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Inauguration Eve: The Whole World on Night Watch

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Richard O. Jones
If you live or grew up in a Black community in the United States, you have probably heard of “Watch Night Services,” the gathering of the faithful in church on New Year’s Eve.

The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m.  to 10 p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Many of the Watch Night Services in Black communities and in our churches that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” On that night, slaves came together in churches, gathering places, and private homes throughout the nation faithfully praying that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln’s promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free. People remained in their State of Limbo eagerly awaiting word of their freedom or slavery status. When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. Over 130 years would pass before Africans and African Americans would be joined by the world in a global Night Watch Service. This particular Night Watch occurred in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected the first Black president of South Africa.

However, 15 years later, on the eve of January 20, 2009, the world, once again, would jointly enter into a Night Watch Service by anxiously waiting the dawn of the uttermost historic political act the world had ever witnessed. This phenomenon would become the first with a yearlong drum roll of anticipation. The sound of the drum roll increased with every passing month, then week, and then day. The drum roll continued as Night Watch became Hour Watch, then Minute Watch.  Finally the drums were silent as President Barack Hussein Obama, with his wife Michelle at his side, took the oath of office.

In the long struggle for justice and equality in the United States many citizens have ascended on Washington, D.C. to make a statement; however, the three most attended gatherings had Black leaders as the helm. First there was “The March on Washington” for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Approximately 250,000 attended the “March on Washington.” Second was “The Million Man March,” a political march convened by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Washington, D.C on October 16, 1995. The official crowd estimate was 700,000 – 1, 004,400. However, the largest gathering in Washington, D. C. was for the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama who received more votes than any other president in U.S. History. The crowd was estimated at almost 2 million.

President Obama, who once said, “When millions of people cry out for change nothing can stop them,” is a role model to all people, but especially African-American children. Obama instills the drive in Black children that they can raise their goals higher than the ambitions of merely wealth and celebrity status but to degrees of true significance.  Obama once gave-up a six-figure income on Wall Street for a much smaller salary as a community organizer on the Southside of Chicago, which is evidence that true power is not in the size of your bank account. And children, especially those without fathers at home, should know that President Obama only saw his father once and the only thing his father ever gave him was a basketball, which is evidence that good strong character and integrity is not determined by the fatherless circumstances of your youth. The world is now poised in a four-yearlong Night Watch awaiting the dawn of a brighter tomorrow.

Eyes & Ears of Moreno Valley

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Juanita Barnes
Pastor Steven Furtick wrote: “Few Do” This new year, stop doing what everybody else is doing, stop doing what you’ve always done. Most human beings deeply desire to be used by God in unique and extraordinary ways. Most human beings talk about these desires. Every new year, most make resolutions about how they’ll change their lives in order to see these desires fulfilled. But few do. Trust God with a unique and extraordinary faith this year.  Do the things that few do. As Numbers 13 records: ‘12 Spies took inventory of the promised land. All of them desired to go in, only two were willing to fight for it.’ Only two see what I’m saying. Many desire… few do. In 2009, I want you to be one of the few who do.” Pastor Furtrick’s church is one of the fastest growing churches in America.


Moreno Valley, we have a new mayor, Richard Stewart, and new mayor pro tem, Bonnie Flickinger. Mayor Stewart said that in 2009, the city will face some tough and challenging times. But if we follow the plan it will work, remember the big word “CHANGE.” We must change some things in order to get where we need to be. This is the time when we must really trust in what must be done. We must pray a lot but prayer without works is dead. Pray for your city and city officials and let’s go to work.  Moreno Valley and the Inland Empire, The Inland Empire Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Association will celebrate its first Annual Black Tie event themed: Heart of A Buffalo Soldier, Saturday February 14, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Hap Arnold Club located at 870 Adams Ave., Bldg. 110, March Air Reserve Base, Riverside. This celebration will be the unveiling of the construct plans for the Buffalo Soldier Memorial at the Riverside National Cemetery. Congress passed the Military Peace Act and the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs, Washington, D.C., gave the approval. There will be delicious food, and entertainment by One Plus One featuring Richard Mooring. There is a donation of $75.00 per person, $125.00 per couple or $500.00 per table of eight. The contact information is (951) 679–0577, 352–2367, 657–9585 or (909) 957–3982.

You must have a valid Driver’s License/registration and insurance to enter the base. Tickets are going fast. This would be a great Valentine’s night out and it is for a good cause. Your support is needed. Tell your friends.

Moreno Valley every Monday in January at Jason’s Deli located at 2555 S.  Canyon Springs Parkway from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Quick, Healthy, and Tasty a MOM’s dream come true! KIDS EAT FREE. Take your children out.

I recently read this about Gossip: “How many times do we say words, we wish we had not said? How many times? I dare not count, indeed my face turns a defiant color.  So many times – yes even today - I’ve hurt someone with words to spread such gossip all around. Then learned my children heard, we try to teach them of God’s love.  With prayers and things to do. But what they have heard me say is not the way that’s true, Lord, give me truth within my heart, more Christian love to spread, that my children over hear is what thou wouldst have said.” This is something I use to help me be careful as to what I say. We know God hears us but what if someone else hears me too. Always keep a laugh in your heart, because laughter is an instant vacation.

Be Blessed

Churches must safeguard their flock more closely -- Part 1 of 2

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Richard O. Jones
Con artists are continuously turning to the churches for endorsement by the preachers to exploit the congregation. The preachers apparently are so anxious to deliver a miracle that they fail to thoroughly investigate every snake oil salesman.  When the average businessperson is offered something that sounds too good to be true, they shy away. However, a preacher might not shy away and even thank God because even an unusual sounding deal might be a holy sign and he or she must demonstrate faith. Although scammers hit all church dominations, it seems to me that African-American churches are primary targets perhaps because they seem to be disproportionately awaiting miracles.

Is it my imagination or is the prosperity and/or expect a miracle message preached more often on Gospel television stations to African-American congregations? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good sermon as much as the next man but I can’t take much more of those ‘prayer cloths,’ and ‘miracle water,’ marketing ploys. When people are faithful without question and always in prayer for a financial miracle or blessing, it opens the door for scammers to walk right in and distract the pastor with heavenly visions while he or she fleeces the flock.  Pastors are supposed to be blessed with discernment not lead distracted by dollar signs.

Thousands of African-American church members lost their homes due to the crash in the economy. Just two weeks ago, a member of my church was in tears because she had lost her home through the subprime mortgage rip-offs that have swept the country. In the AME church, she is not alone. Other members of my church have friends and/or family members that lost their homes under similar circumstances. It amazes me that no one discusses the churches role in setting many of these firsttime homebuyers up with real estate utopia only to experience a crash landing.  Early in 2002, Countrywide Home Loans were beginning to sweep the nation with their sub-prime rate offers. I recall seeing brochures at my church advertising Countrywide Home Loans with a picture of Bishop John R. Bryant on the cover shaking hands with one of the White executives of Countrywide. In the brochure, Bryant made the following statement: “With a well-established membership of nearly 500,000 families throughout the western U.S., the 5th District AME Church is committed to helping our members better their lives in a variety of ways,” said Bishop John R. Bryant, presiding prelate of the 5th District. “In Countrywide, we have found a partner equally committed to educating our membership on the possibilities homeownership brings to them.”

In Need of Community Support

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My grandchild, Nadia Bell-Stowers, is a third year member of the John W. North BSR Performance Band here in Riverside, CA. My name is Brenda Moreno and I have full custody of Nadia and am what is considered a grandparent raising a child as many grandparents do these days.

Nadia is a very hard working committed student at North and has been given an opportunity to
go to China in April 2009 along with approximately 100 other students of John W. North High
School here in Riverside. The cost for each student - not including expenses for China is $2300.

Nadia is expected to raise this money through fundraising, sponsorship, from friends, family or
local businesses, etc, which she and I have attempted to do since August 2008.

With the tough economic times she has not been able to raise her portion and travel arrangements are being made in January, and she will not be able to go unless we are able to raise all the funds.

I have attempted to assist her in raising the funds, but to no avail. I have been quite ill since March 2008 as a result of two (2) heart attacks; we lost our home in the market crash that occurred this year, so I am truly unable to come up with the money. Our entire family nation-wide seems to have experienced some kind of trauma or other emergency during the
year 2008.

This is such a beneficial event for her and I am extremely proud of Nadia's accompishments ~
especially because of what she has gone thru in the past.This will an educational and musical opportunity of a lifetime for her.

She needs sponsors for the trip. 100% of the money given would be applied directly to her trip costs and expenses.

The John W. North High Blue Star Regiment (BSR) has the amazing opportunity to visit China
April 1-10, 2009. They will travel as official representatives of the city of Riverside to our sister city, Jiangmen, China. While in Jiangmen, they will stay with Chinese host families, attend
school with their host student, learn about Chinese culture, and put on musical performances for
the people of Jiangmen. In addition, they will tour Bejing, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City,
Tiananmen Square and Hong Kong on this 10-day adventure.

If you would be willing to sponsor her or get the word out to others so they can sponsor her - I
know she would be most grateful.

John W. North High School
 Blue Star Regiment China Trip - 2009,
 1550 Third Street, Riverside, CA

Eyes & Ears of Moreno Valley

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Juanita Barnes
Bishop Keith Butler wrote about a new beginning: “For A New Beginning, Forsake The World.” By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
Hebrews 11:23 (KJV) Do you want this new year to have some new beginnings? Then you have to forsake the world system. The world will bombard you with the easy way out. However, you have to decide that by faith in God’s way, it is the only way for you.

Where Dreams Soar

Moreno Valley and the Inland Empire we are still here to welcome the “Year Of Manifested Glory.” We have all endured some trying challenges this past year; some good and some  heartbreaking, but through it all “we made it.” We trusted God and he brought us through. We must stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize and remember what He promised. This last year we have seem some things (Barak Obama was elected President-Elect of the United States). We never thought we would see this in our lifetime, nor did we expect this. But God promised and his promise as the song says is nothing less than “YES.” You also know that the
year of 2009 is the year of judgment. I will speak more in depth at a later time on judgment.

The Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce will have this year’s first mixer on January 13, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. at their office on Alessandro Blvd. For more information contact them at (951)

Readers, let me leave you with this: I am so thankful that God has given me favor to be able to do what I do.


Let me shed a little light on someone’s path, I pray. I’d like to be a messenger of happiness today! It may be a phone call, a smile, a prayer, or a long neglected letter. I want to spread some happiness, in what I say or do. Make life a little sweeter for someone else.

Be Blessed

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