Category Archives: christian music

Uber driver and prophet confirms young man

As soon as Justin Berry buckled up, the Uber driver turned to him and said: “Because you have obeyed God, He’s going to bless you.”

“I’m like WHAT?” Justin was flabbergasted. He had just broken up with his girlfriend — reluctantly — because they had fallen into sin. But he was broken-hearted, agitated and conflicted.

“What the heck is going on?” he marveled at the message from an Uber driver. “Whoa that’s crazy.”

The unexpected confrontation was part of a long process of God calling Justin back to salvation, into holy matrimony and unto a beautiful destiny in music ministry.

Justin Berry, now 20, grew up in Ladera Heights, in Los Angeles, going to to church with his mom and brother. Going to the Lighthouse Christian Academy cemented his childhood faith and also it’s where he met a certain girl named Trina.

He excelled in academics and sports during high school and was elated when he got accepted to his dream college: UCLA. It was a euphoria unlike any other. But as he tried to push the “accept” button on the electronic offer letter, Justin was being held back. God had told him to attend college elsewhere.

“Something was holding my hand back from pressing that button,” he remembers.” I started crying and bawling my eyes out. I wanted to go there. This was my ticket to my career. I was trying to press this button and God wouldn’t let me do it.”

Finally, his mom came in asked what was the matter. He explained and, being a loving mom, she persuaded him that it was the devil interfering. He finally pushed the button. What could go wrong? He had a beautiful girlfriend and an ideal institution of higher learning. God’s blessing was evident.

Only not everything was as it seemed. Secretly, he and Trina, allowing themselves to be alone, had fallen into temptation together, and both were feeling intense conviction.

“It was a rough year of heavy, hard conviction,” Justin tells. “I stopped praying and let my relationship with God die away. I replaced Trina as my idol, and she became my god. I would find my peace, my joy, my happiness through her. When I was with her, I didn’t feel any conviction. But when I was away from her, I felt this conviction.”

He still attended church and youth group. He would pray tears of guilt in the strangest of places: in the bathroom.

“The bathroom is where I prayed,” Justin admits. “I still loved God, but something else was stronger.”

One night, the pastor proclaimed prophetically: “There’s somebody here that God has been asking you to give up something for a long time, and you need to give it up right now.”

Justin felt startled, confronted, cornered.

After the service, he confessed to the pastor: the message was for him.

That night, he broke up with Trina. It was the hardest decision of his life up to that moment. His love for this girl was at war with his love for God.

Upset and confused, he got into his Uber. The driver turned on him. It was a wild confirmation.

In fact, the she said, she had been instructed to make a U-turn, a right-hand turn and then wait by the side of the road for her next rider. God told her to prophesy to whoever it was. Justin was next.

Still, Justin wondered, without saying anything, if it were only an improbable coincidence. Read the rest: JBThePreacher

Before he went viral in CHH, Miles Minnick came to church high

A gaggle of girls besieged him for his autograph at Great America because they thought he was Lil Bow Wow. Miles Minnick was 14, and that’s how he realized hip hop was his calling.

“If this is the kind of attention rappers get, let me go ahead and start rapping,” he says on a Testimony Stories video. “It was crazy.”

He immediately started free-styling inside the theme park. He rapped at school and won talent contests. He got chances to rap in the booth. Chockful of talent, he got noticed by big name San Francisco Bay area rappers and got invited to collaborate.

Miles’ trajectory moved assuredly toward success. But then he got saved and decided to dedicate his talent to God, and now he is one of the hottest new stars in Christian Hip Hop (CHH).

Miles Minnick grew up in Pittsburg, CA, with a polar opposite older brother, who “killed it” in athletics while Miles killed it in video games. In middle school he sported dyed-tip dreads and gold teeth.

His father prayed nightly with his sons but drove them to school in the morning with gangsta rap blaring: “F— the police!”

“When I was 8 or 9, we would go to church maybe once a month,” he remembers.

When Miles turned 12, his brother went to a church camp and came home on fire for God.

“My brother would chip away at me and chip away at me all the time. He would say, ‘Don’t do this? Why you do this?’ He would try to coach me in the correct way,” Miles recounts. “But I was still in the streets.”

He got a girl pregnant when he was 15, and he and his girlfriend brought the baby to class. The teacher often held the infant while teaching at the board.

“We were the school sweethearts. Everybody wanted to support us. Even though I was a knucklehead,” he admits. “I was trying to be a good dad, and I was a kid myself. The streets wouldn’t let me go.”

At age 16, Miles had his encounter with Christ. Ironically, it came when he was selling and smoking weed.

“I was a pothead,” he admits.

As he was getting high one day, a friend blurted out: “Hey bro, we should go to church!”

“Go to church? Right now?” he asked his buddy, who was also smoking marijuana. “We are high like nobody’s business. What are you talking about?”

The friend responded that there were pretty girls at the youth group. “I didn’t want to go, but they drug (sic) in there,” he says.

But youth group was closed, so they went into the main service at New Birth Church, Pittsburg.

“I was the one who didn’t want to go, but I wound up sitting on the edge of my seat, reading the songs off the projector, singing the songs,” he remembers. “It captivated me. I was feeling something I never felt before. I was fresh off the street, fresh off a smoking session. At the end of the service, the pastor pulled an altar call. I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew I wanted it. I went up to the front, and the pastor laid his hands on me and prayed for me, and I fell out under the Spirit of God.

“I was on the ground weeping, crying my eyes out,” he adds. Read the rest: Miles Minnick

AGT sensation succumbs to cancer

Three times she’s fought off cancer and she’s still not free from its wicked clutches.

Jane Marczewski — who melted the nation’s heart singing “It’s Okay” after saying she had a 2% survival chance on America’s Got Talent — has withdrawn from the final rounds to battle cancer.

In her audition, Jane, who uses the stage name Nightbirde, had stunned judges when she matter-of-factly mentioned she wasn’t working because of cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.

“It’s important that everyone knows that I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me,” she said smiling. Her exuberant joy and pristine voice prompted Simon Cowell to hit the golden buzzer shortcutting her into advanced rounds. Her song (“If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost, and it’s alright”) shot up to #1 on iTunes

A Zanesville, Ohio native, Jane Marczewski, 30, decided to make a life of her God-given musical talent when she was a student at Liberty University. She married, launched her life, and then got struck by cancer. At first her husband stood with her, but when she relapsed, he divorced her.

Her smile and bursting optimism wowed the audience. “I have a 2% chance of survival, but 2% is not 0%,” she says. “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

But when she’s alone, she faces the daunting odds. Because she’s honest, she sometimes succumbs to depression. But while she struggles and cries out to God about the unfairness of her fate, she grows like an ordinary Christian never will.

“I am God’s downstairs neighbor banging on the ceiling with a broomstick,” she says on an MP4 circulating in churches. “I show up at his door everyday, sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses, apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself.

“I’ve called God a cheat and a lie and I meant it,” she says. “I’ve told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayers I know… night and day, sunrise and sunset. Call me bitter if you want to; that’s fair. Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God, for I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in his shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout.”

Her words, robed in poetry, address Job’s experience of being crushed unjustly.

“I want to lay in His hammock with Him and trace the veins in His arms. I remind myself I’m praying to God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but He instead let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray.”

As she scrutinizes her life searching for strands of mercy, she resonates with the story of God feeding the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.

“I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees, in my mother’s crooked hands, in the blanket my friend left for me, in the harmony of the windchimes,” she says. “It’s not the mercy I asked for, but it is mercy nonetheless. And I learn a new prayer: ‘Thank You.’ It’s a prayer that I don’t mean yet but will repeat until I do.”

Already she has outlived the prognosis of three months’ life expectancy given at the beginning of 2020.

“Call me cursed, call me lost, call me scorned, but… Read the rest: Jane Marczewski Christian

Author of ‘Shout to the Lord,’ fought cancer

Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech had spent her life lifting spirits, but when breast cancer struck in 2013, she needed her own spirit lifted.

“What I found in my ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is the presence of God,” she says on a CBN video. “I realized you can only have shadow if there is light. It’s just a fact that God doesn’t leave us.”

Famous for her 1993 song “Shout to the Lord,” Darlene led worship at Hillsong Church from 1996 to 2007, after which she and her husband founded Hope Unlimited Church in 2011 in New South Wales Australia.

Amazingly, it is estimated that “Shout to the Lord” gets sung by 30 million church-goers every Sunday.

A television star from childhood, Darlene developed insecurities after her parents divorced when she was 13. As a result, she fell into bulimia for about four years.

“It took a long time for that (the wounds from the divorce) to heal,” Darlene says on SWCS Australia. “But now, I have got a real compassion for kids in that situation. It is now the rule, not the exception. Our next generation is definitely going to need answers. Divorce can definitely leave scars.”

When her dad returned to church, he took Darlene, who at 15 accepted Christ. She met and married Mark, and the couple worked as youth pastors in Brisbane. Mark felt called to Sydney, while Darlene didn’t want to go because she had just rekindled her relationship with her mom. Read the rest: Darlene Zschech cancer battle

Juan Luis Guerra becomes Christian

Juan Luis Guerra, the king of Caribbean music, longed for a Grammy, but when he finally received the coveted award he was disappointed.

“God allowed me to win the Grammy so that I could realize that there was not happiness in reality,” Juan Luis says on a testimonial video posted by Jaime Fernandez Garrido. “There was a hole in my heart that riches and the glory of the world can’t give.”

So the master of merengue who made hearts swoon and feet move fast with his lively rhythms surprised the secular world by coming out with a fully Christian album in 2004 “Para Ti” (For You) with his devil-mocking “Las Avispas” (The Hornets).

Its chorus: “Jesus told to laugh/ if the enemy tempts me in the race/ and he also told me, don’t cower/ because I send my hornets to sting him.”

The lyrics derive from Exodus 23:29: “I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.”

Juan Luis Guerra was born in the Dominican Republic in 1957, After studying philosophy and literature at the Santo Domingo Autonomous University, he then took a diploma in jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

After selling 5 million Bachata Rosa albums, Juan Luis established international notoriety, residing at the #1 spot on Billboard’s Tropical Albums category for 24 weeks, going platinum. The album — with maracas, bongos and guitar — brought bachata out of the Dominican backwater.

Bachata Rosa wasn’t his only Grammy. La Llave de Mi Corazón also snagged a Grammy in 2008.

His renown and wealth continued to grow. He played on the same stages as the Rolling Stones, Sting, Juanes, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock and Maná. His Afro-Latin fusion rhythms with his brass band made people happy, but he himself found happiness elusive.

From North America to South America, to Spain and even The Netherlands, he was a hot commodity. But he couldn’t sleep.

It’s a condition that has afflicted many performers who play into the late hours hyping up the crowd — and their own adrenaline — then have trouble coming back down. Like Michael Jackson, Prince, Elvis Presley and countless other stars, he took pills to induce slumber. Read the rest: Juan Luis Guerra Christian.

Why Jason Castro disappeared from the secular music scene

Jason Castro, with his dreadlocks and effervescent smile, won America’s hearts even though he didn’t win the American Idol contest in 2008. He launched billboard hits and then disappeared from the secular music scene, leaving fans confused.

“I just felt so detached from a church community,” Jason told CBN. “I just struggled to stay connected to God on the road through the exhaustion, and I wanted more God in my life.”

After dropping a Christian album, Only a Mountain, in 2103, Castro today is married with four kids and selling real estate in Texas, where he lives. His main desire is to be with his kids and God. Of course, he’s still dropping music.

After initial success, Jason Castro went dark on the secular music scene. But more than fame and money, Jason wanted a family.

“Music has that power to calm or to move, the power to give emotions of any kind,” he says on an I am Second video. “What’s the heart behind it? I’ve given my heart to Christ, and that comes through. People are drawn to that even though they don’t always know what it is.”

Jason Rene Castro was raised in Rowlett, Texas, where he was a wing-back on the high school soccer team. The son of Columbian immigrants studied construction science at Texas A&M University and tried out for American Idol. He was the first contestant to play a ukulele as he sang “Over the Rainbow.” Read the rest: Jason Castro disappeared from the music scene.

No family, begging on a street corner, a pickpocket found Jesus in India

Sayeed Badshah doesn’t know his birthday, his mother’s name, his father’s name or where he was born.

The last thing he remembers, when he was 3, his mother tried to run away, and the alcoholic father caught them in their flight and beat his mother to death. His two older sisters took him to Mumbai, where he was separated from them.

An Indian constable brought him to an orphanage, where he was abused both physically and sexually until age 7.

“At the age when children are supposed to play with their toys, I went through things that I can’t even describe,” Sayeed says on a Your Living Manna video. “That brought a lot of hatred in my life.”

He ran away and asked for a job everywhere. Nobody took him seriously, until he got a washer job. When he got fired from that, he resorted to begging at stop lights and in the trains. With his only T-shirt, he would sweep the inside of the passenger train and then pass through the crowd asking for a handout.

“That became my life,” he says. “Many a time I would not get even one single meal all day long. I used to wait outside the restaurant for people to throw away their food. I used to fight with dogs and grab food from their mouths.”

Baths were twice a year. He didn’t have a change of clothes.

“My body used to smell,” he says. “Nobody would come close to me.”

Born a Muslim, he went to the mosque and prayed “with all my heart thinking that Allah would give me love, that Allah would save me,” he says. “But I was wrong. Allah did not save me.”

He tried the Hindu temple and prayed. Likewise, no one answered.

A friend said that anything you believe in is god. So he erected a small temple to a stone next to the traffic light where he begged.

“I began to worship that stone every day and put flowers and everything on that stone,” he says. “I was thinking something would happen, but nothing happened. So I kicked the stone and said, ‘There is no god.’” Read Sayeed Badshah, pickpocket from India comes to Christ

The beginnings of Sean Feucht in Christianity and worship

After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.

“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”

Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.

Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.

Sean Feucht with Mike Pence (Facebook)

It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.

His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.

At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.

“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”

Oh, the irony.

He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.

Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.

Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.

The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.

But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.

Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.

What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.

The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.

“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.

Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.

Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.

In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.

The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.

“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”

Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.

God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.

No, was the reply.

It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.

In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.

“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7

Does God still heal today?

At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.

“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.

Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.

But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.

“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”

On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”

Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?

Loss of fingertip didn’t stop Christian pianist

In his hurry to finish chores before organ practice, 13-year-old Greg McKenzie reached down to fix the lawnmower’s chain without turning the machine off, and his right index finger got caught and fingertip cut off.

“My sister was screaming. My mom thought my whole hand got chopped off,” he says.

In the long term, the accident didn’t impede his musical aspirations. Today, Greg, 58, is a professional musician in Japan. In the short term, he learned to see the bright side of life and apply his Christian faith.

“That was the beginning of a new journey, meaning my spiritual faith. I was kind of depressed as a 13-year-old. Why did this happen to me?” he told God Reports. “To make a long story short, I started talking to other patients. Some of them had missing limbs. Here I’m thinking of how bad I have it, and these people have it twice as bad. I went out of that doctor’s office thinking ‘I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful.’”

Greg McKenzie grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, in a family that never missed a Sunday service.

“Most of our ancestral background comes from spirituality,” he says. “That’s how we keep moving forward in hard times.”

With sheer determination, he pressed through the year-long setback of his missing fingertip to pursue music. He opted to not have the fingertip sewn back on because, as a pianist, he needed full sensitivity. He compensated when it was sore, as musicians often do.

“I was determined to play,” he says. “For at least one year, I couldn’t even use that finger.”

But by the time he entered conservatory, he was at full capacity with the same technique as other students. He graduated and began taking jobs.

The interminable search for jobs led him in 2003 to Japan where the Hyatt International paid him to put together a New York-style jazz and Latin jazz band. Japan paid well, and he paid off his outstanding Sally Mae debt. Read the rest: Christian pianist who lost fingertip

Valedictorian Christian rapper aims for academia, urban mission

Ki’Shon Furlow was always conflicted. n the one hand, he graduated a 4.0 GPA valedictorian from high school. At the same time, however, he tried to traffic drugs to support his mom and five siblings in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ironically and fortunately, it was the drug supplier who dissuaded him.

“You’re graduating high school. You’re an idiot. You have all these things going for you. You have a good family,” the dealer told him, according to Genius Lyrics. “Go to school, and be a good kid.”

Ki’Shon — whose latest releases are under the name YourWelcome Shon with Curb Records — is glad he, like so many in marginalized neighborhoods in America, ultimately chose Christ instead of falling into the dangerous life of risking death or jail.

Am. “God got the plan now.”

Simmering in the background of Christian Hip Hop for a few years, Ki’Shon came to a boil at the forefront with a cosign from Derek Minor in 2018. “One of my favorite artists right now,” Minor tweeted, according to Rapzilla.

He’s committed to getting out of the ‘hood with “clean money.” His play-on-words “Summa Hood Laude” celebrates the words that rescued him from selling drugs — ironically words from a drug supplier!

His “Lord+Taylor” still reaches back into the past as it portrays a romantic story of a bad boy changing for a good girl. It’s a hypnotizing ballad with clever lyrics. Behind the fairy tale lies an implicit call to kids from the ghetto to believe in God, believe in themselves, believe in doing good actions and believe in the chance to make it out through legitimate work.

“Ima about to make her fall for a gangster. She’s got my heart on lockup. You make me want to change up. I don’t wanna be a player no more. You don’t need nobody else, Ima get it right. Girl, you got me praying on my knees to the Father.” Read the rest: YourWelcome Shon Christian rapper

‘Ghost mode’ for street hood turned pastor/rapper

Thirteen-year-old Markell Taylor wanted to be just like his stepdad, who was a pimp, a rapper, a womanizer and a drunk.

“I idolized him,” Markell says. “People thought he was cool. My own father was not in the picture and my mom was in and out of prison. He was the one male figure in my life. He had money, so he would buy expensive cars and expensive clothes. He would buy them for me. You’re a little kid and you’re getting hooked up. I thought he had something going on.”

In response to this role modeling, Markell became a runner for a drug dealer. He dropped out of school. He used methamphetamines and he took advantage of girls. “I had all these insecurities because I was hurting and lonely and I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it for my real dad to stick around,” he said. “But I put on a mask of confidence to get in girls’ pants.”

From middle school onward, Markell was the life of the party. He had the drugs, so he got it started.

But while he was admired for his swagger and brazenness, his future began to dim. He variously lived with his stepdad in Wendover, Nevada, his grandmother in Las Vegas — and homeless shelters. He was arrested for domestic violence against his mother and police were investigating crimes he had participated in.

“I was out of control,” he recalls. “One time I told my mom I was going to kill the guy who sold me some bad drugs. I wasn’t really going to do it, but I acted like it. She tried to take me to the police, but I jumped out of the car while she was driving.”

At age 14, his mom and stepdad wanted to escape their reputation at Wendover and move to Salt Lake City to get a fresh start in life. Markell didn’t last one day there without his arrest.

Again it was a case of domestic violence. He hit his mom with a pillow, he says, and she freaked out and called the cops. When the police handcuffed him, they asked if there was a gun. Markell stood up to show them his arm, but the police thought he was going to attempt a fight, so they tackled him again.

The cops hauled him off to jail.

“As soon as I got into the back of the patrol car, I started crying like a little baby,” Markell says. “Up until then, I had pretty much gotten away with everything I did.” Read the rest of Markell Taylor, street hood pastor rap artist.

He tried to be the devil’s #1

Ronnie Legg Texas gangster turned to ChristIncarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”

Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.

Ronnie Legg saved from gangsHis mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.

“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”

Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.

“I hate you,” he yelled.

At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.

Ronnie Legg Game OverBy age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.

“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.

Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.

In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.

“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.

Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.

Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.

When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:

“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”

When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.

He got busted for a crime he didn’t commit. Read the rest: Houstone gang Christian.

‘I started punching myself in the face,’ says Muslim in disbelief after Jesus healed his mouth pain

khaleed-matmatiAs a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.

“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”

Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.

“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”

When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.

2593-1498622988-31495“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.

Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”

His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.

It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.

They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.

“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”

1f5efd4778b9544cc50ec70fc00a5e1fShe prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.

“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”

After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.

“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.

“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”

Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.

The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.

“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?

Could he forgive the death of his brother? Bryann Trejo punches the devil and doesn’t retaliate against the killers

AR-190919667Bryann Trejo was a cold-blooded killer* who’d already spent half his adult life in jail. So when gangsters gunned down his twin brother, Bryann T was tempted to exact a brutal and immediate revenge.

“Even after he was saved, he was murdered,” Bryann says about his brother to Rapzilla. “I came to know Christ as well. I forgave his enemies and murderers and God wrote a new song in my heart.”

Bryann’s twin, named Ryan, is a frequent subject in the hip hop of Bryann Trejo, who is leader of the Kingdom Music Family based in Abilene, Texas. The gangster-turned-pastor’s music, which recently catapulted to the highest levels in CHH, communicates an urgency and passion to get lost souls out of the unforgiving streets and into Jesus’ eternal forgiveness.

bryann trejoBryann was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but his family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he was 13. There, he fell into armed robberies and selling narcotics. The juvenile delinquent system and then later adult jail, had a “revolving door” for Bryann, he admits on his website.

“I was thugging, out whiling, a Mexican with a cohete (Spanish slang for a gun) with the love the streets,” Bryann says on a Frontline Ministries Braden Hall YouTube video. “That type of love landed me in shootouts, prison, depression and suicide attempts.”

Because FIRST TIME gangsters attempted to kill his brother, Bryann unleashed a furious retaliation that landed him 30 years in jail for two attempted murders. Eventually the charges were lowered with a plea bargain.

Bryann got out of jail at age 27. His brother had gotten saved and Bryann determined to straighten up with God too.

“I’m a knucklehead. I had an identical twin, and we were mixed up in all kinds of bad stuff,” Bryann told Rapzilla. “But he came to know Christ. We started rapping together. But even after he was saved, he was murdered. I came to know Christ as well.”

bryann and monica trejoThe SECOND ATTEMPT on Ryan’s life was a case of mistaken identity on May 28, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ryan was trying to disciple a young hoodlum, whom the gangsters were looking for in reprisal for a murder days earlier. The killers showered him with bullets.

Bryann was enraged and broken beyond belief. But he was committed to not relapsing into the old life. Even though he knew who the killers were and could have easily tracked them down, he decided to walk in Christian forgiveness.

“The anger came. God, how could you let my brother get murdered? He served You. I wanted to question Him,” Bryann says on a CUTV video. “I wanted revenge. I’d been in prison before for attempted murder, so when he died it’s already in me to retaliate, especially since he was innocent. I wanted them to pay.”

Bryann came to a crossroads. He faced a momentous decision: either relapse into ravenous revenge or make an audacious stand of forgiveness.

He cried out to God: “Lord, I’m about to go cuckoo. I’m about to lose everything. I got six kids; he got six kids. They’re going to lose daddy and uncle. I knew right then and there, I had to forgive.

“I argued with God, ‘But my brother was innocent,’” he continues. “And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus was innocent.’ Then I was like, ‘But he didn’t deserve this.’ And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus didn’t deserve it.’”

It wasn’t by any means easy, but Bryann struggled to truly forgive. He still struggles with “bitterness and poison” in his heart. Every day he’s reminded about his brother’s death every day.

“I see his face in the mirror. We’re identical twins,” Bryann says. “His case is still open. The so-called friends didn’t want to be snitches, so they didn’t say nothing. Everything I thought was real in the streets was fake. So now I have this passion to expose Satan and tell people that he is a liar.”

When he returns to the neighborhood, his former friends still provoke him to take revenge.

“The people ridicule me,” he says. “Homeboys be like, ‘You ain’t going to retaliate? That’s your brother. What kind of brother are you?’” he says. Those words stir up the old street pride.

“What, you don’t think I will?” he counters. But then he remembers he’s living in forgiveness.

“I’m not that man. I don’t fight the way I used to fight,” he says. “I trust through Christ that His way of fighting is better than my way of fighting. I’m really punching Satan every time I forgive. I just didn’t know that was the way to fight back because it didn’t make no sense in the physical. We all want to fight the enemy.” Read the rest: Bryann Trejo rapper no revenge

One month after his wife died, Danny Gokey tried out for American Idol

danny gokeyDanny Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during a routine heart surgery in 2009.

“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!’” he said on an I am Second video. “It got to the point where she was gone, and once again that old familiar thing of fear came back into my life.

“I felt in my heart, God’s mad at me.”

Christian singer Daniel Jay Gokey, 40, is best known for his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” which peaked at number 29 on the country chart, inspiring him to release his full record My Best Days in early 2010.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny attended Heritage Christian Schools and sang with his family in church. In his mid twenties he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries.

Leyicet-Peralta-WikiDuring this time, he married Sophia Martinez, who was also a fellow church-going music fan.

It was Sophia who encouraged Danny to audition for American Idol. He was accepted as a recipient and ultimately placed third in 2009. This launched his music career, which he aimed at the Christian pop segment.

Four weeks before Danny’s tryout on American Idol, Sophia died. He performed his best in devotion to her.

“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny says. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.”

Sophia had a heart condition from birth but had gotten it fixed in a surgery when she was young. Or so Danny thought.

“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny recalls. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24 years old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.’”

In his youth, Danny was plagued by all kinds of irrational fears. Many of his fears centered on whether God truly and unconditionally loved him.

Now all the old fears rose up. Read the rest: Danny Gokey’s wife died.

A ‘time of death’ brought Derek Minor to God

derekminor-1Excuse Derek Minor for bragging in his Christian hip hop, but it’s hard to not be excited about how God brought him out of poverty: While Dad and Grandma were on dope, mom was Wonder Woman raising up the middle Tennessee youngster with strict Christian principles.

The founder of Reflection Music Group can’t tone down the boasting since God helped him pay back his mother.

“They say I’m bragging when I tell ‘em I pull up in foreign cars with wife and children,” Minor says on the song “Maybe.” “You would too if you grew up in a broken home.”

Today, Derek Minor is considered by some to be one of the four “new OGs” — the new “Old Gangsters” who are leading the current crop of CHH. (He shares that with Lecrae, Bizzle and Ruslan — all of whom operate CHH labels that crank out music from multiple artists).

derek minorDerek Minor is also CHH’s professor of sociology, explaining the harsh realities of the hood to the kids in the suburbs. He goes so far as to say kids from the hood realistically have no other option other than to sell drugs, but before you fire your judgment gun, consider the ease with which suburbanites justify funny accounting and tax evasion, or other white collar offenses. Minor is only promoting understanding, compassion and mercy toward those facing daunting challenges.

Derek Johnson, Jr. was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1984, but the family moved to Tennessee when he was young. His relationship with his birth father was poor, and then his mom remarried a drug-abusing jazz musician. Step dad inspired his musical inclinations, while mom kept him on track with a brand of devout Christianity, according to his former website.

From age 12, Derek Minor — which was his second stage name — was rapping to beats produced by his step dad. By age 15, he decided to study recording industry management at Tennessee State University. His mom bought production equipment and he graduated in 2006.

At 21, his bunk bed was his mic stand. As he released his first mixed tape with an independent company that failed, he started to rebel. Free from the strict oversight of his mom, Minor lost control after he discovered women and money.

A “season of death”‘ shook him up and he was forced to come to grips with humanity’s mortality. In a short span, he lost his grandfather, grandmother and his godmother. The sobering tragedies prompted him to dedicate his life and music to God.

His first stage name was PRo, a take off of “prodigal.” Read the rest: Derek Minor Christian rapper.

Run DMC, now ‘Rev Run’

RevRun-Justine-SimmonsBefore his influence, hip hop was a backwater movement off most people’s radar. Then Joseph Simmons and his group Run DMC brought rap to the mainstream in the mid 1980s and suddenly it became an international sensation.

Joseph Simmons banked millions, landed his own $2.0 million Adidas shoe deal and had innumerable adoring fans. A few albums later, he had fallen off.

One member of the trio was murdered, another was lost in drugs, and Joseph Simmons, succumbing to alcoholism, was left scratching his head wondering why the genre he helped found had all but forgotten him. His wife was divorcing him. He was accused of rape. His fame, finances and family were frittering away.

Thankfully the New York native turned to God.

run-dmc-portrait-joseph-run-simmons-darryl-d-m-c-news-photo-1579816339“There are always your darkest moments before the birth of a beautiful thing. Rev Run at his low point was not quite Rev Run,” he says, speaking in third person about himself, to the Guardian. “He was trying to understand this great thing that was happening to him. There was a time to reap, a time to sow. A time for it to be sunny outside and a time when it’s so dark you have no option but to just be or you’ll go nuts.”

“Records sales weren’t as high as they was (sic),” he says on NPR. “I was a little unhappy with what was going on so I started going to church. And when I started going to church I started to feel better. Things were starting to look brighter for me. I started to see that learning the principles of God was helping to shape my life better.”

RevFamily-panoramaAs the rap genre turned dark and promoted drugs and gang violence, Simmons turned to church. It was a former Run DMC bodyguard, Bobby Walker, who finding Run wallowing in depression persuaded him to attend New York’s Zoe Ministries Church in 1990. Within five years Run had gone from usher to ordained minister, donning the moniker Reverend Run.

Today, the 55-year-old who once rapped Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” on colab now teaches people to “walk His way” and preaches an aggressive, rhapsodic message wherever he’s invited: “You must be born again, my friend, or you’re going straight to hell,” Southcoast Today quoted him at a 1996 church service.

As a Pentecostal pastor, Rev Run was turning heads. In 2005, he got the chance to bring God’s truths about family and marriage to a reality show on MTV.

Yes, you read that right. MTV — that profane purveyor of hedonism, anti-God-ism and ADD — the last a result of the rapid fire succession of endless images to music. It was MTV where potty-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, the satanic concert chicken-head decapitator, had his reality show. It was an imponderable spot for a reverend to be preaching — or rather practicing what he preaches.

MTV was also an extraordinary opportunity to shine light into an incredible dark space, and he was given the opportunity to dispense sound spiritual advice on “Run’s House” because of his previous work as Run DMC’s front man. Now he had, instead of platinum sales, an eternal view toward streets of gold. Read the rest: How did Rev Run become Christian?

Hyper Fenton’s eruption on CHH

_500W_500HWhen Seth Jacon Fenton searched for a stage name, he had only to think what afflicted him in grade school and what led to innumerable suspensions.

“Hyper” was the name he chose, which he uses with his last name.

Hyper Fenton’s unique mixture of hip hop and electronic music erupted on CHH in 2016. The Dallas native may be “Chilling in Dallas” (the name of what is perhaps his most popular song), but he hasn’t chilled about much. He’s been hyperactive since childhood.

Naturally, one gig is not enough for a man of boundless energy. He is the minister of preschool and children at his father’s church, Meadows Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, immediately north of Dallas.

image-asset

No doubt, he’s a hyper snowboarder. Pictured with his wife. Is she hyper too?

He’s also an actor. In fact, he studied acting in college, acted in plays throughout school, and “acted up” in the classroom. “Whether on stage or in the principal’s office, Seth was full of passion, hyperactive, explosive, many times impulsive,” his website says. “Seth had a yearning, a longing to dream, perform and to express himself.”

It was also in college that he fell in love with hip hop. When Moflo Music Production’s owner heard a song randomly from Hyper Fenton, he approached him about working together. The results: numerous singles and three albums — Kindergarten Dreams, Terabithia and Remembering Me.

The 27-year-old grew up in his dad’s church and accepted Jesus into his heart at age six. He loved Jesus but was drawn intensely to performing arts.

“It seemed that with Seth there were two things at war within him, a desire to Love and serve Jesus Christ, the God who saved him, and a desire to express himself through art and creativity,” his website says. Read the rest: Hyper Fenton Christian rap.

Rockstar JT, one of the sincerest Christian rappers, appeals to the church to use compassion with homosexual members

rockstarjtWhen his sin was exposed in 2017, Jaterrius Johnson felt church leaders over-reacted in their approach to church discipline.

“I’ve been scarred by the church,” the Christian rapper says on a DJ Wade-O video.

His sin was homosexuality. He believes it if it had been fornication with a girlfriend, treatment would have been gentler.

Jaterrius, who is better known by his hip hop handle Rockstar JT, survived the discipline and stands today as a shining example of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. And he is openly asking the church to treat sin as sin, without stigmatization or discrimination.

“A lot of Christians, we struggling,” he says. “A lot of Christians, we depressed. On social media we all pretending it’s all good, when it’s not. My philosophy on that is that it’s ok to not be ok.”\

rockstar jtJaterrius was raised by a single mom in Birmingham, Alabama. In poverty and without a dad, Jatterius fell into fighting and the streets. He broke into homes, used guns and became violent with his own family.

“I was doing so much things that I know did not glorify God,” he says on Jam the Hype. “I punched my sister in the face my eight-grade year.

Mom was worried about the direction her son was headed, so she enlisted the help of Kevin King, who runs a Christian non-profit called Common Ground that reaches out to wayward youth.

Kevin began visiting and ministering to the young Jaterrius, who described himself at the time as “lukewarm.”

Kevin “wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘JT, you gonna be mine.’” he recalls. “Kevin, that’s my dog. He wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘I know you aint saved but you still not going nowhere. Just loving on me, not preaching to me every time, but hanging around me, taking me to concerts and taking me to different conferences.”

At 16, Jaterrius converted to Christ at a 2015 Impact Conference. His mentor, Kevin, urged him to use his obvious talent for rap in the kingdom.

“You gonna need something to do. You know you’re a talented rapper. You need to use your gifts for the Lord,” Kevin told him.

Jaterrius saw no compelling reason to change his stage name, so he remains “Rockstar JT.”

He broke through ceilings with “Getcha weight up,” which in addition to being catching was picked up by HBO’s Euphoria.

When he first started rapping he wouldn’t even listen to worldly music because he was nurturing his relationship with Christ. As he felt more solid in his faith, he allowed himself to take a peak at his secular counterparts and decided he needed to update his style to keep abreast of trends.

He also decided to write music for the streets, not for the church sanctuary. His intention was outreach, not inreach.

“I’m finally being who God wanted me to be and that is a trapper,” he says on Rapzilla. “They dope dealing but I’m hope dealing.” Read the rest: Rockstar JT and compassion for same-sex attracted Christians

CHH pioneer T-Bone saved out of gangs, dealers and pimps

80536418_1410315875758739_1248071643146747904_oHis best friend was lying twitching on the grass, dying as a result of two bullets fired in a drive-by shooting. His last words: “Just tell everybody to wear red at my funeral.”

As Ralphie slipped into eternity without Jesus, T-Bone decided to “flip” to his parents’ side. The son of pastors in the Mission District of San Francisco, T-Bone lived a double life: he carried his Bible to church on Sunday and a knife in his pocket every other day as a Blood gangster.

61085953_1111468262310170_3756676850064031744_o“I was raised amongst the gangs, drug dealers and pimps,” T-Bone told CBN. “I was left for dead. I had 15 gang members break into my spot at three in the morning and try to kill me. I know what it’s like to have a gun drawn on me, what it’s like to deal with some stuff and jump folks.”

Today T-Bone is one of the longest-standing Christian Hip Hop artists, but when Rene Francisco Sotomayor was born to a Nicaraguan dad and Salvadoran mother who together pastored a church, he wasn’t particularly moved to serve God.

What drew him was the flash and danger of the streets glamorized by shock rap like N.W.A., Public Enemy and 2Pac. He was skinny, hence nicknamed “Bones,” and started with clubs and house parties but progressed to anger and violence. He rapped from age seven.

T-BoneAlmost getting killed himself was not enough for him to choose the undivided life of serving Jesus. But his buddy’s death brought him to a crossroads.

“What did he die for? For this ignorant color?” he asked.

When a guest speaker at his parents’ church urged listeners to accept Jesus, young T-Bone went to the altar.

“As soon as I went, I began to cry. The presence of God was there,” he told CBN. “The Holy Spirit hit me. I said the sinner’s prayer. And that’s when I became what I named my first album: a redeemed hoodlum.” Read the rest: T-Bone Christian rapper.

Bullets through his car window made Young Noah turn to God

young noahYoung Noah was succeeding wildly in the secular rap game while his life was going down the drain, but he turned things around after he nearly got shot to pieces.

“Duck,” God told him.

“I ducked down in the car and pushed my buddy’s head down into the steering wheel,” he says on a 2016 Testimony Stories video. “The next thing I knew there were shots fired and glass was just flying everywhere,” “It was at that moment I realized that I was about to die.”

He had been trying to help some girls escape a college party, and “a hundred football guys, drunk and high and out of their minds” chased him down because they wanted the girls, he says. He had pulled out a non-working gun to scare them off and keep from getting beat up. They had run off but returned before Noah and his buddy could escape in their car. They had at least one gun, and it worked.

Young Noah and V. RoseWilliam Noah Bohannon aka Young Noah was born in Neunan, Georgia, into a family so Christian that he wasn’t hardly aware of the world. He accepted Jesus at a young age and got baptized. He was being home-schooled, but when he attended secular high school he got involved in hip hop, alcohol, marijuana, gangs and robbery.

“It was weird to grow up in church and end up so far away from God,” he says. “Church and growing up in church can’t save your soul. It kind of shapes you, but eventually you have to make a decision whether or not you’re going to allow God to live in you and cause you to do good works. Church can’t save you. You need to accept Christ. You need to have a regeneration in your mind. You have to be born-again.”

Winning a rap contest, he was given the chance to record in Los Angeles. By the time he got there, however, God had already orchestrated events to the point that he was already questioning his great breakthrough.

“I found myself succeeding in this dark industry,” he says. “At the same time I began to wonder if God really approved of my lifestyle. I knew that if I was really going to be a Christian, I was going to have to let this music thing go. I told my manager, I told the record company, I told everybody that I couldn’t continue. Read the rest: Young Noah’s testimony

Pot made Jarry Manna a Darwinist, but paranoia made him turn to God

anime jarry mannaChristian Hip Hop star Jarry Manna used to be a “pothead” Darwinist who thought the church was a scam to get people’s money.

“I was allowing dark things to take over my mind,” he told JamTheHype. But he also always “thought someone was coming to get me. My spirit was just open to any type of darkness, anything to tamper with my mind. There was something deeper going on there, at the point of thinking about killing myself.”

The paranoia, a product of his cannabis addiction, was taking over his brain. He remembered a cousin who had a gun.

“I was gonna go get his gun and off myself,” he recounted.

jarrymannafeatureBut then he remembered his grandmother, a devout Christian, and called her. Her wisdom that day saved Jarry’s life and gave him a new direction.

“She kind of allowed for me to come back to Christ,” he said.

He returned to church and quit rapping. That’s what his pastor wanted him to do.

But a friend, Quincy Howard, kept bringing him back to rap. He knew that Jarry was good and didn’t want to see the gift squandered. But when he returned to hip hop, this time it was Christian lyrics.

Read the rest: Jarry Manna Christian rapper

Joey Vantes, suicide rapper

62335bc62cfb6ff575a23f9280507c1b.1000x1000x1“Sending love and prayers for all those facing loss, depression, or heartache this season. DM me if you need someone to talk to and to pray with you.”

That’s what Christian Hip Hop sensation Joey Vantes wrote on Facebook Dec. 14th. He knows that Christmas, for many, heightens their isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide. He has a heart for more than just music or stardom. He has a heart for the hurting.

joey vantes suicideThat’s because Joey Vantes (formerly Joey Jewish) tried to commit suicide himself. He was trying to quit the partying and drugs from his days at the University of Arizona. But he kept lapsing back into drinking, and the cycle of failure detonated depression.

“It was just a mess. I couldn’t break free,” Joey told Rapzilla. “I was so depressed. I was so bound to this thing that I just wanted to die to escape what I was feeling on a daily basis.”

One day when his wife sent him for groceries, he decided to end his life. He would drive off the road down a steep embankment.

“I jerked my wheel to the left to pull off at this ramp and right when I [did] it, my wheel locks, my car shuts off and I slowly just kind of fade over to the left side of the road,” Joey said. “Immediately, the Spirit of God just hits me right where I am in my car.I feel this intense love come over me and say, ‘I love you and I forgive you. Just call out to me.’” Read the rest: Suicide rapper Joey Vantes

Refreshingly humble foot soldier of the Lord rapper YB

spotify+coverBrandon “YB” Farris is a soldier.

While other Christian rappers seek to be titans of hip hop, YB approaches music from a different perspective. He doesn’t aspire to be the superstar or super-celeb in the spotlight. He’s happy being the unpretentious, humble, and effective foot soldier for God’s kingdom.

The braggadocio common in Christian rap MAY be excused as a sine qua non of the hip hop genre. Or it may be simply the sin of pride.

Whether we condemn CHH or overlook its faults is moot for the moment. What we can say is that YB is a breath of fresh air.

YB Christian rapper“I believe God still has soldiers in this generation and in the generations to come,” YB says on Alysia Paige’s blog. “As long as I’m breathing I’m in full pursuit to gather soldiers to build God’s army.”

YB grew up one of eight children of a single mother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. From the age of eight, music was his escape from the harsh realities of poverty. Growing up without a father caused him as a 13-year-old to have many unanswered questions, according to Top40 Charts.

“It was being surrounded by a tough environment, and you were being forced to make something from the environment you were coming up in,” YB told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “A lot of my story was in the valley.”

He idolized Ludacris and Eminem and got serious about music in high school. He honed his craft breaking curfew, staying up late writing and playing the music too loud. Ever sympathetic, his mother pardoned his peccadillos.

From a young age, YB knew the presence of God, but he kept God at a distance, leery of the level of commitment required. He did music for himself, not ready to enlist in God’s army. But he found self-glorification and self-promotion hollow at the end of the day.

“When I did music for me, I truly had nothing to offer people,” he observes. “In reality, people walk through life looking and hoping for ‘something’ but sometimes it’s hard to articulate your needs in darkness.”

All that changed when he went to Southern Arkansas University Tech in East Camden. He ran across so many on-fire, sold-out Christians it turned his worldview upside down. Instead of seeing the commitment as daunting, he was drawn to God.

At a college “Passion Conference,” he came to terms with God and decided to serve Jesus unreservedly, like a soldier.

He dropped his freshman album in 2014, aptly named “Salvation.” Four years later… Read the rest: Humble Christian rapper YB a soldier of Jesus.

Single dad CHH star reaches out to people lost in the streets

benjamin broadway CHHHe thrilled to strap up a Glock, flex a gold chain and fancy car and gangbang in the streets, but when Benjamin Broadway stood over the casket of his close friend Johnny Talyor, God interrupted the thug life fantasy he was living.

“That can be you,” the Most High told Benjamin. “God just attacked me.”

The dark reality of mortality combined with the stark prophecy from God prompted Benjamin to straighten up. He cut off his street friends and went to the local Vineyard Church.

Today, the South Bend, Indiana, native spearheads of subgenre of Christian Hip Hop called Gospel Trap that is oriented more for sinners than saints.

benjamin broadway single dad CHH rapper“I’m trying to save the hood,” he says in a 2016 Rapzilla video. “Gospel Trap is putting God where He’s needed. People that’s in church every Sunday God got them some way somehow. But people in the streets don’t have Him. I’m trying to give music to the streets”

The Tupac-influenced artist came under fire from Christian circles when he dropped “God in the Bando” (a bando is an abandoned house that has been taken over by dealers and addicts) by saints who want to maintain a high holy wall of separation between the church and the world. Benjamin employs ghetto language to entice sinners to listen, but he redefines the words out of the Bible. A lot of Christians don’t get the strategy.

“I’m using a lot of key words that the hood knows, and I’m putting them in a gospel perspective,” he says. “You’re going to hear stuff like ‘plug’ — all different types of keywords that no other Christian artist is using. When I put out ‘God in tha bando,’ people was attacking me. I mean, attacking me. I’m like, how come people don’t know that I’m trying to put the message out on the streets? I want to save a million souls.”

His lyrics come short of an R rating. Some parents may want to steer their Chrisitan kids to more sanitized raps. But the older youth from the suburbs would do well to approach Benjamin’s music as a sociological study of the ghetto and sensitivity training.

He’s quite the wordsmith. In one song he reflects on how it’s not easy to make a living in Christian Hip Hop even if you strike it big. “I know you broke CHH” he raps. It’s an expression of making a sensation that shuts down others because of the explosion of attention to you. He goes on to reflect on how the artist can still “be broke” financially.

Benjamin got away from the faith of his parents in high school. Everyday his dad would nag him to serve Jesus and would read him his favorite verse, which he hid through secret combination of numbers in his album “Gospel Trap 2.”

“I felt like my friends were my family; we started our own clique and ended up getting in a lot of trouble. Did a lot of things,” he told God Reports. “I think the reason why I did it so long was the friends that were around me, we were close. Plus not only that, you get addicted to the street life, you end up glorifying it, and continue to think it’s right. But in reality it’s harming you.”

He got kicked out of high school for fighting rival gang members but still managed to graduate. For some of his shenanigans in the streets, he would up locked up in jail, though only for a week.

“That made me realize — being locked up in a cell like an animal — that is not the way I wanted to live,” Benjamin said. “I didn’t want the government being in charge of my life (through prison officials and judges, etc). I don’t like jail or the police (no offense to the good officers that protect america in a good way).” Read the rest: Benjamin Broadway Christian rap

First dyslexia, then cancer, Mark Hall has gone through some trials

Mark-and-Melanie-Hall-Feature-2His doctor said, “You’ve got cancer,” but John Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, heard, “You’re going to die.”

It was 2015 and the Grammy-winning Christian worship band was approaching 10 million sales of its albums. Mark was youth pastor in Georgia, happily married and fulfilling his call in God. He consulted a doctor friend about what he imagined to be acid reflux.

After getting the results of some scans, the doctor texted Mark: Dude, you need to call me.

308650In a subsequent phone call he told Mark there was a mass on his kidney. “It looks solid. I think it’s cancer,” he said.

Mark was thunderstruck.

“I hung up and walked to my car in a daze, wondering how I was going to break the news to my wife, Melanie; our four kids; our church; the youth group; the band,” Mark recalls in Guideposts. “The idea of telling them all made my head spin.”

God felt far away.

Two weeks before his surgery, Mark was singing with Casting Crowns at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky, wondering what would happen. The band’s next song was “Just Be Held.” Unlike most of their songs, there was no story behind the song – until that night.

At that moment he had the stunning realization that God had inspired him to pen lyrics that would speak to him later in life, in the midst of his cancer.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

Casting-Crowns-press-photo-2016-billboard-1548“It was as though I was hearing those words for the very first time. Suddenly I knew who this song had been written for, and why. God in his infinite wisdom had given it to me two years earlier, knowing how desperate I would be after my diagnosis,” Mark explained. “I didn’t need to hold it together. I needed to be held, to accept his love from as many people as wanted to share it with me, to receive their prayers, all the prayers I could get.”

Doctors removed his cancerous kidney and later told him it was an aggressive form of the deadly disease, but mercifully, it was self-contained and had not spread.

The weeks following the surgery were sometimes difficult. The band cancelled a week of shows before Mark could rejoin them.

God has helped the band continue to reach hundreds of thousands with their inspirational music. Casting Crowns has won Dove, Billboard and American Music awards. The group is one of the only American bands to ever perform in North Korea., playing at the 2009 Spring Friendship Arts Festival in Pyongyang. Their single “Slow Fade” was included in Kirk Cameron’s blockbuster movie FireproofRead the rest: Dyslexia, cancer, Mark Hall.

Malice becomes No Malice

No_Malice-304Deep down, Malice always knew that staying in his platinum-selling worldly music group would lead to his demise.

But Malice (his real name is Gene Elliott Thorton Jr.) found a new reason to live in 2012. He changed his stage name to No Malice and gave up millions of dollars. Today his career, which hasn’t seen much light since, got a boost with a feature on Kanye West’s new album Jesus is King.

“I was just letting the wind carry me left, right, swing, either which way in my life,” No Malice said in a HipHopDX video.

“I wasn’t fulfilled. To have achieved the American Dream and still not be fulfilled only frustrated me more,” he told CBN. “I wasn’t having a good time. And when I did have a good time, it was only to find out afterwards, I was in more misery.”

Born in 1972 in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, No Malice was drawn to hip hop and R&B as a child. Unlike many kids in his neighborhood, his mother and father took him to church. Still, he managed to get into all kinds of trouble.

clipse-pusha-t-malice

Malice with Pusha T in Clipse

“Even with foundation and having a good head on your shoulders, you can still make some pretty decent mistakes,” he said.

He and his brother, who went under the stage name Pusha T, formed the group Clipse, which brass-knuckled its way into the rap game. At the time hip hop was just beginning to compete against pop with choruses and anthems, but Clipse broached untouchable topics, introducing a sub genre dubbed coke rap, filled with chilling hood depictions of trafficking and addiction.

It caused a sensation and opened new terrain for hip hop. Running and gunning, killing and cursing became the new trend. Lord Willin’ in 2002 debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop album. XXL gave its coveted and rare 5-star rating to their 2006 album Hell Hath No Fury. They toured and collaborated with all the top artists.

gene thorton“Clipse blew my brain open in 2006,” wrote Nathan Slavik on DJBooth Net.

In 2009, when he hit the cusp of notoriety, riches and ever growing celebrity, No Malice suddenly pulled the plug and quit secular rap. How could he? How could he leave his brother, leave the fame, leave the riches, leave his fans?

“You can have it,” No Malice told DJ Vlad. He didn’t even let Vlad finish building the question. He cut him off with a tart reply that declared in no uncertain terms that he had no regrets and no remorse about leaving his former path. Read the rest: Malice becomes No Malice.

Kanye’s ‘Jesus is King’ reviewed

Kanye-Pablo-Tour-800x500Formerly foul-mouthed rapper Kanye West joined a pack of hip hop artists turning to Christ and dropped a Christian album last week, jolting secular critics and enthralling spiritually-minded devotees with plenty of surprises.

He provides a soulful intensity that delivers everything you’d want in Christian rap, interspersed with comedic elements. His beats are exhilarating, a cut above most of his peers in Christian Hip Hop.

Before Christ, his rap was often unprintable even on secular new sites. He’s still not one to mince words, but only now he’s adamant and forthright about his faith. The album’s title could have been from Kirk Franklin: Jesus is King.

Kanye-West-Kim-Kardashian-West-Marriage-to-Kim“Closed on Sunday” is hilarious, a nod to Chick-fil-A, the popular sandwich joint that keeps the Sabbath, to the joy of its staff and the chagrin of hungry patrons.

Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A
Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away
Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray
When you got daughters, always keep ‘em safe
Watch out for vipers, don’t let them indoctrinate.

“Selah” is another standout with multiple verses from the Bible. It references the fact that his ninth album was supposed to be Yandhi but got jettisoned when Kanye accepted Jesus and became born-again.

Before the flood, people judge
They did the same thing to Noah
Everybody wanted Yandhi
Then Jesus Christ did the laundry.

Kanye used to be unapologetic about his misogynistic lyrics. He’s still a lightning rod for controversy, only now he’s making a stand for Jesus — and unpopular politics. Read the rest of Kanye’s Jesus is King album.

S.O. turned tragedy into tunes

seun otukpe fathers deathSeun Otukpe, known as Christian emo rapper S.O., has had a life punctuated by tragedy.

At 15 he was shocked by the sudden death of a friend. He realized he had better stop playing church and get serious about God. S.O. began to question his assumption that he would have years to enjoy sin before getting serious about God.

Then his father died unexpectedly when he was 17. S.O. numbly asked why and felt the pressure to carry his family forward on his shoulders.

He had good friends leave the Christian faith, first an unnamed buddy who was the subject of “memoirs” and then his mentor in Christian hip hop, Jahaziel, who opted for “panafricanism” because he saw Christianity as the white man’s religion.

15658174451033With each album, S.O., now 30, pours out his hurt in melancholic musings that mix vulnerability, despair and Christian hope in astonishing sincerity.

S.O. was born in Nigeria, but the family moved to England when he was nine-years-old to pursue better educational opportunities. As a result of growing up in London, his heavy accent remains even though he now lives in Dallas with his wife of three years.

It was in London that he connected with his lifelong producer, G.P., who gained notoriety producing Tedashii’s Identity Crisis and Lecrae’s Rehab.

Some considered S.O. as nothing more than two-bit church rapper who got his start at Grandma’s birthday when he was 6. But on a chance ride he was given by G.P. associate Prince Adu Poku, S.O. put his best foot forward: “I can rap.” The following bars he spit in the car opened the door for him to meet the master, who was initially skeptical.

“Don’t bring this guy unless he can spit bars,” G.P. recounted to Rapzilla. “I ain’t got time to waste.”

When S.O. arrived, G.P. knew immediately he was pro material. The subsequent Five Solas Mixtape garnered attention and S.O. was signed by Lamp Mode Recordings. In 2011 he released So It Begins, which cracked Billboard charts. Read the rest of S.O. Christian rapper.

Miscarriages drove Carrie Underwood to desperation

ScreenShot2013-05-07at4.50.11PM_crop_northAfter her third miscarriage, Carrie Underwood got mad at God.

“I had always been afraid to be angry because we are so blessed,” Carrie told CBS. But “I got mad.”

It was 2018 and one night when her husband wasn’t home, she thought she had miscarried for the fourth time in a row.

“I was just sobbing,” she says. “I was like, ‘Why on earth do I keep getting pregnant if I can’t have a kid? Like, what is this? Like, do something. Either shut the door or let me have a kid.’ For the first time, I feel like I actually told God how I felt.”

carrie-underwood-20060995-640x320It turns out the country music sensation hadn’t lost her child that night. Today, the singer of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and her husband, NHL player Mike Fisher, have two children.

Carrie grew up in the single-traffic-light town of Checotah, Oklahoma, with a population of about 3,000. The youngest of three girls, she grew up loving animals and singing in the church. Her love for animals was so strong that she helped build an animal shelter named “Happy Paws” and became a vegan.

A local fan of her singing hooked her up with an audition at Capital Records when she was 14, but the deal evaporated in the midst of management change-ups. She majored in journalism at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, worked at a pizzeria, a zoo and a veterinary clinic. She participated in beauty pageants and singing contests. She had decided she didn’t stand a chance to make it in singing, but that all changed in 2004.

intro-1562612938She auditioned for American Idol and was quickly included in the contests and advanced to the #1 spot. Her subsequent release in 2005 of “Inside your Heaven,” which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. That same year, her Some Hearts album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Country Music. She has sold 65 million records, earning the moniker “country music’s reigning queen” from Billboard.

At one of her concerts, she met Canadian hockey star Mike Fisher, and the two married in 2010. She launched a line of clothing in the exercise space called Calia, and she had a little boy, Isaiah. It was a precipitous rise to fame and fortune and she enjoyed a picture perfect marriage and family. It was almost as if Satan asked God, as he did with Job, if he could deprive her of her joy to see if she would still serve Him.

carrie-underwood-isaiah-birthday-1551377836In 2017, she and her husband tried for a second child early in the year, and she miscarried. She got pregnant again in the fall and again lost the pregnancy. When she lost a third pregnancy in 2018, she began to question her faith.
“What’s the deal? What is all of this?” she asked God. “What are You doing to me? What have I done wrong?

She got pregnant a fourth time and had a miscarriage scare.

She sobbed uncontrollably as she cried out to God in desperation. Read the rest about Carrie Underwood miscarriages.

Will Katy Perry turn back to God after court loss to Christian rapper?

5cffc1a525f2e72cae298eec-2732-2049In a court decision with implications for Christian Hip Hop at large, Flame won a plagiarism suit against pop star Katy Perry, who stole his beat from “Joyful Noise” and included it in her #1 song “Dark Horse,” according to a Los Angeles jury.

Damages are yet to be established by the court.

It was a victory for Flame, whose real name is Marcus Gray. But it is also a resounding validation for Christian Hip Hop (CHH), which gets criticized for being copycat, unoriginal, even corny. Perry extracted the Flame’s 2008 synth beat almost unaltered for her 2013 song, whose video was the first of a female artist to reach a billion views on YouTube.

The brazen daylight robbery of intellectual property proves once and for all that CHH is a source of creativity, not a knockoff.

Apparently it was Flame’s DJ at the time Cho’zyn Boy who sniffed out the fraud when he heard “Dark House.” He dissected the two songs and found that the only difference in the beat lines was Dark Horse sped up its tempo from 66 BPM to 76 BPM and dropped pitch down one decimal from Db to C, according to Rapzilla.

FLAME Christian Hip HopPerry and her lawyers argued that her song-writing crew never heard “Joyful Noise” and didn’t even know of Flame. They contended that beats can sound similar from one song to the next.

Flame’s lawyer hog-washed such claims, saying the music diva thought she could get away with highway robbery because Flame was a low-level musician – and Christian.

“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” argued Michael A Kahn, as reported by the Guardian. Flame’s video reached 2 million viewers and was too widely known for jurors to believe Perry.

But behind the court conflict, there’s an epic battle going on that transcends a significant payout for the Christian rapper, who turned down $1 million from secular producers that offered him a contract on the condition he tone down the Jesus talk.

Behind the settlement and intellectual property infringement, there is also a war for the precious, prodigal soul of Katy Perry. Read the rest Katy Perry’s Dark Horse compared to Flame’s Joyful Noise.

Rebel Jewish rocker went forward to receive Jesus as a joke, got surprised by joy

michael brownGrowing up in a Jewish household, Dr. Michael L. Brown believed Jesus was the God of Christians and had nothing to do with the Jews.

During his high school years he became a pothead and eventually earned the nicknames “Drug-Bear” and “Iron Man” due to his prodigious intake of drugs. He abused pot, hash, LSD, mescaline, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.

“I would take massive quantities just to see how far I could go,” Brown says on a One For Israel video. ”I once did enough mescaline (a hallucinogenic drug) for 30 people — the equivalent of one ounce. I couldn’t distinguish between reality and hallucination.”

dr michael brownBetween 1996 and 2000, Brown led the Brownsville Revival, a Christian Pentecostal Movement at the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida. He is currently a radio talk show host and also president and professor of practical theology at FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC.

Born in New York City in a respectable family, his father served as the senior lawyer in the New York Supreme Court.

“My upbringing was typical of many New York, Conservative Jewish children. We moved to Long Island, I did well in school, I played lots of sports, and, like all my friends, I basically stayed out of trouble. But something changed. It all began innocently enough,” he said.

“When I was eight years old I started to play drums. There was no question that I had ability. In fact by the time I was fifteen I had played on a studio album. But my favorite music was rock, and after my Bar Mitzvah in 1968, I got interested in playing in a band. I wanted to be a rock drummer, and all my role models were known for their heavy drug use, rebellion, and flagrant immorality. I wanted to be like them!”

In 1969, at age 14, he was offered pot.

“I was only too happy to oblige,” he says. “Soon I tried smoking hash too. But neither one had any effect on me. So I tried harder drugs until I started using uppers, downers and LSD. I thought I wouldn’t do anything worse than that, but I was deceived.”

By age 15, he tried speed and heroin.

“I loved it,” he says.

His grades crashed. Drugs, rock and “filthy living” were his daily portion. He and his friends broke into homes and a doctor’s office just for fun. Snatching up drugs wherever they entered, they nearly killed themselves.

He was binging drugs, constantly pushing the outer edge of the envelope toward overdose.

At times, it was difficult to distinguish between hallucination and reality. “I would walk with my hand in front of my face at night because I didn’t know if the tree that was growing up in front of me was really there, or if the tree that grew up into fireworks, that they were really taking place,” he noted.

”I’d see a car coming at me, and suddenly it became a person: the lights became eyes and a mouth. I’d see someone walking their dog and they’d morph until they each became a little bit of each other.”

Brown wasn’t the type of person to fight, but he would bring people down with verbal volleys. He ripped into people until they were in tears.

He had been raised a conservative Jew, but wandered far from the faith of his family. He rarely thought of God, but when he did, he rationalized that he was a good person.

“If there really is a God, He knows I have a good heart,” he thought at the time.

Ultimately, it was the Book of Revelation that brought him to account. Some friends began attending church and telling him about the Beast with seven heads and 10 horns that emerged from the Bottomless Pit to rule the world. It sounded like an LSD trip.

“That’s in the Bible?” Brown asked his buddies. “That’s what they talk about in this church? That’s a cool church.” Read the rest: Dr. Michael Brown started as a Jewish rocker on drugs and came to Jesus.

The ‘success’ of touring with Bob Dylan left her disillusioned

55f5f1677bb6c240d80aa9c18d034a4d_400x400Touring with iconic superstar Bob Dylan may have been a life changing experience for Jennifer Goetz, but that wasn’t the only transformational aspect of the journey.

After going on two 6-week tours with Dylan in 1975 in the U.S., rather than feeling elated, she felt empty, completely lost.

“It was like I had climbed a mountain and looked over and there was nothing on the other side,” Jennifer said. “I was so frustrated with life that I determined I would give myself 35 days to find a new way of approaching life. I was so sick of this brain inhabiting this body and just the way I thought about things.”

During those 35 days, Jennifer contracted Bell’s Palsy, which is partial face paralysis.

“As I was going to bed one night, I was brushing my teeth and water came squirting out of the side of my mouth, and I lived alone in an apartment at that point, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to go to bed and I’m going to wake up paralyzed,’ and sure enough when I woke up the next morning, half my face was paralyzed.”

The next day, Dylan’s girlfriend, an African American Baptist Woman, grabbed Jennifer by the hands and started praying for her in the name of Jesus.

Marty-Jennifer-Goetzs

With her husband, Marty Goetz

“I remember that when she was finished I walked out of that trailer and I was stunned, and I looked around and I thought, ‘What was that?’’ she remembers. “And the next day I actually started seeing an improvement and feeling an improvement in my face.”

After the first tour, Jennifer got to join Dylan’s six-week European Tour.

Her quest for truth was not over.

With a friend at a hotel in the desert, Jennifer opened a little drawer and found a red Gideon Bible. She “stole” it, brought it home and began to read.

Read the rest of Jennifer Goetz disillusioned with success in music industry finds Yeshua.

Almost aborted, Aaron Cole is one of the best Christian hip hop artists currently

aaron coleAaron Cole’s mom and dad nearly aborted him, but the breakout Christian Hip Hop star was too far along in the womb for the procedure to be legal.

“How does it feel to know you was unwanted… to know you was just one good late night pimping,” Cole raps on “Shouldn’t Be Here.” “It makes me asks is there any point of even living?”

Aaron’s dad was 19, his mom only 17, when he was conceived.

Today, Aaron, at only age 20, is a rap sensation signed to Gotee Records with three albums and other projects banging on the charts. His song “Right on Time” with Toby Mac has 7.4 million views on YouTube.

Aaron Tyrese Cole made it out of the womb in Bristol, Virginia, on February 28, 1999. Mom and dad stayed together and another baby was born. They separated and reunited when dad came with another child. Today, Aaron has three full siblings and one half sibling.

Aaron-Cole-abortionDad was a hip hop artist who got saved somewhere in there, and Aaron picked up on his musical ways. The tyke was performing in front of friends and family from age 4. His dad produced an album for the little one titled Fourth Period.

His father had his own recording studio in his apartment and has helped Aaron with his music.

Aaron discovered Jesus for himself as a result of getting bullied for being a good kid.

“I remember in junior high just enjoying being a regular kid, but I would get picked on because I wasn’t smoking, drinking or getting in trouble,” he says. “One afternoon I told my dad what was going on and why, and he shared that he thought I was called for a purpose and that this calling would cost me to NOT be like everyone else.

“It was that moment that I encountered God for the first time for myself,” Aaron says. “And I knew I was born to do this and began writing and putting my own songs together.”

In 2016, Aaron’s parents told him the truth about his beginning, that he was going to be aborted. It was a huge blow. There was rejection but also relief. He owed God his life. Read the rest: Aaron Cole abortion.

Musician found ‘ecstasy’ in Christian EDM music

capital kings cole walowac.pngTwo roads diverged in a yellow wood and Cole Walowac, a Washington D.C. native, didn’t know which to take: the assured but boring career path or to follow his dreams combining music and ministry.

He was two years out of high school, not holding a job, making music with his church friend, Jon White, under the band name “Capital Kings.” They were doing something completely unique: Christian electronic dance music. Prior to the Capital Kings, all EDM was secular and played at the raves — all night dance parties renowned for ecstasy consumption.

capital kings in concertCole liked the music, not the drug abuse.

He was living at home on mom and dad’s tab seemingly endlessly. Finally, his parents delivered an ultimatum: Cole needed to do something productive with his life. He needed to grow up, move out and be responsible.

It was a frightening prospect because music was his passion and he hadn’t figure out how to make money at it. Some friends encouraged him to move to the Christian music capital of the nation: Nashville.

“We took a leap of faith and did it,” Walowac says on a This is Me video. “I just trusted God was leading me a whole other direction in my life. Doubt is like a disease. Even if you don’t see results immediately, it will lead to something good eventually if you work hard.”

The duo signed a record deal with Gotee Records and released an eponymous album in 2013, which charted in the Top 5 of Christian Albums on Billboard. The Houston Chronicle noted that no other Christian EDM met with so much crossover success. Toby Mac, Mandisa and Group 1 Crew all took note and started collaborations.

Their second album, titled simply II, was released in 2015. They did remixes for Britt Nicole, David Crowder Band, Nathalie Grant and Colton Dixon.

“Musically, EDM is very youthful. I think it’s just… Read the rest of What happened to the Capital Kings?

Who knew Sheila Walsh suffered mental illness

12_SheilaWalshUnder the semblance of a successful Christian music career, Scottish-born New Wave singer Sheila Walsh hid a rumbling volcano of mental illness that started when her father suffered a brain aneurysm and lashed out at the 5-year-old girl.

The volcano finally erupted in 1992 when she checked herself into a mental institution to come to grips with the rejection, depression and suicidal inclinations. Her recovery — and the help of Jesus — are the subject of her book Honestly.

“I was very much a daddy’s girl. I thought my father was the most amazing man on earth,” Sheila recounts. The tenderness and warmth ended brusquely with an aneurysm he suffered one night. After he returned from the hospital a few weeks later, he was paralyzed on the left side of his body and could only make grunting, animal-like noises.

“Sometimes during acute brain injury, the person hits out instinctively at the one person they believe will love them,” Sheila says. “But you don’t understand that when you’re five years old.

1539097700001_5852439046001_5850381258001-vs“The only one my father would take his anger out on was me,” she adds. “He would spit in my face or pull lumps of my hair out. As a child I thought, ‘What am I doing wrong?’”

One night, dad approached Sheila from behind and raised his cane to smash it down on her skull. If not for the growling of her little dog Heidy, he might have achieved his twisted intent.

“I don’t know whether I pulled it or pushed, but he fell and hit the ground hard,” she remembers. “He lay there like an animal just roaring.”

Four men were needed to carry him to the nearest asylum in Ayr, Scotland.

He escaped the asylum, dragged himself to the river, where he entangled himself in the salmon nets to drown. Search and rescue crews found him dead the next morning. He had committed suicide.

Sheila’s mother arrived home dressed in black. She took down every photo of dad from the walls and stowed them in a suitcase under her bed.

“We never talked about him again,” she says.

“All I knew is that I had done something to make my father hate me, or he had seen something in me that he despised,” she adds.

Sheila Walsh husband and sonNeighbors would try to encourage her: “Sheila, you’re just like your dad.” They meant mannerisms or singing voice, but Sheila feared they meant she was mentally ill like him.

“What I heard was: ‘There’s a crack in your soul like your father, and one of these days, no matter how fast you run, it’s going to catch up with you,’” she says. “I spent the next many, many years trying to make sure that whatever it was my father saw, no one else would ever see.”

She finished studies in theology at the London Bible College (now called London School of Theology) in 1979. She studied music at the London Academy of Operatic Art. She also worked as an evangelist for Youth for Christ in Britain and sang in a group called Oasis.

In 1981, she released a solo album of New Wave music with Christian lyrics entitled Future Eyes. She toured the United States opening for Phil Keaggy. In 1992, Pat Robertson made her co-host on the 700 Club.

“I found the perfect hiding place: Christian ministry,” she says. “Outwardly it looked like God had really put his hand of favor on my life. But inside I was still the same scared little girl. It felt as if I was on the edge of this volcano and this distant rumble was getting louder and louder every day, and I didn’t know what to do.”

She stayed busy and constantly filled her world with music and noise.

One day while interviewing a guest on the 700 Club on live T.V., the guest asked her how she was doing. “I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t get the chance to pull my guard up,” she says. “And that day I did what I vowed I would never do. I cried on live T.V.”

She went away from work that day feeling naked before the world. The ghosts from the past had finally caught up with her, and she didn’t know how to deal with them. She went to the coast and walked out into the water, with every intention of drowning herself like her father.

What held her back was the thought of her mother receiving the phone call that her daughter had repeated the curse of inheritance.

She checked into a psych hospital. “I felt I had gone to hell,” she says. She was in a simple room with a chair, and personnel checked on her every 15 minutes.

A man came in at 3:00 and gave her a stuffed animal, a lamb.

“As he was leaving, he turned and said, ‘Sheila, the Shepherd knows where to find you,’” she remembers. Sheila was treated for a month and never saw that man again. Read the rest of Sheila Walsh mental health and suicide.

Russian Armenian ex-atheist Christian rapper who signs black artists for his label

Ruslan Christian hip hopAt age 10, Ruslan became a decided atheist after his father, immigrating from Azerbaijan with the family, dumped his mother and married another woman.

“At the time, my mom was so distraught over this, she stopped going to this Armenian Orthodox church where we found a lot of community,” he says on a video on his YouTube channel. “I was 10, 11 or 12, and I was literally convinced that there was no God. I was saying, ‘I’m an atheist,’ at a very young age.”

But when Ruslan, who today is a top Christian hip hop artist, got to high school, he was torn between girls: one was Christian, the other was Jehovah’s Witness. He decided to settle the dispute of whether Jesus was God by studying. He read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and the encyclopedic New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.

ruslan rapper wife child

With his wife, Monette, and son, Levi.

The verdict came in.

“I — based on a very intellectual rational experience — came to faith,” he says. “My faith wasn’t hinged upon an experience. It hinged on the evidence that Jesus was God and He resurrected from the death.”

Ruslan Karaoglanov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan to a Russian mother who had been adopted by an Armenian family and an Armenian father. As an infant in the 1980s, he contracted an acute urinary tract infection, and a doctor at a remote clinic on the Caspian Sea performed a circumcision to save his life.

Five years later, Muslim extremists fanned out through the region to massacre Christian men and boys. Toting automatic weapons, rebels fighting the Soviet Army very nearly killed Ruslan, but his mom argued they were Muslims and showed her son’s circumcision as proof (in that region of the world, Christians do not usually circumcise while Muslims do).

ruslan“No! No! No!” Marina shouted in Russian, as narrated by Christianity Today. “We’re not Armenians. Look, my son is circumcised!”

The ruse worked.

The reign of terror didn’t abate, and finally the family applied for visas to America on the basis of religious persecution. They settled in San Diego in 1990.

Little Ruslan spoke only Russian and was one of just five a few “white” kids mixed with “black and brown” youngsters at school. His apartment complex and community had roughly the same ratio.

So while he studied English, Ruslan also learned “basketball, break dancing, graffiti and rap,” he wrote to God Reports via Instagram DM. “My experience with the black community is they tend to be very gracious and welcoming of outsiders. Specifically black church folk. I’ve never felt out of place or anything. Always the opposite.”

Ruslan free-styled with his friends from age 10 and performed at open mic night by age 12. He bought as many hip hop CDs as he could and started gravitating towards the gang culture of the hip hop in that era. For attempting to break in to a house, he was arrested and put on probation at age 12.

ruslan christian rapperAs part of his probation, he was required to do community service, so he decided to perform it at a church where a lady named Charee, an ex convict who converted radically to Christ, attended. He cleaned the church but also heard the Word. People kept prophesying to him: “You’re going to do things for the Lord.”

Afterwards, his mom still worried and wondered how to help her son escape the bad influences, so she moved to San Marcos, to the immediate north of San Diego. Ruslan got better grades, stayed out of trouble and stayed in the rap game. “Yo, you’re really dope,” friends told him repeatedly.

“I was super into basketball and thought I was going to play for the NBA. In my sophomore year, I got cut from my JV basketball team” at Vista High School, Ruslan says on a video. “Ever since then, I made the mental switch that I was going to take music more seriously. I started entering all the talent shows. I won second place in our high school’s battle of the bands in 2001.” Read the rest: Ruslan Russian Armenian ex atheist Christian immigrant rapper.

Out of a dark place, Manafest found his call.

manafestChristopher Greenwood fell more than four steps when he attempted a kick-flip off some stairs on a skateboard while trying to go pro in high school.

Permanently injured, his dreams crushed, Greenwood fell into depression.

“My world just fell apart. Everything I had ever wanted to be was just taken from me,” he says. “I was in a dark and discouraged place for a while.”

Since he wasn’t skating anymore, he hung out with musicians and he made rhymes just for fun to while away the time. He discovered he was good at it.

One thing led to another, and today he’s a Dove-award winning Christian rap-rocker using the stage name Manafest (as in manifesting the truth). His daily passion of skating was replaced with singing for the glory of God.

Manafest was born in Pickering, Ontario. His father committed suicide when he was five-years-old, leaving him with his mother and sister. He accepted Christ into his heart a few years later at a Bible camp.

maxresdefaultHe started skating at age 14 and skated every day of his life. After high school, he took off a year from skating and tried to pick up sponsors. Then the fateful accident happened.

Life was doom and doom and gloom. But his buddies helped lift his spirits. Because they played music, he started tinkering. He wasn’t any good — at first.

“I really sucked at it for a while — at rapping. I had to work at it,” he says. “But God just gave me a dream and a passion for this music. I saw a picture of performing in front of a lot of people and sharing my heart on things.

“God did a lot of big things in my life and set me free from a lot of junk,” he says. “I was embarrassed about my past. I wasn’t proud about it. That was a turning point when I was starting to do music.”

Since 2003, he’s produced nine studio albums. He has won multiple awards for the GMA Canada Covenant Awards and GMA Dove Awards. Read the rest: Manafest, out of dark place, he found his call.

Christian drummer prayed for a penny to stick to the wall — and it stuck

Chuck on the DrumsHis love for drums started when he was two years old.

Charles Christian asked his parents for a drum set. Because they lived in an apartment complex, they thought the incessant banging beats would generate angry complaints from neighbors.

Confronted with his parents’ “no,” the tyke turned to prayer: “Jesus, Jesus!” were the only words his infantile mind could form to give voice to his frustration.

“Acknowledging my little prayer, they saw my faith in Jesus and bought my first drum set,” Charles says. “Miraculously so, we did not get a single noise complaint while living at the apartment.”

Not one complaint.

Christian drummerToday, Charles is known by “Chuck on the Drums” and plays and produces with the pros. The Scottsdale, Arizona, resident plays everything from alternative rock to funk/hip hop with both Christian and secular musicians, including rapper Murs. He uses his talents to shine the light into the lives of the stars who still don’t know the Light.

“I am called to lead people to Christ through music,” he says. “I view music to be my ministry. God will continue to use me as a light that displays to the lost in this broken world. He will create opportunities for me to share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus.”

Chuck plays and produces for ARCiTEC, a hip hop/ R&B duo in Arizona. He is part of two other bands and plays worship at the Highlands Church in Scottsdale.

He grew up in Chicago, the only child of Bible-believing parents whose faith “never wavers,” he says.

“It was not until I went to my church’s middle school winter camp that I really got saved,” Chuck recalls. “In between the set during worship, the worship leader stated that we as believers should have our own personal relationship with Jesus that does not rely on our parents’ faith.

“That truly rocked me.” Find out how a penny encouraged a Christian drummer to faith in God.

She overcame lack of love of father: CASS

Cass synthesizer musicHaving a distant dad only heightened her teenage insecurities.

Cassandra Kanda, a Zimbabwe-born Christian musician making waves in Christian Hip Hop now, grew up in New Zealand where she NEVER fit in high school.

“I struggled with rejection. I was bullied pretty badly when I was 8 years old in school,” she says an exclusive interview with God Reports. “So by the time I was a teenager, rejection was something I didn’t want to ever experience. And when I did experience it, it would hurt more than anything because of all the baggage I was carrying from it since I was young.”

In her soon-to-be-released album, Cass (usually her stage name is stylized CASS) explores the perceived lack of fatherly love and its subsequent repercussions in low self-esteem. It wasn’t until she profoundly understood the Heavenly Father’s love that she righted.

Cass in christian hip hop“When I discovered God’s fatherly love, it revolutionized my life,” she says in email interview. “It’s something till this day that still makes me emotional because I’ve only ever experienced a Father’s love from God. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

Cass is the synthesizer wunderkind of Christian music. She was featured recently on Reach Record’s collective song “Light Bearer,” which was a mantra for the label starting 2018.

Who would have thought the immigrant would amount to — or surmount such hardships — to attain renown in Christian music? Her beginnings were humble.

She immigrated, with her family, when she was 7. She attended church unrelentingly with her family and accepted Jesus as a youngster and then rededicated her life to Christ when she saw the play “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames” at age 16.

cass in concert christian“That’s when I really started to walk with God fully,” she says.

The adjustment to a new culture was worsened by a hostile reception at grade school where she, as a small African girl, was bullied by the New Zealand kids so badly that her parents had to change her educational center.

Her father, perhaps because of the African culture, was emotionally detached, Cass says, and this further damaged her self-concept.

“I grew up with a distant parent. This teamed up with the fact that I was bullied pretty badly,” she says. “So I tried everything I could do to fit in (which never worked cause I NEVER did fit in in high school), and it would bother me so much.”

Fortunately, she was growing in the Word and prayer, and eventually she realized fully God’s love.

“It’s not until I realized who I was in Christ, that’s when that fear of rejection broke of me,” Cass says. “What I was looking for — that acceptance or approval from people I was never going to find from the crowd. I would only find it in God.” Read the rest of CASS Christian musician.

John Givez leaves Christian Hip Hop, smokes pot

john givez marijuanaAfter singing for Christian Hip Hop for two years, talented musician John Givez stepped away from faith and returned to smoking pot, as seen in his music video “After Hours,” filmed in 2017.

When the rhythms & blues artist from Oceanside joined with Christian rappers Ruslan and Beleaf, it was heralded as a huge catch for Christian music.

But his turning away brought the CHH world great sadness, with many praying for the return of a prodigal.

Growing up, Givez attended church five times a week. His dad was a preacher and his mom worked in the choir. But his church and home were in the rough east side of town, and he was constantly harassed about joining a gang — either Pozole or East Side Crip — inside school and even coming out of church.

john givez backslideAdd to that the fact that his dad suffered emotional issues of PTSD as a veteran and schizophrenia, and you have the perfect storm for a trouble-prone youth who had an uneasy relationship with his father.

“The devil really tried to have his way with my family,” he remembers. “It took awhile for him to be diagnosed. That took a toll on me.” He stopped attending church during his teen years.

“I started getting into trouble with the law,” he says. “I caught a case for burglary, and I got caught with some Oxycontin. The burglary was a misdemeanor, but (the drug) took my case to the next level.”

john givezGivez faced a three-year prison term.

His dad bailed him out of county jail in 2014. The gesture of love and compassion from his father paved the way toward reconciliation.

“I remember sitting in the holding tank with these other fools, I remember God speaking to me. That was the first time I heard Him” in a long time, Gives said.

Look around you, God impressed on his heart.

“I look around, and all of us in there hated authority, and I didn’t know why,” he remembers. “That right there was a life-altering moment for me, in my own life, having to learn, just being hard headed, being smacked by the way things go.”

When he was bailed out, his dad urged him to get a job to show the judge he was changing.

At that time, a Christian rapper named “Beleaf” started dating John’s sister. He invited John, then 19, to church and offered him a job.

“That took me off the streets to where I didn’t have so much idle time, you know, to be bored and get into something stupid,” he says. “The Lord really started working on me. I was still smoking and drinking.”

Givez started reading his Bible, which was hard because he didn’t like to read. He wound up reading the Bible for eight hours.

“I gave my life to the Lord right there,” he remembers. “This was real. I would start in Revelations. (I realized) I’m going to Hell, for sure. Then I learned that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. From that moment I was like, ‘I don’t know how my homies are going to feel about this.’”

When he finally emerged from his room, his mom looked at him quizzically and remarked: “It looks like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.” Read the rest of: Is John Givez still Christian?

CHH artist came out as gay, then announced he had HIV

jgivens christian or notAfter “coming out” as homosexual in June, Jeremiah Givens, a gifted lyricist who stormed Christian Hip Hop, just announced he has HIV.

“As a man living with HIV, I’m taken aback right now,” tweeted the man whose Twitter handle is @pray4jgivens. In response, his peers in the industry have shown him love. “You are in my prayers bro,” responded DJ Wade-O, for example.

This is not a tidy gutter-to-glory story. This is a Christian tragedy in five acts, which includes the latest doctrinal assault on 2000 years of church teaching. Some may debate whether this story ends in glory or tragedy, but most will be praying a redemptive thread prevails.

Jeremiah Timothy Givens was born on May 27, 1987 in Los Angeles, California, but his parents moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, so that their son wouldn’t get ensnared in gangs.

huge_avatarGivens was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from USC when he was introduced to drugs.

He partied on weekends, but followed a pattern of cleaning up his mess so he could return to school on Monday. A friend introduced him to crystal meth, a potent and deadly drug, and it became nine-year battle to finally get free.

Towards the end, Givens was lying on a bathroom floor, not caring if he died. He walked away from that near overdose and eventually stumbled across the hip hop of Jackie Hill-Perry. She was a Christian rapper who had turned her back on lesbianism.

Because of her music, Givens started attending church. Eventually, he met Propaganda, a CHH sensation, and Prop helped him get signed on his then-label Humble Beast Records in 2014. His album Fly Exam, a takeoff of the Icarus myth, was an examination of the fallacies and enticements of drug addiction.

“It’s about being dope and struggling with doing dope while being dope in Hip Hop,” Givens told HipHopDX. “It’s kind of a chronicle of my life in that time period of writing it. It’s sad that the older generation can’t forewarn these teenagers about the comedown part” after getting high.

jeremiah givens rapperRappers who praise drugs should be truthful about the negatives, Givens said. They should say, “Yo if you go down this road, you’re gonna feel like a superstar at the party, but it’s gonna lead to this and this and this and this.’”

Fly Exam peaked at number 19 on BillBoard in the category of Top Christian Rap Albums.

After erupting in CHH, Givens broke the Internet when he announced his homosexuality in June 2018. He responded to a Twitter follower who said, “You gay bro. Instead of hearing form others, imma (sic) just ask.” His reply: “Yup.”

CHH colleagues were quick to express love towards him and suggest fans pray for him, but other commenters resorted to a more confrontational approach: “He just needs to get delivered,” one said.

Givens retorted with a flurry of blistering responses until 5:00 a.m., according to Jay from The Crew who monitors CHH.

“Y’all are in a cult and calling me the devil,” he retorted. “Zealots are insane.”

Again: “I see why people have disgust for self righteous. They’re so fragile & full of false piety… They can curse you to hell, attack your business, defame your character, while secretly jerking off to incognito browser tabs.”

Givens response contained some valid points: Most Christians would be wise to remember that Jesus says the one without sin should be the first to cast the stone.

But behind the conflagration is an even bigger issue: Should homosexuals be accepted in evangelical churches and doctrine revised to no longer see it as a sin? Intentionally or not, Givens became a beacon for those pushing for a major revision of the Bible. Read the rest of JGivens gay CHH artist.

Tori Kelly rejected?

tori kelly smileFirst she got cut from a record label. Then she got cut from American Idol.

Tori Kelly was told she wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t bubbly enough, wasn’t talented enough.

“This wasn’t just one door closing. This was ANOTHER door closing out of all these doors that have closed in my face,” Tori says on an “I am Second” video. “I was so devastated. I was this singer who if I failed, then people would be disappointed.”

Wut? Tori Kelly cut?

tori-kelly christian singerToday, Victoria Loren Kelly, 27, is one of the most heralded singers in pop music. The Capital Records-signed Christian gospel musician has won two Grammys after songs on her two albums “Unbreakable Smile” and “Hiding Place” charted Billboard’s Hot 100.

The painful rejections in her attempt to follow her dreams have led her to some insights valuable to young girls who think they don’t measure up.

“It might take a while but one day your going to grow into your own skin and be the woman that God uniquely made as you,” the star says. “You’re being built into the woman that God wants you to be. And you don’t have to compare yourself to anybody.”

Tori Kelly ChristianBorn in Wildomar, California, Tori had a dad of Jamaican and Puerto Rican ancestry and a mom descended from German and Irish blood. Her parents loved music, exposed her to every genre and encouraged her early interest.

At age 12, she signed with Geffen Records, but that deal fizzled. She taught herself the guitar and began composing songs, which she uploaded to YouTube, getting one million subscribers. She competed in American Idol’s ninth season but fell out before the final 24.

“That’s when I went back into my room and I started to journal a lot,” she confides. “I wrote about confusion, feeling different. I was getting out these emotions that I’ve never been really good at explaining. It was just kind of this messy book of all my thoughts and prayers. (I wrote down:) ‘Lord, guide me. I don’t know who I am without singing.’”

The downtime — the time alone crying with God — was unpleasant. But ultimately, they were good for her. Read the rest: Tori Kelly failed.

Wande Isola got her start in rap with a biology project in college

wande isolaFrom time to time, her Muslim family members kept Wande Isola from going to church.

“When I initially gave my life to Christ and became vocal about my faith, it was met with a lot of tension,” the Nigerian immigrant says. “I had to make the decision to pursue Christ even when my family didn’t understand. I think many people don’t know how much opposition I had to face to follow Christ.”

At a time when there are calls to expand opportunities for women in Christian Hip Hop, the 23-year-old is exploding across the spectrum. The battles she has faced have prepared her for ones to come. She is currently working for Reach Records’ A&R Department, has dropped a number of songs and become the go-to female rapper for features.

wande isola rapWande says she knew about Christianity in Round Rock, Texas, where she was raised, but didn’t understand her need for a Savior until she was a pre-teen attending a “Discovery Camp” in 2009 in Columbus, Texas. Only her mom was Christian and supported her decision.

“My mom was my ally throughout my journey,” she says. However there were seasons when I was asked to no longer go to church. There were also many times I was told that Jesus can’t perform miracles and can’t save and I was being brainwashed. I think my family environment forced me to be rooted in my faith and be unwavering in what I believe.”

As a teen, she struggled with typical American issues.

“One of my struggles was insecurity,” Wande says. “I struggled with the need to live for the approval of others. This desire dictated my decision making process and ultimately led to frustration and let down. I wasn’t always seen as someone who is cool or talented.

wande isola hip hop“I overcame all of my struggles of insecurity by filling my mind with the Word of God. I took my thoughts captive and my thoughts manifested into actions. When I reminded myself of who God says I am, I began to view myself differently.”

She double majored in journalism and public relations at the University of Texas at Austin. Ironically, it was her biology professor who nudged her towards her now-emerging career. As a freshman, she earned an A+ in his class and decided she wanted to be a surgeon. Her start in rap was a biology project: Wande Isola (continued reading here)

Colorful Johnny Cash, the outlaw, comes to Christ

10-73In 1944, Johnny Cash’s much-loved older brother got pulled into a table saw that nearly cut him in half. After lingering between life and death for a week, Jack tragically passed away. The 11-year-old Johnny was plagued with guilt because he had premonitions and failed to warn his brother.

The troubling tragedy set the tone for the tortured singer’s entire life.

With more than 90 million records sold, 1,500 songs written and 24 #1 hits, Johnny Cash is easily one of the most famous musicians in the world. The man who wore black, sang country music and got ensnared by amphetamine and barbiturate abuse would ultimately side with God at the end of his life.

34-53“I am not a Christian artist,” said the man who reignited his career by singing concerts in prison. “I am an artist who is a Christian. There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.”

Johnny Cash was born Feb. 26, 1932 into a family that received farmland under the New Deal in Arkansas. He was raised on Gospel hymns and joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school even though his dream was music.

He married Vivian Liberto in 1954, but she divorced him 12 years later because of his alcohol and drug abuse, constant touring, and infidelities.

johnny cash bad boyIn Memphis he signed for Sun Records in 1955 and made such hits as “Hey Porter!” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” His bass-baritone voice, train-sound guitar rhythms and rebelliousness mixed with a somber and humble demeanor won the hearts of Americans.

With his notorious free prison concert at San Quentin in 1958, Cash exploited his outlaw image to catapult to even greater fame. His record “Folsom Prison Blues” hit #5 country music in the nation. Read how Johnny Cash came back to Christ after trying to commit suicide by descending into a cave in Tennessee. The story also details is amphetamine addiction, his arrests, his marriage to June Carter, his prison concerts , how he threatened to whip the KKK with 40 lashes and how he set 508 acres of national forest on fire.

Sevin, former gang member, now a missionary rapper to the hood

christian gangsta rapSevin was a rising star in Christian hip hop, and he was homeless.

Marques Adams, his real name, was born in San Jose but grew up in Sacramento. His parents, Tracy and Debra Adams, raised him in a church that emphasized rules to the point of excluding God from the picture.

“I didn’t understand God as personal,” he says on a Next Step film. “I looked at Him how you look at a police officer in your community: somebody who enforces rules, but he’s not somebody you really wanna ‘kick it’ with.”

His parents moved a lot, cutting him off from friends and always putting him into the awkward situation of having to make new friends sometimes with a rough crowd that rejected him.

“All I ever wanted was love and people to accept me,” he says. “I was being treated like evil, and over time it wound up hardening my heart.”

At age 13, one of his few friends died, and he reacted with self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

sevin christian outreach hood“I was always angry and hurting, and it was growing worse and worse and worse,” Sevin says. “I just kind of let go of any care for life or my future or anything. I fell into an abyss. I started self-medicating really young, 12, 13 years old stealing bottles of Nyquil out of the store.”

He discovered marijuana and prescription pills, “just anything to try to numb myself,” he says.

Because he longed for acceptance, he started hanging with gang members. The Oak Park Bloods took him and “treated me like their version of family,” he says.

“Not understanding what true love or God’s love actually looks like, the world was able to lie to me,” he says. “The streets was able to suck me in with that false sense of brotherhood and fellowship.”

His parents were oblivious to the signs that their son was getting lost. He went to the wrong people for advice, who pulled him “deeper and deeper into my own destruction,” he says.

Because of his depression, he went so far as to deny God to his father.

sevin christian rapper“I felt like if God is so good, then why are we suffering?” he says. “At that point I was so beat up and at that point so demonically influenced that I walked into my room and I ended up putting my gun to my head.”

But while he was turning his back on God, God never turned his back on Sevin.

“The Holy Spirit ended up falling on me, and I felt this overwhelming sense of love and peace and acceptance that I couldn’t deny,” he remembers. “It literally reached through my body and touched my heart and changed me. The God of the Bible that I always thought was this impersonal, fake entity that either wasn’t real or didn’t care about us, that God came off of these pages and jumped into my real life.”

The previous week, he went to school, as was his custom, with a gun. The next week, he went with a Bible and told all the “homies” at the lunch table that they needed to study with him.

“In my past I felt like I was in this black hole, isolated and alone,” he says. “Now I don’t feel that way. God’s in me, with me, around me everywhere I go.”

Being born-again, he had a burning desire to use his musical talents for the Lord. Having made a name for himself as a rising rapper on the streets, he wanted to dedicate to the Lord the talent he had used for Satan.

He almost immediately got involved in music, but he hadn’t completely left the world and wound up with charges related to drugs. Now he thinks he was put on a platform too early in his baby Christian faith. He should have concentrated first on his growth in the Lord without launching straight into leadership ministry.

But hindsight is 20/20. When he wound up in jail with a felony, the same people who embraced his turn to Christianity now turned their back on him and reviled him for his “hypocrisy.” It stung Sevin deeply that apparently nobody would stand with him in his court case.

The sting ran deep and formed the foundations of his current ministry. Now, Sevin says he doesn’t allow anyone to advance in ministry until they have served for a year. And he reaches out to those who backslide and fall into jail. When fellow Christian rapper PyRexx got locked up, Sevin visited and offered to pay his bills and watch over his wife.

In the meantime, his heart was growing hard due to what he felt was betrayal. When he was young, he was molested at church. Church people, he believed, would hurt you but not stand with you when you were hurt.

While he continued with that thought, he was still drinking and using drugs, even while he put out Christian music, he said.

“I was betrayed by people who were claiming to be the people of God,” Sevin says. “I had one foot in because I knew the truth, but I had no fellowship and didn’t have a real deep understanding of the gospel.”

He was “stuck in limbo.” Read how Sevin Christian rapper got unstuck and out of limbo.

Christian rapper Canon fell 30 feet and almost died

canon homeOn a pitch-black night, Canon couldn’t see he was on a bridge when he stopped to help a driver involved in a crash. As gasoline poured out from the vehicle, the driver turned his ignition without thinking. Panicking that the action might trigger an explosion, Canon leaped over what he thought was just a median divider.

The Lecrae protégé plunged 30 feet to the ground and nearly killed himself. Canon, whose real name is Aaron McCain, shattered his ankle, broke his jaw and suffered a concussion following a Dec. 20, 2014 concert.

His recovery took two years.

Canon, famous for his speed rap, returned from his death-defying fall with the third and final installation of his popular mixtap series Loose Canon (a pun). He’s followed that up with the album Home in December. The brush with death brought a new dimension to his ministry: it’s less about hip hop and fame and more about Jesus.

canon's fall

The bridge from which Canon fell.

Canon has come a long way since he was a rebellious church teen.

Growing up in Chicago, little Aaron began to see that churchgoers were often hypocrites. His mom worked at the Moody Bible Institute, and his parents forced him to go to an “old school” black Baptist church. Except for the pretty girls that attracted him at church, he didn’t like it.

“I hated church, that’s the truth, that’s the reality of it,” he declared in a 2103 YouTube video filmed at a small concert. “Church was all fake to me. Christians was (sic) all fake to me. Christians made me feel awkward.

“Every time I walked up to someone, I felt like I had to be perfect. Every time I went to church, they made me take my do rag off. They were like: ‘You look like a thug,’ And I was like, ‘Well you look like a pimp.’ I never liked the church culture. They made me feel weird.”

canon's wife

Just three weeks before his fall, Canon married

Momma forced him to participate in ministry. He didn’t want to be an usher because they had to wear fancy white gloves. Being a deacon had no appeal to him because he didn’t know what the Greek-derived word meant, so he opted for the less painful ministry: being in the choir.

He went to all the youth camps and activities, but he never contended for a miracle or a real encounter with God in his life. His life remained unchanged.

“I knew how people acted in church and how people acted out of church,’ he says. “When I was around Christian people, I knew what face to put on, I knew what words to say. But when I was around ‘my boys,’ I knew how to put on that face. I knew how to play the game but after a while I got tired of playing the game.

“It got old after a while,” he recounted. “I got tired of wearing that mask.”

He explored the party scene and sought only fun for a time.

canon's accidentThen he met some authentic Christians.

“I met some real believers who actually live out the faith,” he recalled. “They did a lot more than my old group of Christians did. They actually prayed. They weren’t fake. I was able to look at their lifestyle and say, ‘If your lifestyle looks like that and you’re a believer, then I may not be a believer.’”

He was unnerved because their testimonies upended his understanding of Christianity. Ultimately, he decided he’d better get right with God, and he made the decision of his own accord to accept Jesus into his heart and was born again.

Because of his penchant for hip hop, he began attending The House, a rap-culture church in Lawndale, a suburb of Chicago.

“I felt like I’d found something I’d been looking for my whole life—a hip hop church with kids around my age, doing things I wanted to do,” he told Christianity Today. At the time, he called himself MC Spook “ because I want my lyrics to be deep enough to spook people into really thinking about faith and everyday life.”

canon grateful

His comeback song after recovering from the accident two years later was “Grateful.” The video was filmed in a graveyard, where he could have wound up.

Eventually, he met Lecrae, who made him his hype man and took him on tour. His relationship with the Christian hip hop legend grew, as did a friendship with Derek Minor, another big name in CHH. Ultimately, Canon would sign for Minor’s Reflection Music Group.

“Canon is like a mad scientist,” Minor says on an RMG video about Canon’s accident. “He’s like, (changing to Dr. Jekyll voice) ‘Let me go to the studio, and I’ll bring you back a hit.’ You don’t hear from him for three months, and then he comes back with a Dr. Frankenstein monster of an album.”

Lecrae featured Canon on his album Rehab. Applying lessons learned through the mentoring Canon released “The Great Investment” in 2009 to widespread positive reception.

He was climbing the hierarchy.

canon-eagles-video-e1470357918356Then he plummeted — literally, not figuratively.

His death-defying dive resulted from him trying to help a truck driver.

He had only gotten married three weeks earlier.

The December concert was unusual because Canon was somber. He cut off the music, asked the fans to sit down and talked to them about being serious for Christ. “At any point, you could be gone,” he told the crowd, according to his road manager Brandon Mason.

Afterwards, he delayed hobnobbing with fans at the merchandise table, so Derek Minor got impatient and went ahead to the agreed-upon restaurant.

When Canon, his road manager and the deejay left in three separate cars at 10:30 p.m., they saw the flipped truck on a stretch of road with no lighting.

“I didn’t realize I was standing on a bridge,” Mason says. “That’s how dark it was.”

Both Canon and Mason parked and jumped out to aid the fateful truck driver. Canon kicked out the window and offered to help the driver get out. Canon warned about the fuel pouring over the pavement, but the driver was in some kind of shock and instead started the ignition, Mason says.

Canon jumped the median. He fell to the bottom of the ravine. Mason ran down to him.

“Man, I’m scared,” Canon told him. Read more about Canon’s fall.

Dad binged drugs. Mom was schizophrenic. Flame came out burning for Jesus

flame-picMarcus Tyrone Gray took care of his schizophrenic mom while his dad was in the streets, binging on drugs in the projects of St. Louis.

“I had the responsibility of really overseeing my mom,” Marcus told CBN. “There would be times where she wouldn’t even recognize me. She could curse me out or call me names or just start treating me as if I’m her enemy or something like that. My dad would be gone days on end, blowing time, you know, getting high. Everything was just unstable.”

flame hip hopUntil her death, his grandmother was the only solid foundation in his life. But with her untimely passing, 16-year-old Marcus began acting out, picking fights at school. It was a way of asserting control over a reality that was out of control.

It got him arrested and expelled.

“When (Grandma) passed away, I felt like I lost a part of my own soul, a part of my being had been cut off. Because she was my everything. I just remember trying to be strong, but not having the ability to. My natural bent was to check out and to retreat, you know, stay in the clubs, do whatever would distract me, block me, numb me from reality.”

His life was spiraling quickly toward becoming a hardened criminal, a pariah of no use to society.

flame offered $1 million to rap but no jesusThen he developed a crush on a girl, and she invited him to church.

“I decided to go because of the hopelessness. I felt like I’m trying all of these different things to bring about what I actually want,” he says. “I was overwhelmed with the Gospel message of Jesus’ love. Jesus loves you. And I was so overwhelmed with this love, you know, Jesus’ love, and I remember thinking like, he does love a bad person. And it sounded exactly like the things that my grandmother would tell me.”

As the Word and Spirit touched his heart, he was born again.


The next thing you know, Marcus was on fire for God. He would take his Bible to school and stand up on the desk in middle of class and preach to his fellow students (for this he wound up in the principal’s office). He would invite people to church incessantly and fill up a whole pew of 15 needy kids headed towards a life of crime if Jesus didn’t intervene.

From death and destruction, his life became an intense flame. So that’s his stage name today, Flame.

A Billboard topper and Grammy nominee who launched Clear Sight Music, Flame has nine albums. He was offered a million dollar contract from a secular label, with only one condition: no mentioning Christ. He turned it down.

Flame does outreach in the streets of St. Louis constantly. After a shooting on the dangerous west side, Flame was praying with sinners and handing out Bibles when he met gang member Travis Tremayne Tyler. The hardened criminal wound up accepting Jesus and became a fellow Christian rapper star, Thi’sl. Continue reading and find out about Flame’s fight against racism.

nobigdyl. is a big deal

nobigdyl and wife chelseaAs a church kid, Dylan Phillips thought all he had to do was be good.

“I just thought that getting good grades, not talking back, going to church, those were all the same thing,” he says on Jam the Hype.

But how good? When he got into his teen years, he started sneaking off and dabbling in sin. Then his pastor hit him straight between the eyes with a sermon titled, “Faith without works is dead.”

“There wasn’t an outworking of that faith in my life. That really started to be evident in my teens,” Dylan says. “My pastor at the time preached in James 2. That showed me that intellectual belief, no matter how factually that belief is held, by itself, if there’s no outworking in your life as Jesus as your Lord, doesn’t make you any different than the demons.”

nobigdyl_2018_press_photo-1000x750Now serious about his walk with God, Dylan Phillips is a red-hot Christian rapper for Capitol Records. His feel-good style and catchy melodies are enhanced by upbeat lyrics. Songs about purple dinosaurs and yabadabadoos! communicate themes of love and community.

Underscoring the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and as a counterpoint for the secular rapper BIG whom he admired, he adopted the stage name nobigdyl. (dyl is the first part of his name). “The heart behind it is that my music isn’t about me,” he says. He insists it must be all lower case, the opposite of his collective colleague WHATUPRG?

His humility is a breath of fresh air amid the growing toxicity of trap rap pride taking over Christian hip hop.

nobigdyl christianDespite his self-deprecating stance, nobigdyl is a big deal.

His flows are oriented toward youth, about breakups, suicide, drug addiction and self-esteem.

But the dour broodings of NF may be contrasted with the buoyant optimism of nobigdyl.

Dyl was born in Hayward, California, in 1991, but his family moved to Bell Buckle, Tennessee when he was nine. He’s now based in Nashville. His dad secretly introduced him to hip hop (against Mom’s wishes), and he became a fan of The Notorious B.I.G. and Onyx.

He studied audio and production at Middle Tennessee State University before switching majors to focus on the business side of music. He grew academically, professionally and most importantly spiritually. “My faith didn’t really become my own until I went to college,” he says.

Through connections, he started managing CHH legend Derek Minor.

This led to his big break: he got fired. Find out how nobigdyl getting fired led to his success.