Tell me a little bit about the history of The Aim… what is it, what is the vision behind it, and where did that idea come from?
Jeremy: It was put on my heart to have something in Okmulgee county for the kids. There was not much in the way of positive entertainment for them. It was in the “dream process” for a while and then, God opened doors where I met Jay, being a youth pastor, he was on board with the vision of a Christian music venue.
Since both of us had a love for the breakdowns of heavy metal it was just natural that the music we would be serving up was Christian heavy. The first place we opened the doors was in a bar turned church, where I was the youth pastor. Our first show was an “out of school bash” for Preston Public Schools. The two bands were “Tiger Eye Lily” now known as Estellaway; and “After 8” now known as Capital Lights. We were there for 6 months before we outgrew the building which led to the Aim being where it is now that was also formerly a bar.
Jay: We were searching for venue names and my brother suggested The Aim. So I looked it up. The dictionary says the word Aim means: to direct a weapon or to direct a purpose. So we went with this and took our mission statement from it. Which is: Music is our weapon. Love is our purpose.
Our main goal is to love everyone. We use music to bring them in and while they are here for a few hours we do our best to show the love of Christ to them.
What do you do aside from The Aim?
Jeremy: I’m 100% disabled veteran and a youth evangelist for the Assemblies of God churches.
Jay: I work full time doing CAD drafting for a company in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I am a part time youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Preston, Oklahoma.
While I was out there, you told me a little bit about how blessed you guys have been to put the venue together, can you re-iterate some specific examples of things that the Lord has provided – perhaps miraculously – to make The Aim a reality? (Jeremy had mentioned a lot of donations with cooling/sound/art/etc…)
Jeremy: We received a brand new $4,700.00 heat/air system from Lightner Heat and Air.
Robbie McClure, youth pastor at the Bridge AG church in Mustang, OK, has given us a lot of sound equipment.
Greg, Chris, and Robert from Newspring Family Church have given microphones and sound equipment.
Doug Everard donated over 1,400 books of hope bibles.
We’ve received money donations from numerous people, as well as time donations from many others, including my wife Toni, Brian Ramsey, Keith Cox, Kim Carter, Mary and Buddy Stephens, and my two boys Tyler and Gauge.
Jay: Yeah, it was strange. Things kept happening; pieces kept falling into place kind of like a puzzle. Whenever we need something, it just shows up. Many many people donated things to help us out.
Jeremy already mention most but I want to thank my mother, Julie Roberds and my sister Rachel Roberds for helping out a lot in the beginning, 2 awesome graffiti artist, Brian Hampton & TABU painted our walls up for us. Everyone’s help has been a huge blessing.
You mentioned that you and Jay have a specific heart for accommodating Strikefirst/Facedown bands – why? Are there any bands in particular that you guys have been most excited about getting through Okmulgee?
Jeremy: We love supporting bands with a mission and a vision. The most exciting bands for me have been; ‘White Collar Side Show’,’ Wrench in the Work’s, ‘Plea for Purging’, ‘For Today’ and ‘Before the was Rosalyn ‘. Every time these bands come through we were totally encouraged and blessed.
Jay: We have noticed that every Facedown band that has come through is very legit. By that I mean they are real. They all have hearts like Christ. They all have love for people and you can see it in their actions.
One time For Today came through, after the show, the entire band and I gather around jeremy and prayed over him for his arm. A lot of other bands are really willing or ready to do things like that.
I’ve also seen numerous members of Facedown bands ministering to kids off stage and as Christian venue owners this is exactly what we are looking for.
We also support all Solid State bands and we love them just as much.
Were you involved in the music industry before you started running The Aim? When did you guys “come to the Lord” (a little bit of “Christianese” there) and how did that happen? Tell me a little bit about each of your testimonies/backgrounds, if you would…?
Jeremy: Nope, I can’t even lip sync! I was saved in June of 2000 after a heavy demonic and occultist background, most of which had to do with the music I listened to and was influenced by.
Jay: Jeremy and I have very different backgrounds.
I was saved in 1988 and I have been in the church ever since. I started playing guitar in my teens. I played in church for 4 or 5 years, and then I went to college and played in the OSU/Okmulgee BSU praise band for three years. It was there my friend PIK introduced me to Christian Metal. And apparently I liked it.
After leaving college I went to a different church and played in the praise band there for a few years. I am now the current youth pastor of this church and I have been for the past three years.
When I used to help run promotions in ABQ, one of the coolest things about our concerts was seeing the community of musicians and show-goers build up in the scene… What was the scene like before you guys were there? Have you been privileged to see this happen in Okmulgee?
Jeremy: There was no scene before we were here; if you wanted to see anything or do anything you had to go to the nearest “bigger city” which is Tulsa. We have been definitely privileged to see this in Okmulgee. Where there was nothing, there is now. We’re getting to have an influence as well as get to know the youth of the community.
Jay: Yeah, there was no scene at all, we had to build it. The first year was very rough but we kept pushing, kept moving forward. Things really exploded when we started to get bigger bands in.
How has putting this plan into motion with the venue tested/tried and built up/refueled your faith? Can you describe some ways in which you’ve seen God at work in your ministry that really stand out to you?
Jeremy: It has shown me that God can use anybody who is willing. God has somebody for everybody. We don’t look like the usual youth pastors and, we reach the unusual kids.
Jay: This is a lot different than working in a church. Usually in a church setting, the existing system is already set up, in place and running effectively. So you just jump in and go with the flow, add minor changes here and there to hopefully get better results…
However the aim was started 100% from scratch. We had to boot strap and get it all together costing Jeremy and I a lot of our own dollars. So we learned to rely in God and we learned to trust in God to provide.
We have had many people walk up to us and just hand us money. We once had an envelope with money in it shoved under our door.
I once had a band (Love Begotten), come back to me and give the money back I had just paid them for playing. They said they wanted to invest into the aim.
I met a kid at the aim, invited him to my church and a few months later he went to Falls Creek, a church camp, with us and he got saved. I heard a few girls got saved in the parking lot one night.
There are many things that happen that show us God is moving.
What is the most rewarding part about running The Aim?
Jeremy: When the kids who you know are having a hard time in their life, whether it be at home, school, or anything else calls or texts for us to pray for them. We have a prayer request box inside, so the kids can write down their prayer requests for us. And after it’s over, we split the requests to take home and pray for each one.
Jay: Two things I can think of. One is seeing lives changed. I remember the last time For Today played. After the show, Maddie had a line of ten or so kids waiting for him to pray over them. It was an awesome thing to see.
The second is building relationships. I’ve met so many cool Christian guys from LA all the way to New York. It’s cool to meet a random stranger and know we have that affinity, the presence of Christ living within us. It’s just a really neat experience.
This is rather long-winded, but I’m going to go for it: I was a part of a church for a while that really stressed “outreach, inreach and upreach.” Obviously The Aim has been a great outreach tool, and the majority of bands that you bring through have shown a good amount of upreach (worship). What I am interested to know is, as youth pastors in a church culture where the stereotype for metal/hardcore music is not exactly viewed as highly as Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin, have you seen your ministry positively affect Christians, as well? One of the coolest things for me is to be able to share with my parents or persons with a more conservative bent the fact that Christians can worship through metal/hardcore. So the second part of my question is: as youth pastors, how have your churches and members either supported and embraced and/or shown distaste for your vision in this?
Jeremy: That’s still a work in progress, the younger generation mostly loves it but, the older generation doesn’t understand it for the most part and are a little scared but, we’re still praying that it comes around. We don’t have to reach everyone with it but, the ones that the Aim is directed towards its hitting the mark.
Jay: That’s tough. The unfortunate truth is we get a lot of disapproval from churches because we allow metal music. We are in a highly “religious” area and a lot of the old timers just don’t get it and so they do not support us. That’s fine with us thought; we did not ever expect them too. We knew that God would provide. He did and He continues to provide today.
What are the future plans for this ministry? It was mentioned that you guys might have plans/hopes to work on a string of Aim venues… can you go into the how and the why of that possibility?
Jeremy: We would love to have more venues. We have enough equipment that has been donated by Robby McClure, we just don’t have the financial resources put it together yet.
Jay: Well I also book bands through my booking agency called Shine Bright Entertainment. I have done a few shows in surrounding cities. Hopefully I’ll do a lot more in the future.
Our goals are different than most. Most business goals are to add things or to increase revenue, etc… Our goals are to love people. Our goals are to pass out bibles. Our goals are to reach those whom the “church” is not reaching.
Our main goal whether it is at the aim or somewhere else is to spread the love of Jesus.
In the past three years we have given out over 1,400 bibles.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add? Anything on your heart that you’d like to share that I have not addressed?
Jeremy: We would like to thank the local bands who have stuck through the empty times, Remains of Yesterday, Hail the Blessed Hour, From the Upright, The Overseer and Shag Harbor. They would play if there was only one person to share with. I would also like to thank my beautiful, Godly, smoking, cute wife Toni, who is absolutely awesome and Jay who has prayed, and shown wisdom, and stuck right here with me.
Jay: I want to say thanks to anyone who has ever helped the aim.
To the young readers I say – Dream the impossible dream, go where the brave will not go. Go where the Christian will not go to reach the unloved. There is a world of unloved people out there and God has given us all the ability and strength to love them.
To anyone struggling, I say – Those clouds up there are just clouds. The sun is always shining. So move those clouds with your faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Faith does not loose. Faith does not fail. All that matters is faith expressing itself through love. So shine bright please, my friends.
How can we, here at the magazine or readers at home, be praying for you guys as you continue in this endeavor?
Jeremy: Wisdom and Blessings.
Jay: That we will have the strength to endure and to love the people no one else will.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me.
Jeremy: Thank you so much for giving us your time and this awesome opportunity.
Jay: Thanks Levi, hope to see you back in the aim soon! And visit us online: www.myspace.com/theaimmusicvenue
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