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Atlanta–Based R&B Singer, Rapper, & Reality Star Is Doing Something Most Black Churches Won’t; Starting a Movement That Caters to Young Urban Black Males 13-30 Years Old
February 9, 2017-Atlanta, GA Atlanta- based R&B singer, rapper, & reality star turned Pastor, Canton Jones (CaJo) is bringing light to dark places around Metro Atlanta with his controversial and unconventional style of preaching, worship, and community outreach. The culture’s response to this rarity? They are overwhelmingly posting and/or sharing with their pop-proverbial approval signaling, “That’s what’s up!”
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Although Pastor CaJo’s ministry is very young, he started it with the notion of recapturing the hearts, minds, & attention of Young Black Males (YBMs) 13 to 30 years old. Specifically, this demographic is often absent in the black church primarily because they are required to check their culture, thus their identity, at the door.
Pastor CaJo believes, “As African-American people I feel like we honor other cultures before we honor our own, if someone comes from Africa and has on a dashiki or from Japan and has on a kimono as an expression of their African or Japanese roots we’re not requiring that he or she remove it or change any part of their embedded culture as they enter the four walls of the church, but for YBMs their culture is rejected or not welcomed because it’s not seemingly aligned with traditional church culture. Take off your hat, pull up your pants, where’s your suit? But all he wants is God, he’s asking, just give me God!”
The Free Life Experience Movement, as he calls it, is just for such people. It’s for the “Ex-” something (or wanna be). So, if you’re an ex-convict, ex-thug, ex-drug addict or ex-drug dealer, you are welcome at The Free Life Experience. There are no requisites or rules to marginalize you or keep you out. “At Free Life, you’re empowered to do whatever God told you to do, it’s not my place as a pastor or man of God to tell you you can’t,” says CaJo.
This philosophy is personified by Nosakhere Andrews aka 2-17 on The Track, “I’m a producer and artist from Atlanta GA and recently decided to leave the mainstream entertainment industry when I allowed Jesus to take control of my life. I’ve been to churches all over and was invited to visit The Free Life Experience by one of my fans.
They told me about Pastor CaJo and that I would fit in with what he has going on. So I stopped by one Thursday and I’ve been going ever since. The atmosphere of The Free Life Experience is non-traditional.
A person can come wearing jeans and sneakers without feeling out of place, and the praise and worship is ‘Off the Chain.’ Not only does Pastor CaJo perform his own music but he allows the fellowship of young up and coming dudes to perform their praise music as well. And then folks be ‘Turnt Up.’ What really drew me to keep coming back was the WORD. Pastor CaJo is one of the realest pastors I’ve listened to. He doesn’t just recite a pre-written sermon but I can feel he’s being led by the Spirit of God to deliver a message from God and he always references the Scripture to make his points. Recently he gave a message about ‘Finishing what your start and to claim what God has already given you.’ It has GREATLY IMPACTED MY LIFE. After Pastor CaJo’s Fanatic series, it motivated me to finish my solo project which I’m about to release; he taught me serious tips about how to overcome the enemy and by changing the atmosphere of situations by praising the Lord. I’ve been teaching in his children’s church ages 7-12 and I love being a part of the ministry. My wife and I attend almost every Thursday."
The Free Life Experience is “Where the Culture comes to Life; it’s a lifestyle” says Bishop Bee, former gang member turned Christian rapper, at one of the regular nightly services.
Thursdays, from 7-8:30pm, in a warehouse in south Atlanta, darkly-lit, praying over hard hitting beats, with a DJ as the Minister of Music, the worship looks and sounds like a club-setting. Internet audiences are plugged in via live stream on social media, and church membership is not required. You could even be a member at a traditional Sunday/Wednesday church and still plug in at The Free Life Experience.
The ministry is connecting some real dots for the disenfranchised, sometimes disjointed, and often demonized. Referred to as M.O.D.s (Men of Distinction), The Free Life Experience aligned with CaJo are poised to transform the landscape of urban communities around the globe for legions of them.
Unapologetically so, Pastor Canton is set to deploy a solid trifecta of ministry, entertainment, and economic empowerment programs and services.
One such program, ‘Free Life Instigators for Innovations’ (FLII), launching soon, is a platform designed to provoke new origins for cutting-edge community, business, & technology opportunities utilizing YBMs. But not only is Free Life inspiring YBMs, he’s giving them a platform from which to springboard into success. The mission of FLII seeks to identify corporate, business, and community partners to assist with program planning, funding, education/training, access, & leadership. Pastor CaJo emphasizes, “Because we are now locked into the Youth Detention Centers (and school in south Atlanta) as a ministry all across the Atlanta Metro area, we can have those guys get connected with us to continue their growth/rehabilitation and growth for success, once they’re released.”
Seeking out young black men in the jails, youth detention centers, on street corners, or other places considered unsavory, CaJo’s message is not for a traditionally-minded church member who already has it all together. He’s delivering a Word of hope–taking scripture, making it culturally relevant, and inspiring them toward their full potential.
Pastor CaJo states, “America’s rich history was built on the backs of men 13-30 as slaves; successful professional basketball and football teams are nearly impossible without the contribution of talents from these same guys; gangs are sometimes made infamous by YBMs; heck it seems like everybody uses this group except the church! What’s up with that?
The Free Life Experience is here for the brothers and we aim to make a significant difference.”
For additional information, to get connected, to schedule an interview with Pastor Canton, or tour the church, contact: Ursula Frederick-Brown by email at info@FreeLifeExperience.org
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