Music, testimonies serve local residents through the Real Love Community Festival | Presented

BRAWLEY – A day-long festival graced the vacant lot near Barbara Worth Junior High School here on Friday, April 21, as the first of what could become an annual event took place.

The Real Love Community Festival brought together 9 Christian hip-hop artists, 1 popular social media influencer (Mike Servin), 10 sponsors, and over 350 attendees at a local non-profit, Christian ministry to the homeless. Brawley’s first Feed The Need collaboration with born-again local “Joe Cross Hoods,” as a non-denominational Christian outreach to local youth.

Brawley Feed the Need CEO Rosalind Servin said the event was more of a “festival” than just a Christian concert because of the various outdoor activities, including graffiti, jumpers, children’s corner canvas painting, games, giveaways, free hairdressers, food vendors, and merchandise vendors and resource tables from various local and visiting Christian ministries.

“Brawley Feed the Need has been helping the homeless for almost 8 years now, and lately the Lord has been prompting me to continue to do so, but also to reach out to the youth and families with children,” Servin said in an interview with IVP on Sunday.

Servin said Brawley Feed the Need has been holding more family-oriented events in recent months, but this collaboration with local Joe Cross Hoods, whose real name is Jose Cruz Barrios, is the first time Feed the Need has put on an event of this magnitude. she said.

“What we were trying to do is look for opportunities to just encourage and reach people … It wasn’t necessarily to point them to specific churches, but to point them to God,” Servin said.

“Everybody needs and needs help in different areas, and we just want to show that Jesus is the answer to life’s problems and anything they may be going through,” Servin said, “and not just children, but young people as well adults, adults, and older people.”

Servin said that while the majority is Christian hip-hop, different styles of the genre are present in both English and Spanish.

“We just tried to make it really easy and fun,” she said.

“It was an event for people who didn’t know God, but also for people who already knew God,” Barrios said. “We really don’t have a lot of things like this going on in the Valley.”

Barrios, who is currently a Brawley resident and was born in Los Angeles and raised in Calexico, said he has held two similar events at two of the campuses of the church he attends, Christ Community Church.

For Barrios, the idea of ​​going through the entire festival was a way to give back to his community and to God after being caught in a destructive pattern earlier in his life.

“I was 8 years sober from drug addiction and I was homeless 8 years ago,” Barrios said. “I was out there on the street, talking to myself, I was in a very bad, very dark place. I was one of those guys you’d see on a bike with a backpack at any time of the night, addicted to drugs. I have been a criminal all my life.”

Barrios said that while he was on the verge of losing his mind, the only playlist he had of Christian music — music by a Christian rapper named “Sevin” — helped keep him alive.

“I was already losing my mind, talking to myself, demonically attacked, and this one playlist of Christian rap music was what kept me connected to God,” he said. “Eventually I went to rehab, got better and got closer to God.”

“So it was that music that made me leave the streets and get away from all the darkness that was out there,” Barrios said. “I felt it was something we needed in our community because of all the drugs, homelessness and gangs.”

“I used to sell drugs, but that’s not me anymore; I don’t want to poison the community like this anymore,” Barrios said. “That’s why we called it ‘True Love,’ because true love comes from God, and that’s why I now want to give back in a positive way.” This music saved me, so I wanted to give back to the community.”

Barrios said he and Feed the Need, with the help of their sponsors, were able to bring Christian artists from Dallas, Texas and other parts of Mexico and the southwestern United States to Brawley for the Community Festival.

“The whole idea is to try to share that light in these dark times and give the community an alternative to what the world offers and what the world gives in music,” Barrios said. “Everything you hear in music and TV is… I see it as dirt. That’s what sells, so that’s what they play; and it all affects our children.”

“Christian hip-hop is nothing but love, positivity and making a difference in ourselves and our communities,” Barrios said. “That music was my church because I didn’t go to church at the time.”

“A lot of people were blessed by the music and the testimonies (Friday),” Barrios said.

Servin said that, like Barrios, many of the artists are “good at it, coming up and talking to people,” sharing their personal testimonies of how God has touched their lives. She said that even though it was hot during the day, many people “stuck in” and continued to do their ministry during the event.

“You just saw a lot of people clustered and praying all day and evening,” Servin said. “We got a quick read, but it was great.”

Barrios also marveled at the fact that two people who testified shared how at one time they were in local rival gangs, literally at each other’s throats, trying to kill each other, but both have since come to God and “it was wonderful to see them embrace and share their testimony together,” peacefully, as brothers again in Christ.

“People were blessed through this event,” Barrios agreed. “I know I was blessed just making it happen.”

Both Barrios and Servin hope to continue these types of free community festival events in the future, they said, with Barrios hoping to incorporate other forms of Christian music to reach more Latinos, including outreach workers, through Christian genres such as corridos, banda, cerreño and mariachi.

“All this is to point people to God; we do share our testimonies, but most importantly we always give glory to God for what He has done for us,” Barrios said.

“People were blessed through this true love event,” he said.

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