Kayne West, the rapper-turned Christian who last month announced he would no longer release secular music, is scheduled to appear on stage this Sunday at televangelist Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch.
According to TMZ, West will appear during the 11 a.m. service for a 20- to 30-minute conversation with Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, but will not perform.
“Our sources say Joel wants his congregation—which stands 45,000 strong—and his TV audience—which stands at 10 million in the U.S. alone—to hear how Kanye has overcome significant adversity in his life,” the entertainment website reported.
TMZ also said that West will bring his choir to Houston where he is expected to perform during the Sunday night service, but the church website lists Christian artist Tauren Wells as the special guest.
West’s appearance at Lakewood comes as the rapper is promoting his latest album, the gospel-themed “Jesus is King,” which released Oct. 25.
Since January, West has been hosting pop-up worship gatherings called “Sunday Service.” According to Vox, the services began as invite-only events for celebrities with participants required to sign non-disclosure agreements.
In April, however, the events became public after West took his Sunday Service to a prominent music festival in California’s Coachella Valley. Since then they have popped up all across the country. A Baton Rouge service during the first weekend in November resulted in 1,000 Christian conversions, Christian Headlines previously reported. More than 5,000 people attended the Louisiana Sunday Service.
West’s Sunday Services predominately focus on gospel music and have included prayers, Vox reported. California Pastor Adam Tyson has also preached at some of the Sunday Service gatherings.
In early October, Christian Headlines reported that Tyson, pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Santa Clarita, has discipled West since early summer. During one of his podcast’s Tyson shared that West approached him in June after having a “radical” conversion five weeks earlier.
“I said, ‘Kanye, what happened five weeks ago?’ He said, ‘I was just under the weight of my sin and I was being convicted that I was running from God, and I knew I needed to make things right, so I came to Christ. I came out of the darkness into the light.’”
Tyson went on to say he believes West’s faith journey is genuine.
“The fruit that I’m seeing is he’s no longer continuing in some of the sin patterns that he was before he came to Christ,” Tyson said. “Right now, every day, he is living and walking with God, so from what I can tell, there’s no reason for me not to encounter that and be a part of that.”
An article by the Christian Post, notes, however, that West has drawn criticism by some claiming the rapper is misappropriating the black gospel experience for financial gain. The newspaper cited an interview that former music executive Naima Cochrane gave to Boston radio station WBUR in which she called West’s rebirth superficial.
“In the black community, when we have notable figures who have done something to offend or have done something that finds them in a disgraceful position in the mainstream, usually part of their redemption story is to reach back out to the black community through the grace of the church,” the music and culture writer said, “because the black church is known to be unfailingly forgiving, especially to our black men.”
She went on to add that West is “co-opting the black church experience for nonblack consumption.”
The assessment of his critics doesn’t mesh, however, with what his wife, Kim Kardashian West, told The View.
"Kanye started this to really heal himself and it was a really personal thing, and it was just friends and family," she said. "He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ.”