By Fred Comella
I’ve shared with all of you my first impressions of the musical worship portion of Sunday services when my wife first brought me to our church. As you may recall, I mentioned being taken back by the music as we entered, and quickly retreating to the fellowship area. (It is noteworthy however; that this is how I found the “The GNT”, which in turn began my own journey as a Christian writer). I’m not sure the two are related but for God’s intervention, as I’ve come to see is omnipresent in everything I do.
With that said, I wasn’t afraid of what I heard, just confused. My Catholic upbringing mandated “shutting up” in church until told to do otherwise. And the music was nothing like what I was hearing that morning Janie dragged me kicking and screaming to Abundant Life in Swansea MA. Ok, maybe not kicking and screaming. I suppose these are the transitional points where those who are not yet saved begin to understand the “relationship” aspect of being a Christian, as well as the heartfelt worship and song that is part of carrying you there.
Since that time, I’ve found myself more and more intrigued by the expression of faith I hear in the voices of our worship team, as well as those of the congregation swaying and singing along. The openness and comfort I feel being in His house with other like-minded folks, singing and praying, is something I can’t necessarily put into words except to say that I feel safe. Truth be told, I’ve even filled in a few times on the drums, as the worship team goes through some changes. Go figure…
My meager talents aside, I’ve come to understand the connection between what I hear at the beginning of services and the time I spend in thought at church every Sunday listening to my pastor. They now go hand in hand for me. And I’ve let go of all the inhibitions of a faith-life spent trying to figure out the parameters, and my place inside those parameters. And you know what? My “playlists” even include songs that, if you knew me way back when, you’d never have thought to hear them on any of my music gadgets… It’s sort of like, well, me being a Christian writer… Like I said, go figure…
So anyway, it’s always a literary bonus when I get to do stories about Christian music and the singers, song-writers and promoters who hear the calling and make the connection, stories of sacrifice and changes in life-direction that only appear to make sense to the “changee” when viewed through the eyes of the non-believer. In fact, even in my “saved condition”, I’m still amazed to hear the transformational journeys of people with a heart for the Lord who find their talent and use it to glorify their savior, without reservation. So here we go…
Finding ones voice is as challenging as any accomplishment, mainly because some very talented folks never seem to hear themselves as others do. They’re content to sing along and help out, all while honoring and glorifying their savior. Such is the case with young Stephanie Joy, the daughter of Christian parents Stephan and Isabelle Pati. Attending Cranston Christian Fellowship in Cranston Rhode Island, it was only natural that 15 year-old Stephanie would sing along with her singer/musician and song-writer father during worship services and that her love of Christ and desire to sing for Him would only grow.
Stephanie and her family would eventually find their way to Christian Hill Church in West Warwick Rhode Island, where she picked right up where she’d left off. Singing her way into the hearts of the parishioners and her fellow worship team members, Stephanie eventually worked her way into a lead position with the team, enjoying what she calls her “precious time before the Lord on Sunday mornings”.
I had a chance to speak with the now 29 year-old married mother of two little girls, Adrianna 3 and Penelope just 1 recently, and she emphasized what an absolute “honor it was that the Lord has chosen to use her in this way”, and that her greatest joy in performing is knowing how many more people she is reaching with her God-given talent.
I asked Stephanie how she knew this was her calling, and she told me that while growing and learning about God, she’s always known she wanted to honor and glorify Him, and that she understood Jesus was everything in her life no matter the road or direction. At that point in our interview I thought to myself, that’s the kind of faith that takes people to where He wants them to go. And so many of us miss it, because we’re too busy thinking that we’re in complete control all the time… Hmmm…
Stephanie and I talked more about family and how her efforts were made easier because her Husband and daughters were right there with her. Husband Thomas Rotella was even by her side minding the little ones while we talked. I did get a chance to speak with Tom as well, about his commitment to his wife’s talent and future. As we talked of his experience with sound boarding as well as an obvious ear for Stephanie’s voice, I could hear the commitment and dedication to his wife and family in his voice, and it was clear that Stephanie not only has a husband, but she also has a partner in all that Christ has in store for their family.
Now while Stephanie was going about the business of singing for God every weekend and caring for a growing family, someone else was listening in the congregation, someone who could hear Stephanie in a way she likely didn’t hear herself, at least beyond the walls of Christian Hill Church. Rick Provost was also a member of Stephanie’s church, and he was acutely tuned in to the voice he knew belonged on stage and in front of as many believers as possible. Rick knew that Stephanie was more than gifted, but rather anointed to spread His word through her music.
Fighting sports promoter and now owner and CEO of Rock Productions, Rick Provost and his wife Mai know a few things about reaching out and building coalitions for a common purpose. With more than 30 years business experience in brand building, marketing/promotions, event management/promotion and Sponsoring Partnership activation, recognizing potential is what Rick does. Rock Productions is focused on growing God’s Kingdom in the Biblically challenged area of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts by promoting Contemporary Christian artists and Concerts. They also create Business and Ministry Sponsoring Partnerships for The Lighthouse Events to further promote Contemporary Christian Concerts throughout New England including the River Rock Music Festival at Sunday River Resort in Maine this July 2 and 3.
I spoke with Rick last month and he explained: “Many new Christians searching for a relationship with Jesus may not enter into the doors of a typical Church Worship service initially, but the barriers of entry to Church are lowered when one is invited to a Concert within the church. It is this approach, reaching people through music worship, which ultimately leads people to Christ.” Rick tells me he felt called to do something purposeful, something to help share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others”, essentially fulfillment of something deep inside his soul and much more impactful than all of his business success. He ventured out last March and co-promoted (with The Lighthouse Events) Matthew West and Colton Dixon live at New Life Worship in Smithfield RI as The Lord led him to what he called a “step in faith”. Continually hearing God’s still small voice, the Lord reaffirmed Ricks calling with a total sold-out show at this his first concert promotion. “I realized then, that I was in the right place”.
Rick expanded further about Stephanie and told me he’s convinced that she was “anointed” with a gift she simply had to use, and that his collaboration with Jeff and Gail Wall from Lighthouse Events would bring inevitable glory to Christ. Rick told me he felt Stephanie had every bit the message and talent of many of the successful Christian artists today, and that her “mission” was to apply her talents in that regard.
Of his overall efforts Rick concluded that: “Ultimately, Rock Production’s mission is to continue to bring the gospel to life in the gift of song. (Psalm 95:1) This is truly at the core of my calling”: “O Come let us sing for joy to the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation”.
Using their combined professional talents, Rick and wife Mai continue to focus on growing His Kingdom through the power of Music Ministry in partnership with Lighthouse Events Contemporary Christian Concerts. Ricks confident Stephanie will be a big part of that. Rick and Mai reside in Warwick, RI with Ricks two daughters, Cinzia 16 and Alessia 11, and they love to frequent the beautiful beaches with their “Boxer”, appropriately named Adriane from the movie Rocky.
Unbeknownst to Rick though, and noteworthy to be sure, Stephanie confided in me that her best friend was hearing what Rick was hearing long ago. “Kristina”, had been, shall we say, encouraging Stephanie, as she could see and hear the same potential that Rick now does. Eventually Rick would challenge Stephanie to see that talent and to reconcile what it meant to her. In the end, I’m sure Kristina and Rick will certainly agree, what’s happening in Stephanie’s life is part of a much greater plan. Oh, and Stephanie went on to marry “Thomas”, Kristina’s brother…
Cutting back to present day, attending the same church regularly now allows Rick to strategize with Stephanie, bringing her singing to the next level, that level being the lights and sounds of Christian stage concerts in the North East, and working with up-and-coming as well as headliner Christian performers. Wow! Notably the first, and turns out most pivotal of those performances was opening for accomplished keyboardist and Christian song-writer Jared Anderson back in January. Since that time Stephanie has furthered her efforts with Rick and will be appearing with up and coming Christian artist Jonny Diaz on June 4th at the South Attleboro Assembly of God Church on Newport Ave. in South Attleboro, MA, as well as at the popular “River Rock Music Festival” alongside bands including “Mercy Me” and “Sidewalk Prophets” on July 2, at the Sunday River Resort in Maine. And you can be sure that there will be more dates I’m told. Rick believes it’s inevitably God’s work that will make it happen.
For Stephanie, along with Thomas and their two girls, it remains life according to God, and all things to honor Him. This is definitely what I could feel in speaking with her, the simple knowledge that what His plan is – is what it will be. And that her great gift comes to her through Christ and Christ alone, so she needn’t worry. Nevertheless, I suspect Stephanie’s work for God has only just begun.
As I wrote earlier in this article, I’ve come to understand the dynamic relationship between worship song and my belief system. Turns out it’s all part of the big picture, His big picture… And I’m sure Stephanie’s singing will indeed be “Christian music to our ears”…
So take a little Sunday morning “Joy” from this read. And if you are interested in booking Stephanie Joy, or contributing to Rick’s ministry efforts, or maybe even becoming a business or ministry partner please contact Rick Provost directly at Rockproductions.firstname.lastname@example.org .
Find out more by going on the web as well, or by giving them a call regarding upcoming show dates and tickets at The Lighthouse Events, P.O. Box 141, Freeport, ME 04032 or call 888-982-8580. Learn more at thelighthouseevents.com.
And don’t miss Stephanie with Jonny Diaz at the Assembly of God-S Attleboro, 1052 Newport Ave, Attleboro, MA 02703. VIP Doors open at 5:00pm. VIP Meet & greet 5:30pm. General Doors open at 6:00pm and the Concert starts at 7:00pm.