By Aubrey Campbell
These days, Junior Alves exudes the persona of a changed human being. Cool, calm, collected and God-fearing, coming full circle and a far cry from a life of gangs, drugs and deportations that characterized the first 40 years of his life.
He now calls the quiet suburb of Coral Springs, just outside Fort Lauderdale, South Florida, home, which he shares with his beautiful, supportive wife Stacy Alves (nee Brown).
“It took me almost forty years (and nights) to comprehend my true identity. Growing up in one of the nation’s toughest inner-city, I did not have enough persons to guide me along. God has since spoken to me on how to be humble, even without nothing”.
Admitting that he has ‘been there, seen and done it all’ – guns, drugs, violence, crimes – the deacon is on a mission of mercy.
“If God can do it for me, helping me to overcome those obstacles, He will do it for you. Just allow Him into your life and trust Him,” he said.
Life’s journey for Junior, twice married and a father of seven, has been anything but ordinary. Growing up in a big family in Kingston City, Junior and family were living scared and afraid, having lost two older brothers to gun violence through gang warfare.
Wanting to change the social dynamic, the family ushered him off to nearby Clarendon. However, having witnessed that level of discord and instability at such a young age, Junior Alves was left him with some serious scars and a target on his back.
Towards the end of 1979, and while on his way to the township of May Pen, capital of Clarendon, he survived a deadly bus crash that left him with broken limbs and brain dead for some seven days. “I know I am a God-blessed child and that is not the way I was supposed to die,” recounted Junior, adding that the day before, while on his way from (Alston High) school, “God spoke to me”.
Now fully recovered from that trauma, he was sent back to Kingston and that’s when his mother sent him off to live with an aunt in Florida, USA, somewhere in the first quarter of 1982.
“Life in Florida was not for me then. I was a marked man, living in some fear for my life and livelihood.”
From Florida he went off to the northeastern metropolis, which would prove his undoing in short order.
“I was on the hustle too, in New York and Pennsylvania, but that did not work out either.”
He was ‘removed with malice’ from the USA in 1991. Convinced that it was a ‘set up’, with the help of family and friends, he was back (in Florida) on USA soil in that same year, determined to turn his life around. He went back to New York City where the complexities of family life would this time prove his undoing.
Constant conflict with the mother of his children again brought him face to face with law enforcement personnel and he was arrested, jailed and later deported a second time to Jamaica. While all of this was going on, he lost his mother and almost lost his left eye to a gunshot via gang violence.
Junior came back to Florida a changed man, not that he had any choice. Life on the streets of New York City and its environs was catching up with him, fast, and like so many before him, he sought refuge in the church.
“At this point, my life was transformed spiritually. God started speaking to me, again, and I went into the church life, full time, visiting neighborhood places of worship in South Florida and ministering to souls”.
That journey would prove to be a blessing for Junior, now Pastor Alves. It was while at the Moving Hands of God Ministry, in North Lauderdale, Florida, that he crossed path with Stacey, a Fort Lauderdale entrepreneur and a woman of God.
If Pastor Alves thought that it would be smooth sailing from here on, he was mistaken. He was now a man of God but the mother of four of his children was not about to let him out of her sight, without a fight…for child support!
In the summer of 2014, Alves was sentenced to 21 months in jail, not for child support but for illegal re-entry into the USA. He served his time in a Georgia Detention Center, Atlanta, and is a free man now and happy to tell his story to anyone willing to listen.
“The judge found favor with my story and showed compassion and today, I’m a free man, enjoying the love and support of my family and a beautiful, evolving relationship.”
Pastor Alves is on a mission. He already has an audience of 4,000 followers of his weekly ministry on Facebook.
On October 27, 2017, he married Stacey Brown on her birthday. She is the love of his adult life and the woman who he said, ‘stood by me and gave me reason to believe’.
No more shackled by a troubled past, Pastor Junior Alves is looking forward to a future, pregnant with possibilities, in the beautiful name of Jesus!