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700 Club

Shining-Light: Hip-Hop's Cultural Beacon

DEE – 1’s STORY

Born and raised in New Orleans, Dee-1's story is one of perseverance and triumph over adversity. His unique style and authentic lyrics have won him fans across the globe, and he's one of the most electrifying performers on the circuit. In addition to his musical talents, Dee-1 is also a sought-after motivational speaker, with the ability to connect with audiences across ages and cultural boundaries. He is a 2022-2023 Nasir Jones Hip Hop fellow at Harvard University and has designed and is teaching a course at Tufts University titled The Intersection of Hip Hop and Social Change.

Dee – 1 did not set out to be a hip hop artist although he rapped casually as a college student. His freshman year at LSU four big events took place that changed the trajectory of his life: (1) his best friend was murdered; (2) his roommate began selling dope; (3) he was cut from LSU’s basketball team; and (4) he found out his longtime girlfriend was cheating on him. 

Growing up, he was raised Catholic. “I was very much checking the box and doing what was customary tradition wise,” says Dee – 1. After these life altering events took place, he realized, “I had a knowledge of who God was, but not a relationship with God at all.” All these events broke him down, but instead of running to the streets to do drugs he went running to Jesus and decided the only role model he wanted to follow was Him.

After he graduated in 2008, he was well connected with people in the hip hop industry. His manager was trying to get him a record deal, but he got shot and ended up in jail. This messed up Dee – 1’s plan and he realized he could make an impact with teaching, so he decided to teach middle school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER

As a teacher, Dee - 1 saw how his young Black students were impacted by the music that they listened to each day. They wanted to emulate the artists they listened to by how they dressed and how they talked. Each semester Dee - 1 reached 150 students or 300 per year by teaching middle school. He realized how his music, which offered a positive message for young people, could reach many more people outside the classroom. Dee -1 says his mission from the beginning has been, “Platform of a rapper, heart of a teacher.” After two years of teaching, he resigned to focus more on his music.

In 2010, he released his first record, Jay, 50, and Weezy, which went viral. Eighteen months later he shot the music video to the same single. The song attracted national attention with its strong message as he called out three of the biggest rappers in the industry for their lyrics that often-glorified drugs, violence, and the mistreatment of women. He says, “They know better…they could put a different message out there if they wanted.” 

In 2013, Dee - 1 signed with RCA Inspiration and released his first EP, 3s Up. The EP peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Top Rap Albums in 2015. Dee-1 released Sallie Mae Back in 2016, a track celebrating the payoffs of his student loans. The track received widespread recognition from CNN, ESPN, Forbes and Time magazine. In 2019, Dee – 1 started his own independent label called Mission Vission Music. From the Hood to Harvard, Dee-1's latest album is now available. His pricing model allows you to name your own price so you can listen to tracks which highlight his talent and story.

HIP HOP ARTIST

Dee - 1 has released a total of twenty-one projects in his career. Through the years, many people in the industry have encouraged him to change his music lyrics to include cussing, violence, and sexual content, but he never compromised. His music is part of a bigger lifestyle movement called Mission Vision, which centers around three core principles: “Be Real. Be Righteous. Be Relevant.” Dee-1 says, “I make music to provide the soundtrack to someone’s life who is trying to maximize their potential and walk in their purpose. It’s non-fiction, it’s authentic, it’s lyrical, and it’s relatable.” He encourages people to take his PLATINUM PLEDGE to publicly unify all the people who vow not to create, support, or promote music that glorifies murder, drug dealing & drug use, the disrespect of women, and sexual irresponsibility.

He has been in the music industry for over 14 years and his music is still ascending. He gives God the credit, “I know my path is divine. God orchestrated my blessings to where no one could get the credit except for Him.” 

HIP HOP COMMUNITY CONTROVERSY

Recently, Dee - 1 called out rap artists for being inconsistent with their music lyrics. Half of the time they may talk about murder and the other half they are talking about economic empowerment and positive stuff which sends a confusing message to younger kids. He points out that glorification of lyrics that promote negativity within the community is not healthy and should not be fed to younger kids, especially in the Black community.

PRO BLACK AND PRO GOD

“I’m not more pro Black than I am pro God.” On a podcast Dee – 1 got some push back from the Black community. “I never want to be more tied into my ethnicity or my profession then I am tied in with God.” The host of the program misquoted Dee-1, but they later worked it out. He caught a lot of opposition from his interview on the podcast. “Flak doesn’t have an impact on me. If I’m catching flak in the name of a stand, I’m taking to represent my God or my Jesus Christ, then that is flak worth catching.”

Although he agrees with wrongs done to the Black community, he is also a voice telling his community to look at themselves as well. He encourages them to, “Look at their current mental and spiritual state instead of taking a victim mentality. At the end of the day there is good and there is evil. It can come from any race.” 

For more information about Dee - 1 and his music, please visit his website: www.Dee1music.com.

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700 Club

A Trip to Hell Changes Former Atheist

“You know it’s over, you’re done,” Frankie Frayley said. “You know you’re not getting out. You could have listened to your mom, to your dad. You could have listened to all your friends that told you that there is a God and that you should follow the Lord, but you didn't, and this is where you are now.”

Frankie Fraley grew up in a Christian home, though personally didn’t believe in God, thinking it was all just fantasy. But after being hospitalized with a COVID-19, he soon came to a harsh realization.  

“I could feel myself falling,” Frankie said. “I fell for a long way until I hit what felt like concrete. You could hear people screaming. And I just remember thinking, ‘I guess somehow I have died and now I'm in Hell.’ When my girls were born, they were born premature. In Hell, I got to watch that not turn out so well over and over and over. Like, the nurses come in and say, ‘Oh, they didn't make it.’ It's like the worst things that could have ever happened to you in this life now happen every day in Hell. There's no hope for tomorrow. The sun's not coming up again. It's over. This is your home now, and you are absolutely, completely miserable.”

Meanwhile, his wife, Ashley, was afraid she would lose Frankie as his condition worsened and he was put on a ventilator. She too identified as an atheist due in part to having been hurt by professing Christians. But in that moment, she found herself praying to a God she didn’t believe in.

“Hearing his doctor basically say that there wasn't much they could do for him was the scariest thing that I have ever heard,” Ashley said. “I went straight to my bedroom away from the kids, and I just dropped to my knees. And I just felt in my heart, I can't even explain why because I didn’t believe in God, but I just felt in my heart, ‘You need to turn to God.’ I said, ‘God, if you can help him then I will change, please help him.’ I just felt this peace that you cannot even explain come over me. I heard Him in my heart say, ‘You don't have to worry. I'm going to heal him.’ Everything just clicked for me. He's real. This is all the proof that I've ever wanted in my life.”

Days past, and Frankie wasn’t getting better. Ashley was undeterred, though. She continued to pray, believing for his healing. Up to this point she’d struggled with depression and substance abuse, isolating herself. But now she began reaching out to other believers asking for them to pray as well.   

“The fact that I was able to ask people for a prayer for Frankie and that they were coming through, it was kind of like redeeming my past, like where I'd been hurt by the church,” Ashley said. “It felt like God was showing me, ‘These are my people. This is what they're supposed to do.’ And it was just so comforting, and people showed up for us in a way I’ve never seen.”

As Ashley rallied people to pray, Frankie was still lost in Hell.

“All I could think about was my wife and my kids,” Frankie said. “I was really worried that they might end up here. Right in the middle of all this, this anguish, I felt being almost physically grabbed and pulled up. I just remember going up really, really fast and it’s like nighttime, almost like flying through space, and then just stopping. It was God who’d pulled me out. It was just such a relief. Finally, I don't have to wonder about this anymore. ‘Is there a God? Is any of this real?’ Yeah, I'm finally there with Him.”

Miraculously, Frankie’s condition then quickly turned for the better. Once awake and off the ventilator, he and Ashley shared with each other about their encounters with God.

“Hearing what Frankie experienced was even more confirmation for me that God is real, God loves us, and he cares about us,” Ashley said. “God had changed both of us at the same time.”

“To hear her say or acknowledge in any way that there even was a God, that that alone made me just weep,” Frankie said. “I was just very, very overjoyed knowing I'm going to get to try this again. I don't have to make all these same stupid mistakes. I finally get to go tell my kids about God.”

Frankie fully recovered over the course of the next month and Ashley was delivered from her depression and addictions. They have since started praying together and taking their family to church. Now that they know the truth about God, they’re eager to share His hope with the world.

“Just as soon as I was able to speak good enough to be understood, I was telling anyone that would listen about God, about what I'd seen,” Frankie said. “‘Hey, did you know about Heaven and Hell and God and Jesus? All that's real, did you know that?’ It’s not very often you hear about someone being that far gone getting a second chance. I'm insanely grateful to God to even just be here at all.”

“I am so grateful to God that He let us have Frankie back,” Ashley said. “I believe my family went through this because God loved us enough to chase us down and say, ‘You're not going to continue living this empty life that is leading to nowhere, you’re coming home to Me.’ It really gives me peace to know that no matter what could come our way, God's there and He's listening to our prayers. He loves us, He cares for us, and He's already got it all taken care of.”
 

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700 Club

Helping the Helper

Operation Blessing responded to an EF 2 tornado that hit the town of Slidell, Louisiana. In the aftermath, its residents were reeling. Local resident, Dane said, “I've been in a close proximity of tornadoes before, but never inside of one. It was it was something else.”

The tornado left behind dangerous debris and damaged property. Dane is a Christian and a former marine who has been looking out for his community ever since he moved in. He said, “The neighbors here have become like family to me and this is a really cool community.”   

After the tornado, you made it possible for Operation Blessing’s disaster relief team to help the community.

Dane said “Operation Blessing came and they asked me if I knew anybody need help. And I was like, ‘Yeah, my neighbors.’ I said, 'you know, they need help. They need help. They need help.’”

Dane’s neighbor Joseph said,  “Operation Blessing came around. They helped me around the house, they brought water, they brought food, they brought other things.”

Dane’s neighbors then asked us to return to help him. Dane has a lung condition that has slowed him down, and it was difficult for him to clear his property of debris or fix his damaged fence. Thanks to you Operation Blessing provided lumber and tools and spent the day repairing his fence and cleaning up the yard. 

Dane gratefully said, “They really came through. They bought all of the material and actually helped me put my fence back together, stained my fence, re-concrete the posts. Saved me and my disabled brother from having to do it. That's just a real blessing, it really is.” 

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700 Club

He Made a Bad Choice Longing to Fit In 

Nick Wells has found his passion as a successful gym manager and CrossFit instructor in Colorado Springs…yet just a few years ago at age twenty-eight, it seemed his future was over. "I had a sixty-year prison sentence. I was never getting out. I had determined either I was gonna take my own life or I was gonna die by suicide by cop.”

Nick had always been a good kid, many of his friends he knew from church. Then, when his was twelve, his mom, Laurie, a single parent of three, moved their small family from California to Colorado. Nick recalled, "It was kind of a culture shock. I didn't fit in. The rejection set in and I was like, ‘Well, I'm gonna fit in somewhere.’ Unfortunately, the people that I fit in with were the ones that were, you know, drinking and going out, and sneaking out. I felt wanted by that group.”

Laurie knew there was something wrong. “I felt like I had made the hugest mistake moving here because I left our support system. I always prayed for safety. I always prayed that the Lord would put a hedge of protection around him.”

At fourteen, Nick tried meth for the first time. He was immediately hooked. “I was like, man, this is it. This drug makes me feel cool, makes me feel confident. And so, I really started focusing on what can I do to get money for that?”

So, Nick began stealing and spent his high school years in and out of juvenile detention. "I could feel the sense of right and wrong but there was no like, driving force behind me, like, ‘Hey, you should stop.’ What I wanted, getting the drugs was more important.”

Laurie struggled with worry and fear. “It was horrifying. Every time I'd see a police car or an ambulance, I would be sure that somebody had shot Nick. And so, it was really hard to live like that. I was asking the Lord to please change the situation, take hold of Nick and give me my Nick back.”

After high school, Nick continued to rack up felony charges. Then, in 2006, when he was twenty-six, he was ordered to a military-style bootcamp. The discipline and structure helped Nick get his life on track. So, when he got out, he went to enlist. But with so many convictions, Nick was rejected. “I was like, man, I'm such a dirtbag, I can't even go and die for my country. I was like, well, people occupy hell and I guess I'm gonna be one of those people.”

Nick went right back to his old lifestyle. “There was not a day that I didn't do like four or five different burglaries or motor vehicle thefts. I was like, 'Man, you just need to change, you know?' And I'd have these like conversations and dialogues, and then I'd start to come down from the drugs and I'm like, ‘Man, I need the drugs.’ You know? And so, it was a constant battle, like I would feel, just torn."

His mom continued to pray. Laurie recalled her pleading, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I need you to do whatever it takes to get him back to you.”

Then, in August of 2008, Nick was arrested for the last time. By then he’d racked up nearly two hundred counts of burglary and larceny charges. Yet one crime stood out in his mind—he’d stolen a purse from a woman that reminded him of his grandmother. “They actually called her as a witness in my trial, and I'm sitting there looking at her and I just wanna apologize. That's kind of like this like epiphany moment in my life. It broke me. That's not who I am. That's not who I want to be. And so made a commitment to myself, I was like, this ends today. I'm never gonna be the dude that steals grandma's purse.”

Locked up with no access to drugs, Nick turned to food for comfort. His weight ballooned to four hundred pounds. “Here I am, I'm looking at the rest of my life in prison. I'm broken, at the very rock bottom, and there's no other way out. And then I just feel like there's God, and then He's telling me, ‘There is a way, and you are gonna be fine.’ You know? And I'm like, 'Let's go. If anybody needs a road to redemption, it's me.”’

By the time he received his sentence of sixty years, Nick was clean and had lost over 100 pounds through CrossFit training. He’d also rededicated his life to God. “I just started trusting Him. I knew that the Lord was protecting me. I knew that He was with me. I just started reading and then praying and just thinking to myself, you can do this, and the only way you're gonna do it is with God's help, every decision I make in my life.”

Nick became a certified CrossFit instructor and helped start a nonprofit for fellow inmates called Redemption Road Fitness Foundation. In partnership with CrossFit, they became the first CrossFit affiliate inside a prison. One hundred percent of inmates participating in the program have been reformed. “My goal is to stop that recidivism, to stop that never ending cycle of going back to prison. Through mentorship, accountability, and community, we can do just that.”

Through the program, Nick met a lawyer who pursued clemency for him and on May 10th, 2022 he was released after serving fourteen years. Nick recalled that special day, “I was just overwhelmed with joy, you know, thankfulness, gratitude, joy.”

Laurie was overjoyed as well. “It was just a celebration. It was wonderful!”

Since that time, Redemption Road has expanded to thirteen of the eighteen prisons in Colorado. When he’s not busy working and managing over a hundred volunteers, Nick enjoys spending time with his mom and mentoring others. Nick stated, “It's never too late. You're never too far gone, and you're never not wanted by God. It's never too late to make the right decisions. He's there, all you gotta do is ask.”

For information about Redemption Road and Nick Wells, please see below:

https://www.rf2.org/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/rf2crossfit

https://www.facebook.com/RedemptionRoadCrossfit

https://www.instagram.com/redemptionroadcrossfit

https://thephoenix.org/

CBN’s impact around the world

USA

Daily prayers for people across the country

CBN’s prayer team prayed with over 1.2 million callers in 2022 alone, while also praying with people through email, social media channels, live chat on the website, and written correspondence.

Latin America

Highlighting testimonies of God’s faithfulness

Vida Dura or “Hard Life” stories are sourced throughout Latin America and produced in Spanish to reach a region with testimonies of people who hit rock bottom and turn to God for change. CBN has a prayer center in Latin America to support people through prayer and faith resources.

Turkey

Serving in the wake of natural disasters

CBN's Operation Blessing was on the ground quickly in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, providing much-needed food, relief supplies, and medical aid. After large-scale natural disasters, Operation Blessing strives to be the first to arrive, and the last to leave, tending to the needs long after the news cameras leave.

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For 30 years, CBN has been serving the people of Ukraine

Through CBN’s Orphan’s Promise and Operation Blessing, we were able to quickly provide valuable resources soon after the conflict began, and we continue to support Ukrainian refugees.

International

Projected 135 million* watched a CBN program in 2022

CBN partners are reaching children around the world with the Gospel of Jesus through Superbook, a Bible-based animation series. In 2022 alone, children in 139 countries watched at least one episode of Superbook.

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