Kanye West opened up before an estimated crowd of 25,000 about how God healed him from mental illness and addiction, proclaiming the Almighty got the “last laugh” on the devil through the rapper’s testimony.
During a performance of his song “Jesus Walks” with his Sunday Service choir, West told those gathered for the Awaken 2020 event at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday his career really began with the tune.
“I started with this song, and this whole time the devil had thought he had me,” the singer said. “It’s like they would have blocked it or something if they knew we was going to be here one day.”
“This is a Trojan Horse if I’ve ever seen one,” West explained. “It seemed like God got the last laugh.”
“Have you heard the Good News?” he sang. “He saved a wretch like me, and set me free.”
“Jesus Walks” was part of the performer’s 2004 debut album “The College Dropout.” Each garnered top honors as the best rap song and best rap album at the Grammy Awards the following year, Billboard reported.
By his own admission, West was not walking with Jesus at the time and in the decade of meteoric success that followed, which took him to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, including marrying into the Kardashian family.
All that came crashing down in 2016.
In a series of off-the-wall tweets in February of that year, West wrote, “I write this to you my brothers while still 53 million dollars in personal debt… Please pray we overcome… This is my true heart,” Time reported.
He followed that tweet with more asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in his ideas and recognizing “he is the greatest living artist and greatest artist of all time.”
The rapper then tweeted at then-Alphabet (Google) CEO Larry Page asking him for help too.
But the worst was yet to come when West was admitted to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles in November 2016.
A source told People at the time the singer generally has “big ups and big downs, but this bout seems to be much more serious. In the hospital he has been very paranoid and is under constant watch for his safety.”
“He’s still there because clearly he’s not doing well,” the insider added.
The rest of West’s concert tour dates were canceled as doctors tried to determine what was wrong with the singer and how best to treat him.
The artist addressed this time in his life at Saturday’s Awaken event while performing “Jesus Walks.”
“See, I’ve been to the mental hospital and back, working for the devil,” he recounted. “They didn’t think I was going to get out. They had already grabbed shovels. They said, ‘There’s something wrong with his head, so his career is dead.’”
“But Jesus saves, no matter how long you think you’ve been away,” West continued.
“No matter how long you been in the dark, the light is right there ready to save, to give you the confidence when they don’t want us to be brave.”
He credited God with clearing his mind.
“He brought back my clarity. That’s where I found the truth,” West said.
“In His Word there is sincerity. He cleared my thoughts. Made the vision stronger.
“They thought they exhausted me,” West added. “They see what it costed me, but God is the boss of me. He give me my energy. He give me my freedom. I found my peace. The devil’s a defeated foe.”
The 42-year-old then addressed his bout with alcoholism, saying he had been drinking on the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 before he infamously interrupted the show to declare from the stage that Beyonce, not Taylor Swift, was more deserving of the Best Female Video prize.
West told the Awaken crowd that his drinking became so bad he would have vodka and orange juice at breakfast, while still entertaining the thought, “I ain’t really no alcoholic.”
“There’s one sentence that I told myself that I want to give y’all today that may be helpful if you’re struggling with some kind of weakness,” he said. “Devil you’re not going to beat me today.”
The fight to stay sober is day by day, West related. “Every day that I don’t pick up that drink, I beat the devil,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
Demetri Fisher, an Arizona State University student who attended Saturday’s event, told The Western Journal he had been praying for West before the singer experienced his spiritual awakening.
Fisher recalled that he appreciated an important change the rapper made to the lyrics of “Jesus Walks” during his performance at Sun Devil Stadium, which is on the ASU campus.
“I liked how he ended the song,” the student said. “Before it was, ‘I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because I haven’t talked to him for so long,’ but now he’s not afraid.”
“I want to talk to God, I ain’t afraid no more,” West rapped, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
Thank you Kanye & Sunday Collective team.
— awaken2020 (@awaken_2020) January 19, 2020
David Herzog, the organizer of Awaken 2020, said that West and the Sunday Service choir’s participation in the day-long happening was truly a God-orchestrated thing.
The event planner said he had a “really strong impression” months ago that the artist was going to be part of Awaken 2020 and even had a dream about it a few weeks ago.
In fact, multiple members of Herzog’s staff and people he did not even know contacted him to say they had similar dreams.
However, it was less than two weeks before the event was to take place that West signed on.
Herzog first made contact with the producer of the Sunday Service choir at the premiere of West’s opera “Nebuchadnezzar” at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in late November.
(As an aside, Nebuchadnezzar was the ancient king of Babylon, who for a period of seven years lost his mind until God restored him and his kingdom, according to the biblical account.)
“I would say it was a combination of dreams, fasting, just divine appointment to meet this producer when there was no reason why in the natural we should have met him. And it happened,” Herzog said. “It was God from beginning to end.”
The producer appreciated Herzog’s faith that West was meant to be at Awaken.
“You assumed he was coming before we knew he was coming,” Herzog recalled the producer saying after West’s appearance was locked in.
The event organizer believes West’s testimony and performance and the presence of God during it really had an impact.
“I think that really resonated with a lot of people, that ‘Wow, if God can do that for Kanye — everyone knows how Kanye was before — God can save me. He can heal me,’” Herzog said.
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) January 22, 2020
Thirteen-year-old Jaylon Robertson told The Western Journal that Awaken 2020 “opened up a new path for me and helped me see a new way.”
Elena Quihuis, a recent college graduate who volunteered as a prayer partner at the event, believes the occasion “literally launched an awakening of the hearts of the people that were there.”
Thousands professed giving their hearts to Christ and being healed of various maladies, according to Herzog.
Pastor Michael Maiden, whose Phoenix-based Church for The Nations helped promote and provide dozens of volunteers for Awaken, believes West is the first of many people of prominence God is about to lead to faith.
“Kanye West has been brought to America as a sign of what God can do. How the kingdom of God can transform any heart, any life,” Maiden said.
“So proud of him and so excited for his faith journey,” the preacher continued, “because he’s the first of many people of consequence in the culture, many people in leadership in our world, that don’t know Christ yet are going to be brought and they’re going to become like him.”
“They’re going to bring the Gospel to so many people.”
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