CD, Love God Love People(Integrity Music 2010)
3 Grammy Awards
6 Dove Awards
2 Gold Albums
2 Stellar Awards
Co-Founded New Breed Ministries with wife Meleasa
Israel Houghton: Love God Love People
The 700 Club
A VERY GOOD YEAR
Israel Houghton has taken worship music to another level. For years he has led thousands of people in praising God through song, especially as worship leader at Lakewood Church pastored by Joel and Victoria Osteen. He has written or co-written 11 of CCLI’s Top 500 favorite songs, including “You are Good,” “I Am a Friend of God,” and “Say So,” to name a few.
Israel says that thematically, the earlier albums he did with New Breed were about the church and what God is doing. The most recent albums they have done focus more on social and global concerns. Israel strongly believes that people who consider themselves worshippers have a heart for social justice.
He’s been breaking down barriers and defies categorization with his music. Israel uses his own multi-cultural upbringing as a reference point with a desire to draw people of all races, ages and cultures together. Israel laughingly describes himself as,“a black kid who grew up in a white family in a Hispanic neighborhood.”
This is a significant time in Israel’s life: he just turned 40, he’s been in full-time ministry for twenty-one years, and he’s been with New Breed for eleven years. The music ministry is built upon serving others.
Israel references Romans 15:1-4 from The Message Bible: “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’ That's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people's troubles, but waded right in and helped out. ‘I took on the troubles of the troubled,’ is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it's written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.”
LOVING GOD, LOVING PEOPLE
His new album “Love God. Love People” just won a Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. Israel performed “Love God. Love People.” and two more of his songs on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Israel says, “Love God. Love People. is a return to a simple, foundational Gospel command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Virtually every song touches on this profound simplicity. It all comes down to ‘love God, love people.’ Period.” It was a dream come true for Israel recording the album at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
He will be sharing the song “Others,” which he wrote with his wife Meleasa.
The song started as the couple started writing parts to what they thought would be two separate songs. When they came and sat at the piano together, Israel thought the separate parts might work together and they did. The song is about loving, helping, forgiving, and reaching out to others as Jesus has to us.
DESTINED TO WORSHIP
Israel says when you look at Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalms 139 you realize pretty quickly that there is nothing accidental in our lives. He is living proof of that. Israel could have easily been an abortion statistic. In the 1970, Israel’s mother was seventeen and became pregnant with him. Israel’s biological father is African American and they lived in a very segregated town in Iowa. His mother’s family had a hard time when she told them she was pregnant and they disowned her. The father also abandoned them. However, Israel’s mother decided to have him. She ended up going to California.
When she was eight-months pregnant, the state said it was going to take her baby because she was taking drugs throughout her pregnancy and was considered an unfit mother. One day, Israel’s mother was walking down the street. A woman came from across the street to talk to her. The woman told her she didn’t know her but she felt she had to come and tell her that Jesus loved her and she was not forgotten. The woman continued to love and minister to Israel’s mother on the street.
From that day on, Israel’s mother never touched another drug and she saw miracle after miracle happen in her life. Israel was given his biblical name from a word his mother saw repeatedly in the Bible given to her by the woman who ministered to her. Not long after Israel was born she married Henry Houghton and they raised Israel and his three younger siblings in Arizona and New Mexico.
An interest in music settled within him early on. “I was the kid in church who jumped on the drums at the end of service and annoyed everybody! But my mom is a phenomenal piano player who taught me the basics. And I learned the guitar on a bet from a guy who didn't think I had the discipline to do it. It was 1986 and I was 15 years old. Our bet was 30 days, and in that time I learned how to play practicing every single day. I've always been like that about anything I set my mind to. I’ve always had this feeling that I'm not here to take up free oxygen. Whatever I'm here to do, I'm going to impact my immediate world and, hopefully, the world at large. It’s just inherent.”
Israel’s first professional recordings were a pair of solo albums for Warner Bros. Records. However, the real success began in 1995 when Israel, his wife Meleasa founded New Breed Ministries, an organization inclined to category-defying music created by noted musicians and singers who serve within their respective churches and together serve the church at large. Today, the music of Israel and New Breed is in demand for everything from film soundtracks to commercial jingles. Anywhere the message can be disseminated, Israel will bring it.
Ultimately, the purpose of the brilliant new music on A Deeper Level is to light a fire under church people to rise to a higher purpose. “Like the song ‘Say So’ states,” Israel concludes, “We're not here to salt the salt and light the light. We're here to get out to where there is darkness and no flavor - where people need the strength that we, as Christians, have access to and possess.”
A HEART’S DESIRE FULFILLED
For 20 years, Israel had asked and wondered if anyone had ever met the lady who crossed the street and told his mother about Jesus. It has always been a “cry of Israel’s heart” to see his mother reunited with this woman. Early last year, Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen, used Israel’s testimony in a sermon.
In August 2010, there was a letter from a lady who saw that program. In the letter she said if the incident happened in Oceanside, CA she thought she was the lady. The woman gave other details in the letter. Israel read the letter, and then called his mother. He told his mother to sit down. Israel read the letter to his mother and said the woman’s name. His mother exclaimed, “That’s her! That’s her! That’s her!”
A few days later, Israel and his mother went to see the woman. He asked, did you have any idea that crossing the street would change hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of lives? Then he asked why she did it. The woman said she felt that God rescued her and the only way she could respond was to rescue someone else. With his own testimony Israel says you can cross the street to change the world, you don’t have to cross the ocean.
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