US 2012 Tour News

 

 

 

 

ARRIVAL IN THE US

 

We arrived safely in the US flying in to Boston and all we can say is ‘thank you’ for your prayers, which led to our safe passage both sides of the Atlantic.
At Boston Airport Steve Shippee, a former Road Manager for Vinesong, picked us up and took us to our first overnight stop in Rhode Island. Steve lives in Rhode Island and is married to Evelina who was the alto singer in the previous Vinesong Team.

Once again we experienced some great hospitality from Steve & Evelina and their children Samuel and Isabel and our friends Tom and Sharon Romeo. We were really blessed by their openness, helpfulness, generosity and hospitality at the end of our US Tour last year as they literally gave us free reign in their home and garage to pack all our equipment as well as providing us with accommodation.

This year they received us with open arms and prepared a welcome dinner for us to which Steve & Evelina and their family were invited as well Tom and Sharon’s own daughter. We thank God for Tom and Sharon and others like them, who though not on the mission field directly, give of their time and their resources to do everything in their capacity to bless us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom (far left) & Sharon Romeo, Steve Shippee (far right) with Rachael and Reuben 

Evelina with Reuben, Isabel and Samuel

 

 

 

MINISTRY

This year the message was entitled “I Will Do a New Thing” taken from Isaiah 43:18-21

 

18 “Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness 
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21     the people I formed for myself 
that they may proclaim my praise.

 

 

Pastor John spoke passionately in every meeting explaining how we so often hold onto what has happened in the past and use it as a gauge to predict and control our future, but God wants to do a new fresh thing in our lives, which is different to our previous experiences or understanding.

People are not interested in religion; they want the truth without the fake trimmings. There have also been many scandals in the Church worldwide recently which exposes the fact that people have been putting their trust in men, building them up higher and higher to impossible heights. When leaders fail, people use their downfall as an excuse not to belong to the Body of Christ any longer, and to stay at home, keeping themselves away from fellowship with other believers. However, this is not God’s solution. In difficult times, Pastor John explained how Christians must stay rooted and grounded, determined to grow and flourish where they have been planted in community. In other words, to be faithful towards their commitment and God’s calling on their lives and to always remain focused on ‘His divine destiny’ in their lives. It is not a time for individuals to be swayed, cheated or destroyed.

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for people to move from church to church, trying to find a place that will meet their lengthy and impossible criteria. If any of this criteria is not met at their current church they then tend to move on searching for The perfect Church or moving to a new church that has opened down the road which everyone seems excited about. God is not impressed with the trendiness of our church or it’s worship! Although mission and the lost must be its heartbeat, He is interested in only in the condition of our hearts and the quality of our faithfulness. At the end of the day, “it is only faith that pleases God”.

The response to this message every single time was totally overwhelming. Many people gave their lives to Christ during our meetings with many others asking for God to dig deeply into their lives and to bring deliverance from unconfessed sin and for Jesus to do something new in their personal lives.

 

Congregations Responding to the Message

 

 

NEW YORK

Our first ministry began in New York where we experienced many great meetings. One of the most notable was our meeting at the United Nations. This to the Glory of God was our 8th visit.

The UN building is located in the heart of Manhattan in New York City, which makes parking for any vehicle almost impossible, and also very challenging. This is compounded by the fact that we have a large van and a four-wheel trailer. As the main UN building was undergoing refurbishment at the time of our visit, our meeting was held in an annex building across the street. On arrival, we were met by our friend and meeting organizer Gary Gardner who led us to a loading bay at the back of the building where we could offload. This in itself was a miracle. Gary then also mentioned that he had spoken to the Head of Security with regards to parking the van and trailer during our time of ministry. In previous years it had been very difficult to deal with this department. This year Gary mentioned that it was as if he was dealing with a completely different person and he was totally willing to help. Once the van was offloaded, it had to then vacate the loading bay, so we needed parking straight away.

 

  The Van and Trailer in front of the UN building  

 

The Head of security was contacted while Daniel was parked tentatively awaiting instruction in the front of the main UN building. When the head of security arrived, he said that Daniel could leave the van there. Our van complete with trailer was the only vehicle allowed to park in this world famous and strategic area. The flags of the world as our backdrop….amazing!! Such unbelievable favour!!
The ministry was fantastic and the meeting was well attended. This event was held next to the canteen, which meant that some people, who were passing by attended. There were also others in the canteen that we could not see, who could hear what was going on and we know that they were also ministered to.

St. George and Dragon Sculpture at the UN in New York

St. George Sculpture outside the UN Building in New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Gary also took us to what is going to be the main entrance to the UN once the refurbishment has been completed. He showed us the sculpture of St. George slaying a dragon with a sword. The sword is in the shape of a crucifix and Gary said, that such direct Christian symbolism had never been seen before in such a prominent place at the UN. He went on to say how he really felt it is a picture of the struggle between Christianity and everything that seeks to silence it. The dragon was made out of old nuclear warheads.

 

We are extremely thankful to the Narine family, particularly Dave and Debbie Narine who have provided accommodation for Vinesong in New York over the past 20 years. Their hospitality is a blessing to us personally and the Body of Christ in New York and around the world. Without their help, ministry in the New York area would be very complicated, difficult and expensive for us.

 

 

Vinesong ministering to 5 to 13 year olds

Ministering to 5 to 13 year olds at a school in New York

 

From New York we ministered in New Jersey, where we first conducted our Annual General Meeting (AGM) via Skype with our President Sumner Mering present with us; our other Directors in Las Vegas (Randy Patton), New York (Pastor Olu Obed) and California (Ron Guilliams), our US administrator in Virginia and our office in the UK.

 

We were also able to spend a short time with Vinesong’s friends and previous team members, Bode and Yemisi Akinyemi, now serving as full time elders in their church. From New Jersey we travelled on to our accommodation in Virginia close to Washington DC in preparation for the National Day of Prayer at Capitol Hill. The National Day of Prayer event was well attended and the US National Prayer Committee joined us for a wonderful time of prayer for the nation. Both Charlene and Pastor John were asked to pray and below is a video of John’s prayer.

 

 

 

Vinesong at the 2012 National Day of Prayer in front of Capitol Hill

 

 

Pastor John’s sister and brother, Beulah who lives in Florida and Ron who lives in South Africa joined us in Virginia with their spouses for a week to celebrate Beulah’s birthday. Whilst with us they attended a meeting, the second in the history of Vinesong that all three of the Watson children would be together at one Vinesong meeting! It was such a blessing for the family to be together since their legacy is shared as the 3rd generation offspring of missionaries to Africa.

 

GEORGIA

From Virginia we travelled on to South Carolina and Georgia. Two years ago we were blessed to discover RenStone Bed & Breakfast in Lavonia, Georgia (http://www.renstone.com;). This time when we contacted Rennie ahead of our stay, she invited us to stay as her personal guests.

We met her two sons and her brother and spent a great evening together, which ended with us ministering some songs to them. The following morning, before we left for our next destination, Rennie, her sons and her brother took us all out on a boat ride on the river right at the bottom of her property. It was baby Reuben’s first ever boat ride and he enjoyed the moment completely. We are thankful for the opportunities that God gives us to minister in all situations.

Our ministry in Georgia was well received and it was such a blessing to meet up with old friends and to make new ones.

At our last meeting in Atlanta, we were joined by Gabriella, Pastor John’s Great-niece (his sister’s Granddaughter) who had agreed to be Reuben’s nanny for the first month of her summer vacation. Prior to this, Reuben had a dedicated carer at each church that Charlene had to train up before each meeting. It was such a blessing for Reuben, Charlene and the rest of the team to have a permanent person onboard looking after Reuben.

Once again we had great accommodation in Atlanta at the property of our good friends from Nigeria, Pastors Yemi & Titi Akisanya. Our host was their youngest son, Adebola who received us like family.

 

Reuben's US Tour Nanny

Gabriella with Reuben

 

 

ALABAMA & LOUSIANA

On our way to Louisiana, we broke the journey in two and stopped off in Alabama. There we visited Jim Sherman, a long time friend of Pastor John’s and Vinesong. It was so good to spend time with Jim, his mother Frankie and his brother Harry. They were bereaved earlier this year when Jim’s father passed away and it was so good to reconnect with them remembering past visits when Jim’s father was alive.

We are so blessed to have such good friends and the opportunity to share rich fellowship. We are thankful to Jim and his family for their friendship and generous hospitality.

 

 

 

TEXAS

Last year, at our last meeting in Ghana we were introduced to Alice Temeng through our friend Sama who helped us tremendously during our tour. Alice was visiting Ghana but lives in Houston, Texas. We told her that we would be in the US in 2012 and she immediately offered for us to stay at her home if we were going to be in the Houston area.

We contacted Alice prior to our tour in the US to let her know that we would be in the Houston area for around 10 days. Alice’s husband Kwaku and Alice both generously offered to host us in their home whilst we were in Houston.

 

We arrived at the house on a Saturday afternoon in time to meet the family and get ourselves quickly settled into our rooms before heading off for a meeting nearby. When we got back around midnight, our GPS told us we were arriving at our destination, so when we saw the house, we all got out of the van with all our belongings. We tried the key in the door, but it didn’t seem to be working. All of a sudden we heard an unfamiliar female voice screaming, “Call the Police! Call the Police! Someone’s trying to break in”. We quickly realised that this was not the right house! Charlene, with a sleeping Reuben in her arms, explained that we were sorry and that we were guests at another house that looked exactly like this one and that we had made a mistake. The Lord does keep our lives exciting!

 

Our house was literally two doors away and we found out that the house we had gone to was the only house on the whole estate that had exactly the same design as theirs.

 

Two days later, Alice our host and Rachael went to visit the neighbours to explain our mistake. The lady answered the door tentatively and before we could say anything, she said that someone had tried to break in a couple of nights ago and that they hadn’t been able to sleep. When we told her the story, she laughed and said that her mother had been the one shouting and had told the Police that the people who had tried to break in had European accents. They began to think that maybe the housebreakers were part of the Russian Mafia. Needless to say that when we explained what had happened there was lots of relief and plenty of laughter!

 

 

SAD NEWS: DANA AIR CRASH

Whilst in Houston we heard about the Dana air disaster in Lagos, Nigeria. We were so shocked by the news and wondered whether we knew anybody that had been on the flight. Unfortunately the following day we found out that Pastors Solomon and Lola Onita, very good friends of ours in Houston, had lost two of their daughters in the air crash. We were extremely saddened by the news of the deaths of these two Godly young women who also had very bright and promising futures. We could have been anywhere in the US at that time, but God saw fit to see that we were in the right place at the right time. During our stay in Houston, a memorial service was held for Jennifer and Josephine ‘Anita’ Onita.

We were honoured to minister during the service songs of hope and healing pointing to Jesus as The only refuge during this time of grief. We thank God that we were able to stand with the family and to give God thanks for the lives of Jennifer and ‘Anita’, even in the midst of grief, loss and mourning. Please continue to pray for comfort for our dear Onita family and the years of adjustment it will take to fully recover from this tragedy

 

 

DALLAS

Dallas was next on the itinerary where we had a few meetings including a meeting at a Mennonite Evangelical Church in a place called Tiger Town, near Paris, Texas. We were invited to this church as a result of our ministry in Seminole, Texas at a Mennonite Evangelical Church two years ago. It was a special time of ministry as people from all over the small town gathered to join the meeting.

 

Whilst in Dallas we were able to meet up with a longstanding friend of the ministry, Rex Nichols. There he introduced us to his friend Ali. Ali, who we now know as Eli, his new Christian name, was brought up as a Muslim in the US. He told us how all his life he wanted to get to know God for himself and when asked what he wanted for his 16th birthday, he replied that he wanted to go to Mecca to the Hajj. At the Hajj he said that he had been expecting something to happen, a spiritual experience, but somehow, he felt no closer to God and felt empty. He said he remembered locking himself in to the bathroom of his hotel room and crying out to God to make himself known. The room was full with over 40 people in it and somehow, when he left the bathroom, he found that he had been in there for four hours. During that time no one had wanted to use the bathroom and no one had realised that he was not around. He knew that something special had happened. He also knew that he wanted to speak to God as if he was real and not just to repeat prayers parrot fashion.

 

When he got back to US he did not let anyone know how disappointed he was with the Hajj but secretly went on a search for God and God brought many Christians into his life. Through their lives, he was able to see the love of Jesus and the genuine nature of their faith, which impressed him and in time he became a Christian, leaving Islam behind.

 

It was such a blessing to meet Eli, who then agreed to attend one of our meetings during our time in Dallas.

 

REDEEMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF GOD NORTH AMERICA CONVENTION

This year, we were invited to minister at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) North America Annual Convention at their campground in Greenville, Texas near to Dallas.

The great thing about the 50 acres of land that they possess there, is that Floyd, one of the nearby towns was a very strong Ku Klux Klan (a white supremacist groups that believe that black people are an inferior race) strong hold. With RCCG being an originally Nigerian based denomination, it is divine justice to see such a remote area being blessed by majority black Christians who, through the convention campground, have brought prosperity though patronising the local businesses from hotels to gas stations.

 

Ministering at the Convention                                                                                                                                                                      Eli sharing his testimony at the Convention

Eli on stage at the RCCG North America Convention 2012

Vinesong Ministering at the Convention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our time of ministry at the convention was blessed and it was amazing to see over 4,000 people stand to sing “Our God Reigns” with us. Our friend Eli came along to the convention on the last night. He was introduced to one of the Pastors in charge of the Convention, Pastor Ghandi Olaoye. He met Eli and after hearing his testimony, invited him to share it in brief at the convention.

It was the first time that Eli had ever addressed such a large number of people, but in the short time that he had he really gave a simple but profound testimony, ultimately encouraging Christians to walk the walk as well as talking the talk. As an ex-Muslim, he also encouraged all present just to show the love of Jesus to Muslims so that they could embrace God as a father to have a relationship with, rather than to go through the motions of a religion.

 

As we had been unable to travel to Nigeria for the 2012 Congress in December (Reuben was born only days before it began), the General Overseer affectionately known as Daddy G.O. and his wife, Mommy G.O. had not seen Reuben. They were present at the convention and got to see Reuben for the first time.

 

Daddy & Mommy G.O. with Vinesong at the Convention

 

From the Convention we went on to minister in Dallas and had a great time with our new friends at Jesus House Dallas, we were truly blessed by their servant hood and excellence, which really refreshed us.

 

 

SEMINOLE

Once again we were blessed to be invited to minister at the Mennonite Evangelical Church, our miracle booking of 2010, where they found us on the internet and contacted us, never thinking that we would ever be able to make it to their church, one month later, we were there.

Since our last visit they have built a new church on the other side of town, which can seat 1000 people. We were so blessed to see each other again. On our first night the Pastor, John Peters invited us to his house for a barbecue and fireworks. The fireworks display went very well until the very last firework, which started shooting out from the sides. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the field across the road caught fire. This small fire seemed to grow so large in such a short space of time. At one stage, we thought that we had lost it and that the fire was out of control. Thanks to some quick thinking, we got some wet towels out and the men as well as some of the women worked tirelessly to put the fire out. Pastor John Peters also had a small tractor and he used its shovel to help put the fire out. We called the fire service, but thankfully the fire was out before they came. However, we were able to show them some footage of the fire, which someone had been able to capture on video and they remarked on how it was the type of fire that they would have loved to have put out. Despite the lack of flames, they did make sure that the area where the fire had been got a thorough dousing with water from their on-board hose. Below is video footage of the fire.

 

 

 

 

The owner of the field was so grateful when Pastor John Peters called by to let him know what had happened and the fact that we had not left it to burn! We thank God, for the seed that may have been sown by these actions.

 

We had two nights of meetings at the church and many people from around the area, who were not Mennonites also attended. There was a tremendous response to the call for God to deal with spiritual, emotional, physical and financial baggage and to do something completely new in their lives.

 

 

 

NEW MEXICO

From Seminole we went on to Clovis, New Mexico. There we had a wonderful time of ministry at Legacy Life Family church, a church in the heart of Clovis New Mexico that is reaching out to the lost and needy in the community. In working with a drug rehabilitation centre, they are seeing addicts saved, delivered and discipled.

 

In Clovis, we were blessed to be hosted by our friend, Pastor and Doctor, Pastor Tobore Kokoricha, his wife Oyin and their three wonderful girls. Every morning their oldest daughter delighted in making tea for us. Throughout our time with them, the whole family thoroughly spoiled us. They organised an event for the Churches in Clovis at the Civic Center, which was a blessing to many. A couple that we had met at lunch at the restaurant we ate at were invited to come along and they came with their two children.

 

We want to thank the Kokoricha family for their openness and generosity in having us all stay with them at their home.

 

 

OKLAHOMA

From Clovis New Mexico, we travelled to Wagoner, Oklahoma to spend some precious time with Hilary and Carol Lashley-Bobbtheir family, Naomi, Israel and Hannah as well as Carol’s sister, Debbie. Though our time with them was short, we really felt at home together and we cannot express how blessed we were to once again spend time with family. It was great to see how the children are growing up and serving the Lord with all their hearts. Naomi the oldest and Israel were both born in Vinesong and we can only give God thanks to see how the legacy of faith has been handed on to the next generation.

 

Naomi is almost 16 and is passionate about serving the Lord; she is a great sports woman and plays Basketball and Volleyball, hoping to have a ministry one day through Basketball, helping young people to achieve their goals in sport and in life. She is also a powerful speaker and preacher and has preached in her local church.

 

Israel is a talented drummer and already plays in the church worship team. We were blessed and surprised to find out whilst we were with them that he can also play the piano by ear.

 

It was a very emotional time when we were there for all of us but especially for Pastor John, as Israel played piano and Naomi sang. To see the next generation of worshippers who love God and are committed to Him, born out of Vinesong was more then special. We thank God that we were able to have such a great time of fellowship with them. It’s so great to see that God is so faithful and that Hilary and Carol’s time of sowing and investing in the Kingdom of God throughout their time in Vinesong has not returned to them without reward.

 

Vinesong with the Lashley-Bobb's, former Vinesong team members

 

 

Our last stop was in Tulsa with Pastor Stephen Rathod at Covenant Family Church on the Sunday morning and our final meeting was with Hilary and Carol’s church, Destiny Family Church. This was an outreach organised by the Church at a coffee house in Tulsa. It was a very emotional meeting having the generations of Vinesong present; Hilary and Carol and their three children and Charlene (who was 4 years old when her parents were in the first Vinesong team) and Reuben, Charlene and Daniel’s son, the newest generation as well as Gabriella, Pastor John’s Great-niece.

 

Outreach in Oklahoma

 

From Oklahoma we travelled back to Dallas as we had arranged to fly out from Dallas due to the van and trailer being stored there until next year.

 

 

OUR MINI-MISSIONARY

Many people are curious to know how Reuben copes on the road. Here is a collection of photos that give a better answer than words ever could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He makes Friends

 

He Helps Mommy at the CD Table 

He eats

 

 

 

A real missionary in training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He has Fun!       

                         He sleeps

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU

From Boston to Dallas, we were blessed in so many ways and we know without a doubt that God was truly with us. We ministered in many different denominations with people from many different races and backgrounds, where having Jesus in common made all the difference. Travelling over 9,000 miles by road, we were able to see the America, that not everyone has the opportunity to see, from real prosperity, to old derelict towns which used to teem with people and industry.

 

Our family has grown and we are thankful for the very special people that God has seen fit to bring into our lives. We are thankful for the time we had to spend with previous Vinesong team members and to see how they and their families are all serving God in ministry. We thank God for all those who opened up their homes to us on this tour and allowed us to share in their lives.

 

Time and space would not permit us to mention every single meeting, however every meeting was blessed and we felt God’s hand upon us and upon all of those present. We pray that the fruit of what God did during the Tour would remain and that God would continue to build great people as we work together to see God’s kingdom here on earth, in the here and now, not just in the by and by.

 

We know that may never hear every testimony of what God has done in the lives of people, but we rest assured that God is faithful, He is a deliverer and He is able to save to the uttermost. Though life may seem so hard and tough at times, we have a Father who will never ever fail us, who loves us so much that He wants to walk with us and to lead us through life so that we can see and show others through our lives that “all things come together for the good of them who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. As we yield to God and not to our own understanding, we will begin to experience a life of favour, which is not based on material gain or status, but the knowledge that; if God is for us, who indeed can be against us.

 

One of the most profound things we heard this year was Eli’s testimony at the Convention in Dallas. He said

“It took a few Christians who represented Jesus in their walk instead of in their talk and they taught me who He was by being like Christ so I want to encourage you [Christians] to continue in your walk because your walk says a lot more than what comes out of your mouth. To us as Christians faith comes by hearing but those who don’t believe or don’t understand they have to see the difference”

It is a timely reminder that people are watching our lives to see love in action not just to hear about it. May we grow in love, not just to those who are believers, but also more importantly to those who don’t believe. Our prayer is to be motivated by love rather than judgement, grace and mercy rather than punishment. May everything that we do be motivated by real love, the love that Jesus showed, which caused him to move with compassion, touching and healing those in need but still not afraid to confront hypocrisy, wrongdoing and compromise.

We thank you all so much for your prayers and support throughout our US Tour and beyond. We could not do what we do without your prayers for our protection and ministry. We pray that God would continue to surround you and your families with His love, strength and protection from day to day.

 

 

Please thank God for:

  • Our safe passage to and from America
  • The lives of those who became Christians during this tour
  • God’s provision and favour throughout the tour
    • Accommodation at RenStone and with all the host families
  • Gabriella who was Reuben’s nanny for a month and a half
  • The former Vinesong team members, who caught the vision and sowed their lives into the ministry
  • All the healing that took place during and after our times of ministry

 

Please Pray for:

  • The Onita family who lost 2 children in the Dana Air Crash and the families of all of those who perished on that flight
  • Our US Directors who give freely of their time and expertise to support and build the ministry of Vinesong in the US
  • The families of the former Vinesong team members that they would hand on the legacy of faith to the next generation
  • Protection for the Vinesong team from all forms of sickness and disease
  • The Vinesong team as we travel to the nations
  • A greater desire to see God revealed in our communities and nations

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Rosalind (Hutchinson) Baker

    Thanks so much for a wonderfully written news update, I felt as if I was there with you. I came to know the Lord in 1976 when John Watson and Juliette knocked at my door and patiently loved me into the Kingdom. Its a blessing to see how the Lord has continued to use John and – even so long ago his comment often was – its exciting being a Christian. Nothings changed! Please send him my best love in Jesus.

    • admin

      Dear Rosalind, we’re so thankful for your comment and the fact that you are still serving God and have never turned back. Greetings from John, who was blessed by your testimony.

  2. Edmond

    How great our God is. As a child in a Ghanaian Secondary School in Africa, every sunday before service will start, Vinesong music would be played and would be heard mostly on campus through our mega speakers. On such occasions, when i feel so bad, your music would make me cry console me, would remind me of Go’s unconditional love as they are alive and full of the Holy Spirit. They always connect me with my saviour Jesus Christ. ‘When it hurts so bad’ is a real gift from God. In fact, all your songs are alive and inspired by the Holy Spirit because they are biblically based, they are trans-generational, forever fresh. This confirms His Word that all things will pass away but the Word of God is Eternal.

    Today here i am in the US pursuing my dream and with the help of God i believe i will be successful. Please pray with me, unlike Africa, it is not easy here to worship God like in Africa. Hope to connect with you soon as i look forward to come to the UK. God bless your Ministry as you travel the world to spread the Gospel.

    • admin

      God bless you and thank you for your comment. Vinesong actually ministers for 3 months of every year in the US. In 2013 we will be in the US between April and July. Keep updated via our website or facebook page to find out when we will be there. Right now we are on a one month tour of Ghana and we are having a blessed time.