Home Christian News ‘The Right Bait’: Alabama Pastor Uses Rap, Retreats to Reel in Students

‘The Right Bait’: Alabama Pastor Uses Rap, Retreats to Reel in Students

Photo courtesy of Baptist Press.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) – Pastor Dewayne Rembert considers himself from the “country ghetto.” Born in 1975 in rural Linden, he had no running water or indoor toilet but ran illegal drugs in urban housing projects to buy food to eat.

Economic poverty, fatherlessness and a mother who retreated to the streets weeks at a time have given him a Gospel perspective that led 67 urban teenagers to profess Christianity in one month through the Flatline Movement and Flatline Church at Chisholm, both of which Rembert founded.

“If you don’t have the right bait on the hook,” Rembert said of outreach to urban youth, “you’re not going to catch (them). We know what the problem is, and the church has the solution to the problem. We’ve got to put the right bait on the hook for them to get clean. And then urban guys, we need support.”

Rembert’s “bait” is the Gospel message in sermons and in the latest genre of rap music from “the hard guys from the streets that got saved,” not the contemporary Christian rap that Rembert says typically reaches Anglo youth.

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“They’re playing songs from back in 2012,” Rembert said of contemporary Christian rap often used in church youth groups. “That sound is not even popular no more, to the young people.”

Rembert saw the salvations in June at two summer camps, the first held in Panama City, Fla., at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Flatline Movement camp. There, 40 students from four inner-city Alabama schools made decisions for Christ, their trips provided with donations from several Southern Baptist churches.

In a girls camp three weeks later in Panama City, 20 of the approximately 40 girls in attendance professed Christ as their Savior. The following Sunday at Flatline Church, seven teenagers accepted Christ and were baptized on the spot.

“Through the grace of God I was able to reach out to quite a few of our SBC churches, and they made donations for us to take down four of our local inner-city schools’ (sports) teams down to Panama City,” Rembert said. “We do things at the church as well, but it’s something about bringing children from the inner-city and taking them to the beach. When I was in high school, I never went to the beach. It was only a dream for me. It was not a reality.

“My mom was, sadly, in and out of the streets and there was no dad around and all my uncles were under the bondage of alcohol. And my grandmother had dementia. So I was just in the streets.”

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Rembert had begun “holding drugs” for drug dealers in the ghetto who would later sell them, he said, in his teenage years after his grandmother began suffering dementia. The two would run out of food after the first two weeks of each month.