Some 75 people rededicated their lives to God on Sunday after popular gospel artist William Murphy, who also leads The Dream Center Church in Decatur, Georgia, preached defiantly against the "trap" culture he says is being propagated in popular media to deconstruct wholesome family figures and make prodigal sons of Christians.
Murphy, who is well-known for songs like "Praise Is What I Do," said in his sermon that he is committed to "making the church relevant again." He used a pink trap house-themed service inspired by the cover art for Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, the latest album for secular rapper 2 Chainz, whose real name is Tauheed Epps.
The term "trap" in urban culture represents the hardscrabble life in inner-city communities and those who live it say it is difficult to escape. A "trap house" is commonly used in reference to drug dens.
In June, 39-year-old 2 Chainz leased a house located at 1530 Howell Mill Road in Atlanta, painted it pink and wrote the word "Trap" on the front of it to represent the cover art of the album which peaked at No. 1 on billboard's rap album chart. The house became somewhat of a phenomenon and tourist attraction and on at least one Sunday, a church held services there.
Latching on to the popularity of the pink trap house among the young, however, Murphy told his congregation that they needed to get back to the business of making disciples of the world rather than allowing the world to make them into prodigal sons.
"The enemy has taken a God-given strategy (of making disciples) and a God-given mandate and he's used it to indoctrinate an entire generation but I want you to look at your neighbor and tell them it's a trap. It's a trap," Murphy said.
"The devil is making disciples on a daily basis and he's using music and media to baptize and to teach and to indoctrinate our children in the ways of unrighteousness. And has produced an entire generation of prodigal sons," he continued.
He stated that the media had destroyed family friendly images of black fathers on television such as Bill Cosby's character Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," and replaced them with characters such as Lucius Lyons from the Fox series "Empire" and James "Ghost" St. Patrick from the popular Starz series "Power."
"It's a trap, it's a trap, the enemy doesn't want you to have the image of Clair [Huxtable] and Heathcliff [Huxtable]. He wants you to have the image of Lucius and Cookie [from Empire] and Ghost and Tasha [from Power]. Tap your neighbor and say it's a trap. Because what your enemy wants to do, he wants to destroy your image of a father. He wants to destroy the image of the people that have rule over you because what the enemy is trying to do is make you feel like somebody is holding something back from you unjustly," Murphy explained.
"The whole time the strategy of the enemy has been to isolate you and get you alone. ... The strategy of the enemy is to get you uncovered, to get you from under your covering so he'll mess with your mind. He'll use music, he'll use media. He'll use the trap house. Those folks who drove to Atlanta to see the trap house and never saw the King house. People who, some of y'all live right here in the city and you were there taking pictures ... You in a nightmare because you're in a trap house!" he declared.
A few hours after delivering his message, Murphy revealed that 75 people reconnected with Christ.
"God is soooo faithful! And He's committed to Repairing the breach, and Restoring the paths to dwell in. Pls help me celebrate His Goodness today, and help me pray for those #75souls that reconnected with Jesus, and with @dReamcenteratl today, that they will find grace to #getinwhereyoufitin.#issaTrap #issalie #issalongwalk #issalituation#1000peoplepraying #dReamcenteratl#75peoplegotSAVED#MakeTHECHURCHGreatAgain#MakeTheChurchRELEVANTAgain #iamfullgospel#WilliamMurphy #JESUS," he wrote on Facebook.
Apparently taking the reference of his album from Murphy's sermon as a form of promotion, 2 Chainz noted on Instagram: "Seems like somebody was praying for me this morning!! 'pink trap house' made it to yet another sermon, I think it's dope to be used by God in different ways."
While the rapper doesn't claim to be religious in the traditional sense, he once told Vlad TV that he prays to God every day.
"My name Tauheed means unity with God, one with Allah. It's a very powerful name for me. It derived from a combination from my aunt who is from Ghana and my father who did a lot of reading in prison," he said.
"A lot of time when I speak on things that happen for my success I say, it's God's plan. I pray a lot. When you pray a lot, you speak things into existence. When you believe as strong as I do, it changes your life. I'm not a preacher and not Tim Tebow, it's the truth. I'm a real n**** and I'm able to say it because I'm comfortable in my own skin. I don't follow people. I know I pray every day and that's why I'm here. I just don't act like I did all this s*** on my own," he added.