In a recent interview on the PureFlix podcast, Tyson shared how he started collaborating with West and why he thinks West has had a true spiritual transformation.
“We need to be faithful to encourage one another,” said Tyson, referring to the fact that some are skeptical about whether West genuinely wants to follow Christ. “If there’s going to be a person that’s going to say, ‘I love Jesus, I’ve repented of my sins, I want to follow Him, help me grow,’ then that’s beautiful…so why would I continue to say to someone like that, ‘Well I’m just not sure’?”
Kanye Met Tyson at…Well, a Sunday Service
Adam Tyson is the senior pastor of Placerita Bible Church, a church in the L.A. area with about 300 to 400 attendees. Tyson met West because a church member who worked with the rapper invited him to attend one of their services. After visiting twice and keeping a low profile, West returned a third time and wanted to speak with Tyson afterward. “He was so excited to share with me what God was teaching him,” said Tyson, “how Christ had changed him.” That conversation took place on the first Sunday in June.
Tyson started meeting with West regularly after that. Said Tyson, “I spent about three hours just going through the gospel, making sure he understood clearly about the atonement of Jesus Christ, that God is holy, that we are sinners, that Christ came to die in the place of sinners, that by repenting and believing in him, we could have eternal life.”
West told the pastor that he believed all of that. He said, “I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message and I want to get that message out to the world.” The two started a Bible study, which is attended by anywhere from 20 to 50 people. The Bible study continued, even after West bought a ranch and moved to Cody, Wyoming. For the past month, Tyson has been traveling to Cody every week to keep it going.
“How can you say no?” he asked. “I mean, if my unbelieving next-door neighbor said, ‘Would you like to teach a Bible study on Tuesday nights for me and a bunch of my friends?’ I would be elated. But my next-door neighbor isn’t necessarily asking that…Kanye is.”
When Did Kanye Start Following Jesus?
Tyson said that West has known about God for a long time and that he has been running from Him. But when Tyson talked to him in June, the rapper said that God had saved him five weeks earlier. He had realized the “weight of his sin” and was convicted that he needed to make things right, so he turned to Jesus.
Tyson understands why people would doubt whether West’s commitment to God is genuine. But the pastor said he has no reason right now not to believe the change is real. “To be honest with you, if I wasn’t on the inside of it, I might be a little skeptical myself,” he said. “I do think we need to be cautious, but I’ve spent enough hours with this man to know that God is at work.” Tyson said he is seeing a lot of fruit in West’s life. West is reading the Bible, praying, and no longer continuing in some of the sin patterns he was in before. So long as the rapper is professing Christ and living for Him, Tyson said he is willing to collaborate with him. He also confirmed reports that West will no longer be writing secular music. West says he wants to sing for God now and has even asked for Tyson’s perspective on his lyrics.
The Purpose of ‘Sunday Service’
When West asked Tyson to preach at the Sunday service in Detroit on September 27th, Tyson warned him that he would preach the gospel and it would change the dynamic of the events. But West said that was exactly what he wanted. And Tyson said he has seen a largely positive response to his messages. After the Detroit event, he preached in Queens on forgiveness and said that when he was in Harlem afterward, people approached him, thanking him for his sermon, confessing their sins and saying they now have a better understanding of what repentance truly is.
So what does the future hold for the Sunday services? “We’re just taking it one week at a time,” said Tyson. West is committed to holding the events every week, and he and Tyson are dialoguing and praying about how it should continue to evolve. People might attend Sunday service because they are Kanye fans, but Tyson hopes they leave having had an encounter with Jesus. He told Fox News, “We want them to know that there is something better than what the world offers. The answer is found in Jesus, in knowing Him, loving Him, and walking in obedience to Him.”