Category Archives: Life and style
For the gospel singer, being homeless for seven months in 2007 was the most strenuous stint of his life. The constant letdown of watching others get hired for jobs while he and his wife Cheryl went overlooked weakened his faith. He asked in a prayer why God seemingly abandoned them during their most stressful time.
But during his prayer, Fortune said he went from being emotionally stifled to at peace. That’s when he was led to write the words to his 2009 hit song, “I Trust You,” which topped the Gospel National Airplay chart for 28 straight weeks
“I questioned God,” he recalled.
“It seemed like God wasn’t even there and had forgotten about us because we saw other people get hired and prospering,” he continued. “It seemed like the lowest point. But in that situation, God gave me the song that changed my life.”
The 32-year-old Fortune and his ensemble called F.I.Y.A (Free In Yahweh’s Abundance) recently released their fourth album “Identity,” which debuted in the top spot on Billboard’s Gospel, Christian and Independent album charts. He is a rising a star in the genre and has opened concerts for some of gospel’s best, including Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond.
Last year, Fortune launched FIYA World Music Group with his wife, who is the vice president of the record label. Life is totally different these days for the Fortunes, who are now have their own home in Houston.
“It’s a beautiful testimony,” Franklin said of the Fortunes. “It’s amazing how God takes people that have had horrible experiences and (they) use it as a tool to write songs and music that will speak to other people who are going through the same things. It’s amazing how God takes lemons and makes them into lemonade.”
Fortune lost his job at a water company and his wife was laid off from an insurance company when their employers decided to downsize five years ago. Even though he and F.I.Y.A. already had an album out three years before, it was not a lucrative project.
The only stream of income the Fortunes had was through the singer’s part-time position as minister of music at Higher Dimension Church in Houston. But they had more bills than money and struggled to pay medical bills since they had no health insurance, they said.
As a result, Fortune along with his pregnant wife and two children — who were 2 and 1 years old at the time — were evicted from their home and couldn’t afford to keep one of their cars. For the first couple of months, they loaded up in their only car until it was repossessed, which prompted them to move from one motel to another.
During the whole time, Fortune and his wife told none of their family members or friends of their circumstances.
“Pride got in the way,” said Cheryl Fortune. “We didn’t want them to know how far we had fallen. It would always seem like something would always come through. We just tried to figure it out by ourselves.”
Cheryl Fortune said she often read the Bible and focused mainly on scripture Jeremiah 29:11 to give her strength each day. She wanted to bring light to the situation for her children and support her husband.
The Fortunes survived off the money they saved from their previous jobs and through several performances.
“For a man to not be able to provide, it almost makes them seem like they’re nothing,” she said. “But I really kept praying. I prayed not to be a nagging wife. … I prayed every day to keep my attitude positive regardless where we were.”
All those days of James and Cheryl Fortune wondering when they would find a job finally ended after seven months. He was promoted to a full-time position at Higher Dimension and his wife found a job with health benefits.
With income flowing in and the family no longer homeless, Fortune threw himself into music, penning “I Trust You” and “I Believe,” which earned him his second ASCAP Writer’s Award in 2010.
Now, James Fortune looks at their situation as a “living testimony.” For those who are struggling to find a job and may have found themselves homeless, he hopes his music and story can help others pull through like the lyrics of “I Trust You” did for him.
“We are an example, a demonstration of God’s power and sovereignty,” he said. “To us, we really didn’t know what God was doing. But the whole time, he was just setting us up for a great blessing.”
A humble orange and green fruit grown in the forests of Cameroon but in America, the African mango which I believe is somewhat ignored, is more than just food or an ordinary fruit.
It’s now the key ingredient of a slimming pill, labelled by its makers a “wonder drug” and fast becoming the latest diet craze.
It all started when Life Extension an American company selling anti-aging drugs started using an extract from the fruit’s seeds called irvingia, in a diet pill designed as an herbal alternative to more potent slimming medication.
Available over the counter, the pills and their packaging promise fast results for anyone looking to cut down on excess fat without increasing exercise or cutting out food.
“The reason why Life Extension introduced this product is that we were looking for a safe, natural method of weight loss for people that cannot take over-the-counter products that are existing, products with stimulants and such. So the irvingia, in the studies, it’s safe, effective and there’s no side effects. The average weight loss is 20 pounds in 10 weeks so it’s pretty impressive,” Life Extension sales manager, Patty Serino told Reuters.
According to the packet, African Mango extracts help people lose weight because the active ingredient, irvingia helps suppress appetite while at the same time speeding up metabolism so the body burns food faster.
While plant based medication for slimming has been used for some time with limited success, the specific slimming qualities of irvingia seem to be backed up in a study published in the scientific journal Lipids in Health and Disease, which claimed the extract helped both men and women lose an average of 12.3 pounds in 28 days without diet or exercise.
Sales of the pills went through the roof when a popular American TV talk show host Dr Oz touted the pills on his program in September 2011.
Since then African Mango pills have become top sellers on the diet supplement shelves in health food stores and pharmaceutical shops across the country.
“A lot of the feedback has been that the African mango has been doing them very well. It helps them metabolise the fat, it doesn’t make them as hungry as it used to, and they’re feeling better on the African Mango,” said Sheryl Whaton, manager of a health food store in Los Angeles.
But if the so-called super fruit has made waves on the other side of the ocean, back in Cameroon where the fruit is grown, residents are skeptical.
“Mango can’t make you thin because they are fruit. People are advised to eat fruit but they will not make you thin,” said Magne, a market stall owner in the capital Douala.
Cameroonians are no strangers to herbal treatments and traditional doctors and even witch craft, which still play an important role in medicine, particularly in rural areas.
But while mango sellers have shown no disappointment at their product becoming hot property in the multimillion dollar global diet industry, most it seems will need more convincing before they start using the pills themselves.
“Mango is a fruit; we’re advised to eat lots of fruit and vegetables combined with dietary supplements. It’s possible that they could help you lose weight but I doubt it,” said Ide Kaptchouang a cashier in a pharmacy in Douala.
African mango differs from other mangos because of its seeds known locally as ‘Dikka Nuts’, which carry the active ingredient irvingia.
According to Life Extension, people in Cameroon have known about the medicinal quality of Dikka Nuts for centuries but more as a herbal stimulant rather like coffee, than as a way to shed pounds.