The worship leader known as Israel Houghton (pronounced ho-ton) of the Gospel group called Israel & New Breed has long been a favorite of Christian music fans. With lyrics pointing to the words that a stranger told Israel’s mother when she felt alone — “You are not forgotten” — Houghton is a musical and lyrical powerhouse. Those words have been turned into powerful songs like “I Am Not Forgotten,” a chant that can keep one going on a treadmill workout with worship-filled reminders that the Lord loves them. That’s the message that Houghton recently leaned on when he posted a note to his group’s Facebook page that has since been deleted.
The Israel & New Breed Facebook page featured the below Facebook note about Israel’s divorce from his wife, with Houghton noting that his own personal failings led to the divorce. That Facebook note, as seen below, has since been deleted for unknown reasons from the Facebook page. Meleasa, Israel’s wife, and Houghton, worked on their marriage after the sin during the past five years or more, but the marriage didn’t survive. Houghton thanked fans for their prayers, and though Israel asked for privacy and spoke of repentance, there are still comments on other posts on Houghton’s Facebook page that call him a hypocrite for continuing to serve as a worship leader during sin. Others have come to Israel’s defense and have reminded those criticizing Israel of Jesus’ edict to “let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her,” as reported by Bible Hub.
The full statement reads as below, as it was previously posted on Israel’s Facebook page.
“It is with a collective heavy heart that we announce that after over 20 years of marriage and a long separation, Meleasa and I are officially divorced. Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage. Though this is new to many, it is not new to us as we have been working through this for over 5 years. Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome. We have always handled our family and ministry with grace and generosity toward others, discretion, and privacy. So, for the sake of our amazing kids, we are also handling this privately with pastoral oversight and assistance. We choose to remain friendly and kind to each other going forward. I am in the process of restoration and I have repented for my actions. Although I am sincerely sorry, and forgiven, I soberly realize that I will live with the consequences of my failings for the rest of my life. As this has become a public matter I want to apologize to the many who have supported my ministry through the years. I’m sorry for the many who will be hurt to learn of my personal failure. I regret any pain or disappointment that this news may cause you. We thank you for your prayers and for allowing us to handle this privately with those who are set over us in this process.
As reported by the Christian Post, Israel has won multiple awards and is 44- years-old.
The Facebook page of Meleasa Houghton seems silent on the divorce, and hasn’t posted since September 2015, as of this writing. On Instagram, the most heartwarming photos of Meleasa have been posted, such as the one below from one of the Houghton sons who took his mother’s photo without her knowing. Israel also appears in photos on his ex-wife’s Instagram account, with one showing Houghton hugging a child and being praised as a great dad.
Hey guys! This is @sonnyhoughton2 I took my moms phone without her knowing. Wanted to post this picture to show you how beautiful she is… Not only is she beautiful in this picture but beautiful in every other way. I love her so much and am glad to have her as a momma.???? oh and side note she put 5 different Christmas trees in the past week. Of Lord help us???????????????????? #helpushelpushelpus #timminermusic #herandauntlooaregoofy
The latest Facebook posts on Israel’s page are gaining comments about Houghton, sin, cheating, adultery, divorce, and forgiveness — with lots of Scripture thrown in for good measure.
In the above photo Israel is shown five years ago — back on Sunday, February 13, 2011 — ironically, around the time when Israel wrote that his sin occurred. Houghton posed with his Grammy Award for best contemporary gospel album at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
[Image via AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]