Dr. Cynthia Yvette Williams Winthrop
I was born the youngest and seventh child to Joe and Thelma Williams of Tulsa , Oklahoma . I was blessed with a natural talent for music. My father influenced me to pursue music. From the time I was 3, I would attend my father's choir rehearsal, "The Chorus of Angels". My dad would often sing acapella in church, and he never hit a wrong note. When no one else was prepared during church service, my father would call me up on stage to sing or play the piano.
I went on to join the young Ghetto Choir of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I credit my first grade teacher, Ms. JoAnn Fields Gilford, for discovering that I had perfect pitch, something that is rarely heard. Ms. Gilford invited me to sing my first solo "My Favorite Things," from the musical The Sound of Music at a special PTA program. At Ms. Gilford's request, my mother took me to the best piano teacher in town. Mrs. Julia Warren was just the right teacher and disciplinarian to motivate me to seriously study music. I was able to skip introductory courses in piano, and move rapidly through the rhetorics of music. I loved music and I was always singing wherever I could as I grew up. I sang with the Bethel SDA Church , the Mixed Chorus at Memorial Sr. High School , and my own group, "A Touch of Faith." After graduating from high school I went to Oakwood College in Huntsville , Alabama . My zeal for music flourished as I traveled with the Recruitment Team and the Oakwood College Aeolians directed by Dr. Alma Blackmon. Indeed I was blessed and I knew I would use my voice for the Lord. I just wasn't sure how.
After graduating from college, I continued to sing for my church, but I had to make a living. Over the next several years, I enjoyed several successful employment relationships. In 1988, I accepted a position with the federal government. When I did, I left two positions I loved very much. I did this because I wanted a job that promised me a career with a future. I also needed a position that would support me financially and perhaps allow me to retire in twenty years.
I worked very hard in my new federal position and it wasn't very long before I was noticed by one of the senior managers. He liked my positive attitude, my eagerness to learn, and my ability to quickly grasp the concepts and bring them to production. He selected me for training on a one-on-one basis. However, it wasn't long before he was accused of favoritism. So another lady was also designated to take the same training.
This Senior Manager began to tell me about other opportunities in the federal system that I qualified for because I had a college degree. I began to apply for other positions within the federal government. As I trained and applied for other jobs, it seemed that some coworkers distanced themselves from me. I can only think they were jealous. That jealousy eventually led to my termination. Even though I had exceptional reviews, I was terminated from the job that I thought was my retirement job.
After I was terminated I shared my predicament with a good friend who was also employed by the federal government. She advised me to file an EEOC complaint, which I did. The individual that gave me this advice subsequently hired me for a position in another city. What appeared to be such a blessing turned out to be a big mistake. I was specifically hired for a job that was coveted by everyone in the office. I was a sitting duck. Almost immediately jealousy reared its ugly head all over again, only worse.
Usually in an office atmosphere there is friendly chatter and camaraderie at breaks and lunch, however this situation was entirely different. Not one person spoke to me in a friendly, informal manner. As I tried to befriend co-workers, my attempts were ignored. Before I knew it my manager, the person who had hired me, was transferred. The situation worsened, and again I was terminated from my job. I began to wonder, is there something wrong with me? I'd done great in all of my former positions and never had a problem, but now I was terminated from two government jobs in a row.
I waited and kept abreast of my EEOC complaint. I contacted a lawyer with the federal system and collected my unemployment. The lawyer that had listened to my complaint said that he could help me get my job back, if that was what I wanted. In fact, he was so sure that he could help that he told me, "in no time I will have you back at work sitting right next to me". I turned to God for guidance. I couldn't help questioning Him, asking 'Why Lord? Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong?
I went to church that week and as always, I sang in the choir. That week, Elder Dick Barron was our guest speaker. He spoke about the needs in the worldwide mission field and the opportunities to serve the Lord in faraway countries. Since I was a child I knew I would somehow serve the Lord, I just wasn't sure of how. A yearning had been growing in my heart. Then to my surprise, Elder Barron remembered me from Oakwood College . He sought me out, and told me that there were missionary appointments in all parts of the world. Though I knew I would someday work for the Lord, how could I do this overseas? And besides, the first time I tried to get a VISA it took so long that it had zapped my zeal. I told Elder Barron of my VISA experience. I truly thought that this lame excuse would cause him to leave me alone. He did not relent and continued to describe the needs in the mission field. This time I promised him that I would apply for my VISA one more time, and this time if it goes through, I would go to the mission field. I received my passport within three days of my request! I sent it to New Orleans in the second step of procuring my VISA.
At this same time, the federal lawyer was calling and working on my behalf to return me to my federal job. I wanted my job back, too. I wanted all that came with it: pain and suffering pay, retro-pay, and all the other benefits to which I was entitled because of what happened. He reiterated that he could get my job back, and I could be sitting right next to him in my federal job. As I again sought God for guidance, He gave His guidance in the form of the arrival of my VISA! I decided to exchange a job in the federal government for a job in the government of God! I knew I was following God's leading. I was on my way to serve the Lord in Seoul , South Korea .
I stayed in Korea and ministered for the Lord. When my service time drew to a close I decided to attend Andrews University . I graduated with an MBA and moved to Atlanta , Georgia in 1994. God blessed me with a good job at IBM. In fact, I met my husband, Edward, the second week of my employment with IBM.
One day in 1995, while I was at my desk at work, a co-worker was frantically running from desk-to-desk telling each of us that there had been a bombing tragedy and many people had died. I stopped him and asked, "where did this happen?" He replied, "The federal building in Oklahoma City ." I shared with my co-workers that I used to work there.
It was not until I reached home that evening when the full realization of the devastation of what had really happened hit me. I had no idea then how it would change my life forever. It was the front news story, and on some stations, it was the only news story.
At around 9:30 a.m. on April 19, 1995, just after parents dropped their children at daycare, a massive bomb inside a rental truck exploded, destroying half of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City . A stunned nation watched as the bodies of men, women, and children were pulled from the rubble. With 168 people dead, it was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. It was the unthinkable.
Suddenly the full thrust of what God had been trying to do came through loud and clear. I was a child of God, plucked from disaster and I survived - in fact, I flourished! Not because of what I had done, but by following God's direction in my life. I had abandoned revenge and embraced forgiveness. He had blessed me beyond what I could imagine. I still had one question, however: where was the lawyer who had repeatedly encouraged me to work beside him? As with the rest of the country, I watched the memorial service of the victims of this horrible tragedy. I watched transfixed as they introduced the scroll listing the names of those who had died in the massacre. As the names scrolled across the TV screen I sat on the edge of my chair wondering, hoping he had survived. Then I saw it. There was his name; chills went through my veins. I dropped to my knees and poured out my heart to God, asking Him, "What would you have me to do?" I was overwhelmed with gratitude. "Lord! I could have been sitting right there beside that lawyer." I later learned that the entire floor of the department where I would have been working succumbed to the weight of the explosion.
When I realized what the Oklahoma City bombing meant to me, I felt the saving grace of God. I also realized that I had not been truly sharing my talents with others. Oh sure, I had continued to sing at my home church in Atlanta , GA. But now I was convicted that I had to use my talents for God. The talent He had given me was my voice. Finally, I knew what I had to do. I began to sing. I told God I would boldly praise His name; I just asked Him to bless my voice and to use it in ministry for Him.
In 1995, I began volunteering to sing. Since then, I have performed extensively across the United States , France , England , Italy and Korea . My first CD, Simply Cynthia led others to label me, "Simply Cynthia." My current CD, Higher! features the hit single, "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me." The Higher! CD has led many to remark that if they close their eyes and listen; they can imagine they are listening to Mahalia Jackson. Currently I am preparing to make my third CD. Roger Ryan, the renowned music producer of artists such as Shirley Caesar, has agreed to produce my next CD, " Blessings ".
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Dr. Cynthia Yvette Williams Winthrop
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Published on: 2005-05-01 (7 reads)
Check out the artist's website:
1. In Heaven's Eyes
2. Take Me Higher
3. You Alone Are Worthy
4. Father and Higher
5. There Is A Fountain
6. The Glory of the Lord
8. I Want Jesus To Walk With Me
9. If Heaven Never Was Promised
10. Amazing Grace
11. Trust And Obey
12. Were You There?