Originally published in The Christian Post
Popular worship leader Israel Houghton has had quite the rough ride after announcing his divorce earlier this year. Despite all the controversy, he is giving marriage another shot and has asked his new girlfriend, Adrienne Bailon, to marry him.
Houghton took to Instagram on Saturday with a photo of Bailon’s hand in front of the prestigious Eiffel Tower in Paris, sporting a massive engagement ring.
“I have seen and felt the essence of God’s grace through the life, the kindness and the courage of this woman. I’ve seen her attacked, lied about, wrongfully accused, mocked, laughed at, and misunderstood. But, I’ve also seen the shining example of the eagle she is that rises above the cacophony of the noise of ignorants- I’m learning from her example.
She loves Jesus. She loves her family. She loves people. Even the ones that don’t love her back. I pray, God give me that same grace in my life. I’ve taken a giant leap of faith in asking her to share life with me forever and to give me a shot at getting it right this time… She has graciously granted my request… She said yes. Thanks Be To God. Thank you @adriennebailon for graciously loving me,” Houghton captioned the photo.
Since news of the engagement made headlines, Bailon’s ring has been getting a lot of attention. According to E! News Jewelry and style expert Lauren McCawley, the ring is estimated to cost $750 000 (R10-million) because of its brilliant features. While Jason Arasheben from Jason of Beverly Hills estimated the ring to be between four-six carats.
News of Houghton, 44 and Bailon’s, 32, romance first surfaced when she was photographed in a bikini on the beach in Mexico with the Lakewood Church worship leader (currently on indefinite leave) in March. What started as rumors stemming from tabloid photos that Bailon and Houghton were dating were quickly confirmed and it came just a month after Houghton publicly announced that his marriage of some 20 years was legally over. Bailon initially stayed mum as the photos circulated and Houghton was the first to address the rumors.
“I met Adrienne Bailon a bit over 2 years ago, we worked together & became friends… Our circles connected & we remained good friends. From a friendship, as two single adults we have very recently begun to explore a dating relationship,” he confessed in a Facebook post.
The former “Cheetah Girl” followed suit soon after, on her daytime talk show and confirmed the relationship.
“Yes I am dating, his name is Israel Houghton as some of you guys may know. I think I’m more than anything grateful that I have a platform like this, where I can be with my girls. The show is called ‘The Real,’ it is a place where we can speak about the truth,” the TV personality said. “With that being said, the man pictured here is not married. Praise God.”
The new romance sparked controversy because Houghton publicly repented and addressed his divorce in an open letter posted on Facebook earlier this year.
“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,” he wrote.
“Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage,” he confessed. “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.”
Bailon was pegged as the reason for Houghton’s divorce when the beach photos surfaced, but the actress maintained that she didn’t even know him at the time of his personal failure, and said that the public blaming her for a marriage ending was “hurtful.” Houghton has since taken leave of his role as worship leader of Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.
Houghton and Bailon first worked together on the 2013 movie produced by Houghton, I’m in Love with a Church Girl.