JOLIET – During the pre-walk prayer service at One Vision Worship Center in Joliet, its pastor Deon D. Hayes said, “This is a faith walk. Every step you take is for healing.”
As Hayes preached, volunteers passed out ribbons. Participants could add the names of people they knew that had cancer and leave them at the altar. That’s because Hayes believes asking God for healing is as important as treatments and procedures.
So that’s why this church’s first “Cancer Walk, by Faith,” 5K walk/run held June 28, had three goals: to pray for healing, to raise awareness of cancer’s devastation and to raise money for the Joliet Oncology-Hematology Associates Foundation for cancer patients.
Hayes said the event raised $4,500.
“I know heart disease is No. 1,” Hayes said, “but cancer is up there as one of the diseases attacking people in our community. It’s a disease that has affected members of my family. I’ve lost close friends to it. I have a member in my church going through it right now. I knew I had to do something.”
At the conclusion of the prayer service, Hayes prayed that God heal everyone affected by cancer: family, friends, co-workers and community members.” He then paused, looked out the crowd of children and adults and added, “OK, let’s go.”
As the walkers filed to the front door, Juan Harris of Joliet said he was walking for a relative, Caroline Jordan, who had died from breast cancer. Harris was planning to have fun, but he also was taking the faith slant seriously.
“I’m hoping for a miracle,” Harris said.
Lisa Bruton of Joliet, walk coordinator, said she was participating in memory of her sister Lavada Wright, who died from breast cancer. If the prayers didn’t cure people, Bruton hoped their donations might ease some financial distress.
“My sister had bill collectors calling her. Her car was repossessed,” Bruton said. “She explained what was going on, but no one cared. When people are battling cancer and fighting for their lives, this should be the last thing they’re worried about.”
Eric Brooks of Joliet, one of the worship musicians, said a number of his relatives – including his grandmother – have died from cancer. To honor them, as well as support anyone with cancer, Brooks brought his two children – Aria, 6 and Eric, 3 – to participate with him.
“I’m just excited to be here,” Brooks said.
About 300 people left the church at 10 a.m. to walk to One Vision Worship Center’s former location on Theodore Street and then back to the church, Hayes said. Many of the attendees belong to the church but the event also attracted members from the community.
People paid a $25 registration fee to enter, Hayes said. In return, each person received a T-shirt and a water bottle. Everyone was encouraged to solicit additional donations, he added. Hayes did not set a monetary goal because the walk was not just about raising money, although he hoped to generate enough to positively impact the JOHA Foundation.
“I want to see people healed,” Hayes said. “I want people associated with anyone of this walk to be healed from cancer.”
As a musician, songwriter and music producer, Hayes said he never saw his career blossom until he realized his true calling was to pastor a church. He began One Vision Worship Center in 2006, which initially met in a Joliet hotel. The church now meets at 2701 W. Jefferson St., Joliet.
One hundred people attended the first service, Hayes said, and the church has continued to grow from there. About 500 people belong, with about 400 in attendance on Sunday mornings.
Hayes sees One Vision Worship Center as “the hospital of the city.” Meaning Hayes feels it’s his mission to help the sick, whether the illness is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or financial.
“I have experienced hurt in my life,” Hayes said, “and only people that have been hurt can help hurting people.”
For information about One Vision Worship Center, call 815-725-9939 or visit onevisionworshipcenter.org