Between the liner notes
The 2nd Chapter of Matthew Ward
By Shannon Woodland and Scott Ross
The 700 Club
The 2nd Chapter of Acts debuted in 1971 with a sound that’s still unique today. The group was made up of a brother and sister trio – Annie Herring, Nellie and Matthew Ward. Annie, the eldest of the three, with the help of her husband Buck, raised young Nellie and Matthew after their parents died. The 2nd Chapter of Acts has long been known as one of the first contemporary Christian music super groups.
Scott Ross: When you began to do concerts and people were showing up in thousands to hear you sing, were you surprised by that?
Matthew Ward: Oh yeah, one of the things I wrote in my autobiography is that, if someone would have told me when I was 13 or 14 years old that in a few years I’d be singing in front of thousands of people, I would have completely fallen out of my chair laughing.
Ross: How many years did you do the 2nd Chapter of Acts?
Ross: Whoa! And why did you decide to stop?
Ward: Well, every year we’d pray and decide whether we needed to continue on or not. There were two years that we didn’t tour, basically quit for a year. One of them was in ‘76 and the other one was in 1983, when I got married actually. That worked out conveniently for me.
Ross [reporting]: Life on the road was becoming more and more difficult. Nellie’s children were growing up, and Matthew was on his second baby. So in 1988 the 2nd Chapter of Acts finally called it quits.
Ward: Aside from that, we really felt like the Lord had used us for this season -- that we were given the go-ahead to not do it anymore.
Ross: But you continued on in music?
Ward: And so did Annie.
Ross: And Nellie?
Ward: Mom, wife, yeah.
Ross [reporting]: Matthew’s solo career started with writing jingles and working with some friends in the industry. Life was going well until Matthew geared up to do a concert tour. A cancer diagnosis stopped him in his tracks.
Ross: When that little bit of news came to you, what do you do with that?
Ward: For me, it didn’t make me look at the finality of my life and get my ducks in a row. What I really came away [with] from that experience was really understanding the father heart of God for the first time. I think because I lost my parents at a young age, I had a pretty warped perspective of God as a father figure. In my mind God loves us, but when I read the scriptures, it says His thoughts for me out number the grains of sand. I didn’t believe that. I thought God loves us in general terms, like God loves everybody. Not that God is concerned with my issues. When I went through that walk with cancer, I realized He was a father there for His son. When I prayed to Him, it was almost like I could hear Him listening to me. I could tell through things and events that happened He did care for me.
Ross [reporting]: Matthew went through surgery, chemotherapy and blood work “ad nauseam,” to coin a Matthew phrase -- a lot of nasty stuff. But he says it made him a better father to his children and able to appreciate his wife in a whole new way.
Ward: It made me appreciate my wife. You have to understand, she became my nurse. I actually did one of the chemotherapies at home. She had to go to class to learn how to do this thing. She was my nurse. She’d give me shots so my white cell count [would] stay up. It was amazing. I really began to see her as someone I loved dearly, far beyond someone who gave birth to my children or my lover. I saw someone who loved me enough to lay her life down and become uncomfortable enough to do something if it made my world better. Boy was that an eye opened for me.
Ross: How did it affect your singing and song writing?
Ward: Before cancer I was well known for writing a lot of pop rock, pop ballads, power ballads.
Ross [reporting]: But post cancer that hard edge had gone away, and Matthew started writing and singing a whole new song.
Ward: The Lord gave me a couple of songs. “To the King” I wrote on a project called My Redeemer. It’s basically because of my bout with cancer. It was written out of suffering.
Ross: Looking back on the journey, are you fulfilled?
Ward: Oh yeah, there would have been a lot of easier roads to go down and a lot of easier rows to hoe than the one that God has put in front of me. But you don’t appreciate sunshine until you’ve had rain. That’s where I’m at. It’s hard to appreciate things God gave you if they’re always around. I’ve learned to appreciate everything.
My 2nd Chapter: The Matthew Ward Story (Water Brook Press, 2006)
Contact Scott Ross.
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