Pastor Lilieth Richards was born and raised in a very religious environment in Kingston, Jamaica. She moved to the United States and continued her true calling to minister and serve God's people by starting Restoration Outreach Center International [ROCI] Pentecostal Ministry.
ROCI recently celebrated their one-year anniversary with a well-attended three-day celebration at their headquarters at the Genesis Enterprise Center. “We had a packed house and I believe a lot of people were impressed with what they saw,” Richards says.
“Right now, we are very young and we are just trying to focus on the ministry, but in the future we really want to reach out to the community and youths at large even more,” adds Richards in an interview with The Madison Times at the ROCI Pentecostal Ministry home in the Genesis Enterprise Center on Madison’s south side. “As we grow, we would like to do events and have barbeques and walk the community in our t-shirts and tell people who we are. I have a lot of ideas that we do back home [in Jamaica] that we want to implement here to help the community.”
Richards was a member at Vessel of Praise for 8 years under the leadership of Bishop Charles McNair and was a part of their Praise and Worship Team. She has been a writer, singer, and producer in the music industry since 1994. In October of 2008, Richards became a full-fledged member of End Time Ministries International under the leadership of Bishop Godfrey A. Stubbs. There, she was a leader of the Praise Team, Director of Friday Nights' Shut-In and the Prayer Ministry, as well as assisting in other roles as directed by Stubbs.
“We are still good friends with Pastor Stubbs and he helped us plan our first-year anniversary,” Richards says. “He oversees a lot of what we do. He has a lot of expertise and experience.”
The idea for ROCI came to Richards in a vision. “One day I was in prayer and the Lord began to lead me to a different place,” Richards says. “He began to show me where he wanted to take me to. I had been asking the Lord about all of the things that I wanted to do to help in the community. The Lord gave me the vision and the mission.”
Richards met her future minister, Maxine Gayle-Winch, at Copps Food Store on Fish Hatchery Road.
“I was working there and she came to shop there and I realized that she was from Jamaica,” says Gayle-Winch. “And we soon hit it off.”
“We were both members of End Time Ministries and I saw her at the church and when I told her about my vision [for a new ministry], she said that she would like to come because she also has something to give,” Richards adds.
“I told her that whatever your vision is, I’m right there with you,” Gayle-Winch says. “I made a promise and I always keep my promises. When she was ready to start, I was right there. In Jamaica, we take our religion very seriously.”
The two together help to give the ministry a certain Caribbean flavor that you won’t find anywhere else in Madison. Is there a chance if I come to a ROCI function that I would be able to get some delicious Jamaican food?
“Just let us know when you are coming,” Gayle-Winch smiles. “We’ll have it ready.”
Richards was brought up in the church from an early age as her mother was a pastor in Kingston, Jamaica. She was a member at the Headquarter Church and, she says, she was called by God to assist her mother with her own ministry at the age of 13 years old.
On July 3, 2011, she answered God’s calling by starting her own ministry at the Sheraton Hotel. In four months, they would soon relocate to the Genesis Enterprise Center. “It’s fine here… we like it a lot, except a lot of people don’t know we’re here,” she says. “We hope to change that.”
The schedule is pretty busy at ROCI Pentecostal Ministry. On Saturdays, they have a Praise and Worship Rehearsal from 5-6 p.m., a New Membership Class from 6-7 p.m., and a Prayer Meeting from 7-8 p.m. On Sundays, there is Sunday School from 10:30-11 a.m. and then Morning Worship from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“My son, Brandon Spence, who is 14 years old and goes to [Madison] La Follette [High School] teaches the Sunday School and is doing a great job,” Richards says. “We as adults sit back and listen to him because we have to give the youth a chance.”
On Wednesdays, there is Fasting and Prayer from noon-1 p.m. and Bible Study from 6-7 p.m. “On Fridays, we have youth fellowship and youth services and do a lot of different activities and have different discussions,” Richards says. “We also have a project that we started in April called the ROCIKIDZ outreach afterschool program.”
The ROCIKIDZ is an afterschool program geared towards children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a nonprofit organization that serves and meets the needs of youth with learning needs, behavioral needs, and behavioral problems after their regular school hours. They work with youths ages 8-17 years old Monday through Friday.
“We help them with their homework, we do activities with them, we give them some attention, and help them with their math and reading and help them with their behavior,” Richards says of ROCIKIDZ. “We keep them occupied. We give them a snack when they come in. But we need more funding to keep it going.”
ROCI is always looking for the generosity of donations as they help kids develop the skills that will be useful to them throughout their lives.
“We base our mission on focusing on what we do for the people because we realize a lot of people are struggling here in Madison and some of them have not seen the vision that they can be delivered,” Richards says. “I believe if they begin to come to church and read the Bible and get counseling that they will be more motivated to change their lives in a positive direction.
“We have a lot of ideas for programs and counseling — the youths especially,” she adds. “We will make sure that they get involved in the community. Once they grow and develop, they will return and be mentors to help others. That’s how it is supposed to be.”
One year in, ROCI Ministries has plans to continue to grow, but their mission remains the same.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know how to live the right life — a life that is pleasing to God. What we’re trying to do is to preach holiness and righteousness and to make a difference in people’s lives,” Richards says.
To learn more about ROCI Pentecostal Ministry, please visit www.rocibreakthrough.org. They are located at 313 W. Beltline Highway, Suite 161.
For more information, call (608) 770-4645.