To God be the glory, great things He has done!
The words of that well-known hymn resound as we reflect on the past 3 months. What was meant to be a time of distress, upheaval, and uncertainty in lockdown has become a wonderful time for us to see God’s protection, grace, favour, and unconditional love. This newsletter is a chronicle and testimony to God’s overwhelming kindness to us as a ministry during this unprecedented time.
This newsletter is unique in content and format. This time we have asked each member of the team to share from his or her personal perspective. These individual testimonies are firsthand accounts of the miraculous way that God sustained and even blessed the ministry in abundance. We were so privileged to have witnessed so much, and God’s hand was evident in all that was done. Be encouraged as you read.
First and foremost, I want to give the Lord all the glory. By the grace of God, I have been entrusted to lead the team under the Holy Spirit’s direction with the help and support of my wife Charlene.
It has been the most awesome experience. At times it has felt like walking on water, and other times like one has the faith to move mountains, and God did it!
For me, the most encouraging aspect was the overwhelming commitment and support from each member of the team. I believe that unity and oneness in intent, without any hidden agenda, has been one of the key factors that has seen us through this difficult time. In Matthew 18:19, Jesus says,
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
And He is there in our midst.
During these challenging times, and with the global pandemic and chaos dominating the news, this wonderful promise has come into its fullness for us. It provides so much safety.
We left home, flying over the Atlantic to commence a three-month tour. This was the first U.S. tour in the history of Vinesong without Pastor John Watson. He stayed in the UK with our home team, Christian and Annet, to look after the property and affairs of our home office.
It is also the first time in 26 years that we had not planned to be in Washington D.C. as a part of the National Day of Prayer. For one reason or the other, we felt that it was not meant to be. Instead, we planned a mission trip to the nation of Suriname, never thinking that the gathering for the Day of Prayer would be cancelled and held remotely.
This was also the first time that we began producing our own live stream events.
Our continual prayer was that the Lord would lead us and show us how He wanted us to minister during this time.
The first church to host us was in Pennsylvania. Hopewell Christian Fellowship in Telford, under the leadership of Pastor Curt Malizzi, was so wonderful to us. They had so much faith and showed so much love. It seemed that they could not do enough to make us feel welcome in this land again. For the past 9 months, they looked after our new van and old trailer. They even received the delivery of the new trailer that God blessed us with.
Soon after our arrival, I asked the Lord in secret to show us why we have been sent to the USA during this time.
The morning following our first live stream, I was looking out of the window of the church house where we were staying. I saw a lady walking to her car, so I went to open the door and was met with a smile that can only come from a Heavenly place. Because of the social distancing measures recently put in place, we were both quite hesitant to greet one another. Then she just began to bubble over and said how much the live-stream meant to her and her husband while they had to stay at home. In case she didn’t see us, she had prepared a note to leave at the door expressing her gratitude for what the Lord did for her. Inside the card was $100! She was so overcome and just said how the Lord touched them in an amazing way.
This was the first answer to my prayer, but I wanted more. Then a few days later, we were in a hotel for two nights. It was very quiet since the restaurant area of the hotel was shut down. On the morning of check out, we had read Psalm 91. In the lobby was a chalkboard, and I felt compelled to write Psalm 91 in large letters. We quoted verse 10, which reads,
“No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling”.
Next to it, we drew a little picture of a sunrise.
As we waited for the church secretary, Charlene noticed the General Manager (GM) of the hotel looking intently at the chalkboard. She went to her and asked if we should take it off. The GM turned around with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m just having a moment. Please leave it on there.”
A few minutes later, the assistant manager came out and the same thing happened to her. Before we left, we sang to them the Aaronic blessing from the book of Numbers 6:22-26. The Holy Spirit moved on them, and they themselves were visibly moved.
We needed no further convincing that the Lord was with us. For the next three months, we ministered with increasing boldness in churches and to families in their homes around the country.
Along the way, we left video clips to encourage our friends, prayed with people over conference calls, and facilitated Bible studies remotely.
On a few separate occasions, it happened that we went out to buy groceries or new equipment online, and just before leaving the house or placing the order, we would receive a donation for the amount of the purchase. Amazing God! How specific?
Each time the ministry would tithe to another person or another ministry, the Lord honoured it within 48hrs! What a mighty God we serve.
One of the names for God that we are taught through the Bible is: “The Good Shepherd“. We can testify that we have experienced His guardianship firsthand in the wonderful love and power of His might and with this name on full display for us to enjoy. Truly, as Psalm 91:1 says, “He sheltered us under the shadow of His wings.”
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.Psalm 91:1
As a team embarking on something perhaps never done, we have constantly referred to this tour as a ‘tour of firsts’.
Vinesong has been coming to America as a team of missionaries for over 25 years, ministering from the high-ways to the by-ways, but never did we ever perceive that we would also now minister via ‘live-ways’!
Empty pulpits and stark pews were our audiences, and a lonely camera our companion as we ministered to the ‘living stones’ watching from their various homes, hospital beds, workplaces, and vehicles. Our whole mindset of ministry had to change, becoming more creative as we invited the heavenly hosts and cloud of witnesses to worship along with us!
The whole world of ministry was stripped of its dependence on people for applause and recognition. I realised our focus had to shift from feeding off what we would usually see in the physical when we look upon a crowd, to total reliance on how the Holy Spirit leads!
We landed on American soil to a ghostly, eerie Philadelphia airport. Only our travel companions from one of the last UK flights, flight BA1588, went through immigration with us ahead of the 12 am cut-off time. We had no idea what was lying ahead of us.
The Israelites moved every time the cloud lifted and this trip was no different. With the Holy Spirit as our guide we came together as a team to pray more than ever; to seek the face of the Lord. We sought Him to stay in step with His will and plan.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.Exodus 13:21
Daily miracles, small and large, confirmed day after day that we were at the right place at the right time. Now we just had to rest, prick our ears to hear clearly, and follow where He led. Great was and is His faithfulness!
With each new location, there was divine accommodation. Wonderful friends and family had the faith to receive a team of 7 from England in the midst of a global pandemic. Despite the fear and community persecution that many of our hosts faced, each stood firm in their faith and received the team.
We shared joy in spite of the great fear that ate at so many around the world. It was a tonic and an impartation from the Lord. With spirits elevated and our faith grounded, we ministered from a place of victory.
For me particularly this was a highlight to see how our heavenly Father was caring for His children. I had a real new revelation of how it felt to be shepherded. It brought such peace; a total contrast to the torment being spread through social media and news outlets.
On Good Friday, our ministry was cancelled at a church in Southern Virginia. Despite the cancellation, we urged the congregation to tune in to our first ever in-house live-stream, which the Lord gave us the grace to run totally on our own.
We set up at the home that was graciously given to host us in North Carolina, and prepped the living room to look like a tv studio.
Our humble setup simply had to do the job and we were reminded of the fish and loaves story and asked the Lord to multiply what we gave Him. It felt like we had birthed about 5 elephants! Almost coincidentally, our signature verse that day was:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…1 Corinthians 1:27
Finally, as we were ready to go live. As we started, all systems failed. The enemy tried his best, but we were praying in the Spirit as Zach rebooted the systems that took all day to configure.
But God…..He is for us and not against us!
We fought the lion and the bear and this Goliath was about to come up against our 5 little stones and slingshot. “You come to us with a sword and spear but we come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts!” I muttered under my breath.
“We’re live! Everything’s on! Speak Dan, let’s just go.”
The tension was rough but we have suffered worse before. We knew what we were up against spiritually. After the meeting, we discovered that people had watched from all over the world. Whatever was said and sung we laid in God’s hands and trusted that He would watch over His word to perform it.
Two days later, we were on our way to our next destination when we received a great testimony from a friend of ours who watched the live stream on Good Friday. A woman called him to ask for prayer as she suffered from intense pain all day. She had overdosed on pain medication and felt life was slipping away. Immediately, our friend Bode told her to join the live-stream as he prayed. He stayed with her on the phone, and as she watched song after song and listened to the word from Daniel, she said she felt life return and enough strength to stand up and breathe normally again! The Holy Spirit was doing a miracle through the ‘live-ways’!
Who are we to limit the power of the Holy Spirit? He is faithful. God, You are faithful! He that began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He never does anything halfway. He is not a man that He should lie! For the entirety of the three months, we stayed in step with Him, and He never relaxed His hold on us. Neither will He let you go.
Be encouraged today. You and I bear His surname (last name)!
Throughout this tour, there has been such an awesome sense of God’s guidance and direction. Who would be crazy enough to travel during a global pandemic? There’s no way we could or would entertain the idea on a human level. All we can say is that God really is and has been on the job.
As we took in the enormity of what was going on around us we realised we would have to live-stream all of our meetings and take everything on a day by day and meeting by meeting basis. One of our meetings was in a church in Atlanta that was just beginning to allow a limited number of people into the building for services as restrictions began to be eased. The Saturday night service that we ministered at both physically and via live stream was being seen by people all over the world. We could see on our YouTube live chat that people were watching from New Zealand, various countries in Europe, Sri Lanka to name a few places.
Daniel preached a powerful message on fulfilling our destiny. During his message he used John 8:44 where Jesus says:
…When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
He used the illustration of David and Goliath, where Goliath was taunting the children of Israel for 40 days. He stood mocking them asking them to dare fight him. He stood tall, proud, and self-assured attacking the Israelites on a purely human level to intimidate them and strike fear into their hearts. He stood like the circumstances and situations that we often face taunting us, asking us “What are you going to do now?”, “How are you going to make it through?”. Goliath came to the Israelites like Satan does to us with an earthly problem, but we can combat him with a Godly solution. David said, “You come to me with a sword and spear but I come to you in the name of the Lord!”. We all know the story, David took his slingshot and with one stone downed the Giant with his first shot! Daniel’s message encouraged us to face our problems and situations in the name of the Lord, defeating our giants, whatever they may be, with whatever God has given us to use.
At the end of our ministry, Daniel gave an altar call and the church displayed a telephone number online for people to call if they had prayed the prayer of salvation. That night we were told that someone called from France to say that they had given their life to Jesus. It would have been 2 am in the morning in France! We were so blown away and awed by God’s mercy and goodness.
After the ministry, a lady came up to our product table and said that she’d had such a busy day at work and all she wanted to do was to go home and relax. As a subscriber to the church YouTube channel, she received the alert for the live broadcast and after watching for a few minutes she said that the anointing was so strong that she simply had to come to the church as it was something she couldn’t miss out on. Also in the congregation was a wonderful brother who has now become a great friend of the ministry, Greg Griffith. He was so moved by the ministry that he really believed it was a divine appointment for us all to meet so unexpectedly. He arranged to take us out for a meal on Sunday night.
After preaching such a powerful message, Daniel fell ill during the night. Based on the timing, we knew that this was a direct attack based on Daniel’s boldness in declaring the Word that evening. The next day we ministered during the Sunday morning service and in Daniel’s words, he just about made it through. He had a high fever, along with other symptoms which indicated that he had a bladder infection.
When Greg took us out for dinner, Daniel was not able to come with us. We prayed for him before we left and ordered food for him while we were out. Greg called a couple of his friends and they prayed for Daniel over the phone and we were able to record the messages and send them to him for strength and encouragement. One of Greg’s friends Clarice Fluitt prayed such a powerful prayer over Daniel and then spoke a prophetic word over us as a team. Another friend of his also named Daniel prayed for him, as well as other faith-filled believers. It was such an encouragement to have people of faith praying for Daniel and us as a team. On our way home, Greg stopped at a pharmacy to stock us up on vitamins and everything Daniel needed to recover. Miraculously within 3 days, Daniel was healed and back to normal.
Click on the link for Daniel’s message: https://youtu.be/g_p0Bwrkfk4?t=5431
During this pandemic, we have had to learn to communicate in different ways and use social media more effectively. As our mission tour to Suriname was postponed we were able to do a general Vinesong live Q&A and a 3 part Worship Q&A which were live-streamed on YouTube. It was a lot of work but we thoroughly enjoyed being able to take the time out to do it.
We have been so looked after during this tour. All of our accommodation needs were provided for and we did not need to spend a cent on accommodation in 3 months. Praise God! Regardless of how hopeless things appear, we serve a God who loves His creation and will not allow anything to stop His love and the Gospel from moving forward. He knows that as we love one another, especially in these difficult times of disruption and in the flare-up of racial tensions, lives will be changed for eternity.
In Matthew 24, Jesus says:
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”Matthew 24:12-14
I’m personally encouraged by God’s faithfulness, love, and kindness to us, especially throughout this tour. This scripture sums it up for me:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.Hebrews 10: 23 -25
In May, we visited World Harvest Church in Atlanta, Pastored by Mirek Hufton. It was an incredible time. The way the Lord orchestrated our going there was quite miraculous.
Last year in December, we went to the Holy Ghost Congress in Nigeria. One particular evening, we ministered a few songs and after the night was over we went to the buses to be escorted back to our accommodation along with the other guests. Because of certain arrangements, Zach and I had to stay behind a little bit longer than normal, which led us to being separated from the team and on a different bus.
By divine arrangement, we sat next to pastor Mirek on that bus. Pastor Mirek had met the team a few years before, but this year we were able to spend some time with him. At some point, after spending time with Pastor John and learning more about the ministry, he extended an invitation to us to minister in his church.
Fast forward 5 months to that weekend in Atlanta. What a tremendous blessing. We were received with so much love from everyone. In my short time with Vinesong, visiting many communities, World Harvest Church has particularly stood out in a special way.
We felt like family. It was tremendous to see Pastor Mirek boldly preaching the truth in these twisted times and his family supporting him in different church ministries. It was also refreshing to see our first congregation physically present since Georgia was one of the first states to begin opening back up. The church treated us so well and God blessed us with great new friends. The whole experience was indeed extraordinary. May God be glorified!
This year was a year like no other. Against great odds, we moved forward our flight and arrived in the United States only 8 hours before they closed the borders for the United Kingdom.
The Lord was surely with us, and many testimonies came throughout the three months we spent in America. Signs and wonders followed as we ministered throughout nearly 10 different states. As we arrived in Pennsylvania, we were prepared to face 10-hour lines at immigration, as had been the story at so many other international airports that weekend. Instead, we were the only flight to come in and the airport was deserted.
After being received by the church in Telford and housed for almost a week, we left the state. The next day, the governor closed down the state. We went on to minister in Delaware and the day we left, they locked down the state. We arrived in Virginia and from our base there also ministered in Maryland. As we left Northern Virginia to travel to what is known as the Northern Neck, they locked down the state as well. Thankfully, we could stay there for another week.
We had an incredible time of rest, but also several live streams and home ministries while staying with dear friends Rod and Beth Parker. The Lord used our time there mightily.
Our ministry on the western border of North Carolina, where we ministered at Foothills Community Church, turned out to be one of the most exciting events of our tour!
Because of the social distancing restrictions, the church was not able to meet inside. So instead, they brought the service to the parking lot!
Hundreds of cars gathered for worship as we ministered through the PA system. Instead of clapping, they hooted their horns to give glory to God. What an awesome experience it was!
We left North Carolina in the dead of night and travelled to Florida, where we stayed in St Augustine for nearly 4 weeks nearby my family. Our meetings in other parts of Florida were cancelled, as well as our two week tour to Suriname so we spent the entire time in one house working on other projects. We released a Q&A session as well as an exclusive Vinesong collaboration with the present and previous teams!
(See the “Lift Up The Name” collaboration here: https://youtu.be/D4Sskpi3_ME)
After a restful but fruitful time in Florida, we ministered in Atlanta before passing through Birmingham, where my father hosted the team for a few days before finally going to Fairhope on the coast.
From Alabama, we made the last major leg of our journey through to Texas, where we finished the final three weeks of the tour. By this time, places of worship had begun to open up again. We ministered in several churches near Houston, Seminole, and Dallas. The Lord did so much in a short time. We saw miracles of reconciliation, emotional healing, physical healing and spiritual growth. A highlight for me was seeing Pastors Tunde & Sade Badru in Katy near Houston where we celebrated the life of their young son, born after 23 years of trusting the Lord for a child!
Our arrival in America was one big miracle! Originally, we bought our tickets to the US to fly out on Wednesday 18th March, but with all that was happening in the world, we met on the Saturday before and prayed for wisdom to confirm whether we should fly out earlier before everything shut down or not. We made the decision to change our tickets to fly out on Monday (16th March). Just an hour later, the president of the USA and the Coronavirus taskforce announced that all flights from the UK and Ireland to America would be cancelled starting Tuesday morning. That was the first confirmation; the next one was the fact that there were still seven seats available on the Monday flight.
After our evening ministry on Sunday, the 15th of March we only arrived home at 1 am because of complications on the road. Our new van which showed a fuel range of 30 miles shutdown on the motorway half a mile from the service station we were going to stop at to fill up.
Due to all of the new restrictions and the danger of travel itself we met again to reconsider our whole plan for the next 3 months. We prayed and God confirmed to us that it was His will for us to go to America and to be a light for people there at such a time as this in whatever shape or form possible. He led us to the Scripture Joshua 4, where God told the Israelites to build a memorial so they would always remember that after they stepped out in faith, God had parted the water of the river Jordan to secure a safe passage to the other side for them according to His promise. Every member of the team declared that by faith, they were willing to face the possible complications. After we packed and slept for about an hour, we headed for the airport.
At Heathrow airport everything was so calm, considering that it is one of Europe’s busiest international airports and this was the last day of travel for anyone from the UK still wanting to go to America.
The flight itself was very smooth and we arrived safely at Philadelphia airport. In all the years of travelling to America, we have never had it so easy getting through immigration. Afterwards, we only answered a few questions confirming that we hadn’t been to highly affected areas to prove that we were not infected with the virus. A man who was helping us with our suitcases in the empty luggage hall told us, that whole of Philadelphia was going to be locked down within the next hour or so. We were just in time!
Our brothers from Hopewell Christian Fellowship who were looking after our American van and trailer were already waiting for us outside. They picked us up and drove us to our lovely accommodation, a church house on the church property.
When we got there, we were awestruck at how easy everything was and incredibly grateful to God. Back then we had no idea that our arrival was just the first miracle out of many that were going to happen on this US tour.
We give God glory for all that He has done and is continuing to do in the lives of His people.
Whilst we were in Seminole west Texas towards the end of our tour, we were told that they desperately needed rain. It hadn’t rained for 2 months. Daniel asked the farmer that was telling him about the water situation how much rain they needed. The farmer said that about 5 inches would be good. Daniel said in faith from the pulpit during one of our meetings there, that it would rain in 10 days and that they would receive the 5 inches needed. Exactly 10 days later, we received a WhatsApp from the mother of one of the families there. She sent us a picture of dark clouds and the rain. Her daughters had marked on the calendar 10 days from the day that Daniel spoke. When we asked again how much rain had fallen we were told 6 inches. God went one better and upgraded the 5 inches to 6! What excitement and what an awesome and amazingly specific God!
In the final week of the missions tour, we had our annual Board Meeting via Zoom. We thank the Lord for faithful men and women of God who have prayed for us and encouraged us through this whole journey. We would like to use this opportunity to appreciate our board members: Sumner Mering (President), Randy Patton, Pastor Olu Obed, Christopher Gill and Kelly Gill and their families for their service as unto the Lord.
Whatever you have been going through during this season, our heart is that you would take comfort in the fact that our God is greater than any circumstance or situation in which we find ourselves. God is for us!
Thank you for taking the journey with us as we shared our experiences, testimonies, and reflections. Let faith arise in your heart, bringing hope, healing, and light into this dark and broken world.