September 5th was a night full of energy, the sounds of rhymes and beats flowing from the mic, bright colors of paint being sprayed across a graffiti wall, the twisting and turning of break dancers, and youth all over the place! No, this wasn’t a club or festival, but our BEATS kickoff!
That’s right, we are about using the urban art forms to relevantly and creatively express the truths of the Creator of art and also give the youth avenues to positively express themselves. It’s about connecting the youth to Christ and others in the community so that as the youth are transformed, they can be a part of affecting change in the community at large. It is also about drawing out and sharpening their creative gifts and skills to productive means. Through all of this, the youth are connecting to Godly role models for life-guidance. So, we are meeting the youth wholistically, as spiritual, physical, emotional, mental people, in the midst of family, community and culture that shape them.
BEATS (Bringing Eternal Arts To The Streets) was birthed out of a community meeting where residents expressed the need for a forum for the youth to express themselves. They felt this would help in reducing youth crime, which rises every year at the beginning of the school year.
What began as a one-night forum in answer to the community’s plea, has now become our core Community Youth Development initiative which seeks:
To see the youth of the Village West developed through relationship with Christ, opportunities, challenges, and networks, so they become competent, connected, caring, contributing leaders in their community and beyond.
So, on a night like Sept 5th, we saw not only fifty youth, with talent and important things to say, but we saw a room full of huge potential for both personal and community-wide transformation. This is only the beginning of more than we can imagine.
“Many youth themselves seem to be in denial around the influence and power of music – its ability to draw them in and affect their behavior…Young people in hip-hop culture as well a their parents and ministers need to be savvy about its elements and influence, its directive and reflective impact- both good and bad- and its echoes of biblical teachings and Christian theology, which can be harnessed for ministry. “ –Efrem Smith
“The church can’t avoid the cultural context that young people live in. The church cannot avoid the culture that now has global and intergenerational influence. The church cannot avoid the culture of the unchurched postmodern urban community. To avoid hip-hop, given its wide influence on young people, is in some ways avoiding the youth themselves and treating them as modern-day Samaritans. As today’s Samaria, the hip-hop community might be appropriately called ‘Samerica’. – Efrem Smith