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Small Town, Big Praise: Gospel Celebration Hits the Heart of Virginia

07-17-2017
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DOSWELL, Virginia - In tiny Doswell, Virginia, population 1,833, a revolution came to town as the sounds of praise and gospel music filled the air for the 10th anniversary of JoyFest.

“The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength. I'm glad it's called JoyFest,” said award-winning singer Travis Greene.

What started as a small town gospel concert has blossomed into a full on festival, covering two states with more than 8,000 attendees in Virginia alone.  

Partnering with charitable organizations like Compassion International, JoyFest brings household names like Greene, Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann to the stage for a time of praise.

Despite their successes, and scores of fans, each artist we talked to pointed to God for every achievement and purpose -- like Greene, who took home seven Stellar Awards this year.

“It’s special for people to recognize what you’ve done. But I never did it for that. I was just trying to give the church songs to sing,” Greene explained to CBN News.  

Greene, who also performed at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, said God saved him spiritually and physically time and again, so he knows he’s here for a reason.

“For me, I fell four floors out of a window and was pronounced dead while we were in Germany. Maybe that’s not anyone’s specific testimony, but we all fell. If it wasn’t for God catching us and it wasn’t for His grace, literally giving us another chance, we would all be dead,” Greene recalled.   

When it comes to successes, David and Tamela Mann have seen their fair share. 

The couple, who recently celebrated 29 years of marriage, has also successfully navigated a career in film starring in numerous Tyler Perry productions, television shows and of course music.

The Manns say they still get butterflies before taking the stage. 

“I never want to lose that because I want the Lord to know I’m depending on Him at all times, that I’m entrusting Him to go before me and to touch the hearts of the people. Just use me as the vessel,” said Tamela Mann.  

Five-year-old gospel singer Caleb Serrano also took the stage.

Serrano made his claim to fame when he wowed Steve Harvey on the hit NBC show "Little Big Shots."

The event had something for everyone and a message for believers young and old.

“This limited time I have on earth is being put to good use. My ministry is to reach other people that are believers, obviously, and keep them pumped up and allow people to see that our mission is to go out there in the world and bring people to Christ,” said Christian rapper Dee-1.  

Dee-1, a former math teacher, is out of the classroom but delivering lessons.

With hits like Sallie Mae Back, which focuses on the importance of paying back student loans, and No Car Note, he drives home the importance of financial literacy.

He wants young people to be educated both financially and spiritually.

“If you manage money properly, that money is going to be used as a blessing to other people. So my thing is, when we get a little bit of money, how can we be smart with it so that we don’t just waste it or blow it on things that aren’t blessings to others?” he encouraged.  

Overall, it was a day of education, celebration and praise.  

But perhaps, it was Serrano who summed up the event's purpose best when he said his inspiration comes from one place.

“God does it all,” said Serrano. 

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