When most people think about church missions they envision short term trips to Mexico or Africa. For the members of First Baptist Church it means, for this week at least, directing their attention to residents of their own city.
Known as The Houston Project, over 1,400 volunteers are challenged to share the love of Christ in 13 different locations via vacation bible schools, youth events, adult ministry, food distribution, sports ministry, evangelism, and prayer. Aside from the next-door neighbor focus, many will also find uniqueness in the large role that Christian hip hop is playing in this movement.
Malcolm “Excelsius” Marshall was tasked with coordinating those efforts and pulled from his vast network of personal relationships within the Christian rap community to incorporate urban music ministers from H-town and beyond.
This year’s roster includes:
• Knine (Florence, South Carolina)
• Mahogany Jones (Detroit, Michigan)
• Lavoisier (New York, New York)
• Lil Raskull (Houston, TX)
• Gifted da Flamethrowa (Houston, TX)
• Educator (Houston, TX)
• DJ 1 God (Houston, TX)
• IBC (Houston, TX)
• Lita Rodi (Houston, TX)
While some might assume this approach is radical for a theologically conservative congregation like First Baptist, Marshall said it wasn’t really that hard to get his team on board with the idea of using hip hop as a predominate ministry method for The Houston Project.
“I think it’s been cool to see them embrace something that maybe is a little bit uncomfortable at first,” Marshall said. “But once they see God is in it they really can’t deny it.”
Some of The Houston Project's rap staff. From left to right: Mahogany Jones, the author, Excelsius, Lavoisier, Knine, DJ 1 God, and Lita Rodi.
Lee Epston volunteered his time at the Farrington Mission site on Monday night and got to witness Lavoisier’s music ministry first hand.
Lavoisier ministers at the Farrington Mission location for The Houston Project.
“He was great,” Epston said. “I think our pastor hit the nail on the head when he said that while the vehicle to share the gospel may change, the message itself doesn’t.
“These kids may not relate to country or old school 80’s music like I used to listen to. But if you can get somebody up here who is a good rapper that can speak the truth and share Christ with them, then if one kid’s life is changed then it was worth the whole week.”
The 2010 Houston Project’s events started on Sunday, July 11 and run until Thursday, July 14. For site locations and information, visit houstonsfirst.org/houstonproject.