Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 29: Christian Rapper Willie Will

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Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 29: Christian Rapper Willie Will

There are many pioneers within the Christian artist community trail blazing through the wilderness of culture to bring the Gospel as an influencer to the broken world around us. Like my last blog entry about Christian metal band Righteous Vendetta, the hip-hop community is also witnessing a renaissance of revival where Christ filled rhymes are repairing the ravaged damage from the secular rap community. Seattle is well known for its musical history of grunge in the 1990s and the mainstream rap in the today’s culture but often Christian music is seldom mentioned.

Willie Will (real name William Wilson) is a Christian rapper hailing from Everett, WA and is no stranger to the hip-hop community. He has spent the last decade in the trenches of gansta culture preaching the Gospel to the wayward sons and daughters of this generation through a medium they understand: rap. Wilson describes that music has always been in his family as stated by the Holy Hip Hop Database (2014) presenting a record of his music involvement spanning the decades. In the 1990s, Wilson was apart of a family band called Pop Heavenly and the Heavenly Boyz. After the breakup in the early 2000s, Wilson began his solo career as a rap artist and acquired quite the arsenal of music to his name.

I will confess it now, I may not mention all the albums he has written and produced as they are so many in number but I have tried my best to gather the information of as many as I could locate online. From my count, Wilson has released at least eight albums in the later part of the 2000s: Rhyme and Reason (2009), Premeditated Worda (2009), Front Street (2009), America’s Most Needed (2009), Say Goodbye Featuring Jazz Digga (2010), Reflection (2011), The High Life (2011), and Things That Are Not (2013). Wilson has also collaborated with other Christian rappers and musicians on nine other albums entitled Holy Hip Hop Volumes 3 and 8; EOE Classics 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8; and the Slingshot 2011 soundtrack.

To really do Wilson justice in a review would take multiple blog posts to analyze the plethora of albums I have stated above. Picking three songs to review for any musician has always been a daunting task as I love music, but I’ve chosen one of my favorite songs and two music videos to assist the other artists in reading my blog on what can be productively and professionally accomplished with a small budget, sound/video editing skills, and video camera knowledge.

“Harder than steel, harder than metal, I roll with God because He’s harder than the devil. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Christ is the rock, He is the rock, He’s the hardest of all. Go hard!” The chorus you just read is from one of my favorite songs from Wilson’s Rhyme and Reason album from 2009 called “Go Hard.” I call this song one of my personal prayer intercession songs given the blunt brutality by which Wilson raps about Jesus Christ’s superior authority over everything carnal, worldly, and spiritual. The beats of the song blast the listener with a sincere seriousness about the sobering truth of walking out Christianity daily. Wilson uses street culture allusions to counter and decimate the typhlotic nature of false machismo spewed by the secular rap community. Wilson’s words radiate light into darkness by challenging the status quo with the truth of Christianity: real men and women roll with Jesus.

“Ready 2 Rock” is one of Wilson’s most recent tracks (as of 2013 anyway) and is incredibly catchy. Wilson’s purpose in this song is to challenge his musical critics through an explanation of his purpose behind rapping the Gospel message. D-Maud (Donny Harper) joins him in proclaiming this explanation blatantly answering his own critics with lyrics insisting that as Christian rappers they walk their talk. Like many of Wilson’s tracks, “Ready 2 Rock” is encouraging and inspires the listener to rep Christ in their own community without shame.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit just slaps you with His presence and that is the type of reaction I get when I hear Wilson’s real life story in “Unborn Child.” Wilson’s track is a retelling on his own personal struggle with reconciliation towards his child that was aborted. It is a tough message but Wilson delivers honest lyrics about the selfish circumstances that led him to make the choice, his own personal family struggles as a child, and his struggles with Christianity. As I scrolled through the YouTube comments, it was divinely humbling to see the comments of listeners in which the song had touched their heart; especially from men and women regretting the abortions they had, too. Wilson’s song serves as a reminder to humanity that abortion destroys a human life and that parenthood, regardless of conception, is a gift from God.

The fruit of Wilson’s ministry through hip-hop is indisputable. To the naysayers quoting the following Biblical passages out of context like 2nd Corinthians 6:17, Hebrews 7:26, and 2nd Timothy 3:5 to twist the theological meaning of their words to justify that music like Christian rap or Christian metal cannot be used as a means of sharing the Gospel; I retort with the passage of the Matthew 7 in which Jesus states for the reader to take the GIANT PLANK of wood out their own eye FIRST before trying to attempt to correct a tiny spec in another brother or sister’s eye.

Every musical endeavor that Wilson has touched rains the fruit of the Gospel message with hardened teenagers and adults from gansta culture turning their lives radically over to believing in the Gospel message and excelling in walking in the Gospel lifestyle. The Christian pastors, priests, and leaders, clothing their spiritual nakedness with the rags of Pharisees need to repent of their judgement and support these individuals. My word usage in this review may be blunt but I am a firm believer that if you are not willing to go to a specific culture of individuals with the Gospel message, at least support those that do instead of criticizing its presentation through the sinfully blind lens of tradition and selfish personal preferences. You cannot retort the fruit of salvation occurring in musical ministries like Wilson’s and ultimately that is the dividing line for effective ministry.

You can support Will through prayer, purchasing his music and merchandise, scheduling him for a concert event, or just connecting with him through one of his many social media pages. Wilson has also served in many different pastoral roles with his most recent role as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Rainer Valley, Washington. So if you are around the Seattle area and are looking for some underground Christian rap music, hit up Willie Will’s message boards to find out where the next concert will be so you can partake of this music. Wilson’s legacy in Christian music will be paved by the plethora of albums he leaves behind and the individuals saved through the Gospel message preached through his music as pillars in the pacific northwest of America.

Willie Will’s Pages:
MySpace: https://www.myspace.com/williewill
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/williewill425
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTaQnSIkP9QqkM_5YKtK68w
ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/williewillmusic
Band Camp: http://williewill.bandcamp.com/
Band Mine: http://www.bandmine.com/williewill
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Willie-Will/e/B001LH4ZXY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_Ink_1?qid=1409164409&sr=8-1
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/willie-will/id201188561

References
“Unborn Child”, Willie Will, directed by Greg Backes, YouTube, 4:53, posted by Willie Wilson, January 23, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CfvYwXpxY4&index=10&list=UUTaQnSIkP9QqkM_5YKtK68w (accessed August 27, 2014)
Will, Willie. Profile Picture from Album Things That Are Not. Band Camp. http://williewill.bandcamp.com/ (accessed August 28, 2014)
Willie Will – READY 2 ROCK feat. D-MAUD, YouTube, 2:44, posted by Willie Wilson, March 20, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQk2I4_dmXQ (accessed August 27, 2014)
Holy Hip Hop Database. “Willie Will.” Last modified August 25, 2014. http://www.hhhdb.com/hhhdb/index.php?id=791

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 28: Email Interview with Ryan Hayes of Righteous Vendetta

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 28: Email Interview with Ryan Hayes from Righteous Vendetta

I see the similarity of this story in bands like Righteous Vendetta who have chosen to descend into the darkness of heavy metal with the paramount light of the Gospel message. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, these men waltz through the fires of a culture known for its hatred of Christianity while letting the illumination of Christ guide, protect, and preach for them. Righteous Vendetta have a mission to use their lifestyles as beacons of Christ’s message to saturate, overpower, and consume the dark culture often associated with heavy metal music. By immersing themselves in metal culture, Righteous Vendetta emulates the walks of the early church Apostles who believed in genuinely getting to know the culture of their mission field while loving them through acts of service.

To digress for a moment of the original intent of the blog, I wanted to identify the attractiveness of heavy metal music. What is the difference between classical music and heavy metal when it comes to skill, complication, and sophistication of music composition: nothing! Let me emphasize this again: NOTHING! Like classical music, many are drawn to heavy metal (myself included) because of the amount of skill it takes to produce such a harmonious eclectic synergy of music. I personally could do without the guttural growls and screams but heavy metal music sung with harmonious vocals married with instrumental transcendence. To you readers out there still grasping to understand my analogy or may be just plain thinking “heavy metal is not my thing” understand that the skill involved would be like listening to an assimilation of the greatest songs by Johann Bach, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other greats of classical music.

The ranks of Righteous Vendetta comprise of vocals from Ryan Hayes, Justin Olmstead and Carl Heiman on guitar, Riley Haynie on bass, and Zack Goggins on drums. They have released a total of five albums: A Complexity of the Fallen EP (2009), The Dawning (2010), Lawless (2011), Righteous Vendetta Vol. 1 EP (2013), The Fire Inside (2013), and are working on their sixth album, Defiance, to be released in October of 2014.

Personally, I have been yearning to write a post about Christian metal but have spent the past few months mulling over if I wanted to write another interview or review some music. As divine providence would have it, I was able to connect with Ryan Hayes through LinkedIn and we were able to exchange emails about conducting an interview. Below is the result of these messages.

The Interview

Barry Irwin Brophy: For those who may not know about you or your band, could you tell us a bit about yourself and the band?

Righteous Vendetta: Ryan and I started the band at Northwest Community College in Powell, WY in 2008 with some friends and our piano professor. We’ve always been more of a metal band, but we got our start by hopping on all of the local and regional punk shows. We quickly realized there wasn’t much out there for a band in Wyoming/Montana. So in the summer of 2009 we began touring full-time and have been doing it ever since.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?

Ryan Hayes: I grew up around Christians with many great role models in my life, so there wasn’t really any definitive moment that played a role in me coming to my faith. But up until I started playing in this band, I had never truly given my life to Christ. It’s one of those things I think many young adults struggle with, settling into the idea of Christianity with their image and morals being the extent of their faith. I called myself a Christian my whole life, yet had no problems finding ways to justify my sins with the idea that my human nature is inevitably destined to make mistakes. It’s one of the biggest lies we are taught because it instills in us a false idea of what God’s grace really is. He is a loving God, but he is also a completely just God. Unfortunately, a majority of Christians interpret the truth of his justice as a type of conditional love, which is not the case at all. Anyone who claims to have given their life to Christ must embrace the Gospel as complete truth in all aspects, including those aspects that are unpopular. I say all this because I feel many people have put their faith in Jesus Christ, yet still have not fully given their lives to Him, and until they personally come to this realization, their lives will reflect this and they will be unable to have a faithful relationship with Him. So, learning all of this and taking this knowledge to heart was how I fully gave my life to Him.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about your current music projects. Music videos, new songs, tours, etc.?

Ryan Hayes: We are currently preparing to release our second single and music video of our song “Defiance,” which will be sometime in September/October. We are currently on tour with Trapt and have tours coming up with Like a Storm and Nonpoint. We also have a couple new songs on the way that will be released before the end of the year.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using the band to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?

Ryan Hayes: Over the last year, we have been touring strictly secular markets with secular bands. It’s been so fulfilling being put in these situations because it forced us out of the comfort bubble many Christians resort to confining themselves to. The fact of the matter is nearly everyone in America has heard about Jesus and the Gospel, and most things we could preach at them are things they have been pounded with most of their lives. The problem is all of these are just empty words because nobody ever sees it lived out. God has put us in a unique position to where we can SHOW people what the Gospel actually looks like when it is applied to someone’s life. Ministry is not a chore, nor is any person that has opposing beliefs to us. A large majority of Christian bands, or any ministry for that matter, set out to meet a quota. They set out with intentions of personally “converting” people to their sets of beliefs, often not even truly confident in their own beliefs. So the foundation of our ministry is love. We don’t force Bible verses on people, we don’t go out of our way to force an image of what we think Christian society deems acceptable. We love others because God loves us. When we surrender our lives to God, our hearts should be so overflowing with the Spirit that it naturally radiates to everyone we come in contact with. Sometimes words are necessary, sometimes they aren’t. The bottom line is there is nothing we can do in our own power that will bring somebody to Christ. As long as we remain faithful to Him, He will use us as He wants to use us.

Barry Irwin Brophy: I hear a lot of negative talk about how Christian metal is not an effective means of sharing the Gospel. What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the Christian Church institution in America and how can we change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?

Ryan Hayes: The biggest obstacle is that Christian metal has become a fad. It has become nothing more than a market and a brand. I have played with thousands of bands that have called themselves Christian bands, and I can honestly count on one hand how many of those bands contain members that all have a true relationship with Jesus. In most cases, it’s not an effective means of sharing the Gospel because it’s become a culture. Anyone can throw on some sad music and spout a monologue that they’ve heard time and time again, telling the audience what they want to hear. If you are in constant struggle with sin and questioning your own walk with Jesus, you are not in any place to try and tell somebody else about theirs. If you can’t back up the things you say with the Gospel and your own life, you need to assess what you are actually saying. There are amazing men of God running extremely affective ministries with their bands, Mattie Montgomery of For Today being one of them. Many bands look to him as an example but have no concept of why he does what he does, or the foundations on which he does these things. Mattie Montgomery does the things he does because he has remained the faithful to God and stands firm in the path that has been laid before him. Everything he says he lives by, and has a complete biblical foundation to back it all up. Ministry in this field can be very powerful, but it’s also so very easy to strip it of it’s foundations and turn it into a gimmick, which unfortunately most bands end up doing without even knowing it.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Christian metal can be such a sensitive subject with Christians across the spectrum (mostly traditionalists). Just recently, I’m sure you heard the news about the sentencing of a Christian metal singer from As I Lay Dying. He stated he had become an atheist and that there were many Christian metal bands just performing for the money, too, like he did. How do you walk in the convictions of your Christianity given the area of a your calling in heavy metal music and the possibility of knowing that other Christian metal bands you’re touring with may not be Christians at all?

Ryan Hayes: This is an argument I’ve seen over and over again, with so many useless indifferences. The bottom line is the music and culture has nothing to do with somebody’s faith. If somebody is going to fall away from their faith while playing heavy music, they are going to fall away from their faith regardless. Whether you cave from the temptation of money, sex, depression, or any other vice, you’re current situation is not going to change that. Not to get on a disappointing subject, but I’m honestly shocked when I see a band that I would actually consider a Christian band by heart rather than by label. So my answer is that this lifestyle has absolutely nothing with my convictions and my walk with Christ. I would live the exact same if I was working at a grocery store deli. The type of music somebody plays or the music scene someone is involved in should provide no crutch for a person’s faith. As far as the whole situation with Tim Lambesis, it just goes to prove so many Christians put more of their faith in individuals than in God. One man’s choices somehow spun the entire Christian music scene into a giant question mark. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of discernment. Anyone in any situation can turn away from God and give into their flesh.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How do you think your music will influence the coming revival?

Ryan Hayes: I don’t think our music will have an influence on a revival as much as our hearts behind it will have an impact. Music is music, and anyone can quote anything they want to for the sake of acceptance. We want everything behind the music to influence whatever is to come. We want to be an example of what it looks like to truly live as the Gospel calls us to live and show that lives are radically changed when they experience God’s love. There is no melody or set of words that can reveal this. The music is just the common ground that brings everyone together to set the stage for the real ministry.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to Christian musicians just getting started? Please provide any helpful tips or painful lessons of what not to do.

Ryan Hayes: My biggest advice is to assess your own personal life and make sure you are prepared and have the foundation necessary to effectively spread the Gospel. So many Christians get into it just because of the idea of it. You need to know exactly what you’re getting into, and you need to be equipped with the necessary tools. And if you do think you’re prepared, the next step is to set your standards through the roof. From the beginning, solidify your vision and under no circumstances back down from that. If any of your standards aren’t glorifying to God in some way, or if you aren’t 100% confident you can uphold those standards, then you are not ready to enter into this field of ministry.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What software, equipment, etc. would you recommend to someone on a tight music budget or just getting started?

Ryan Hayes: There are so many options and variables when going about that. I know the thing that I wish I would’ve done differently was spend more time investing into quality gear. Everyone on a budget is looking for the quick easy way to get gear, which is usually cheap and unreliable gear. Find mid-level bands of the same style as you and ask them about their gear. Find out what they’re using and slowly build up your collection in the best way that suits you. Be patient and make sure you make smart investments even if it takes a little longer because it’ll pay off for you more in the long run.

Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encountered many struggling Christian musicians who have given up on pursuing their calling because of chaotic hardships in every form imaginable. These guys and girls are really in the fire right now and have been severely burned. If you were speaking with them one on one what would you say to them?

Ryan Hayes: If I were speaking to them, I would tell them to completely free themselves of their past hardships and take a great amount of time in prayer to really assess where they are in their walk with Christ. As much as everyone would like to blame something or someone else on the effect said hardships have had on their life, it all comes back to what their life reflects. If you have tendencies that drag you into hardships, those are your own personal struggles that through Christ you have power over. If something had that much of a negative impact on their life, either their hearts weren’t where they needed to be in it or God was calling them out of it. Everyone thinks that a relationship with Christ and their life in music go hand in hand when they absolutely don’t. The most important thing for any Christian musician is to recognize the difference and know that you are a servant of Christ first, musician second. It’s very dangerous ground when you can’t tell the difference.

Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts on the Interview: I am thoroughly impressed with the music coming out of Wyoming and Montana. Being in Seattle, I pray and yearn for the same revival renaissance of music to flow once again from our state of Washington.

I am encouraged to hear that Righteous Vendetta are touring with Nonpoint and Trapt as I used to listen to their music before I became a Christian. Hayes and his fellow band members will win men and women to Christ from the metal subculture through the authenticity of their personal lives as they interact with others. Righteous Vendetta have chosen to localize the missionary tactics of global missionaries by immersing themselves in heavy metal culture to share the Gospel. Their actions echo Paul’s own statement about immersing oneself within different subcultures to win individuals to Christ by their lifestyle.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I might share in its blessing.” 1st Corinthians 9:19-23. And might I modernize this passage by adding such a statement as “I became a heavy metal fan to win the heavy metal fans.”

What I respect so much about the Christian metal culture with musicians like Hayes is the brutal, blunt honesty in individuals who truly walk out their faith. The metal community has always preached an authenticity of behavior and is often metaphorically black or white on many issues. Likewise, this tenacity of conviction is transferred to the metal fan when they come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. The Apostle Paul has been mentioned many times in this post and I would mention him again: Christian converts from the heavy metal culture often emulate the same passion as Paul.

I can speak for myself here when it comes to how to reach a heavy metal fan with the Gospel. It is remarkably simple: love. Genuine, unconditional, and behaviorally demonstrated love. Do not saturate and dumb down the Gospel message, just simply preach Christ’s message of the Gospel. My millennial generation craves this; preach the hard truths of Christ. Heavy metal fans see through the fluff and pomp and this is what has usually turned them off of Christianity. BE AUTHENTIC!!! I would be even willing to surmise that heavy metal fans may know more about Christianity than you in some instances but SEEING the Gospel life demonstrated is what they crave.

Hayes also identified one major problem in Christian music which is the tendency to idolize the musicians over Christ. In reflection of the Christian music industry from 2000 to now, I too can vouch that their has been a shift towards this behavior. The music of Christianity is being filtered out by the world and this is reflected often in the subtle lyrics about Christ or their absence completely. In the early 2000s it just seems as though Christian musicians were much bolder and I miss this the most. Music, even if called “Christian,” must be filtered through the authority of Scripture and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Ideas are powerful with music often playing a role in their distribution. History stands as testimony of how music was and is used to project ideas and teachings, regardless of subject matter, to the masses.

As always, lift these warriors of Christ up in prayer. They need it! Especially since they are going to the very proverbial gates of Hell to rescue people with the Gospel message. Pray, prophesy, and declare the good purposes of God over their unique calling to the lost. You can also support Righteous Vendetta by purchasing their music and merchandise, scheduling them for a concert event with your church or ministry, and reaching out to them through social media. Yes…they write back to fans on a regular basis! I wish them Godspeed in their endeavors and look forward to renaissance revival of music occurring in one of the most unlikely of places: heavy metal.

Righteous Vendetta’s Pages:
Official Website: http://righteousvendetta.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/righteousvendetta
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/righteousvendettashred
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/righteousvndeta
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RighteousVendetta
Instagram: http://instagram.com/righteousvendetta

References
Hayes, Ryan, email message to author, July 9, 2014.
Hayes, Ryan. Profile Picture. LinkedIn. https://media.licdn.com/media/p/8/005/071/272/2172905.jpg (accessed August 11, 2014)
Righteous Vendetta. Band Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/righteousvendetta/photos/pb.83493183545.-2207520000.1407788286./10152241518978546/?type=3&theater (accessed August 11, 2014)
Righteous Vendetta – “Defiance”, YouTube, 3:51, posted by Righteous Vendetta, January 29, 2013, website (accessed August 11, 2014)
Righteous Vendetta – The Fire Inside (Official Music Video), YouTube, 3:16, posted by Righteous Vendetta, August 2, 2013, website (accessed August 11, 2014)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 27: Email Interview with Dr. Sonia Gill and Her Dance Ministry of Pakistan

dr sonia gill portrait

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 27: Email Interview with Dr. Sonia Gill and Her Dance Ministry of Pakistan

What can God accomplish with a young Pakistani woman and her talent for worship dancing? How about transforming the broken youth of a nation crying out desperately for the unconditional loving Gospel of Christ! I am pleased to introduce to you Dr. Sonia Gill, a dentist from Pakistan using her gift of worship dancing to share the Gospel with the youth and children of this nation.

I originally met Gill through LinkedIn (where I meet many of these artists) and immediately I could sense the power of the Holy Spirit with her. After a few email exchanges to build rapport, she shared with me that she leads a dance ministry in Pakistan. My initial reaction was excitement; not only would this be a chance for a potential blog review first about Christian dance ministry but the fact that it was IN PAKISTAN! So many questions circulated in my mind about how this was possible in such an oppressive and depressed nation portrayed by the media in the West. So I did what I always do with this blog, I prayed, asked the Lord to lead me to artists He wants to share, and hoped Gill would be one of them.

In my initial email conversation with Gill, she told a story about how South Korean missionaries had traveled to Pakistan and shared the Gospel with her family. I immediately got excited about this news because a few years back, I attended a missionary conference in the Seattle area known as Missionfest; one of the seminars described how God had been empowering the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and Brazilians to take the Gospel back through the old Silk Road traveled centuries ago. With this information lingering in my mind, Gill’s tale of Christian salvation for herself and family was real fruit about the success of these missionaries. So many questions came to my mind. I am a details guys, so I wanted to learn EVERYTHING I could about what God was accomplishing in Pakistan.

The Interview

Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell me a bit about yourself.

Dr. Sonia Gill: I am Sonia Gill from Pakistan. I am General Dentist and working as a Dental Doctor in a hospital. I am also Dance Instructor. I did my Diploma in Dance Instruction (DDI) From New London Performing Arts Center. I work as Youth and Children worker in Pakistan specially in slum areas and villages of Pakistan. I preach the Gospel to youth and children through mediums of different arts like dance, music, sports, etc. I got Diploma in Sunday School Training and serve my children and youth ministry .

Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think is the biggest misconception the west has about Pakistan and its culture?

Dr. Sonia Gill: The biggest misconception about Pakistan is Terrorism. The west thinks all Pakistanis are terrorist s and extremists but this is not true . There is a group who do terrorist activities and they belong to different countries like Russia, Chachania, Afghanistan, and others. We cannot blame the whole nation. In every society there are good and bad people but we cannot say the whole society is bad due to a few persons same thing with Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ideological Islamic State. Its very existence is due to Islam, so the Pakistani culture is primarily based on the Islamic way of life. All other ingredients of culture are inspired by Islam. Pakistani culture is highlighted by its grandeur, simplicity, firm convictions, and noble deeds and ideas.

The West thinks that Pakistani culture is backward, extremely brutal. They thought people are really ignorant, illiterate, selfish, fundamental, and poor. But Pakistani culture is a mixed culture.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Describe the Christian community in Pakistan. What is a character trait of your Christian community that other Christians could learn from?

Dr. Sonia Gill: Pakistan is a country which is rich in culture and religion. Islam is the major religion but along with it, there are other minorities like Christians, Hindu, Sikh, Ahmadis, Chitrals, and Afghans etc. Christians are the largest minority community in Pakistan. They constitute about 1.6% of Pakistan’s population. The present constitution, political system, and government are undemocratic. No more Democracy. Theocracy is prevailing in Pakistan. Under this system, the Christians of Pakistan have neither equal political, socio-economical status, nor the equal access to available opportunities in playing a leading role in the national set-up. Though Christians believe and consider themselves to be first class citizens of Pakistan, the present political system believes that Christians are second class citizens and are practically at the lowest level. They are constantly reminded at every level that it is not their country. Constitutionally, no Christian has the entitlement to become President, Prime Minister, Chairman of the Senate, or the Speaker of National Assembly (Parliament) of Pakistan. Under the Constitutional bindings, the policies and practices have been adopted by all government and judicial functionaries to ignore and neglect the Christians every time, everywhere at all levels. People at lower level have adopted this as a law that no higher position or rank is given to any Christian.

Christians are deprived of their rights under this law because a Muslim can report an outrage against Islam without providing witnesses or proof. The law on “blasphemy” demands that the accused should be immediately sentenced. Recently the death sentence for Asia Bibi – who, asked about her faith, replied that she was a Christian and was accused of ‘blasphemy’ – was reconfirmed. As of February 1, 2012, over 580,000 people in 100 countries signed an appeal to the Pakistani government to release Asia Bibi. At present, her health is in critical condition.

Before independence, Christian educational institutions were run by Churches but they were taken over by force and nationalized by the Bhutto government in 1972. Now, no more Christian character is being seen in these Islamized Christian Institutions. After Bhutto government, many of non-Muslim institutions were denationalized and given to their owners but no Christian institution was denationalized. These institutions were the basic centers for learning, social and cultural gatherings, and spiritual development for the Christians. Christian teachers, professors, or students are not seen there.

Government has reserved some seats for non-Muslims but it is a harsh reality that these seats are occupied by non Muslims. At present, more than 5,000 jobs, which were for Christians are now held by the Muslims. Because of this the 5,000 or more Christians have been forced to be unemployed and thousands of dependants have been deprived of their livelihood.

Due to the nationalization of Christian Educational Institutions and abolishing of the reserved seats for minorities in the government institutions in 1972, there has been an increase of the Christians in illiteracy and poverty.

Character Traits of Christians: Christians are really peaceful, courageous, God fearing, and patience is their character traits.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How does your dance/music ministry spread the Gospel? Any stories of salvation experiences?

Dr. Sonia Gill: I started preaching Gospel to children and youth in 2012. I usually hire big grounds of schools and colleges in the evening to teach worship dance to children and youth free of cost. I do this work in the slum areas of Pakistan where youth and children are illiterate and unaware about Christianity; its values and rituals and God. As dance and music are two mediums which attracted every age, I chose these mediums to spread Gospel and preaching. Children and youth learn worship dance and then they perform in different churches and organization to express their love for God and told others about Gospel through their performances. This is the way we spread the Gospel from one place, church or organization to others. As churches use old approaches to preach Gospel which is really difficult for youth and children to understand and adopt specially for illiterate people so this is the way through which we can express and transform our message easily to them.

As far as salvation is concerned , Pakistan is a country which is popular for corruption and crimes. Here, children and youth are indulged in different sort of street crimes and drug addiction, smoking, gambling, and other wrong activities. Same is the case with Christian Community in Pakistan. They keep themselves far away from Church. They stay away from church, worship, conventions, and crusades. I use my artistic skills to attract such youth and children in order to aware them about Gospel, preaching, God, and to refrain them from wrong activities. I started with 7 – 10 youth and children but after two and half years, I got great strength and succeed in attracting youth and children towards Christianity, Gospel, and preaching. Now to date, 30 – 35 youth and children want to become preachers, pastors, and evangelists. I think this is one of the biggest victories and salvation as far as I have seen which is God has done through me. All credit goes to GOD.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What are some of the current projects your ministry is working on? Please be specific.

Dr. Sonia Gill: At this time I am running two projects both for youth and children. These are mentioned below:

1). Worship Dace Project – I am running this project for the last two years among youth and children who are not educated and need someone to make their faith on God, stronger. Through worship dance I teach them the Gospel and preach the Word of God to them so that they may easily understand about Christianity, its values, rituals, and about God. Secondly, worship dance is new and an innovative activity for Pakistani Christians so they are influenced by it greatly. The aim of this project is preaching Gospel and to connect the youth and children with the Church. Secondly, try to keep them away from wrong habits and activities like, street crimes, addiction and smoking.

2). Gill’s Handicraft Center for Youth and Children – This is my new project which I started in June 2013. I got Diploma in Arts and Design, so I use my skills to train youth so that they may able to earn their livelihood and support their families instead of putting their potential and energy in wrong activities. I have two teachers with me who teach students different arts like embroidery, sewing, stitching, paper work, scenery making, pillow covers, bed sheets, and other things. Our first batch has been passed out and now we are working in boutiques and sewing centers. We also teach this art to children in summer vocations so that they may learn healthy activity and become fruitful citizens. The aim of this Project is to make youth confident, especially girls, and make them feel that they are not a vulnerable part of society and deprived class but they are skilled workers who have potential to earn their livelihood and support their families.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How do you think your ministry will influence the coming global revival?

Dr. Sonia Gill: As I am doing ministry work by using arts as a medium or tool, so I think my ministry would influence the world a lot. Arts is the way to express what you think, what you want, what you want to do. For me, arts is the best way to increase globalization. Through arts we can reach anywhere in the world .

My Ministry will influence the Global Revival as:

We will promote Interaction of International Youth and Children Ministries and Group with our ministry by organizing social and religious conferences, workshops, camps, and worship concerts in order to educate and aware youth regarding the situations of Christianity all over the world.

We will invite international youth and children workers to come in Pakistan and work with us to promote evangelism which will minimize the global distances and boundaries and help in promoting globalization. Also it will clear the image of Pakistan around the world when they come and join us, support us, and work with us.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How can Christians around the world help further your goals for ministry?

Dr. Sonia Gill: My first and foremost goal is to open a dance academy in Pakistan so that youth and children may learn worship dance without any hindrances and worship God daily. At this time, I am working with very large group of youth and children more than 200. I usually hire school grounds every weekend to teach worship dance to youth and children which is really costly and I have to bear all expanses by myself. I have also a rented building with three rooms, one room is used for youth seminars, meetings, conferences, and workshops and other two rooms are used for Gill’s Handicraft Center. so it’s really difficult for me to further expand my work without settling my present group strength. I bear all the expanses by myself but now difficult for me to bear more burden as the strength is increasing day by day and to handle such a big strength is not easy without having proper land or place.

Secondly, my goal is to open a Bible school and college for youth and children who want to be pastors, evangelists, mentors, and preachers. Out of 200 youth and children, more than 40 want to be pastors and preachers. So I really need to open Bible school and college for them in order to trained them as a professional ministers, preachers, pastors, and evangelists.

I heartily request people to help me and support me in building the future of Christian youth and children so that they dare to dream their future. I really need finances to accomplish these goals and without your support I cannot do anything. Thanks!

Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the Christian Church institution in America and how can we change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel? What methods have worked well in Pakistan?

Dr. Sonia Gill: There are following things which I would like to mention according to my point of view.

1). Need to prove the value of the local church as a social institution.
Since the Church is so large around the world, why doesn’t it have greater impact? The reason is because so much of the talent, time, energy, resources, and money Christians have is being used outside the Church instead of through it. We have outsourced the Great Commission to independent ministries.

2). Need to expand our capacity to love at the same lightning rate of technological advances.
Make sure that the technologies we employ to serve people don’t actually prevent us from connecting with and loving real human beings? And as it becomes easier in the coming years to produce impressive worship experiences with new technology, how will we help people cultivate their own indigenous, genuine expressions? How will we avoid the temptation to simply draw crowds? I think we only grow to maturity when we learn to love at point-blank range, where the messy aspects of relationships can’t be avoided.

3). Need to push beyond conventional categories to engage the rise of the “nones.”
1/3 of American adults under 30 state they have no religious affiliation. 88% of the religiously unaffiliated say they’re not looking for a religion that is right for them.

The historic strength of evangelical churches to innovate methods without altering the underlying message will no longer have the same impact. That’s because the cultural shift now underway is not merely about music preferences or the use of video clips in sermons. The problem is deeper, found in the language patterns, and theological categories we use to articulate faith.

Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encountered many struggling Christian artists who have given up on pursuing their calling because of chaotic hardships in every form imaginable. These guys and girls are under immense pressure. If you were speaking with one of them now, what would you say to encourage them?

Dr. Sonia Gill: I will not give them long advise or speak dialogues in order to impress them. I just want to quote the lines which inspire me a lot whenever I am sad, depressed, or gloomy. I want to share these lines with them:

“God created you to live an abundant joy-filled life, regardless of obstacles you might face. Health issues, financial difficulties or any other heart-wrenching circumstance cannot hinder God from working mightily in you and through you.Your fears and your insecurities, your hopes and your dreams matter to God. Vulnerability, trust, transparency, humility, and honesty are the keys that God uses to bring breakthrough in your life. God is good, He is on your side and His intention has always been to bless you.”

That’s all, to bring courage in their lives.

Barry Irwin Brophy: If a reader would like to contact you about assisting your ministry, what would be the best method? Email? LinkedIn? Ecetera? Website? Please provide any other contact information I could share.

Dr. Sonia Gill: I would prefer email to contact me. People can contact me via LinkedIn also. I would also prefer that people contact me through phone.

Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts on the Interview: Gill’s testimony and ministry are an illustration of what happens when God uses an individual with a yielded heart. What is even more inspiring is her answers AGAIN speak about just how powerful obedience to your personal artistic calling is. Just think about it, God placed a desire in Gill’s heart to dance before the Lord like the Biblical character David. She was then privileged with the opportunity to study in London and now takes this passion back to Pakistan as a tool for the Gospel message. God’s compassionate character with an ability to complete the impossible is so illustrated in how He takes people like Gill and can birth societal change through the little things we present to Him.

Like the characters in the parable of the talents, we just have to take that one artistic medium God has planted in us and place it on His altar to be used in powerful ways. A revelation I also came to grasp during this email interview was that God is going to make sure the whole world has heard about His Gospel message; even in the remote parts of the earth. It is an exciting time to be alive because our technology has developed to such a point where we can easily and freely share information. If every Christian were to utilize technologies like email, social media, and the development of apps to share the Gospel message, we could actually FINISH preaching the Gospel to every person in the world! Pause and think about this…in our lifetime, the Gospel may be preached to every nation of the world. As Jesus states in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” How awesome! We could be the generation that actually finishes this task commanded by Jesus Christ Himself.

The best way you can support Gill’s ministry is to directly contact her by phone, email, or LinkedIn and partner with her goals for the next stages of her ministry involving the establishment of a Bible school, growth of dance ministry, and growth of her crafts store. I will be sharing her information with many other Christians and hopefully in the near future we will see this ministry transform the entire nation!

Dr. Sonia Gill’s Contact Information and Links:
Email: sonia.street@rocketmail.com
Phone with country code: 0092 322 8942497
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sonia.gill.5473894
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dr-sonia-gill-dentist/62/b25/434

References
Gill, Sonia, e-mail message to author, July 11, 2014.
Creative Christian Moments – Photos of Dr. Gill’s Christian Dance Ministry in Pakistan, YouTube, 2:56, posted by Barry Brophy, August 1, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsc0kvHqCH8 (accessed July 31, 2014)