Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Spirit and In Truth

Fathers have often served as head of household, although in recent decades the responsibility lags in many families. I applaud those men of God who stand upright supporting not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. It takes more than money to raise a child and it’s important that parents take an active part in their children’s lives. If training does not take place in the home, it will occur somewhere. Seizing control of what happens with our children today will create a better future for them tomorrow. And we have the greatest example of them all—God.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, take note that June has also been deemed Black Music Month. There are many Gospel artists who carry the message of Jesus Christ spreading it to the masses. And one thing is certain, in order to have Christ in your life, you must first be honest and truthful about yourself. Confession is a big part of salvation. One must admit that they’re a sinner in order to receive forgiveness. If a person thinks they have never done anything wrong, how can they be forgiven? In surrendering your all to God, you come to Him as you are and allow Him to change you into who you need to be. Don’t mimic somebody else’s mode of living … that’s not authentic. God calls us to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

In this issue, Renarda Williams shares an interview conducted with the Gospel singing group, Mary Mary, about their new book, Be U. Their last album, The Sound, particularly caught my attention as it was upbeat making for good work-out music. This was until I listened closely to the song "Superfriend" on this album featuring David Banner—a rapper notoriously known for degradingly explicit lyrics. It further troubled me that the producer on David Banner’s album (entitled The Greatest Story Ever Told: which defies what's often referred to Jesus’ life) is Warryn Campbell, husband of Erica Campbell (one half of the Mary Mary duo). This record was released the same year as The Sound (2008).

The duo has been singing professionally now for over a decade, reaching out to the lost and downtrodden, and it would be sad to see this side-tracked by actions that show straddling the fence. God has made this evident in my own life, especially with previous editions of my work which included profanity—that by today's worldly standard is deemed okay and even aired on primetime television. Back then I thought I was just being realistic, but whose reality was I portraying? I wasn't one who spoke with such language, so why did my characters? I now accept Christ's teaching and move on to learn more. I have re-written those works to please God, not people.

Below is an inside view as to how Mary Mary aim to encourage young girls to become the women God desires for them to be. I pray, in the name of Jesus, that God leads them in the direction He would have for them to go. We must be mindful that our lives may be the only Bible some people will ever read (Matthew 7:20).

In the testimony corner, meet Sonya Visor, the Founder of TruU Ministries. She also teaches on the importance of being a person of truth by taking off the masks many have been prone to wear. Sonya is the loving wife of Pastor Tony Visor for over nineteen years, and mother of two sons, Jason and Tony, Jr. She and her husband have ministered effectively together in the city of Racine, WI at NCC (New Covenant Church) since 1999. Read about her journey to freedom and how she was able to take of her mask and become the true woman God has called her to be.


Mary Mary says just "Be U!"
By Renarda Williams

The gospel singing duo, Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Campbell) has sold more than 2.8 million records in the U.S. alone, since their debut album, Thankful, in May 2000. Every one of their studio albums has been either platinum or gold certified. Mary Mary's newest album The Sound, which was released on October 2008, has sold almost 200,000 copies to date.

Today, Mary Mary has a dynamic inspirational book, Be U: Be Honest, Be Beautiful, Be Intentional, Be Strong, Be You! (Howard Books, 2010), that is geared towards motivating girls, young women, or anyone who needs inspiration. They encourage others to seek what God sees in them instead of people; to focus on the inner beauty God has placed inside to shine outwardly, displaying their spiritual selves.

Recently, in an email interview, Mary Mary talked about their purpose for writing Be U.

RW: How important it is to empower women from a spiritual, mental and physical (health) standpoint?

MM: Empowering women is quite important to us. And when these three components of a woman's life are healthy, she is an overall, healthy woman. So we feel that we have a responsibility to use this God given platform to help build or at least positively influence the lives of those girls and women watching. Otherwise, we've wasted our God given opportunity.

RW: Do you think little girls, teenagers, and young adult women need mentoring today, more than ever, because of the peer pressure they face on a regular basis?

MM: Girls, teens and young women absolutely need mentoring. There seems to be an over abundance of negative, or just not [enough] positive, images every time you turn on the television or internet; every time you see an advertisement; and every time you go to school or some social setting. It seems like no one has restraints or self respect or individuality or dignity. It seems like the world has lost reverence for God, our parents, and the elderly.

[It also] seems like the cool thing is not following the rules or having standards ... but just following the leader and that's whoever has the biggest, loudest, boundary-less or toughest/fear provoking behavior. So girls and women definitely need mentors to help guide them in a positive direction. Hopefully we and our Be U book will provide that for at least some of them.

RW: What is the most important thing that you both want women to learn from your book? Always put God first, knowing He can do all things?

MM: Absolutely, positively all of the above. They're all essential to becoming strong and beautiful, honest and intentional, and ultimately becoming your best U.

RW: Did you both feel it was time to write a book, to inspire people, just like your music?

MM: Well to be honest, we always think of and consider new way to inspire, but the idea of writing a book came from our manager, Holly. We certainly thought it could be very effective in pushing the idea or movement, Be U.

We so want to inspire girls and young women to embrace who they are, who God made them to be, and give their best shot at being their best self. The most effective place for presenting this concept or philosophy to some is written in a book. So Mary Mary had to write the Be U book.

Erica and Tina Campbell grew up in a large family in Inglewood, California. They first sang publicly in the local church choir and received their first break in 1998 with a song on the "Prince of Egypt" soundtrack. Now, they are three-time Grammy winners, with their most recent being the 2009 win for Best Gospel Performance for their hit single "Get Up." They are also Dove, Stellar, MOBO, and American Music Award winners.

Their group was inspired by the two Marys in the Bible -- Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene.

The Testimony Corner

"Take Off the Mask"

How does a pastor’s wife find herself at the point of suicide? I mean literally, ready to end it all with her four year old son in his bedroom playing with his toys. We are talking about a woman who supports her husband, prays for church members and cheer-leaded others out of their midnights. How did she come to the conclusion of death? I can tell you because it was me, surrounded by darkness when I carried the light of Jesus. There was an internal battle raging inside. I mastered the art of wearing masks to cover up sin in my life. Suicide didn’t care that my husband was a pastor, it was seeking death and I was about to offer up my own hand to the enemy.

Secrets for me started when I was a little girl learning at a young age how to hide sin. My violators—trusted family members—taught me the art of “being quiet” as they touched my body. I walked around hiding who I was by saying what I thought others wanted me to say. I never truly was able to say how I really felt because I assumed that people expected me to be a perfectionist. I was becoming bound daily, walking around pretending that I was “okay”. The truth is: I was living a lie. I wasn’t alright, reaching for silence instead of truth. It was easier to say I was okay than to deal with the pain of my past and disappointing others.

After years of wearing a mask of pretense that “all is well,” the many faces were shattering and I was finally losing control; no longer able to hold it together smiling in the presence of others and crying deep down inside of my soul. It was truly time to become naked and unashamed in the presence of the King. The problem was that I didn’t know how, but God allowed me to be pushed into a corner getting me to scream, “No, I’m not alright!” This was the only way that help would come and liberate me.

On Sundays, I went to church with my husband, playing the role, but my soul couldn’t take it any longer … God was breaking down my masks. He sent my son to me while I was curled up on the living room floor. He voiced these words, “Mommy, God loves you and so do I.” That was it! Broken, set free…and I could smell victory. I felt God’s love despite all of the mess …all of my secrets…all of my shame. God told me that he loved me; the miracle was Him using my son who couldn’t even hear. Wow, what a wonderful day! I was saved and set on a course to live, no longer hiding behind faces that were not true. Today, I am free to be the true me.

Is there something you’re hiding? Deeper than that: Who are you when nobody’s looking? I encourage you to look at “it”. Feel it, don’t brush it off and say that you are “alright” or “okay” when you are not. Deal with it by the grace of God (Luke 8:17).

Be free in the presence of the King. Tell Him your story; after all, He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Be TruU Always,

*Sonya Visor is the author of Who I Am Is Not Who I’ve Become. To read more about her testimony and the ministry God has placed inside of her, please visit *


In Closing,

I thank Sonya Visor and Renarda Williams for their contribution this month. Both fell in line with what God instructs us to do … to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. God says in Revelation 3:16 (NKJV), “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Many attempt to serve God in flesh and in lies still obtaining approval from the world, but this does not profit their soul. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36.

We must come to God knowing that He is I AM. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We must be willing to say no to the world … and yes to God, no matter what. As Christians, we have to show others the way, not become a lukewarm sideliner. It’s not a decision for the faint at heart, but for those who stand for Christ at all costs, even if it means losing their very life.

To all of the fathers or those who act in such a capacity, I pray the Lord shines upon you. Not only on Father’s Day, but each day of the year.

References: In Flesh and in Lies, Straddling the Fence

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at