1. Tell us how and when your Ministry began:
God formed Answered Prayer in August 2007. We had a 5th Sunday sing at our local church, Richburg Baptist in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Current group members Vance Green and Brian Carney both attended there, along with another original group member Glenn Mallette. The three sang specials at church as soloist, but never as a group. We decided that morning to sing a few together that night at the service. Vance called his niece, Nikki Bernardo, also a current group member, and invited her to come up and sing with them that night. She came, and the four practiced for about an hour before the service. After the service, we were so encouraged by the response from our church members that we decided to see what doors God would open. Shortly after that night our dear friends, The Meyers Family, invited us to open for them at a concert. That was our first official date! Since then God has continued to bless and open doors, especially in these last few months. There have been a few changes in the group over the years, but current members Nikki Bernardo, Penny Welborn, Buddy Dewease, Brian Carney, Vance Green, and sound tech Allen Neldon have been traveling together over two years now. It was an ‘Answered Prayer’ for each of us to be a member of a southern gospel group, therefore the name ‘Answered Prayer’. We are so excited to see what HE has in store for AP!
2. Your radio single!!!! Wow! Tell us about the song and the writer:
‘When He Says Arise’… WOW.. this song has a long history with us. It was written by two of the most respected writers in the industry, Gerald Crabb and Kayla Rowland. It was recorded by Mike Bowling’s brother, Jeff, and his group in 2005, but never received the attention this song deserved. What a powerful lyric those two wrote! This was one of the very first songs we sang as a group over 10 years ago. Nikki was already singing it as a soloist, and she brought it to practice one night. We put it in our lineup and the song quickly became a crowd favorite. Nikki left the group for a few years, and when she returned in 2015, Vance’s daughter Caroline said ‘Dad, make sure Nikki starts singing that song ‘When He Says Arise’ again because that was my favorite! So we did, and again it quickly became a crowd favorite. It’s on our most recent project ‘Through It All’ from last year, but we didn’t release it to radio. We are working on a brand new project that will be coming out in June/July and Nikki has written a song for that album titled “Just Before Dawn” that we had planned on being our next release. We are working with Vonda Easley and Hey Ya’ll Media for that radio release, and she suggested to take a song of our currently available project and release it to radio so we could go ahead and get our name out there in advance of the new project release. So we chose, ‘When He Says Arise’, and WOW!. We are just so humbled by what HE has done with this song in just a few weeks!
3. Other than singing, tell us about what you do?
Nikki is a stay at home mom, which she says is a ‘full time’ job! She enjoys spending time with her husband Kerry, daughters Payton and Lilly R, step daughter Lillie B, and watching Alabama football!
Penny works as a birth certificate clerk at a local hospital. She loves spending time with her daughter Kayla, and is an avid Mississippi State sports fan!
Buddy is in the insurance business. When he isn’t working he enjoys boating, playing softball, and playing drums. He also enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Crystal, daughter Lexi and son Levi, and is a big LSU fan!
Brian travels the region with a mobile truck busting kidney stones! For his hobby he says he enjoys paying his children back for everything they did to him while in their teenage years! He also enjoys spending time with his grand children! He is married to his wife Michelle, and has three children Austin, Shelby, and Brooke.
Vance is a VP at a health system based out of Hattiesburg MS. He has been with the hospital for 34 years! When he’s not working or singing, he enjoys fishing, spending time at the lake with family and friends, and woodworking/remodeling projects. He’s been married to his wife Christi for 29 years, and has 3 children: Chase, Christian, and Caroline.
4. Share your testimony with us:
Nikki-I have been singing since I was old enough to know what singing meant. From Sunday School’s “His Banner Over Me is Love” and “Jesus Loves Me” to now 25 years later singing and writing songs with Answered Prayer. I began singing with Answered Prayer years ago in a little church on a Sunday night. I won’t ever forget it. “The Anchor Holds” was the first song we sang together that night. I absolutely loved singing about our Lord Jesus Christ! I sang with Answered Prayer for a few years. Due to having two absolutely beautiful little girls, (which requires a lot of our time), and having my support system break I had to step away for a while. Yes, it was difficult and I missed it, for singing was a part of my soul. It’s who I was, it’s who I am today. As years passed, I began to pray and ask God to make a way for me to sing again. I asked him to open the door and I promised I would walk through it if he did. I know it was God, because soon after that Vance came to our home and asked me if I was ready to join the group again. I had no doubt to the answer as it was like the answered prayer walked right through my door! I have been singing his word through song ever since! Just like that first song, “The Anchor Holds”. Jesus held on to me! I have 2 beautiful daughters, Payton and Lilly, a beautiful step daughter, Lillie, and a wonderful supportive husband, Kerry, who has been there every step of the way. I just love to spend time with them. We love watching movies, going to the zoo, the beach, football games, you name it! I want to thank Answered Prayer for the opportunity to and privilege to sing with them. I love all of you! Thank you to my family. I want to especially thank my mom, Angela, for all of her encouragement starting in the beginning when I was just a little girl. She has always raised me up and has always been there for me. I most of all want to thank Jesus Christ for his love, his mercy, his grace and for allowing me to sing his praises! I never want the rocks to cry out in my place! He is worthy to be praised!
Penny: I was very fortunate to have grown up in a Christian home. My parents and grandparents were very influential in my life. I grew up in a musical family. My grandfather played the guitar, mandolin and harmonica. My grandmother and aunts would always sing in church. This is where I learned how to harmonize at a young age. I got saved when I was 10yrs old at G.M.A camp. I felt the peace of God cover me that night. As the years passed, I got married, had a daughter 2yrs later and every thing was good right? Well, little did I know how the devil started putting major stumbling blocks in my way. My marriage ended and I broke the heart of my 7yr old daughter. I tend to call this period in my life “the dark ages”. I quit singing, I felt ashamed of failing as a wife, failure as a mother and disappointment to my parents. One day my daughter and I were riding down the road and the song “God Wants to Hear You Sing” came over the radio. My daughter said, “Mama, you know God wants to hear you sing again”. Tears came to eyes and I realized she was right. I started back singing and I sang that song for my first time back. My life has been such a rollercoaster ride, filled with major depression, anxiety and guilt. Without the prayers of my family, God’s mercy and grace, I know without a doubt I would not be here today. God is faithful and He’s never left my side. I still have days I struggle but anytime I fall on my face, He picks me up and holds me! I’m so thankful that God let my daughter’s words that day bring me to my senses.
Buddy _ I am proud to say that I was a drug baby…you know, one of those kids whose parents drug them to church every time that the doors were open! Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and every night of our week long revivals that we had. I grew up Faithway Landmark Missionary Baptist where I was related to 99.9% of the church goers at the time. Big church…sanctuary held maybe 75-100 people if you squeezed them in there with some Crisco! Ha! It was while I was attending this church that I came to realize that I was lost and bound for a devil’s hell. I felt trapped…I would stay awake at night watching the eastern sky hoping that I would not see it start to light up and straining to hear the sound of a trumpet. My family would pray with me and tell me over and over to “just let go, Buddy”…”once you decide to let him in, you will see that it was the easiest thing that you have ever done”…”stop making it so hard”. All the while, I am thinking, “Let go?! How?! Explain this to me more! I don’t get it! Once I let him in?! What does that even mean?! Why would I try to make this so hard?!” I went to an event with a friend of mine called ‘Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames’ when I was a sophomore in high school… And I had and emotional experience. Not really knowing what was going on, I “assumed” that this was salvation. I knew when I went down and repeated the prayer after the pastor that nothing had changed… But they kept saying that since I sent the prayer that everything was good. So I was baptized and joined our little church and went on with life for the next 10 years or so. For all of those 10 years, I knew something was missing, something wasn’t right… But I just kept pushing it off because they told me that everything was OK. I started singing with Answered Prayer during those 10 years and came to realize after a few years of singing with them that I was living a lie. We were singing at a revival at our church at the time, and the preacher was preaching on salvation and not being ashamed if you’ve been baptized before but never truly got saved and that God was still calling. I felt moved to go down that night, repeated a prayer again, got dunked again… And nothing changed. I didn’t realize until about three years after that what it truly meant to be saved. Nobody ever explain to me that it was a decision to daily take up your cross and follow him… and it was no more and no less than that. It was simply a decision. Wow! The revelation that I had at that moment sitting in my little brother’s office at our church and he explained to me what salvation really was! I have been doing it wrong all along! So the following week during a Sunday morning service, I let go of all of the things that I had thought before… and trusted in God that he would take care of me for all of eternity. And from that moment on, I have no worries! So, if you’re reading this and that you have been going through the motions because you are afraid of what people will say because you have been baptized before, just know that it does not matter what anyone says or thinks… Ultimately what matters is that One on one relationship with Jesus Christ.
Brian – If you were to ask about my testimony where would I begin. Would it be between the ages of 6 and 18 when I first felt God’s hand on my life? From the first memories of my parent’s bitter divorce until graduation I seemed to have one opportunity after another for God to reveal himself in my life. And He did in every instance without fail. Every struggle was replaced with ‘I am here and you are not alone’. I went off to college and I had years that were all about me and not him. He never left me even when I had periods of time hiding as if he did not know what I was doing. Still that Holy Spirit worked inside me. I got married, had children, and got a job to build the life you dreamed of only to realize without God’s handiwork involved ..every fork in the road could have lead down a different path and outcome. I stand in awe at 56 years old. Humbled at a life I do not deserve and yet by His grace he has let me live. I am under no illusion that my time left on this old world is growing shorter by the years and have no fear when it’s done. How grateful I am for the people God has put into my life along the way. My oldest brother and I shared a bed when we were kids. My first real awareness of God came from him sitting in bed reading out loud to me from a book called ” Good news for modern man” . I guess in the 60’s it was a youth bible study book. But from him in high school not being ashamed to read to me the good news shows how the smallest acts of faith can have a huge impact on somebody’s life. I found myself in a hospital bed at 3 am having a conversation with God and it went like this: ” I believe you are my God and I know you have saved me. I know you are real by the way you have touched me. I have no doubt you are God and I’m yours. So live or die I win either way. Lord do what you want” at 7am I’m on the surgery table having open heart surgery. My testimony is simple. God has loved me more than I loved Him, paid more than I am worth and given me more than I deserve.
Vance – I was so blessed to be raised in a Christian home. My parents, William and Sharron Green, made sure we was at church each time the doors opened, and those roots stuck with me as I grew older. I had the ‘head knowledge’, and always tried to do the right things growing up and through college, but never had the ‘heart knowledge’ until years later. After I was married, I attended a revival at my wife’s home church in Steep Hollow, Mississippi. While listening to the preacher that night, I couldn’t wait for the invitation, the Holy Spirit was really working on me. I went down that night and found that ‘heart knowledge’ that I had been missing for years, and was baptized in the coldest creek in the nation just a few days afterwards! Since then there has absolutely been struggles, but HE has ALWAYS been faithful. I have been so undeserving of the things HE has blessed me, my family, and Answered Prayer with, but we are so thankful and humbled. I reflect back so many times on the many times I’ve failed Him, and wonder ‘why me’, why am I so blessed? then comes to mind one of my favorite songs that my dear friends Day Three sings, ‘I’ve failed but I’m NOT a failure’. We all struggle, but so did some of the greatest men in the Bible, Moses, David, and the list goes on. I just make it my prayer daily to try and do better today than I did yesterday!
5. If our readers would like to book you or purchase product, how can they do that?:
For bookings they can call Vance Green, 601-408-0689, go to our FB ‘Answered Prayer-Music’ and inbox us, or go to our website ‘www.apgospel.com’ and contact us there. For product, use the same contacts and we will ship the items! We are putting our next project that will be out in June/July online where it can be downloaded.
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