Kanye West brought his Sunday service to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church this weekend, two days after holding services for inmates at the Harris County Jail in Houston. Before he and his choir performed Sunday evening, West spoke with Osteen during Lakewood’s 11 a.m. service. During the interview, West made some statements many Christians will applaud, while also making comments some might find troubling.
“I know that God’s been calling me for a long time, and the devil’s been distracting me for a long time,” West told Osteen from the stage of Lakewood Church. “And when I was in my lowest points, God was there with me and sending me visions and inspiring me.”
West and Osteen Talk at Lakewood Church
Osteen spoke to West for about 20 minutes in the middle of the two-hour church service. The pastor started off by asking West about the spiritual transformation he has been experiencing for the past year. While the rapper only began holding his “Sunday services” earlier in 2019, West said he believes God was calling him to start a church several years ago when he was hospitalized due to a mental breakdown. At the time, he said, he tried to make a gospel album, but did not know how (that was when he released The Life of Pablo). The Christians who were around him, said West, were “beaten into submission by society to not speak up and profess the gospel to me because I was a superstar, but the only superstar is Jesus.”
West spent some time talking about what it means to follow Jesus. “We know that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, we will be granted eternal life,” he said, emphasizing that the Christian life is one of constant repentance because we all “fall short of the glory.” Many times, when people reject Christianity, it is because they are focusing on the worst Christian they have ever met, when they should be looking to Jesus. “Christians are not going to be Christ,” said West. “We are going to follow Christ and be Christ-like and repent for our sins.”
West described how the devil attacks Christians, using distractions such as strip clubs, alcohol, media, fame and money to keep believers from “knowing how to fully be in service to the Lord.” He even took issue at one point with rappers who pursue “coolness” over their personal responsibility. “You know, we have our own daughters,” he said, “and we’ll still be rapping about trying to hook up with somebody’s daughter, like not taking the responsibility as a man.”
During the interview, West mentioned the arrogance he is known for, saying that God is now using West’s cockiness for his glory. “The greatest artist that God has ever created is now working for him,” he said, as the congregation cheered and clapped.
West also defended Joel Osteen, pointing out that many Christians are critical of him. But the rapper believes Osteen is one of the “strongest voices in the Christian community” and worth listening to “because when you turn on the radio, he keeps on showing you how good God is,” instead of preaching that God is angry or condemning. “God is not the enemy,” said West. “God is love, is the greatest, is the glory, God is family, God is friendship, God is prosperity.” In response, Osteen quipped, “When you’ve got Kanye defending you, you’ve made it.”
At the end of the interview, Osteen referred to West’s recent conversation with James Corden, stressing that the rapper has not merely “turned over a new leaf,” but has had a true spiritual awakening. Osteen closed the interview by inviting West to pray for the Lakewood Church congregation.
Surprising Inmates with Worship
The Friday before appearing at Lakewood Church, West brought the message that Jesus sets people free to the Harris County Jail. There, he held two worship services, one for the male inmates and one for the female inmates.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told KHOU 11, “It really was like worship service. Very uplifting not only for the inmates that are in here—you can see some who were down on their knees in prayer—to even some of our teammates who were brought to tears.” The sheriff also tweeted, “Appreciate him and his choir spending time with us.”
@kanyewest visited us today. I know he has a busy weekend in H-Town surrounding his visit to @lakewoodchurch, so appreciate him and his choir spending time with us. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/3e5s92WYY1
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) November 15, 2019
Jason Spencer, who is the public affairs director for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, posted this tweet of the inmates worshipping: