Pastor found Oprah’s ‘golden moment’
Book tells how random events can change lives
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.
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.