When I was just a wee lad, I remember listening to DC Talk at my cousin’s house in DeSoto, Texas and thinking “This is completely secular garbage! They sound like heathens!” The beat, the rhythm, and those outrageous haircuts and outfits they sported on the cover of their cassette tape all pointed towards this group being of both the barbaric and unsightly world. No Christian should approve of them.

And their worst song was “I Luv  Rap Music.” ( here is the music video–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4Nd7lZgp4o )

Fast forward a few years and a few albums later and my family is living in Michigan. My brothers had many more CDs in their collection, and T-Bone was one of them. I had progressed and moved beyond just liking Keith Green and Barry Mcguire. In fact, I started enjoying this hip hop group known as DC talk and thought that rap music was kind of alright.

Then DC Talk disbanded in 2000 and TobyMac started his solo career. At that point I was full fledged into thinking hip hop, rap, and R&B were pretty great. And by 2003 when I started high school, my older brother and I would listen to the pop station on the radio and realized that non Christian rappers had some fun songs as well.

Then came 2005 when I had to carpool to school. Kanye West had just came out with a couple of albums and I remember listening to those on the way to school. “Jesus Walks,” “Gold Digger,” and “Diamonds” were the pump up music for the school day.

Then came 2007 and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. By then I loved all hip hop (except the raunchy stuff… yah… some of the stuff just didn’t fly– I am speaking about you Lil’ Wayne!). On September 11, 2007 Kanye’s “Graduation” came out with the song “Homecoming” which was all about his love of his home town Chicago. I listened to it on the train every time that I came back from visiting Sturgis.

After I graduated from Moody I realized that I needed to start liking country music. I was moving back to Sturgis and was going to be working with my home church which is located in the sticks. In order to fully understand the rural mindset I realized I had to appreciate country music.

Yes, country music.

See, this comes as an extreme irony since in high school I said that the only music which I refused to listen to were screamo and country music.

So I started listening to country music, and eventually started to like it. It may have taken a few failed relationships to truly appreciate it, but I genuinely started to appreciate it. And the biggest catalyst in all of that was my buddy Darin King introducing me to Brad Paisley.

Brad Paisley loves singing about the southern life and the southern mindset. He loves his people and loves his roots. Whenever he speaks about Dixie Land, I say “I want to be there.”

It’s odd.

But why am I rambling about this? I see an odd connection of God preparing my heart for my future locale through the means of music. God helped excite me for Chicago through Kanye West… and in an odd way I feel a calling to minister to the people of south every time Brad Paisley comes on the radio.

God works in mysterious ways.

As for now I am enjoying working hand in hand with two ministers in Grand Rapids who love their neighborhoods, and love Jesus Christ. They understand the Gospel call to transform a neighborhood and the need for Jesus to direct all relationships.