|The Vision Thing|
This web site started out as one persons response to the love of God the Father. Now it is a team effort. We hope it will bless you and help you to worship Him.by Donn Edwards
This site is my hobby. It was the first web site that covered mainly Vineyard Music, and it has taken an incredible amount of time and work, not to mention money. So why spend hours and hours doing this? Because God is gracious, and He has been healing me and drawing me largely through worship, and particularly through the worship music that is featured on this web site. I do it because I love the music, and desire to share it with the rest of the world. I do it because I am part of the Vineyard, and the worship time is what defines the Vineyard (at least in my opinion).
In 1994 I changed from being an intellectual Christian to being an emotional one. By that I mean that I began to love Jesus with my heart and my emotions, not just with my intellect. The outpouring of renewal that characterised many churches in the latter half of that year had a great impact on me, and I was privileged to be able to fly to Toronto at the end of 1994, where I spent 10 consecutive days soaking in the outpouring of His love and grace. It was also a difficult time, when the company I worked for dwindled in size and turnover. Because I travelled a lot by car, I spent most of that time in the car listening to worship music and crying out to the Lord.
I resigned in May of 1995, was mugged(!) in June, and began working at The Star newspaper in July. My new job required me to commute for 45 minutes each morning, so I spent over an hour each day again listening to worship music, singing along, and enjoying the company of the Holy Spirit. I also listened to the entire Bible on cassette tape in the car. By the time I began working on the web site, I had listened to over 1000 hours of worship music. Translated into Sunday mornings, that represents about 35 years worth of Sunday worship times! The cumulative effect of all of this was a softening of my heart and the start of an ongoing healing process.
I have also always been interested in publishing, and the World Wide Web offers publishers something that has never been available before: free distribution on a worldwide scale, and the ability to publish at a very low cost. Web sites are not really restricted by how much they can say, which is very different from the printed page, which costs a great deal of money. So a web site became a means whereby I could publish a magazine that could be continuously updated, without having to meet deadlines, and where I could work on it whenever it suited me.
As an employee in the Information Technology department, I was given access to a some space on a Web server to run my own home page. The Internet was a new phenomenon to me, and I had only had access to it for about 6 months at that stage. I am grateful to Kanthan Pillay for organising the server space, and to John Lindenberg for allowing me to maintain a web site outside of normal working hours using company equipment.
I was delighted to find a few early Vineyard web sites, but none of them had much information about Vineyard Music. So I decided that I would undertake to share my love of worship music in general, and began compiling information about the various albums. Since I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, and am part of the Vineyard in Africa, I figured it would be nice to compile information about Vineyard Ministries Africa, so on 1st January 1996 I wrote to Costa Mitchell, who was at that stage both head of VMA and senior pastor of my congregation:
As a result of this letter, I was given the name of a contact person, and sent a letter to VMG in Anaheim later that month. As it happened, the person who I was required to liase with came to South Africa shortly after that, and we had a meeting at Costas house.
Everyone seemed a little apprehensive, and unsure as to what this Internet thing was all about, and whether it was a good thing or not. In many ways the net is still very much a mixed blessing. I was basically left to my own devices; since I had the vision, I was required to do the work, which I had volunteered to do anyway.
As a result of these discussions, the first version of the web site was billed as the Vineyard Ministries Africa site. I had a list of the Vineyards that were operating at the time, and some empty pages where I hoped to have some information about the pastors and so on. There were pages that listed all the editions of Equipping the Saints magazine, and some other bits and pieces. But most of the feedback I had related to the Vineyard Music pages, and most of the visitors went to those pages first. It was also where my heart was, so I spent more time updating those pages than the other ones.
By the time we got to 26 Touching the Fathers Heart albums, I realised that the site was getting too big to manage in its current form, so I started experimenting with a more structured layout, with navigation buttons to make life easier. We also installed a web server in the computer room, running Windows NT 4.0 and Internet Information Server 3.0 with Active Server Pages. Since I already knew HTML, I was given the task of producing a web site for Media Software Distributors and I realised that the ASP facilities of this server would make it much easier for me to make changes and updates to the pages, rather than having to edit over 50 pages by hand.
I created two sites: one for VMA, which would include the Equipping the Saints magazine pages, the list of Vineyards in Africa, and maybe some other stuff. This was registered with the URL http://www.africa.vineyard.org/. The other one was going to focus on the music stuff, and it had the URL http://www.music.vineyard.org/. I also realised that it would be possible to put all the words of all the songs on this server, in a way that they would be searchable without necessarily being visible to everyone. This has still to be fully implemented, because of the intricacies of setting up and maintaining the Microsoft Index Server.
Sometime during 1996 I had a huge row with Mike Webb, the pastor of VCF Greeley. The argument got way out of proportion, we both apologised, and we have been good friends ever since. They were setting up an on-line ordering system, and I had access to a scanner, and so we helped one another with information and stuff. Now that I have figured out how it works, you can place your orders for the albums directly from this site. It helps their sales, and it adds value to this site too. So we both win.
This friendship has been helpful in another respect as well: when VMG launched their own web site, Mike was able to help me deal with my insecurities and the mixed emotions that went along with this new phenomenon, and he provided me with an e-shoulder to cry on. Now I know why Mike is a pastor and Im not. Mike, youre really special.
To be quite honest, I felt threatened by the emergence of a web site sponsored by VMG. After all, they have the talent and resources to produce an amazing web site that would make all my work look like the efforts of a complete amateur (which they are). They also have all the inside information, and access to all the musicians and stuff. By contrast, I have purchased just about every CD mentioned on this site, and I have personally typed every word, including all the words of over 600 songs. And, being 10 time zones away, at the other end of the planet, it was much more difficult to keep track of what was going on.
In August 1998 I was contacted by Joe Randeen and Keith Giles at VMG, and since then the level of co-operation between us has been wonderful. Not only is it great to work as part of a team of people, instead of by myself, but Keith has made sure that I am kept up to date with all the new things that are going on. The improved quality of stuff on this site is largely due to the generosity and helpfulness of Keith, Joe and others at VMG in Anaheim. As VMG becomes more of a global company, we anticipate that more people from around the world will be able to contribute and add in their ideas.
Back in December 1997 I decided to try something different. I figured that it would be possible to make the words of the songs available to selected people, by means of a password, while preventing the general public from seeing them. The password idea was initially based on a misunderstanding of the terms of the Worship Resource Centre licensing, which I was led to believe included the permission to copy the songs for everyone in the worship team, and included permission to sing the songs without paying any additional royalties.
I was wrong. But in realising this, I also realised that the Church Copyright Licence from CCLI provides a mechanism for paying the extra royalties when the songs are sung, and gives a church the right to ... make transparencies, slides or utilise electronic storage and retrieval methods but in each case only for the visual projection of Hymns and/or Worship Songs ... and to ... reproduce Hymns and/or Worship Songs in and to reproduce bulletins, liturgies, programmes, [etc.] ... and to ... reproduce Hymns and/or Worship Songs in bound or unbound books compiled by the Church.
So the on-line song words facility is there for bona-fide pastors and worship leaders who wish to use it for making their lives easier. This is in addition to the other resources available to subscribers of the Worship Resource Centre. If you are a musician or worship leader you should investigate the WRC. It is there to empower musicians and it is a wonderful resource.
In my initial over-enthusiasm I originally wanted to make the words freeley available to everyone, but I realised that it would be a blow to the very songwriters and musicians who write the songs in the first place. It would be a sad day if the worship leaders quit writing songs because they cant afford to support their family any more. VMG has consistently felt a responsibility to these songwriters who have risked it all for the love of God and the worship of His name, to protect them and support them as they use their gifts and talents. So dont expect to see the words freely available on this site anytime soon.
When I left The Star in September 1997 (a few months after my second mugging) I had to move the web site to a commercial ISP, because the server I had been using is protected by a firewall, so I was unable to make updates from outside the building. I was offered space on a server in Pretoria by Johannes Bester, which is still the mirror/development server for this site. But when I realised that approximately 100 people per day visit this site, I became anxious every time we had thunderstorms, because sometimes the Internet lines would go down, and the server would be isolated from the rest of the web for the weekend. So I made use of space that my new company, SOS Support Operating Systems had at Global Internet Access.
What followed was six weeks of trouble, during which time the DNS entries were incorrectly set up and not fixed for days, and the server began doing some very flaky things. What should have been a simple move turned out to be an extremely frustrating experience. Eventually I created a mirror site, but now it costs me double to host these pages.
I have always wanted to have more news and information on this site, but communication with VMG in Anaheim seemed to be difficult, if not impossible, and I could never figure out why. I arrogantly referred to the deafening silence from Anaheim. Little did I know of how much work was going on at VMG, and how snowed under they were. But God had a better plan, and in retrospect I can see how He was laying the foundation for this site and testing my commitment to the whole thing. When He eventually put me in touch with the right people, I had to eat my words. It was not easy to do, but He kept reminding me of His mercy towards me.
By changing the name to Vineyard Music Extra, we hope to expand the scope of the site, to include other worship music, as well as more articles and reviews, and contributions from visitors to this site. We will be including back issues of the Worship Update newsletter for WRC subscribers, and other magazine-type articles. The vision is to provide further tools to equip the saints, and to give people the information they need to make choices about the music they listen to.
In the same way that most of the songs on this site are written in response to His love and mercy, so too the fact that this web site even exists is a testimony to the love and mercy of my Father in heaven. So I hope you enjoy this site. In spite of the obstacles to producing it, and the time and money it takes, it is done in response to the love and mercy of God. It is Him that we worship; it is Him that we serve.
Information on this page last updated 14/11/1998 All information provided on this page is copyright
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