The Ambassadors of Joy, though there are four, are more of a Foursome then a Quartet. We have no true tenor or base singer, just four individuals singing God’s praises and enjoying the fellowship of each other and our audiences. We have developed a unique sound and blend of our own and currently sing a variety of genre from Tracks or A Ca Pella.
AOJ was formed in 2005 by Willie Mitchell and what we believe to be the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Willie had been recruiting the men of the Strasburg United Methodist Church to start singing as a men’s group. Five men attended that first practice: Willie Mitchell, Larry Haun, Rev. Michael Frank, David Smallwood, Gary Kline. No one knew at that time “What” or “Whom” we would be singing for. About the same time as our group started practicing, an opportunity was presenting itself to sing at Millwood Baptist Church. In June of 2005 we accepted that invitation and created the name The Ambassadors of Joy. We were not sure what to expect and was totally surprised by the spirit that was flowing thru the congregation as we sang. It was truly the intervention of the Holy Spirit that was with us from the beginning and moved us towards this musical ministry.
Rev. Frank was the only one of the four singers who could read music, so he became our music teacher that helped create our musical ears and was instrumental in the growth and maturity of our group as singers. That first year we met twice a week from September to December to present a Christmas Concert to our congregation. It was a tremendous journey for our group and a night that we will never forget. We have done a Christmas Concert each year since.
(Pictures below, left to right: Our first outing at Millwood Baptist Church, Homecoming at Mt Crawford UMC)
In 2006 Rev. Michael Frank could no longer be a part of our group. We have missed him tremendously and will always consider him as a charter AOJ member. We were not sure if or how we could continue, but thru prayer and an urging to keep our ministry going, we found a new member in Karen Tignor, also of Strasburg United Methodist Church. As David says, she is our rose among thorns and has been a blessing to our group. We could not have found a better replacement. Karen has a beautiful voice that complimented and blended well with us and she helped create a new sound for our group.
In September 2009, we released our first CD “Close To Home”. This was a 9 month project that was made possible thru the prayers and monetary support of the congregations we visited and our families, but most of all from the blessings we received thru the love of Jesus Christ. It was the persistence and support of our congregation that led us to pursue this project, but we received our guidance thru Christ and hope that it touches those who listen to it.
(Pictures below, left to right: Our Close to Home CD cover, members of AOJ)
In 2011 we again came to a crossroad for our group. Larry Haun, our accompanist, could no longer be a part of our group. While this was a set back, we knew as Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”, that we could continue. So we prayed for direction and after a break for a couple months, we were back again singing praises to our Lord and Savior. While Larry’s talent was missed, we knew from our past that our ministry is bigger than any one of us.
With Larry’s departure we progressed to using tracks and have just completed the recording of our 2nd CD, “So Much to Be Thankful For”, which will be released on August 22, 2014. We have been very blessed during these past years to be able to share the many places and experiences that have sweetened each of our lives, not only with each other, but with each person we have met along the way. We hope our music touches you and you experience the love of Christ thru our music. God Bless each of you.