Kanye West will be headlining the “Strength to Stand Student Bible Conference” in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, next month, conference founder Scott Dawson has announced.
In a video that was published on Nov. 21, Dawson explained how he connected with the rapper. He also noted that West replaced Christian comedian John Crist after Crist had a “moral failure.” The popular Christian comedian recently apologized and canceled show dates after an outlet claimed he “exploited his Christian reputation and platform” to engage in a years-long pattern of philandering behavior that included “initiating sexual relationships with married women and women in committed relationships.”
“We were about to lose hope,” said Dawson after Crist was removed. “But [a mutual friend] said, ‘I got a crazy idea. … I know a pastor who is mentoring a man by the name of Kanye West. Would you be interested?’”
From there, after several phone conversations and email exchanges, Dawson, an Alabama preacher who is a former Republican candidate for governor in that state, got a call from West himself.
“I was sitting at home at a Friday afternoon and my phone rang,” he recalled. “To my shock, a voice said ‘Hey, Scott, this is Kanye West.'”
“After picking myself up off the floor, we had a conversation,” he continued. “I realized that although this is a worldwide megastar, he was a brother in Christ. He told me his testimony. He told me his struggles, what he was still going through. He said he’s been delivered, but he’s on a growth journey with Jesus.”
As soon as word got out that West would headline the conference, it was quickly sold out. It’ll be geared toward students from sixth grade to college and will run Jan. 18-20.
“Born of a vision to see thousands of students congregating in the Great Smoky Mountains, these conferences are designed for students yearning for a deeper, more effective relationship with Christ,” reads the conference’s website.
News of West signing on to headline the conference comes about a month and a half after he released his ninth studio album “Jesus is King,” on Oct. 25, considered to be a gospel album.
The 42-year-old has talked extensively about becoming a born-again Christian in recent months, and he’s put on a host of church-like events called “Sunday Service” around the U.S.
On Nov. 17, the Chicago-born artist brought his “Sunday Service” to televanglist Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood Church in Houston. The two plan to team up again in May 2020 at Yankee Stadium for Osteen’s “America’s Night of Hope” tour.