T wo weeks ago and just a month and a day after the memorial service of his wife MaLinda, Marvin Sapp was back in the pulpit addressing his congregation at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, MI. “I’m not saying it’s been easy, it’s been very difficult for me and for my family as a whole,” Marvin, said to his congregation. “But I do realize the Bible is right: keep holding us up in prayer.”
MaLinda Prince Sapp died Sept. 9 following an 18-month struggle with cancer, leaving MaLinda and their three children, Marvin II, 16; Milaila, 13; and Madisson, 11. She had been as serving as administrative pastor at the church, as well as manager of her husband’s successful gospel music career. Nevertheless, Sapp said MaLinda had prepared well for the transition, and her legacy and their shared vision will continue. “Her mentality was to ‘keep it moving,’” recalls Marvin.
“She brought our whole leadership team to the house when she was bedridden, and poured into them things they needed to know to keep things moving,” said Marvin. “We have a well-trained staff and leaders and are confident in their abilities.” MaLinda’s church responsibilities have been delegated among current staff. “She took care of things to make sure the transition would be smooth – there have been no major hiccups,” said Marvin.
Meanwhile, Sapp has resumed some of the musical commitments he had put on hold after his wife’s death. He has rejoined the nationwide “How Sweet the Sound” gospel choir competition, for which he is a performing judge. He also is doing more than a dozen church-based dates for the American Heart Association promoting stroke-awareness and prevention in the African-American Community.
Marvin added he will be spending more time on the home front, despite his award-winning recording-performing career. His last two albums have each generated top gospel hits and have sold a million copies between them. “Formerly, I was gone 20 days a month, but in 2011 it will be more like 10,” said Marvin, as he puts more focus on family and in working toward the academy project.
“Without question she is missed, and I can say honestly say there are times I am very lonely. But I have my kids who keep me laughing, and there have been tens of thousands of people who have Facebooked or Twittered with words of support that have been an unbelievable blessing.”
Memorial gifts following her death were dedicated to the nonprofit organization, which is separate from the church.”We will be announcing soon a capital campaign to build a performing arts-education center,” said Marvin Sapp, who mentioned there are some partnerships at the table “that shall remain nameless right now.” He said the performing arts portion of the facility, currently in concept drawings, will be named in MaLinda’s honor.
Terry Deboer | The Grand Rapids Press