The Saturday Praise in the Park event gathered many locals to Lion’s Park with a picnic setting of food, lawn chairs, children playing, music and testimonies. There was a generous turnout of musicians and speakers from the Fernley area, many of which had roots to Hawthorne.
With the opening of music, presented by a Fernley band called the Living Faith Praise Team, many in the crowd sang along to well-known lyrics while greeting one another casually and participating in the relaxed venue. Speaker Toni Patterson was invited to share her story by the evenings host, Myra Corwin. Patterson shared about her intimate conversion with God, after a life of low self-esteem and decisions that led her into prison due to drugs. With a new surrender in her life she is now in ministry to help others.
Patterson stated, “It took me two years into my five year prison sentence just to think clearly. Up until then things were hazy, my body was still contaminated, I blamed other people for life’s mistakes, I had anger and hate inside and I wasn’t ready to own up or straighten up.”
Patterson spoke of learning human love through her children, not even realizing the risks she had put them or her grandchildren through during those days of drug induced existence. Today she is grateful to God that her children were kept safe from harm during those dark days.
Pastor Matt McCreary from the Living Faith Fellowship Church of Fernley briefly welcomed everyone attending and gave a reminder that many run from what God wants them to do, but some run faster and farther before submitting their lives over.
A final speaker, Pastor Rebecca Harrison, once Rebecca Parker, spoke fondly of Hawthorne being her birthplace where she was born again. She pointed to a home across the street sharing that her and her first husband began their family there. She spoke of local church mentors and memories within Hawthorne, then expressed the long journey she experienced while in and out of ministry. After planting churches and being heavily involved in the ministry in Nevada, an accidental death of her 19 year old son in 2009 sent her into an emotional tailspin which slowly deteriorated her entire world. This devastation included every area of ministry, her marriage, her relationship with her youngest son and she watched as many lives were destroyed around her.
“I tried to escape it all by running to Texas, but it just followed me there. I tried to ignore the Bible’s words and comfort of God, but it remained deep inside me. The abandonment I had created was too much to deal with, so I tried to ignore help – even avoided grief counseling. My message today is one word, which is restoration. It took an investment of hope, energy, time and a new path but my life has been restored by the grace of God.”
Harrison is now the leader at The Right of Passage in Yerington, sings at churches and events, acts as a liaison and chaplain for the women housed at the Lyon County Jail system and remains involved in the release aspects of inmates.
Harrison stated that being a prodigal changes the outlook on life in tremendous ways.