Tedashii

TedashiiHow I Went from Called-Out Chump to Christian Rapper

And all because a stranger got in my face to explain the gospel.

   I grew up thinking I was the good kid, and I believed that most of my life. I never got into a lot of trouble and never saw myself going down a wrong path.

   As a kid, I attended church occasionally while growing up near Houston. My family and I sat in pews on certain Sundays throughout the year. I quickly learned the church’s traditions; but I didn’t know much about the God that was spoken of there. I knew how to obey during Sunday services and eagerly awaited their conclusion.

   My main teachers in how to view myself, relationships, and money were movies and music. I took my cues from them and lived accordingly, and I was applauded. I knew how to follow the rules and do my work in school, so I could get good grades. I knew how to attract the ladies. I knew how to physically intimidate people, so they knew not to mess with me. All of those around me applauded me. I was a good kid.

   I thought that all the way to college.

   I got the chance to go to Baylor University in Waco, Texas. By the grace of God, I got a scholarship and walked onto the football and track teams. My dreams were coming true, and I get to play sports. My grades are looking good and I’m looking good.  I remember thinking that I’m living my dream.

Rude Awakening

   Halfway through my first semester, a student walks up and tells me that he knows me. I deny it.

   “You were in the Student Center hanging out with some of my friends, and I was there,” he says.

   “Okay, I guess you’ve seen me,” I say.

   “I heard the way you speak about girls and how you talk about your life. I heard the jokes you told and how you interact with other guys. I gotta be honest; I think the Bible would call that sin.”

   “What?” I replied in a questioning tone.

   “Sin is disobedience to a holy God. Sinning against a holy God makes you His enemy. If you break His commandments and do something He tells you not to do, you become His enemy.”

   I’m shocked. “What?”

   “You become an enemy, and this is what happens,” he says. “There’s a place called heaven and a place called hell, and God’s enemies don’t go to heaven. So listen, I want to tell you about Jesus.”

   I’m still shocked and now I’m angry. “You don’t know me, bruh!” I get in his face, yelling over and over, “You don’t know me!” I shove him and go on to class.

   I don’t even know if what he said is true. I just know for the first time in my life, someone is telling me that I’m not a good kid; and it’s not just him. He is saying God is also saying that and I don’t know what to do with it. So, like many when they hear the gospel truth spoken plainly for the first time, I get offended.

   I go on to class and then to the weight room. It’s leg day, so I prep the bar to do squats. I had 675 pounds on the squat bar. The school record was 810 pounds, and I wanted to break it as a freshman.

   Down, then up—one squat. That was easy.

   I put 700 pounds on the bar. Down, then up—another squat.

   Next I put 725 pounds on the bar, thinking that if I can do this now, then next semester I’ll be able to break the school record. Down—and I don’t come back up.

   I hear something snap, and not sure if it was inside my head or coming from my body, I scream out.

   The guys in the weight room quickly help me up and drive me to a hospital. Once there, a doctor tells me that my back is curved in three places. He says that if I get hit the wrong way in a football game, I may never play again and may not ever walk again. He tells me that I have a choice. I can continue playing football and risk permanent injury, or I can stop playing football and keep my ability to walk.

   I chose walking and leave the doctor in a defeated state on mind.<iframe width="853" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KlqSGiHzw4c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

More Than Good Behavior

   Two days later, I’m sitting on campus and sulking. The same guy who approached me days before, comes up to me again and starts telling me about the gospel. He says that even though I am an enemy of God, Jesus came to this world and lived the perfect life that I couldn’t live. He died innocently on the cross. Three days later, because he loves this world, God raised his Son from the dead and in so doing; proved that Jesus is Lord over sin, death, and the grave.

   I never heard any of this before, and I knew little of the truth of what Christ’s death on the cross meant. For me, the cross had simply been a backdrop to my ability to live a supposedly good life. This time I hear him explain the gospel about Jesus; who did all this even when I didn’t love Him, but loved me enough to do that. He doesn’t only want my good behavior; He also wants relationship.

   He goes on to explain every person on this planet is created in the image of God. We are made in His image so that we can reflect and worship Him. When people see us, made in God’s image and made a new creation in Christ, they should ask, “How are you that way? Why do you live like that?” And we can tell them, “When I was a sinner, the very God whose image I was created in died for me.”

Hearing this rocks my world.

   Later that week, I break down in my dorm room. I see with fresh eyes that I am not a good person as far as God is concerned. I come face to face with my sin and neediness, and it grieves me to the point of tears.

   I fall to my knees and cry out to God, feeling helpless and disgusting. What comes to my mind, is that God has already dealt with my sin and my inability to be good. For the first time, I have faith to believe that the gospel is true.

   My life circumstances weren’t instantaneously different after that night. But I had a new way of seeing and understanding. I had this new relationship with Christ that I was eager to deepen. I was hungry for truth. I felt like I had been lied to most of my life and I wanted to know what was actually true.

   So I got connected to other believers by joining a local church. I was taught how to read and study the Bible and how to grow in intimacy with God.

   Over time, how I viewed and responded to life began to change. I no longer saw myself as the good kid; but as a sinner saved by grace, through no effort of my own. I began to view romantic relationships not as a means to gratify selfish desires; but as a purposeful means to one day obtain the good gift of a wife. Physical intimidation, anger, and pride didn’t fuel me like they once had. A heart of service started to grow in me.

   The guy who called me out and shared the gospel with me is to this day a close friend. He influenced many young men and women during our time at Baylor. He was not ashamed to communicate the life-changing truth he believed. I am beyond grateful for his boldness that day on campus.

   He was ultimately the one to encourage me to put a Christian message in the rap lyrics I was practicing in my dorm room. After Baylor, I got connected with Lecrae and Trip Lee and Reach Records based in Atlanta and have recorded four solo albums with them. Recording and performing music has allowed me to process both hope and tragedy, including the sudden death of my wife and my 1-year-old son due to natural causes. The Lord has allowed me room to wrestle within his grace, but he’s kept me.

   And because I have a treasure so good, I can’t just keep it to myself.

   The good news of the gospel has radically transformed this good kid.

   Tedashii is a hip-hop artist living in Atlanta. His newest album, Below Paradise, reached No. 17 on the Billboard Top 200.

October 26, 2015 Christianity Today Magazine

Tedashii Hearing His Voice