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Harvesting Money or Souls? – Kenya’s Unprecedented Music Revival

Whether it is revival or revelry, ministry or money, the church in Kenya is certainly experiencing an influx of young musicians professing allegiance to Jesus Christ and service to Him. Notably, most of these young musicians have either recently ‘crossed-over’ from doing secular to Christian genre or are unequivocally doing both.

In Kenya, a gig organized by a popular gospel musician is most likely to attract a far bigger audience than what concerted efforts of several secular musicians can manage. Church meetings, including Sunday services, are lately teeming with music enthusiasts who are in most cases followers of the usually flamboyant artists, many of whom may not be necessarily involved with the local church activities. The church meeting or service that expects to see huge numbers should consider inviting these ‘gospel celebrities’ as guest performers or as regular church members. From the flashy lifestyles of some of the young musicians, it appears the ‘trade’ is very lucrative. Indeed, gospel songs in the country top music charts year-round.

Whatever the motivation, revival or revelry, ministry or money, ‘…whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.’ (Philippians 1:18).

Susan Ruguru, popularly known as Suzzie the Worshipper, is one of the new entrants into this stage of gospel musicians. She recently organized a Christian music festival here in Kenya. I sat with her, and we talked at length concerning her music ministry and gospel music generally in Kenya.

Excerpts below:

What was the purpose of the recent music festival you organized?

Suzzie the Worshipper: It was mainly to mobilize people, mostly the youth, and reach out to them as a form of evangelism and a call to worship our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was also meant to launch my new music album and to give an opportunity to my pastor, other Christians, and my family to bless my ministry.

 

Please share the successes and lessons learned from the festival. 

Suzzie the Worshipper: Hundreds of people attended. The majority were young people who came to simply worship God. I saw a new generation that is willing to seek God. I felt God’s presence throughout the day. I learned that music is indeed a very powerful tool of evangelism and worship. If rightly used, it can bring a huge harvest to the Kingdom of God.

 

Harvest what? Souls or money?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Souls.

 

What is your personal focus? Revival or riches?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Revival.

 

With massive cross-over from secular music, it seems everybody wants to sing Christian music. Why?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Over 80% of Kenyans are Christians. Therefore, the audience for Christian music is huge and much wider as compared to secular music. At the same time, there are many marketing platforms for Christian music due to the many Christian radio and TV stations that we have in the country. The church in Kenya has grown to become such a vast movement such that if you don’t become part of it you are left out, whether it’s business or music or education.

 

What is attracting secular musicians to Christian music?

Suzzie the Worshipper: In Christian music there is no competition because we are all serving God in our specific callings and capacities. It is not so with secular music where there is a lot of competition, sometimes unhealthy competition. Secular musicians are attracted to our lifestyle, they admire us and how we love each other. When we organize for a gig, we work as a team, but in the secular circles, they work towards bringing each other down and each musician tries to outdo the other.

 

What is the difference in lifestyle between modern Christian and secular musicians?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Christians live according to God’s Word. We sacrifice a lot by foregoing worldly pleasures and live according to the principles taught by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, more so living a righteous life. This is completely opposite to the non-believers.

 

Don’t you think the style of music these days is very similar between Christian and secular music?

Suzzie the Worshipper: It is true in terms of the beats or instrumentals. However, the content is very different. What matters is the message in the music.

 

Do you think you are achieving your mission of using music to evangelize the world?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Yes. Music draws people to worship. I have seen people give their lives to Jesus just by listening to a song.

 

Young people seem to want more of music and less of preaching, why?

Suzzie the Worshipper: Music is more entertaining and captivating and some preachers are boring when they preach. Some of them don’t even have the right content.

 

What is your message to other young people who intend to serve God through music ministry?

Suzzie the Worshipper: I want to urge them to keep serving God despite the challenges and not to deviate from their calling. They need to give all to their calling from deep down their hearts and our God who started the good work in them will surely bring it to completion.

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Suzzie the Worshipper’s songs can be found on YouTube, some of which can be accessed through the following links: Utukuzwe http://youtu.be/XtAm48jjDag and Hinya http://youtu.be/hsqHTkketUc

You can connect with her through her Facebook Page here.

Eric Kimori is the founding pastor of Calvary New Covenant Ministries and the founder and Executive Director of Complitkenya, all based in Kenya. Complitkenya is a social enterprise whose mission is to expand access to information and promote education for sustainable development in Kenya. Pastor Kimori is a Mass Communication professional with expertise in Broadcast Journalism. With Complitkenya, he envisions to build community digital libraries and open learning centres in rural Kenya to provide equitable access to knowledge and information to rural communities. His church ministry endeavors include church planting missions, training and equipping of ministry leaders, supporting orphans and vulnerable children, and social-economic support of people living with HIV.

Mr. Kimori was in July 2015 competitively and successfully selected to join the inaugural cohort of the YALI East Africa Regional Leadership centre at Kenyatta University in Nairobi; a twelve weeks leadership training and mentorship programme, which he completed successfully. He describes himself as ‘the dreaming poet’. He is a budding writer, who has published poems in two different African Anthologies.
He is a committed Christian, a church leader, a husband and father of four children, who include twins.

He can be reached through his email address: kimori.eric@gmail.com or kimori.eric@yahoo.com