The Vitalytes on a mission for God
Picture this: two young men patrolling the streets of their respective communities and adjoining areas as members of gangs and later ending up being detained for participation in criminal activities. Then picture them years later as Christians, on fire for God, spreading the word through their ministry.
This total transformation is the reality of Akeem 'Kavital' Anderson and Rayon 'Acolyte' Harvey, the two who formed the group, 'Vitalyte', and became top 10 finalists in the JCDC Gospel song competition and winners of the Best Lyrical Content segment.
Anderson, who is from the Top Bellfield, Banana Ground, area in the parish, told Family and Religion that after his mother died, life for him, initially, was about living without much care.
"I grew up in a good home and had to go to church. My mother was a single mother who raised four kids, but she had a heart condition and later died."
After his mother's death Anderson had all the freedom in the world and he made all the wrong choices.
"My father was overseas and I had no contact with him because he was there illegally, but when that changed and we were finally talking, I had already gone down the wrong path. Wouldn't say I was a bad boy, but I knew bad boys. Me drink and me smoke and me have me girl dem."
Anderson soon found himself in an institution for juvenile delinquents after an altercation with a community bully.
"I went to a football match one day, and as I was heading home in the night, I saw this guy who was always bullying me. He was in the car (that I was in) as well and he started making some remarks and telling me what I should do with my dead mother. I returned those words. Him slap me in a me face and there was an altercation when we reached the community. He attacked me and I had a knife on me which I used to stab him."
Anderson said he was charged for wounding and was sent to an institution for juvenile delinquents. However, his attacker died within five months of him being charged and Anderson was later taken to jail, as his charge had moved up to murder.
"It wasn't my fault why he died: he had got an infection after the surgery. I spent three weeks in jail and eight years going to court before I was cleared."
Having been vindicated, one would think Anderson would have turned his life around, but he found himself scamming to get by.
"I did it for a while, but then I realised it wasn't working out. I was missing my mother and I knew this wasn't the life for me."
He had a conviction one day while he was alone.
"I was there talking to myself, questioning the life I have been living and I heard a voice say 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added onto you'. Me just let go and me just decide say me a go church."
Now a member of the Generation's Church, for the past two years, Anderson said he would have it no other way.
"There is a feeling of warmth and love, the people were just friendly and genuine, the pastor doesn't talk down to you. He teaches the Word."
Anderson explained that God has taken him from the slum to heights he never thought he would reach.
"God has given me a better paying job. The people who used to hate me because they forgot what the guy had done to me and only remembered what I did, some are telling me how proud they are of me, some are asking me to help them get jobs and even the guy's mother has told me she is proud of me and wants me to continue on the same path. Me watch God take me up from off a the ground and put me up high above all my circumstances. Me nuh even walk and hol' down me head again," Anderson expressed.
Rayon Harvey's story
For Rayon Harvey, growing up in Greenvale without a father, being around a mother whose presence wasn't felt and needing more from a grandmother, who could give so much and no more, were reasons that led him into gang membership.
"I had this void in my life that needed to be filled and I turned to gangs, walk up and dung with guns. It wasn't something that I wanted to do, but I ended up there."
Harvey, who was always accused of smoking, but never indulged in the act up to that time, decided to take up the offer one night while at a bar with his cousins. It was here that his change for the better slowly began.
"I was there smoking drinking and having a good time. I wasn't drunk, nor was I high, but after a while, I felt my body drifting, it was almost like an attack from the devil. I knew everything that I was doing, but I had no control over it, I started shouting 'the blood of Jesus'. I had an out-of-body experience that was shocking. I stood there in the bar looking at my body. I was taken to the hospital and I told my aunt, after I came around, that I needed to be in church."
Harvey, who surrendered his life to God five years ago, said early in his Christian walk, he had moments of weakness but has no regrets renouncing his life as a thug.
"It was after an accident with my cousin and me that I became firm in my conviction. The car fell on him and he died and I came out of the accident without a bruise. I went to the hospital and after being there for a while, I left with blood all over my clothes and went straight to church."
He continued, "Since then, I have a love and peace and joy that is unspeakable. God saved me for a purpose," said the member of Faith Claim Ministries.
Having released singles, independently, these two brothers in Christ, who have been friends since high school, are allowing the Lord to use them to do His will; inspiring one life at a time.