On July 5, LIVE FREE East St. Louis hosted a Community Prayer in memory of 14-year-old Kyeiontae Stidimire who was killed by gunfire near his home at the John DeShields Homes. The prayer action was led by Pastor Larita Rice-Barnes.
“I just want to say that as a clergy person and as a pastor that our hearts have been with John De Shields for quite some time, and we have been walking and working to help reduce violence here in John De Shields,” Rice-Barnes said.
Clergy and Community leaders were asked to join. Stidimire’s mother and two daughters were present and directly prayed over.
“One of our missions specifically with LIVE FREE is to make our presence known in the community, to stand in solidarity with the residents and to be a presence so that we can help deter violence and we can advocate for resources,” Rice-Barnes said.
Pastor Luke Jenkins of Love Fellowship, DeShields Robinson Community Center Site Director Yolanda Moody, and Alexandra Graham with the Griffin Center afterschool program were guest speakers and prayed over the community as well. Pastor Jenkins prayed for God’s presence to sweep through the neighborhood and mend the hearts of families and individuals throughout the community.
Out of the 300 kids that Graham worked with, she said she remembered Stidimire.
“When I lost my daughter, and I came back to work after about two months, Kyeiontae was one of the first kids that met me and told me he know I believe in God, so I got to know that she lives forever,” Graham said.
A youth group was present wearing shirts that had “Can I Live?” written on them with a symbol of a gun cancelled out by a red symbol. The proceedings ended in a mass prayer led by Elder Suzy Douglas.
“We are advocating and standing for hope,” Rice-Barnes said. “We are advocating and standing for justice.”