Rapper and producer Kanye West visited America’s largest church on Sunday to talk about his newfound calling: serving as an evangelist for Christ.
West spoke with televangelist Joel Osteen at Houston’s Lakewood Church during a morning service, giving the 16,000 attendees a glimpse of his spiritual awakening ― and his signature swagger.
“Jesus has won the victory because now ― I told you about my arrogance and cockiness already ― now, the greatest artist that God has ever created is now working for him,” West said.
West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, their daughter, North West, and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had front row seats to the conversation, the Houston Chronicle reported.
West’s 20-minute talk was followed by another appearance at Lakewood’s evening service, where West and his Sunday Service choir performed songs from his new album “Jesus is King.” The concert also featured songs from West’s previous albums, such as “Jesus Walks,” as well as covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” and Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
West apparently cast himself as a supporting player for much of the concert ― appearing an hour into the gospel performance and standing at a microphone near the back of the stage with North West.
He reportedly altered his 2016 song “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” with a reference to Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed. Reed, who has received support from several celebrities, including West and Kardashian, was granted an execution stay on Friday. Kardashian West visited Reed in prison on Friday.
Tickets to the free concert were gone in minutes online, and attendees packed Lakewood Church’s main hall. The church building is the former Compaq Center, once home to the Houston Rockets.
Osteen, whose television broadcasts reach millions of people around the world, has said he offered West the platform after the pair developed a friendship through phone conversations about faith.
“We come from different backgrounds. Styles are different. But we’re still brothers in Christ. We’re all on the same team,” Osteen told reporters on Sunday.
West’s music has often included references to his Christian beliefs, but “Jesus is King” is the artist’s first album to focus exclusively on religious themes.
West, during his Sunday conversation with Osteen, revealed that he believes God has been calling him for a long time, while the devil has been trying to distract him from his purpose. In 2016, when he was hospitalized for mental health treatment, God “was there with me, sending me visions and inspiring me,” he said. West has spoken about his struggle with bipolar disorder in the past.
He told Osteen that during the 2016 hospitalization, he drew a picture of a church and wrote about wanting to start a church in Calabasas, near his home in California.
West started hosting Sunday Service concerts on his property in January. Since then, the pop-up religious events have been held at various churches around the country and at the Coachella festival. Kardashian has described these services as West’s “musical ministry.”
At Lakewood, Osteen played a clip of “God Is,” a song on West’s new album, and called it “very, very powerful,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
“You said more in 60 seconds than I say in my 30-minute message,” Osteen told West.
Osteen has been criticized by some Christians for appearing to promote the prosperity gospel, which suggests that God guarantees wealth and health to those who are faithful in just the right way.
Some Christians have also been wary about West’s foray into the Christian music scene ― especially after the artist’s suggestion that slavery was a choice, and his support for President Donald Trump.
West said Sunday that he is “in service to God.”
“All of that arrogance and confidence and cockiness that y’all seen me use before, God is now using for him,” he said. “Because every time I stand up, I feel that I’m standing up and drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘I’m here in service to God, and no weapon formed against me shall prosper.’”
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