside of the norm of making people go to church for prayer. They were being like Jesus, and taking the word to the street. I thought to myself, this is what it is all about, advancing the kingdom by literally doing what Jesus did when He was here; going out to teach all nations and being obedient to the will of our Father. Here is my encounter with, Founder of the iCare Movement, Mr. Michael Sutton, and rising Leader of Ministry, Mr. Jeremy Purkett:
ME: What’s the name of your group?
MS: It’s an organization called iCare. We are a global community outreach group. And our purpose is to serve, this present age, in all different facets; whether it’s through the prayer outreach like we did Saturday, whether it’s through serving the homeless, whether it’s through providing educational classes for those less fortunate, whether it’s doing mission trips in inner cities or abroad. It’s a Christian based organization. When people look at iCare, we don’t want them to think event. We want them to think ministry. We don’t want to just be doing stuff just to say we’re doing stuff. We want to be purposeful.
ME: Is it mostly ElizabethCity community based?
MS: Yes, for right now. But the vision is to maybe start iCare initiatives in other cities and to be abroad.
ME: So is that what you’re focusing on now or was the prayer request your first project?
MS: Yes the prayer request was the first thing.
ME: Did you get a big response?
MS: We prayed for about 7 people. We were out there for about 2hrs, and we got a lot of looks for sure. But I think what makes it worth it is, like we had one guy who had walked away from God, but that day he was like, “Man I know this is a God thing. I know God sent me here.” And he made a decision to come back to Christ.
ME: That’s awesome.
MS: That’s the whole purpose of this organization, is to love on people, show them a different side of Christ that they may not ever seen before. Can I say this too, like we have to be careful what we call success. One thing that I’ve learned is that real success is that I heard God and I obeyed God, not that I did this, and a lot of people responded. The success comes when you hear God and you obey God. If nobody stops, if nobody recognizes you, I mean, if we stood out there and nobody came by or stopped to get prayer, the fact that we heard God and obeyed, that was the reward; that you can hear God and actually obey God. That’s the reward.
ME: So what is your motivation?
MS: Jesus Christ is my motivation. And my foundational scripture is Matthew 28:16-20. And it talks about discipling. And God commands us to go into the world [to] disciple, learning the laws, baptizing in the laws, and showing them Christ, to ever nation and ever creed. So that’s my motivation. And I think Christ can be shown in so many different facets [that] we can show Christ to people. I think building relationship, [and] showing love is one of the biggest discipling techniques, if that’s what you want to call it. The scripture says, “That love and kindness have I drawn thee.” And so we’re just trying to do it like Jesus did it, trying to go outside of the four walls. I would kind of deem this the mobile church. If someone were to ask me, “Mike, where’s your church, where’s you guys church?” I would say, “We’re right here.” And that’s not a knock on the church building, because that’s where I got my foundation, and that’s still needed for sure. But there are some people that aren’t going to enter the doors, but still need us. And that’s what God has commission us to do through this organization.
ME: It’s not just about going to church whenever we go and writing notes for ourselves, but actually going out to put action to it. What would you say?
MS: I would say you have to know what you’ve been called to do. And you have to know it to the point where no matter who tells you it’s not legit, [no matter] who tells you, no matter who doubts, even no matter who praises you. Because you know sometimes we can get caught up in the praise. And also a mentorship, I have a mentor that lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and he has really been the driving force behind this movement. Don’t get me wrong, my foundation, I was raised in the church and being raised in my church “Faithway,” which is on Bell Street here, under my father and under my grandmother’s leadership, that’s my foundation. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have nothing to build upon. And I stress that, absolutely nothing to build upon. But the guy who’s my mentor, who’s my covering now, has been the driving force behind this out of the four walls movement. Because like you said, we do go to church, we listen to the service, we take notes for ourselves, we scream about how blessed we are. You know, but I just have a hard time believing that’s the purpose of church. I just have a hard time believing that. So I would say (1) Know who you are. (2) Get a mentor. You know there are some times when you have to step out on your own, but I also believe that God will send you somebody to help mentor you and cover you along the way. Because one of the things my mentor says is, “Mike anything that you can do alone, don’t.” And that’s a staple in my heart. So I’m really focused on building a team. (3)Get a team. Get like minded people around you. (4) And study your craft. Study where God wants you, study your market. Who is God calling you to? Who is He calling you to reach? Study your market. Developing a plan, and sometimes God may not give you that full plan, He may just give you the go. And then the more you go, the more he’ll show you.
ME: That’s when your faith comes.
MS: That’s where your faith comes from. I don’t ever want to forget this prayer, seeking God for your uniqueness. I don’t want to live in someone else’s anointing. I want to live in mine. So know why you are called. Get a mentor. Develop a team. And pray and really seek God for direction.
On the importance of prayer(MS): Because prayer is my lifeline, honestly. And I’m glad God has surrounded me with people who believe in prayer, who take prayer seriously. So prayer is my foundation, it’s my walls, my ceiling, prayer is important. Prayer is everything. And like I’ve said, I really, prayer is not, this is what I believe, prayer is not for God, it [prayer] is for us. God doesn’t need our prayer, we need His answers. Developing that relationship and I know that for myself, what prayer does for me is it gives me confidence, no matter how the situation turns out, because my relationship in my prayer life is really concrete, I know that [the situation] it’s always working for my good. No matter how it turns out. And that comes from a deep centered prayer life.
ME: That is awesome. So if someone wants to get involved with your organization, what should they do?
MS: Well right now, we’re currently in the process of getting all of our bylaws and all that stuff done. So eventually we’re going to have, of course you know, a Facebook page, [a] Twitter page, all of the social media where these people can contact us.
Introducing Jeremy Purkett
MS: [On JP] He is going to reach a people that I can’t reach. And that’s the whole point of a team. Jeremy is a huge, huge part to this movement, Jeremy is an actor, he is a singer.
ME: Jeremy Purkett, what is your mission and role in the movement, in the iCare Movement?
JP: I’m just serving the needs, I obviously just want the will of God, and to reach out to the ends of the earth just to show and tell people just how great He is. And that’s basically my job. You know, to support my brother and his vision, as well as you know, him encouraging me in my life, no matter what I’m going through, no matter what it looks like, to keep my eyes on the focus, and that’s serving God.
ME: Do you have something in particular that inspires you to want to be apart of the movement?
JP: It’s something different. You know you get tired of the normal. And it was a time where, I was dealing with whether or not I should stay in the streets or whether I should walk away. You know, whether I should deal with anything concerning, you know, the church or anything. You know as outsiders, when you’re not in the church you can look at people and be like, you’re not living the right life, so how am I suppose to follow you. But you know through him [pointing to MS], through God using him, it open my eyes to see that it’s not people who you need to watch. It’s all about your personal relationship with God.
ME: Only 21 [years old]What message do you have to give to our young black men, who sometimes get caught up and can get lost out there sometimes? I know it [life] gets hard for our young black men. What is your advice for them?
JP: My advice, which has been my biggest struggle [is] don’t worry about the denial.
MS: Mmmm, that’s good!
JP: I’ve been denied. But God confirmed to me that that’s not the final answer. Denial will take you to the place where you want to say, “God I want to give up, God I want to go back to the world, I don’t want to be apart of this no more.” But if you’re being liked by everyone and you’re not being denied for some things, something is not right. You have to be willing to be turned away in order to get to where you need to be.
ME: [Mouth dropped] Yea. You need to be up in a pulpit somewhere! That’s like a message. Like I got chills when you said that, all you said was, “Denial”, and I was like Wow! That is powerful!
MS: Mmm, yes.
JP: Accepting denial. That’s been, that’s been my message. For real like that’s been my walk, daily walk, lately. That’s what God has been bringing to me. He’s like, “Don’t worry about denial, don’t worry about people not accepting you; I didn’t call you to be accepted.”
Me: That is so powerful.
MS: Come on, Man
JP: You know, and God had to really open that up to me. ‘Cause I’m like, “God, no I want to be liked, I want to be this.” And He is saying all along, “I didn’t call you to be like the world.” You wonder why you get in certain situations and these predicaments, and you wonder why you feel uncomfortable. It’s because you can’t get comfortable in doing something that’s not you. That’s not meant for you.
ME: [looking at MS] You need to get him a platform somewhere out there with a microphone, a bullhorn. You can just get up there and say, “Denial” and drop the mic
MS: It’s coming. It’s coming. I don’t think he even understands, like what’s inside of him.
JP: Help to accept that I’m not accepted. That is my message, living through denial.
I rode by these gentlemen twice before finally pulling over and catching up with them just as they were leaving. I had such an overwhelming need to find out their story and why they were offering prayer. In interviewing Mr. Michael Sutton and Mr. Jeremy Purkett, I got more than just a story of motivation……I received some revelation knowledge, some Holy Spirit confirmations, and I felt a Word of God influence from their presence! I am telling ya’ll these guys have started a movement here in ElizabethCity, and there’s some anointing and some blessings that are going to be reining down on the lives those who are seeking to fulfill the will of God. It is imperative that we find our purpose and place in advancing His Kingdom! Our lives and the lives of those who we are suppose to touch, are depending on our obedience. These gentlemen are stepping up to the plate and I can’t wait to see what’s next!