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THE
2nd CHAPTER OF ACTS

An Exclusive Interview for Keystone
by Don Gillespie


 

2nd Chapter of Acts are two sisters and a brother, Annie Herring, Nelly Griesen, and Matthew Ward. They are one of the longest-established and most well-known contemporary Christian groups, having released several albums, and they have a Powerful concert ministry. During their recent Australian tour they talked with Keystone.

KEYSTONE: 2nd Chapter of Acts, how did the name come about?

ANNIE: Actually, before we knew there were going to be the three of us ministering, we knew the Lord was calling us into a musical ministry. There were several of us living in a big house, and other musical people lived there too, and one clay while my husband was at work he heard what was almost an audible voice from the Lord: '2nd Chapter of Acts'. He thought, 'That's a far-out name!’ wrote it down came home and announced that the name of the group was going to be '2nd Chapter of Acts'. We said, 'That's a terrible name for a group, really bad; it's too long, it's...' and he said, 'Don't argue with me, I have nothing to do with it. Let's read it.' When we did read it, we realised the power in that chapter... if that was the only chapter you had on a desert island, you'd know how to receive the Lord. The whole thing is there: why Jesus died, who He is, how we can receive Him. We're really excited that we're called by that name ... that God would call us by that name.

KEYSTONE: What about your early life? We know your mother died, and two years later your father died. What happen­ed from then?

NELLY: After my father's death, was really the beginning of another family. Matthew and I and two other brothers were living at home after he died in 1970. Buck and Annie were married about a year at that time, and they both knew Jesus, and Matthew and I didn't. They lived in another city in California, and after the funeral they came up to see us. It was a strange time for us all, right after the death and they both came and prayed together and asked if Matthew and I wanted to come live with them. I hey telt nght about taking care of us for a while, and asked both of us and we both said 'yes'.

ANNIE: That was a scary time in our lives, because we left it up to Matthew and Nelly, and asked the Lord to direct their minds. They didn't know Jesus, and we needed to know this was the right thing to do, so when they said 'yes' it really blessed us.

N ELLY: It took a long time to say it, but that was the beginning. A few months later we both accepted Jesus.

KEYSTONE: I can remember when I first became a Christian; about all we could buy as far as music went was Barry McGuire’s Seeds and 2nd Chapter of Acts.  How did that very first album, With Footnotes, come about?

ANNIE: We worked out With Foot- notes for about three years. Matthew and Nelly were in school, and we'd just zip into the studio every now and then and do a song. We first started working at the studio I with Barry, doing a lot of background work for his album, then Jamie Owens' album and other peoples'. It took the full three years and there's a lot of growth process in it. Its fun watching Matthew come from ... well, he sounded like a little black girl, to a male voice. He was 13 when we started to sing. It's hard to believe it could take that long, but it did.

NELLY: We didn't know we were going to be a group. We wanted to do an album, we wanted to minister to the secular world, but we had no idea we'd be doing anything like we are now. That's why it took us a long time, and I think it was really the graciousness of Jesus, because if we had 'made it' that early I don't think we'd have coped with the pressures that would have been put on us. We had to grow as a family and get spiritually rea DeTore we couici even attempt anything like what we're doing now.

KEYSTONE: We haven't heard from 2nd. Chapter of Acts for some time, and then suddenly there are two new albums: Mansion Builder on Sparrow and How The West Was One on Myrrh. What happens now? I know you've got The Roar Of The Lion sitting on ice, so what's in store for you?

ANNIE: A lot! Everything... but we don't really know, none of us. I know where I am right now, I feel like something's going to break again. You know how it feels when you're going to take on something new; you walk in and stand on the promises of God and say, 'This is it—new territory!' Since Nelly got married in January, having her husband has enlarged our family and we don't know exactly what we have planned.

KEYSTONE: What's your husband's name?

NELLY: Stephen.

KEYSTONE: And he's where, in the States?

NELLY: Yes, in Los Angeles.

KEYSTONE: Pining away... MATTHEW: So is she!

NELLY: This is our first time separated.

ANNIE: You might think, 'Big deal, it's
only for a while', but when you're away
from the one God has called you to be
with, you can really feel that vacancy. We
shouldn't talk about that right now, but the
Lord does something really good out of it.

KEYSTONE: When did you first start plonking away on the piano and realize you had something?

ANNIE: I was 23. Buck had given me a piano for a wedding present, and all my life I had wanted to write songs and be a singer–you know those things little girls want to be, but it was really der in me. When I was little I used to fool around with the piano, but I never got anywhere since I couldn't have lessons. I loved the piano, I just couldn't play it. So there I was 5 or 6 months old in the Lord and 2 months into a marriage, and my husband would go away to work, and there was this piano. I'd just go over and lay my fingers on it. I didn't know what chords I was playing. I'd just think, 'That sounds wonderful.' I had such a sweet communion that first year by myself with the piano, and that's when the Lord really taught me how to receive a song from Him. It took along time before I could sing and play at the same time, and I still have trouble sometimes; I have to concentrate on the piano and can't just sing. It was thrilling for me and still, when the Lord gives me a little piano piece, I think, 'Lord, that's so nice!' and I can't believe its me. I look at my hands and I know I couldn't train them. I know God trained them for battle –He trained my fingers for war. You know the Scripture talks about that, in Psalms, about how He teaches our hands; I know He's taught my hands and it blesses me so much, there's so much depth behind it. We're only scratching the surface when I say He taught me to play the piano, for beyond that the music goes on and fights a spiritual battle.

KEYSTONE: Your voices blend so fant­astically; was that something that was there or that the Lord developed or took further?

ANNIE: I think it's because He made us all, and gave each voice its...timbre. It was His purpose from the moment we were created in our mother's womb. He did it. 

KEYSTONE: Tell us about your new album, How The West Was One.

MATTHEW: I love talking about this album. It started with a tour of about 18 cities on the West Coast of the U.S., and we recorded two of the nights, and the Lord blessed us through the album. We did it with Phil Keaggy, who I think is probably the world's most incredible guitar player; he has an incredible spirit and really loves Jesus. He joined us and he’s got a lot of beautiful tunes on this album. It's a ministering album; it's live, really liver than live, a real-life album. It's a blessing.

KEYSTONE: I've only had a chance to listen to the first side, but from what I’ve heard it's really good. And Mansion Builder. I haven't had a chance to sit down and listen to it...
(Chorus of boos and hisses, laughter.) 

NELLY: Shame on you!

KEYSTONE: Anyway, tell us about it.

ANNIE: I think it's a continuation of what the Lord has called us to do, because it seems all the songs turned out to be songs of looking up – keeping your eyes on the Lord because He is coming. It’s a good album.

KEYSTONE: The album that's shelved at the moment, on the Chronicles: it was recorded a year and a half ago now, and doesn’t look like ever coming out at this stage.

ANNIE: Yeah, but I know it's going to be coming out; I just know that inside. The Lord gave that to me, and I feel that when His time has come it will come out, when the body is ready for it and when the world is ready for it. I think it's an album that will minister to those who don't know Jesus as well as those who do. It's a powerful album that way.