Christian Hip-Hop Artist Mr. Del – The Evolution of his Ministry!
In 1999, Del Lawrence, known to the world as Mr. Del, signed a contract with Memphis rap group Three Six Mafia. One year later, on Easter Sunday, Mr. Del gave his life and career to Christ; leaving secular music behind. Amidst skepticism, Mr. Del moved forward getting a new generation of believers out of their seats and to Christ through his brand of gospel hip-hop. By 2004, Mr. Del brought his ministry, City of Refuge, to a Memphis college campus. Mr. Del and his college ministry provided poetry nights and campus Bible studies changing the lives of countless students; including a then undergrad me.
Now, thirteen years into his ministry, Mr. Del took a break from the last leg of his “Faith Walka” summer tour to speak with me about the evolution of his ministry.
Thirteen years in ministry is amazing! Explain where the vision started and how it’s evolved.
“It started as “God represented toward our hip-hop culture”. What I represent is our generation and the hip-hop culture. I wanted to bring the culture of Christ, the mindset and knowledge of Christ and the awareness of Christ to my generation. Since then we have utilized that awareness. Where I see it going forward, via the company, we are moving into books, movies, clothing and other things.”
(Mr. Del’s company is Dedicated Music Group (DMG) which he founded in 2000. Since its inception DMG has morphed from an independent record label into a multi-media company.)
Does “other things” refer to your new web radio show? Could you tell us more about it?
“Yeah, the format of the show is talk radio with a little bit of music related to the day’s topic. We’ll have guests to discuss topics related to my new book Soul Ties.”
Tell us about Soul Ties.
“Soul Ties is a book about relationships and how to get through them. I feel like this is a part of our lives. It is also a fact of our lives that when relationships go bad we don’t seek help for our wounds. As a result of all of these bad relationships, which I label as toxic, you end up getting to a point where your character and personality change. Sometimes, without your knowing, you take on negativity. So what Soul Ties does is reverse all that; teaching us how to detox the spiritual way.”
So are you naming the web show after the book?
“It’s going to be called Soul Station.”
Soul Station is good, Pastor! I really like it.
Now the radio show is a new avenue for you to talk to people, but with the music and preaching you encounter people all of the time. What do you find is most difficult for new believers?
“Being in such a high speed and fast technology time, everything is so “right now, right now.” It has sort of trained them to be impatient, and that’s not how it is [with a spiritual walk]. I look at it as a challenge. The challenge has been to teach patience in the process; that it’s a slow walk, but a sure walk.”
What about people who have been in their walk for a while? What is the challenge in being a hip-hop representation to them?
“I really don’t give people who have already been in their walk the hip-hop department or my artistry. When it comes to the actual ministry—the word of God—I take a more simplistic approach: just really being myself attracting people who are similar.”
What are some of the best attributes God has given you, in ministry, to attract people?
“I guess it would have to be my approach to them at their level and my patience; my commitment to their walk(s).”
I know about that commitment! There have been some definite moments where you’ve kept us from giving up. Pastor, do you ever have moments where you say to God, “I’m not sure”? How do you come out of those situations?
“Yeah. I don’t ever think, as humans, there aren’t moments of fear, doubting yourself, or anxiety. When those situations come up, at the end of the day, I have to just rely on the word; encourage myself in the Word. I read the Word. I’m an avid reader of the Word in my daily devotion. Also, I make sure I hear the Word on a continuous basis because faith comes by hearing too. I also have a great circle of help where I can get sharpened.”
“As a pastor who do you listen to?”
“I listen to other pastors. Bishop I. V. Hilliard, Bishop Jakes; those are the guys who speak into my life.”
Your career and ministry has had its share of adversity. What would you say to people facing adversity in using their gifts/talents for God?
“God has given us all gifts and talents. It’s our job to identify and sharpen them. Do your research so you can be the best at it. Utilize it to the best of your knowledge and with confidence in God.”
Sometimes having confidence in God doesn’t stop people from affecting us. How do we stop listening to people?
“Sometimes people search for the approval of other people which doesn’t make sense. If God gave me the gift, then I don’t need anyone else to tell me how good my gift is in Christ. So anything along those lines is confrontation and I’m not here for that. I remember Oprah saying, ‘I don’t read the clippings of my critics.’ It’s something I have always taken to heart. I speak for my circle who promotes and encourages me, who are fans of me. That’s what I look to in order to sharpen myself. So my advice is don’t go looking [for people’s approval].”
Has any aspect of your ministry and/or career surpassed your initial expectations and hopes?
“The books. I never thought that I would develop a passion for being an author. Yet, when I was a kid, I wrote my own book. So I guess the talent was in me all along, but I had not yet tapped into it.”
Tell us about any upcoming projects you have.
“I’m following in my daughter’s footsteps. Everything I see my daughter do, I try to do. She did the Blog Talk Radio. Now, I want to do the Blog Talk Radio. She did the book signing at Laurelwood. Now, I want to do the signing.”
We erupt in laughter.
“So, yes, I will be there at Laurelwood on September 7th at 4 p.m.”
Finally, Pastor, what is your main message?
“Christ can change your life for the better. Let Christ into your heart. It will be the best decision you ever made.”
Thank you, Pastor.
“Thank you, Daughter.”