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Hip Hop Hooray Evangelism
February 27, 2012
A hip hop music display is being used by some InterVarsity staff to help students get a new perspective on their lives and consider the true meaning of success. This Proxé Station, as it’s called, examines the stereotypical and negative images of success within hip hop lyrics by popular singers. Students are challenged to look at biblical examples of success and consider how their own aspirations match the biblical standard.
The popularity of hip hop is undeniable. Eminem’s album Recovery was 2010’s most purchased album.
Some of the questions students are asked at the Hip Hop Proxé Station are: How is success defined in the chorus of Drake's breakout hit Successful? Is this the typical view of success in hip hop? How do you define success? Do you notice similarities in what Solomon said about success in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (“everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind”) and Jay Z's lyrics in History (“Now success was like lust, she's good to the touch, she's good for the moment but she's never enough")?
Jackson State University
In late September last year, InterVarsity staff Jason “Smiley” Abrams led a four day outreach at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, one of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU). “I knew the hip hop culture was something that would get attention at an HBCU. I didn’t have to ask anybody. They just kind of walked up, like what’s this?”he said.
Student leaders participated in leading students through the Hip Hop Proxé Station. They also fielded prayer requests and conducted a prayer walk. One student committed to follow Christ at the Proxé Station and showed up that night for an outreach in a dorm with a Bible in hand. “That was very encouraging. He’s been coming consistently ever since,” Smiley said.
A freshman named Harold Owens III walked up to the Proxé and admitted, “this is the first spiritual conversation I’ve had all semester.” Harold later attended the Black Campus Ministries “Remix” conference at Spelman College in November.
The Jackson State University outreach resulted in four students making decisions to follow Christ.
Youngstown State University
The first person to duplicate and use the Hip Hop Proxé Station, after its creators Jamal Morris and Arthur Lewis, was Katie Chambers at Youngstown State University in September 2010. One student made a decision to follow Jesus Christ at the Proxé Station.
The student leaders were hoping for a good turnout at a Christian hip hop concert the following evening and were initially discouraged that only ten new students attended, students that they had met at the Proxé Station. But, eight of the ten students committed their lives to Christ. “The next day the students called me to say, ‘God just showed up,’” Katie said.
Katie believes the earlier candid conversations at the Proxé Station led those students to come to the concert. “We did hand out handbills, but getting into a conversation with people was by far the most important thing,” she said.
Hip Hop Results
So far, six students have made decisions to follow Christ while talking to InterVarsity staff and students at the Hip Hop Proxé. Another eight students made decisions for Christ at a hip hop event to which they were invited.
The Hip Hop Proxé Station has been used by InterVarsity staff at eight different universities in the last two years: Cal State Northridge, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, University of Tennessee, Youngstown State, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, and Jackson State.
Proxé Stations, using a variety of themes, are causing students on campuses across the U.S. to stop and thoughtfully consider spiritual issues. In such a setting the claims of Christ get a fair hearing and decisions are made that reap eternal rewards.