Angel's ministry: Christian artist to perform Saturday at St. Mary's Church
WORTHINGTON -- Angel Dean is an up-and-coming artist in the world of Christian music.
But he was also once a confused and troubled youth, and he wants to make sure that God's message of love and grace comes through loud and clear in his music ministry, so he can reach those who might be in a similar situation.
"I began my music ministry with the desire to relate to troubled youths and give them the same hope and love I have received," he said in his biography at www.angeldean.com. "I know about despair, loneliness and rejection, but more importantly, I know about God's love, mercy and grace."
Angel Dean is a stage name for the artist who otherwise is known as Lance Nielsen. That's the name of the kid who came into the life of Dave Kinsman, youth director at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Worthington, a number of years ago. At the time, Kinsman was single and working as a youth director at a Catholic church in Pierre, S.D.
"It was a junior high retreat, an overnight retreat, and some friends of his invited him to come along. They were high school students and were going to help out with the retreat," recounted Kinsman. "That evening, he had a fifth of whiskey, and although he doesn't like water, he was going to throw himself over the Lake Oahe dam that night. But they ended up bringing him to this junior high retreat, and he had what I would call a conversion experience in the back of the church. We were doing this skit called 'The Bridge,' which was narrated and mimed with kind of some music in the background. The skit was what penetrated him, his heart."
Angel elaborates on the story in his biography:
"After the divorce of my parents, my hurt, anger and alienation were intensified. Feeling rejected and unloved, I sought out the darker things in this world to fill the void that had grown inside me," he said. "By the age of 15, my parents could no longer control me and placed me in foster care. This betrayal angered me even more and solidified the notion that I was unloved and unwanted. Feeling rejected by my family and friends, flunking out of school and quickly realizing that nothing was filling the profound emptiness I felt inside, I began to think about suicide.
"The night that I was planning to end my life, God had other plans. He brought me to a church where Dave Kinsman, a youth minister, was leading an overnight retreat. It was there that I experienced my first miracle. Before that night ended, I was moved by an unexplainable love and overwhelming feeling of hope that melted away years of anger, bitterness and resentment. God planted a seed that convinced me that everything was possible through Jesus Christ. That night I realized for the first time that Jesus is looking for His children to believe that He can do miracles in their lives."
Kinsman became a foster parent to Nielsen, who bunked in the living room of Kinsman's one-bedroom apartment. He shared God's message of love and grace as well as the gift of music.
"I taught him to play the guitar and sing," Kinsman said. "Initially, he was a little bit tone deaf. I'm missing part of my middle finger, so when I'd teach him to play the guitar, I wouldn't use my middle finger for plucking or playing. How many years later, he's a great songwriter, and a businessman from Denver, Colo., gave him (money) to do a project down in Nashville. He went into the studio in Nashville, where he's working with all these talented musicians, and they ask him, 'Why aren't you using your middle finger when you play the guitar?' He didn't even realize he was doing it. He's got this perfectly good middle finger and isn't using it."
When that recording project was done, Angel received offers to tour and promote it, but he declined the opportunities that came his way.
"He called me up and told me that he felt like he was supposed to lay it down, not tour with it, that he wasn't ready," Kinsman explained. "The Lord asked him, 'Do you want to be in the entertainment business or in the changing-lives business?' He kind of laid it on his heart."
Although the relationship has evolved, Angel and Kinsman still share a bond and talk regularly.
"Our journey continues to intertwine," Kinsman said. "As a matter of fact, he just called me last Saturday, and he said, 'Thank you.' I paused and said, 'What?' and he said, 'This is the day that my life changed. I've now known God more years than not.' It was the anniversary date of his conversion. I don't know how many years it's been."
Angel is currently on a 35-city "Unplugged Tour," promoting the new songs for an upcoming CD titled "Manu-matic," which is scheduled to be released yet this spring. It is anticipated that the CD will produce at least two singles for the radio. Because of his connection to Kinsman, Angel will share his music and message at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1215 Seventh Ave., Worthington. A free-will offering will be taken.
"His acoustic set is kind of taking you into his personal life, with little stories here and there, so it's very family friendly," described Kinsman. "From his past experiences, he's so grateful for what God has done in his life, and he wants to just give back what he's been given. His thing is, 'If there's hope for me, there's got to be hope for you.' He was at a point of hopelessness, didn't feel like he had much to offer. Look what happened by saying 'yes' to God -- a second life, second chance. He wants to instill in others a belief in themselves and in what God can do. He can do immeasurably more than we can imagine or fathom. Lance is an example of that."
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