Every Sunday night in the parking lot of 17th and Grace Streets in Richmond, VA, you’ll catch a glimpse of heaven on earth. The promise of every type of people and tongue gathered to proclaim the glory of God is foretold in Revelation. Yet that promised reality—of a beautifully diverse, radically different, inexplicably mixed group of people—is hard to find most Sundays in the here and now. But not so on the corner of 17th and Grace.
In a parking lot, each week gather suburban church-goers and well-educated professionals with drug addicts, prostitutes, and the homeless. Black, white, and tan hands—needle-scarred and manicured hands—all reach toward heaven in praise and around each other in support. “Jesus is our common ground,” says Fred Weymouth, the shepherd of the ministry. But this picture of heaven—this taste of the peace that is yet to come—didn’t come easy. It came through death.
I Asked God to Let Me Die
Lying behind a gas station dumpster in New Kent County, Weymouth had asked God to let him die. He no longer wanted to live the way he’d been living, and the only way out he could see was to die. Strung out on heroin with nowhere to go, he ended up on the streets. Jobs and relationships closed as addiction took over. Over the years, he walked in and out of nine rehab facilities, and nothing seemed to work. Eventually, he found himself in jail. And there, God answered his prayer—he died.
Crucified with Christ
“I just went to kill time,” Weymouth confesses of going to Pastor Jim Pulling’s church service at the jail (Pulling is the pastor of Journey Christian Fellowship II in Williamsburg). But as he went, Weymouth became curious as to what made Pulling tick. “I could tell he really believed what he was saying,” Weymouth recalls. “And he wouldn’t stop either. The guards always had to tell him to wrap up.” Weymouth’s curiosity about Pastor Pulling’s bold faith led him to open up a Bible for the first time. “I opened the Bible one night in my jail cell, and I haven’t put it down since.”
The truth of that statement is apparent with any time spent with Fred Weymouth. His conversation is saturated with principles and passages from Scripture. “Faith comes by hearing,” he quotes upon thinking of listening to Pastor Pulling. Evident in Weymouth’s life is the passage, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Galatians 2:20, NIV, 1984). God answered Weymouth’s prayer. He died. He died to himself and to sin. And now, by the power of God, he lives in Christ and by faith.
In Christ, By Faith
By faith, Weymouth went back to the places where he once lived as a homeless addict. For over a year, he talked, walked, and prayed as he earned the trust of his previous community. Soon, a handful of men joined him under the canopy of an outdoor farmers’ market for a Tuesday night street Bible study. Not too long after that, a newfound pastor friend encouraged him to begin preaching. And so, by faith, he did. “God uses the foolish of the world to confound the wise,” Weymouth muses when thinking of his calling. First Corinthians is a favorite of his, as it speaks of God’s transformative power over addictive strongholds in a city.
Now, after about two years of ministry, a group of over 50 faithfully meet each week to feast on the Bible and share a meal. When asked about what God has done, Weymouth gets emotional. “We’ve seen several men come to Christ,” he chokes out. “Lives are being changed.” Once while Weymouth was preaching, a man got up from the crowd and emptied his pockets of heroin and needles. “He put it right before me and said he was done. Glory to God. Glory to God.”
Jesus Is the Fix
Fred Weymouth and his wife, Casey, have added to their ministry and now operate a recovery center called The Fix. Persons seeking recovery in Christ can join The Fix for the next steps of counseling, housing, job training, and discipleship. When asked about the name, Casey and Fred smile and say, “Because Jesus is The Fix.”
“Nothing worked for me until I found Jesus,” Fred Weymouth proclaims. “He’s The Fix.”
So if you happen to be in Richmond one Sunday night, don’t be alarmed if you see a large crowd gathered on the corner of 17th and Grace. It’s just a foretaste of what’s to come—transformed lives from all walks of life giving glory to God.
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