RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Using holy hip-hop to win some for Jesus Christ


In a world many call crazy, youth culture has found its match in Renee ‘da preacher’ emcee of the Levite Clan, formerly Badda emcee of the Almighty TEAM, both hip hop crews that he has represented. The former is his current band and the latter is his old school band before his epiphany.

As a teenager, Renee yearned to live the American dream; drive fast cars, kick it with beautiful girls, grace the front pages, and pursue happiness with all his soul. But the tables turned round and next was his metamorphosis from a rollercoaster life to “holycoaster”, the latter coined by him to mean his journey with God.

Before that, Tupac Shakur, his idol, had inspired him to start writing his own rhymes and spitting them at school concerts. Soon, his walk morphed into the ubiquitous gangster swagger and buggy clothes became his fad, with chains around his neck and bandanas and baseball caps looking back on his head. He couldn’t afford the tattoo but he drew one that read THUG LIFE on his abdomen using a marker anyway.

Like all “Gs’ in da hood”, he became rebellious and often fought with school authorities and at one time with the police. Clever in class and dramatic on stage, Renee became popular among students and soon all the girls in the neighbourhood wanted to date this “young Mbarara nigger” (No offence intended).

But like the Damascus experience in the Bible, Renee got saved in 2000 and realised that: “Life is about more than beautiful girls and riding in a Benz; we all can’t achieve the American dream, but we can all achieve the supreme dream” – which he defines as being faithful to what God has called him to do.

What he does however has not gone well with some people because it doesn’t really put bread on the table like being a medical practitioner. As an urban missionary and hip hop minister, Renee has to wait on God to send him ravens with meat and bread like his Biblical hero the Prophet Elijah. But the ravens always come as God is faithful. Last year, for example, Renee spent three months in the UK and his ministering led many young people to the Lord.

“God used me mightily,” he says. “I prophesied over pastors and challenged their lukewarm culture of drinking wine; I was like, God wasn’t stupid when He juxtaposed the Holy Spirit with wine (Ephesians 5:18).You are either drunk with the wine of the world like those without Jesus, or you are drunk with heavenly wine (the Holy Spirit) and shaking the nations for Jesus, but you can’t have both.”

When Renee, whose real name is Richard Tumukunde, returned from Canterbury, he testified about his experience during Gospel Night at TLC and provoked young people to seek God. That’s how he got to be invited as guest preacher to a youth meeting at Jesus Alive Centre along Nkrumah Road. He is today the prayer leader of these weekly meetings called Change on Thursdays.

“We’ve been challenging the youth to embrace prayer and it is working. God is raising a generation of prayer warriors that will bring down the strongholds over our nation and the nations,” he says. “I’ve seen children weeping before God and some have spoken in tongues at the meetings.”

Though naturally talented as a speaker and rapper, it’s the spiritual element that makes listening to Renee’s sermons and music an uplifitng experience. In church when he leads worship or prayer, many get stirred to seek with depth for God.

“Some come to tell me about their little failings and I try not to make them feel condemned; I share about my own struggles and then we pray together,” he says. “Once you are struggling, do not allow the devil to put you in a corner alone where he’ll knock you out. You just need to stay in fellowship and seek God’s grace to continue standing.”

Renee’s leadership of urban youth began in 2003 in his first year at Makerere University, where he initiated the mass communication fellowship that helped transform many lives.

To hear this young minister confess that he’s a born-again Christian, with cornrows, clad in baggy jeans and a coat, an ear pin on his left ear, may get the book-cover judge posing questions; but Renee believes his style appeals to the youth – his target audience.

“I’m more burdened towards those who would rather not look God’s way and I’m talking about young children who don’t want to come to church, whose role models are 50 Cent and other Hollywood icons,” he says. “The ‘streets’ are my vineyard and ‘streets’ represent a platform beyond the four church walls, explaining my unorthodox way of discipleship – using holy hip hop to win some for Jesus.”

After the success of his band’s first album in 2007, Renee has embarked on a solo album, which he says was inspired by men like Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, and the revivalists of old in Christendom who have mentored him in his spiritual journey.

He recently released his first music video off the album titled 'Glory 2 You Jesus' which talks of growing up as a young thug doing hard liquor and living on drugs, and how HIV/Aids killed many of his peers. He thanks God for transforming him from “a thug to T.H.U.G. (Totally Humble Unto God).”

It’s Renee’s grace and consuming zeal for the Lord that has stirred up many to turn to God.

--Sunday Monitor, September 14, 2008