A monstrous base blared in the foreground, electronic instruments simulated a loose melody and rapid-fire lyrics and street talk boomed from the stage in Naples recently. But all this noise was not streaming from a nightclub; it came from a church. And the rap, rhythm and rhymes were all centered on one thing – glorifying God.
The Embassy a series of concerts created to reach 18-to-35-year-olds for Christ, kicked off on Feb. 6 at Restoration Church in Naples. In a coffee house atmosphere, with beverages, snacks and coffee available for a small admission fee, the concerts held on the last Friday of the month are intended to provide Christians with a place of fellowship and a way to share the Gospel with their peers.
The next Embassy concert is scheduled for April 24 at 7 p.m. at 7690 Running Buck Court in Naples.
Restoration Pastor Don Tomei says it wasn’t hard to get people excited about the Embassy.
“When you see a need in your community and you have somebody with a burning desire to fulfill that need, you don’t have to keep lighting matches under them,” explains Tomei.
Rappers like Lennin Cabrara, who goes by the name of “Judah,” stepped forward to help Tomei with his vision. Cabrara is a man on fire, according to Tomei. However, he uses his checkered past and amazing salvation story to rap and relate to twentysomethings, along with his friend Anthony “Ant-man” Garcia.
The duo performed at the Embassy on Feb. 6, when the event’s main musical focus was rap and hip hop.
“I experienced hard times, I was backslidden and involved in gangs and drugs,” Cabrara says.
He had some run-ins with the law, and eventually did time for it. In fact, his music Life began in prison.
Always a poet at heart, Cabrara says, “I used to be a dope man, but now I’m a hope man” in that shotgun cadence that typifies his rap sound.
“I want to reach kids in the same mindset that I was in,” he says. “The movies idolize evil and wickedness, and I was attracted to that.”
Between music sets, Robert Hamilton, a Christian DJ who also works at Family Christian store, played CDs to keep the crowd involved and the momentum going.
Very savvy about current trends and music, Hamilton says, “I’m shocked at what’s coming out to get the youth these days.”
However, the music Hamilton chooses – whatever style – is all Christ-honoring.
Sharing the Gospel through popular music
Cabrara says he recently visited a pizza shop, where he approached five rough-looking young people. He asked them if they liked rap, and when they answered in the affirmative, he invited them outside to his car to listen to some of his music. Two songs later, he led four of the five young people to the Lord.
Friday night was a similar scene. In between sets preformed by different artists, Cabrara spoke to attendees about choices, being yourself and the Gospel.
In fact, he brought the message with humor and a lot of enthusiastic gymnastic movements.
“I’m not crazy, I’m Praise-y,” he said in his final song, and a number of people came forward.
Cabrara, 28, who chose the name “Judah” because it means “Praise,” understands that music is a powerful tool.
“It breaks down barriers. That’s what it’s about – changing lives”.
For more information on the Embassy, visit www.RestorationChurch.com or call 239-352-0460.