Southern gospel singer Ben Waites, who recently wowed the judges on “America’s Got Talent” (AGT), spent this past Sunday morning singing and delivering a message at Christian Challenge Worship Center in Pineville, Louisiana. In the middle of performing a series of gospel songs, Waites told the congregation that helping people understand the love of Jesus is more important to him than fame or even his passion for singing.
“I don’t want to just sing fun songs, make people laugh,” he said. “I’m not even interested in being on national TV. I’m interested in letting you know that Jesus loves you.”
Ben Waites: ‘He Is Worthy of Everything’
Ben Waites is a 33-year-old Southern gospel singer and vocal coach originally from Ball, Louisiana, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He told the congregation that he started singing and traveling in a quartet with his grandfather at age 11.
Waites has a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which refers to “a variety of conditions involving multiple joint contractures (or stiffness). A contracture is a condition where the range of motion of a joint is limited. It may be unable to fully or partially extend or bend.”
The singer performed Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” in his audition for “America’s Got Talent,” moving judge Sofía Vergara to tears, as shown in a video of the audition, released July 8. All of the judges gave Waites a green light to the next round.
Waites performed a number of Southern gospel songs on Sunday, including “My Wonderful Lord,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” Hank Williams’ “House of Gold,” and “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”
“He is worthy of everything,” said Waites. “All praise, all glory, all honor and reverence, fear. And he is our everything.” The singer said he loves pondering the names of God and was recently struck by the name that means, “the God who sees me.”
“I know that every one of us here can relate to a period in our life where we felt like we were completely abandoned,” said Waites, “and how am I going to get through this? How am I going to press on one more day, one more hour?”
Said the singer, “He will not leave you. He will not forsake you. I’ve learned that through my life.”
Ben Waites had some encouraging and challenging words for the congregation. “God is looking for repentance and submission,” he said, adding that he has been singing for over 20 years in churches across the country and the world and that “repentance isn’t a word I hear a lot. And then we wonder why the church is having problems.”
He continued, “We’ve taken these fig leaves of self-righteousness and tied them around ourselves so tightly we can’t even see or feel the seeping wounds that lie underneath them. They’re hurting out there, but so are you. And it’s ok to admit that. I hurt too.”