COMMUNICATING CHRIST’S MESSAGE THROUGH RAP
Rebellious and adventurous, adolescents often pose a challenge to their parents as well as to their church leaders. Communicating with teenagers is not easy. They may listen, but still rebel, often going to extremes just to express their independence.
Tony Fayez, a hymn singer at SAT-7, was walking through the streets one day and heard a group of young teenagers listening to a rap song called “Just Be Yourself” by an Egyptian singer. The rap song was so popular because it encouraged concepts of individualism and discovering one’s talents.
“When I heard this song, I thought that if a secular song could be so successful in spreading good concepts, then we can do the same with Christian songs to teach young people about Jesus,” Tony says.
WHY RAP? WHY YOUTH?
Tony understands teenagers and speaks their language. He writes lyrics and composes songs, and reaches adolescents through rap, as the music genre is gaining popularity and becoming more relevant to young people in the Middle East.
“The fast rhythm of rap reflects the passion and energy of teenagers. That’s the music they listen to when they are together. It’s a good way to reach them using Christian lyrics that they can remember and sing along to,” Tony says.
Tony recently appeared on SAT-7 KIDS’ praise and worship program, Praise Factory, with a Christian rap song called “I’m Sticking To Church”. The lyrics reflect a young person’s love for Church and the reasons for ‘sticking to it’. This is the first time the program has featured rap music. Tony has also rapped on SAT-7 ARABIC’s youth program, Be Your Selfie.
Tony is an avid social media user. He publishes all of his Christian music on Facebook: this helps him reach a broad range of young people who spend most of their time browsing the internet. Some of his songs are very popular among young people such as “A Bunch of Fishermen” on the following clip.
TONY’S HISTORY WITH RAP
Tony’s enthusiasm for engaging teenagers through music goes back to his early teens.
“The image of my Sunday School teacher playing the piano and teaching us hymns is ingrained in my memory. Teenage years are a fruitful time to plant Christian concepts through music. It is more effective than many sermons they hear as adults,” Tony says.
Rap started trending across the Middles East in the late nineties. Tony’s first became interested in the genre in his early college years and began to write lyrics. Tony keeps himself updated on current teen trends and slang to write songs that are both relevant and engaging. He even participates in workshops for youth organised to teach rap music composition.
However, Tony’s progressive Christian teaching is being met with mixed criticism. Traditional churches and parents think the language degrades Christian values and distorts Christian songs. But this does not deter Tony:
“Youth can and will do whatever they want. They can listen to whatever music they choose, so instead of trying to fit them into a rigid mould, we can reach out to them by speaking their language.”