Pas­tor found Oprah’s ‘golden mo­ment’

Book tells how ran­dom events can change lives

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

Renowned gospel singer Wint­ley Phipps — who re­cently of­fered im­promptu songs and prayers on Ro­ma­nian tele­vi­sion to soothe that na­tion’s bro­ken hearts over a tragic fire — is ea­ger to spread the news about “golden mo­ments of des­tiny.”

Th­ese are seem­ingly ran­dom events in which some­one’s — even a stranger’s — sim­ple words or deeds can af­fect the life of an­other per­son and help them find their way into a bet­ter life, said Mr. Phipps, who writes about them in a new book.

For ex­am­ple, he said, 35 years ago, he was at a singing en­gage­ment in Bal­ti­more.

Af­ter the event, a young woman came up to him and asked whether they could talk. She said she had a news­cast­ing job but was deeply dis­cour­aged and ex­pect­ing to be let go soon.

Mr. Phipps, who is a Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist pas­tor, in­vited her to come to his fam­ily home in Mary­land a few days later.

Af­ter talk­ing and pray­ing, he said to her, “Be­fore you go, I don’t know why, but God has im­pressed me to tell you that he is go­ing to bless you and give you an op­por­tu­nity to speak to mil­lions of peo­ple.”

“No,” the woman said in dis­be­lief. “You think God would do that for me?”

On Sun­day, the same woman — Oprah Win­frey — aired an in­ter­view on her self­named net­work with Mr. Phipps about his book about watch­ing for those “golden mo­ments of des­tiny” as well as the eight di­men­sions of char­ac­ter.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Times, Mr. Phipps said he has of­ten acted on im­pres­sions, “with­out know­ing who th­ese peo­ple would turn out to be” or how they would im­pact lives.

For in­stance, he once no­ticed a man on an Am­trak train whose face was down­cast and who had spread out pa­pers on the seat next to him as if to say, “Please leave me alone.”

“There were other seats avail­able,” Mr. Phipps said, “but I walked up to him and said, ‘Is any­body sit­ting next to you?’ and he said, ‘No.’”

The man was Chuck Col­son, the spe­cial coun­sel who went to prison over the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Water­gate scan­dal and later be­came a de­vout Chris­tian.

“We be­came the dear­est of friends,” Mr. Phipps said, adding that he be­came in­volved in Mr. Col­son’s fa­mous Prison Fel­low­ship pro­gram for in­mates: “He would speak and I would sing,” Mr. Phipps said.

When Mr. Phipps learned that 70 per­cent of U.S. chil­dren who end up in prison had par­ents who spent time in prison, he was in­spired to start a min­istry for those chil­dren. For 30 years, he said, the U.S. Dream Acad­emy has been tu­tor­ing and men­tor­ing thou­sands of chil­dren of pris­on­ers in ma­jor cities.

Also, in yet an­other des­tiny mo­ment, Mr. Phipps re­called be­ing on an air­plane and see­ing a flight at­ten­dant who seemed to have a heavy heart. He in­tro­duced him­self and gave her an au­dio­cas­sette of him singing gospel songs, say­ing he felt heaven had “im­pressed upon” him to share it with her to lift her spir­its.

A few days later, that flight at­ten­dant was on an­other flight and rec­og­nized a man who was the di­rec­tor for the choirs with the Billy Gra­ham Cru­sades. She gave Mr. Phipps’ cas­sette to him — and this led to a call about him be­ing a soloist with the leg­endary evan­ge­list. “For 25 years, it was my honor to travel with Billy Gra­ham,” Mr. Phipps said.

The singing pas­tor’s book, “Your Best Des­tiny: Be­com­ing the Per­son You Were Cre­ated To Be,” aims to in­spire oth­ers to see events like th­ese in their own lives.

“I call them ‘golden mo­ments of des­tiny’ be­cause they are mo­ments you could not or­ches­trate: Five min­utes ear­lier, five min­utes later, and you would have missed that mo­ment,” he said.

“What I was shown was that ‘mo­ments of des­tiny’ are mo­ments for which you were cre­ated — but they are not the rea­son for which you are cre­ated,” Mr. Phipps said.

“The rea­son for which you are cre­ated is to grow more ev­ery day to re­sem­ble, re­flect and re­veal the char­ac­ter of God. And this is your high­est and most supreme des­tiny,” he said.

The book is writ­ten for all au­di­ences, but es­pe­cially for young adults, be­cause it of­fers chap­ters on eight di­men­sions to char­ac­ter. Th­ese in­clude faith and be­lief, virtues and moral in­tegrity, love of knowl­edge and wis­dom, self-con­trol, pa­tience, kind­ness, love and re­spect for that which is holy and sa­cred.

“There is noth­ing more im­por­tant than the de­vel­op­ment of char­ac­ter,” Mr. Phipps said. That’s “be­cause when life is over, that’s all you’ve got — your char­ac­ter.”

Mr. Phipps, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, has sung for six pres­i­dents and Mother Teresa. He has also per­formed duets with Patti LaBelle and Melissa Manch­ester, and per­son­ally told Tom Jones what an in­spi­ra­tion his voice was to Mr. Phipps dur­ing his child­hood.

Just this month, Mr. Phipps had an­other “mo­ment of des­tiny” while in Ro­ma­nia.

The na­tion was in an up­roar over a night­club fire that led to 57 deaths and in­jured an­other 154 peo­ple, mostly young adults. The fire was caused when a band’s py­rotech­nics dis­play hit flammable ma­te­ri­als in the club. A stam­pede en­sued with only one exit.

The Oct. 30 tragedy — and out­cry over flouted safety laws — led to the res­ig­na­tion of the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wint­ley Phipps, also known as “the singing pas­tor,” ex­plains the im­pres­sion he had 35 years ago when he met a young woman named Oprah Win­frey. He told her God would bless her and give her an op­por­tu­nity to speak to mil­lions.

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