Walking by faith
Gospel artist Vanessa Clarke has been unable to walk under her own steam for a year. She has been diagnosed with a neurological disorder, the prognosis for which she said would have made her fall apart a decade ago. But knowing what she’s up against, who she has in her corner and that her God has not forsaken her, she says, has given her a strength she did not know she possessed.
“Even though I know what the doctors are saying and what they’ve diagnosed me with, and what the prognosis is for this neurological disorder…and none of it is good, I have still seen the goodness of God, and my body is defying the odds and defying everything the disorder is labeled to be,” said Clarke. “Whatever happens, I expect his glory to be revealed.”
As she faces her medical challenges, she staunchly says she’s not afraid and not depressed.
“I’m optimistic about life, and even about the call. Just use me in whatever way you can. Just squeeze every little piece out of me. If that’s what you gotta do for your glory to be revealed, all right then I’m in. I’m in it ‘till the end,” said Clarke. “I still cute with my walker.”
What she thought was a simple trip and fall turned out to be not-so-simple, and Clarke was diagnosed with the neurological disorder in April. The result of her diagnosis, she says, meant she has become more introspective and it has caused her to prioritize things more that she might have taken for granted, including the mandate she says God has placed on her life.
“I felt the need to accelerate the things that I have been doing for the past two years – get the CD (Like The Dew) done, get the books done. I have to pick up speed now because I don’t know how long I’m going to have the strength that I have. Even though I’m trusting in God for a miracle, I still know what the doctors say,” she said.
“I haven’t been able to walk for a year. People think it’s only my legs that have been affected [but] I’ve lost strength in my hands as well. There was a point when I couldn’t even write anymore, but by the grace of God, strength started to come back in the hands and I’m writing again. It’s been difficult to type, but I’m still trying to get this other book done.”
Clarke just finished another book last week entitled, “The Children’s Den: A Mother’s Diary”, which she says is a compilation of stories about her daughters V’ajha and V’lori over the past 10 years. She’s also currently penning a book about the issues she’s now facing and her journey.
“I just felt the need to empty myself of all that God has given me to do,” said Clarke, who is also a radio personality and songwriter. “I’m closer to Him now because I want to hear more from Him. I need to know what is it [He] requires from me. I don’t know how much time I have left, but while I’m still here, I’m going to leave my mark for the generations that come behind me.”
She has dedicated her book to her children with her husband Volare, and their children’s children.
The seven-song CD “Like The Dew” features a single of the same name which has a message geared towards women, letting them know that God is ever-present and that they are never alone, whatever trial they face. The message in the single invites women to spread their case before the Lord, and let their spirit be braced for endurance.
It’s a message Clarke says she is now receiving full-circle.
“I’ve written this book, done this CD with a mandate to minister to women, and in the situation I’m in now, these songs are coming back to minister to me. And I’m like wow – I was writing for myself too; to minister to myself too.”
Clarke says she finds herself sometimes opening her book and crying as she reads.
“I’m like, ‘Wow! I needed this for this moment and this time.’”
Many would be amazed to realize “Like The Dew” was her first solo CD release, considering she’s been singing since age 15 when she performed at a wedding, and has won four Marlin Awards and a Cacique Award – none for a project of her own. She has sung on Orlando “Landlord” Miller’s first album, on projects for Christian Massive, Kenyatta Taylor and Tamika Taylor, and appeared with various artists on numerous international shows.
As she faces this new challenge in life, Clarke, 44, said she’s walking by faith.
“It’s been rough. It’s been somewhat frustrating at times, but only God is keeping me.”
She said she’s had someone ask her how she stayed committed to God, and not been angry with Him in light of what she’s going through, but she said the thought never crossed her mind to abandon her faith, just because she can’t see what her future holds.
“I’ve loved Him so long that loving Him has become innate to me. It is in Him that I find my strength to face each day. I could not do this without Him. I have always had great hope and faith and they are stronger now and unwavering. Through it all, He has always been with me. I know He is with me even now,” she said. “He gives me strength from day-to-day. People see me smiling and they wonder how I can smile when I’ve had such a grim prognosis, but the joy of the Lord is my strength and I’m good with that.”
As she faces her medical challenges, the gospel singer, who is known as “Divine Lady”, has mounting bills for treatments, and her friends have come together to host “Plead My Cause Benefit Concert” on Sunday, August 25, at New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Blue Hill Road South at 6 p.m.
Orlando “Landlord” Miller, Bishop Denczil Rolle & Friends, Allison Rolle, Harmonious Praise, Tamika Taylor, SDA Mass Youth Choir, Tony Lowe, Shaback, Edison Sumner & VOP and Kenyatta Taylor are all on the ticket. Also appearing will be Sunae Russell, Christian Massive, Nadia Rodriguez Bueno and the Adventist Praise Reunion Ensemble.
Clarke said she was overwhelmed by the love and support of her friends during the most difficult time in her life.
“It’s the love that will carry me through. This means the world to me.”
Clarke will also be performing, of course, from her seated walker with Shaback who is featured on her “Like The Dew” project. She will also perform her rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer”, which has always been the most requested song for her to perform over her three decades of ministering in song.
She expects it to be an epic, life-changing concert.
“Even though they’re having the concert for me, it’s about God still trying to reach His people. So, it will still be about ministry – that’s where my mindset is.”
Tickets for the “Friends of Vanessa Clarke presents Plead My Cause Benefit Concert” are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and can be purchased at Logos Bookstore, Harbour Bay Shopping Centre; Oasis Bookstore, BFM Diplomat Center; and the Bible Book & Gift Center, Palmdale Shopping Center.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.