Wintley Phipps is a featured speaker/performer;
He has performed for American Presidents (including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush), Mother Teresa, and President Nelson Mandela;
He has appeared on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power, the Billy Graham crusades, Saturday Night Live, Oprah Winfrey Show, etc.;
Guest soloist for Diana Ross’ wedding;
M. Div., Andrews University;
Pastors Palm Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, Palm Bay, FL;
Founder/CEO, U.S. Dream Academy, Columbia, MD, a non-profit organization working with children of prisoners, currently 11 locations nationwide;
Several Other CDs, O HOLY NIGHT, No Need To Fear (2007)
Sons: Wintley, 29, Winston, 25 and Wade, 20.
Wintley Phipps: O’ Holy Night
The 700 Club
CHRISTMAS FOR WINTLEY
For Wintley, Christmas is a great time with family. It’s a great time to rest and reflect. Recently, Wintley has returned from his travels to Belgium, France, Slovenia, and England and is excited to just rest and have time with his family. They usually have a tree with gifts and spend time with each other. He looks forward to his wife's cooking, especially her sweet potato cake.
During his trip to Brussels, Belgium, he was a guest at the European Parliament prayer meeting. In Slovenia, he had a concert in the largest prison, which is rare. It was the first time the prisoners' families were allowed to be with them. He opened with the Lord's Prayer. Wintley asked if any of them had heard it before and none of them had. At the end of the concert, he shared a little prayer, which was more of an opportunity to know who God is.
MORE HOLIDAY THOUGHTS
There is an old African proverb: “When elephants fight the grass gets trampled.” Wintley says as there is fighting and struggles in the world, we can't forget the innocent children. Christmas centers around a baby. Jesus could have come as a mighty man but he came as a child, a baby. Something about a baby touches the hearts of people. Jesus would want us to remember the children at Christmas, especially children in need.
Wintley will be singing the internationally known Christmas song “O Holy Night” and the Negro spiritual “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” “Go Tell it on the Mountain” is an amazing song written for Christmas. African American slaves rejoiced over the arrival of Christmas. This was the only time the slaves from different plantations were able to get together and see each other. In the midst of their suffering, Christmas provided joy. Slaves could identify with the baby born in a manger and poverty. When the children of Israel were taken and exiled, they were required to sing. Through their troubles, they said they could not sing. Wintley says it is amazing that the African American slaves continued to sing in their captivity, composed some of most wonderful songs from it, and didn't hang their heads.
A PASSION BEYOND MUSIC
When Wintley was on the board of directors for Chuck Colson’s ministry, Prison Fellowship, Wintley had the opportunity to be mentored by him. Wintley traveled with Chuck to various prisons around the country from 1992 to 1997. In Ridgeland, South Carolina, in 1994 Wintley looked around at the prisoners and had a wake-up call. “They all looked like my sons,” says Wintley. “For a moment, I thought I was on a black college campus.” That’s when the passion was born and Wintley began to study the problem. He discovered that nearly 2.8 million children live with a parent in prison today. Children with parents in prison are six times more likely to end up in prison themselves. More than two-thirds of juveniles in the criminal justice system are family or children of prisoners. Eighty percent of the inmate population is composed of high school dropouts. High school dropouts are more likely to commit crimes and be incarcerated than those with more education.
Wintley says that children’s reactions to parental incarceration are affected by many factors, such as the age of the child, circumstances surrounding their parent’s crime, whether the child witnessed the arrest, an extended family support system and a child’s coping ability. Many children experience depression, separation anxiety, emotional withdrawal, guilt, diminished academic performance, disruptive behavior at home and school, fear, anxiety, sadness, and developmental delays such as language development, regression, etc. “It’s a national crisis,” says Wintley. He says that when the family unit disintegrates, the children in the family need to be mentored. “A child with a dream is a child with a future,” he says.
In 1998, Wintley founded the U.S. Dream Academy. “We aim to break the cycle of incarceration by giving children the skills and vision needed to lead productive and fulfilling lives,” says Wintley. The target age group is 3rd through 8th grade students. For the last thirteen years, they have served students in neighborhoods where arrests and incarcerations are common occurrences and the local schools are not meeting federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress. Currently there are 10 Dream Academy Learning Centers nationwide and are located in communities with higher than average crime rates, lower than average graduation rates and high rates of poverty. The U.S. Dream Academy has garnered recognition from President George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
After school, selected Dream Academy students immediately begin their homework. Assisted by mentors and volunteers, children wrap up their assignments and are fed a nutritious meal that encompasses the four food groups. Typically, information sessions follow where kids are offered tips on avoiding peer pressure, etc. The Dream Academy Learning Centers support is free.
The Lord continues to provide for the U.S. Dream Academy. They are looking for an end of the year miracle to sustain them next year financially. God impressed on Wintley that the ministry was born and sustained by miracles. When they began they had no center. The first significant financial gift came from CBN. Currently, they are doing well and have been good stewards of what God has given them - thousands of children have been helped.
When Wintley was 14, his voice changed. “All of a sudden I had this voice coming out of me,” he says. Raised in a Christian home, Wintley always wanted to be a rock star. “I was crushed when I found out that the lives
my rock star heroes led wasn’t the life I wanted,” says Wintley. At sixteen, he made a decision to commit his life to Christ. “My heroes weren’t going anywhere,” he says. “I got on my knees and said 'Whatever you want me to do, Lord, I’ll do.' "
Wintley gives a great music lesson with regard to the old Negro spiritual songs, such as Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Amazing Grace, etc. He says that the Negro slaves only knew the five black notes on a piano. He says they wrote the music and melodies to some of the greatest songs in the history of the Church using just the black notes.
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