Messengers: Portraits of African American Ministers, Evangelists, Gospel Singers and Other Messengers of the Word.

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9780385513951: Messengers: Portraits of African American Ministers, Evangelists, Gospel Singers and Other Messengers of the Word.

Beautifully designed and featuring stunning black-and-white photographs, this moving book will appeal to fans of Crowns and to Christians of all denominations and colors who seek a deeper understanding of the meaning and the glories of their faith.
David Ritz recently embraced Christianity, and Messengers is a tribute to the people who awakened his personal faith and to others, both famous and unknown, whose words—sometimes set to music—have inspired millions of believers. The gifted photographer Nicola Goode contributes glowing portraits of each of them.
The messengers are an extraordinarily diverse group: women and men; ministers and musicians; singers and teachers; preachers known throughout the world and preachers known only in their neighborhoods. There are stories and reflections from Bishop Noel Jones (brother of Grace); Harlem’s own Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts; Rev. Peter J. Gomes of Harvard; gospel mega-stars Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Winans, Smokey Norful, and Candi Staton; Christian life coach Dr. Arlene Churn; Dr. Mable John, a Los Angeles evangelist and former backup vocalist for Ray Charles; Chris Burge, a former Wall Street executive salesman who is saving souls in New York City and is also now a well known author; and a Washington, D.C., pastor who also runs a window-washing business. In voices joyful, clear, and strong, these mighty men and women of God convey messages of faith, love, and hope addressed directly to the heart.
CONTRIBUTORS:

Dr. Mable John—SATURATE THE HOUSE WITH PRAISE

Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes—ENNOBLING, ENABLING, POWERFUL

Smokie Norful—A TEACHABLE HEART

Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry—I HAVE HEARD THE VOICE OF GOD AND I WILL ANSWER HIM

Pastor Jesse Andrus—JESUS IS ABOUT CHANGE

Dr. Arlene Churn—WALKING EPISTLES

Reverend Calvin Butts—CRY OUT TO HIM IN PAIN

Reverend Elliott Greene—THE MYSTERY OF HISTORY

Candi Staton—HE’S NO FARTHER THAN A THOUGHT AWAY

Pastor Reginald T. Johnson, Jr.—TURN, TURN, TURN

Chris Burge—THE BEAUTIFUL BUSINESS OF DOING GOD’S WILL

The Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.—MY JOB IS TO PROCLAIM HIM

Pastor Willette A. Burgie—JESUS MEETS US WHEREVER WE ARE

Pastor Marvin L. Winans—HE IS THE SONG

Bishop Alice Pope—I AM A SERVANT
Reverend Altagracia Perez—ENCOMPASSED IN TRANQUILITY

Bishop Noel Jones—GOD IS SETTING YOU UP: SITUATIONS FOR REVELATIONS

Reverend Georgia Hill Thompson—THE IRRESISTIBLE PULL

Kirk Whalum—SACRED FOUNTAIN OF CREATIVE BEAUTY

Reverend Anthony Trufant—TURN OUR EYES INTO EARS

Pastor Jackie McCullough—THE LOVER OF OUR SOUL, THE HONEY IN THE ROCK

Pastor Donnie McClurkin—DELIVERANCE AND RECONCILIATION

Kirk Franklin—HEALED AND SEALED IN GRACE

Bishop Kenneth Ulmer—BUILDING CHAMPIONS FOR DIVINE DEPLOYMENT

Patrick Henderson—PRAISING GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE, WORSHIPPING HIM FOR WHO HE IS

“ . . . he who receives and welcomes and takes into his heart any messenger of mine receives me.” —John 13:20 (Amplified Bible)

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About the Author:

DAVID RITZ, coauthor of Howling at the Moon, is the only four-time winner of the Ralph J. Gleason/Music Books Award for Best Music Book of the Year. He has written biographies of Marvin Gaye and jazz singer Jimmy Scott, and coauthored the autobiographies of Ray Charles, BB King, Aretha Franklin, and other entertainers. He lives in Los Angeles, California. NICOLA GOODE, born and raised in Los Angeles, received her B.F.A. in photography from Yale University. A member of the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers, Nicola has worked on numerous feature films and documentaries. Her work has been published in magazines and books and has been exhibited in galleries around the world. When she is not elsewhere, she can be found in Los Angeles with her husband and two-year-old son, Dylan.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

SATURATE THE HOUSE WITH PRAISE

Dr. Mable John

It happened onstage in Birmingham, Alabama. I was a Raelette, a background vocalist for my friend Ray Charles. We were singing "What'd I Say." Near the end of the song, Ray sings, "Baby, let's go home," and the Raelettes answer, "Yes, let's go home." While singing those words I was suddenly jolted by a voice saying, "Go home, Mable. I have something for you to do." The voice was clear as day. I looked around, but no one was there. I realized I had heard the voice of God.

That voice led me home to God. That voice also led me to leave the field of popular music and study God's Word. I studied for a solid decade. Learned Greek to read the original-language Bible, earned a Ph.D. from UCLA in counseling, graduated from an accredited school of ministry.

Then the Lord spoke again: "I'm not sending you to Beverly Hills to minister to the rich. I'm sending you to the streets to feed the poor." So I set up a ministry in a big house in South Central Los Angeles, where we prayed every morning at 5 a.m. and studied the Word every day at noon. Once a week we fed the hungry. "When's the next feeding?" asked a man who'd arrived a day late. "Next Tuesday," I said. "Next Tuesday," he said, "I may be dead." His statement grieved my spirit until my ministry expanded to more frequent feedings. We witnessed miracles. Four crack houses operating down the street suddenly shut down. Drug dealers vanished. Worshippers appeared. We stopped people from picking food out of dumpsters and invited them to our table. We clothed hundreds of families. But when the house was burglarized, I knew I had to move. And, sure enough, the voice of God returned, repeating the words I had heard that night onstage: "Go home, Mable."

So my home became my church. My home became the physical center of my faith. My home and my heart and the heart of God dwelled in the same place. Jesus took up residence in my home. Volunteers arrived. Over Thanksgiving and Christmas, blessings arrived. We fed thousands. We clothed thousands. On Sunday mornings, we sang songs and I spoke of my love for the Lord. That love--that gratitude and appreciation of His grace--deepens with every year.

I'm grateful for the experience of my past. When I started out, I wanted everything my way. I was in a hurry. I was interested in accomplishment and knew little about patience. As a young woman in Detroit, I was minister of music for the state of Michigan. Outside of music, I worked as a registered nurse. Then Berry Gordy, founder of Motown, signed me as the first female solo artist on his new label. Later, along with Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes, I made records for the Stax label, a pioneer in the field of sixties soul music. I wrote hit songs. But as I moved through life, as I discovered my need for God and admitted my helplessness to operate without him, my attitude changed. My patience deepened. I learned to talk to the Father and take my problems to prayer. I learned that prayer strengthens me. I learned that God has the answers; that prayer lets Him feed those answers to my heart; that when you serve a living God, faith is your constant friend; that no challenge is too big for the Lord; no burden too great, no grief too deep.

Not long ago, my mother, sister, and two of my sons passed away, all within ten months. A friend asked how I managed. "I saturate the house with praise," I said. "I stay strong before God so I can do what I have to do." I promised these loved ones that I would walk them through every valley and up every mountain until they were delivered into the arms of Jesus. Even on the worst days, I woke up every morning praising God for the privilege of serving someone, praising God my sustainer, God my deliverer.

I call my ministry Joy in Jesus because, regardless of the circumstances, serving God guarantees joy. At seventy-four, my energy is good, my back straight, and my mission--to make Jesus real to those who don't know Him--a source of undying comfort and selfless love.
ENNOBLING, ENABLING, EMPOWERING

Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes

I was eight years old when we had a little ceremony at our Sunday school as we moved from primary to intermediate classes. The pastor gave each child Scripture he called our "life verse." Mine was Romans 12:1 and 2. "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable under God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The minister inscribed those words in my Bible and instructed me to memorize them. I have never forgotten them. In fact, I can still recite all of Romans 12. The minister was right: This was the key to my life.

That verse made all the difference. I can't call it a road to Damascus phenomenon, but I can say it planted the seed within. It introduced me to the idea of transformation. Being a follower of Jesus means that we are transformed from what we were. Transformation is everything. The gospel we love is a gospel of transformation and nonconformity. The good news is that this world is not all there is. This is not the world to which we trim our sails. This is not the world from which we seek our identity. The miracle is in the spiritual metamorphosis. Looking back some fifty-eight years to that singular moment when I received those precious words, I see that was the start of a process that continues to this day. My life, my ministry, my career, my personality have all been one of nonconformity and transformation into the mind of Christ.

Here in Cambridge, where I have served as a minister and professor at Harvard for many years, I have preached to the brightest and best. I have also preached to the dullest and the least. Regardless of my constituency, the message remains the same: God is invested in us. We don't know why. I, for one, certainly don't deserve it. But God has employed us as agents of change in His kingdom. He has said to me, "Gomes, you have talent, and I'm going to make that talent work for Me. I'm going to make you work for Me." He says that to us all. All of us have talent. The trick is recognizing and then utilizing that talent in His service. That's our life work--expressing His energy through our own personalities. It might be in preaching or in conversation or in witnessing or in simply being faithful. It might be in matters great but most especially in matters small.

For many years I had doubts. Am I the right guy in the right place? Yet somehow my confidence grew. I have never been a modest man. But as an insecure man, I have watched that insecurity decline as my faith has risen. I am secure in making the case that, as believers in Jesus, we must be suspicious of other loyalties and labels, whether it's capitalism or communism, race or rank, occupation or gender. I am both black and homosexual, but neither of those categories defines me. Christ defines me. I am His child. His servant. His follower. Other identities are more tangible. Others offer more short-term security. But my identity in Him is eternal. He is all I need.

I have no need to argue with other theologians whose views differ from my own. I was not brought to faith because I won an argument or lost an argument to someone smarter than me. I stand in a living relationship to Jesus Christ. He has invested in me and planned a design for me. I must make good on His investment; I must fulfill His design. My ministry and lifestyle have been attacked by people who subscribe to biblical inerrancy. I find inerrancy in total captivity to the terms of this world. The God I worship does not subscribe to those terms. But inerrancy is only a minor irritant along the way toward the knowledge of God. I avoid useless disputations.

My focus is on grace. Unmeritorious enablement. I preach grace by asking people to discover it for themselves in the very lives they've lived. Recognize what already has happened. Think of your worst day. Now realize you were delivered from that day. Realize that Jesus loves you. You may feel that you don't merit it. You may not even love Jesus. But that does not alter the fact that He loves you. And like it or not, that love is ennobling, enabling, empowering. That love makes it possible for you to get up and get on with your life. That love lets you say, "If Jesus loves me, maybe I can love myself."
A TEACHABLE HEART

Smokie Norful

Five short years ago, as a young man in my mid-twenties, I was teaching school, attending seminary, working as an assistant pastor, and writing songs in the basement. It was exhilarating but exhausting.

Today I tour the country as a gospel artist and my first two records have gone gold. I am astonished, humbled, and excited by the way God has changed my life.

I am astonished because I never thought it would turn out this way. I was born in Little Rock, but my dad's work as a Methodist minister had us moving all the time. It was in Tulsa where things got shaky for me. In my early teens I started to toy with trouble. Never got serious, but it could have. In fact, my best buddy wound up being the Most Wanted Man in Oklahoma. Dad and Mom must have sensed the need to move--God gave them that good sense--and so we went back to Arkansas. Pine Bluff had a tight sense of community and my dangerous days were behind me. My ambition kicked in. I saw I had a little gift for writing and wrote poems, at ten dollars a shot, for girls who wanted to express themselves to their boyfriends. I also knew God had given me musical talent and, at age fourteen, I flew off to Minneapolis to meet Prince, who was set to sign me as his answer to Tevin Campbell. Contracts were written but never signed because my dad, always my protector, made one simple point--there was no provision for my education. "What that says," he told Prince...

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