Ma$e Closes Essence Festival Performance 'in Jesus' Name:' 'If I Die Tonight, I know I'm Right'

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(Photo: Twitter)Mason Betha, founder of El Elyon International Church and Mason Betha Ministries who is known in the hip-hop world as rapper Ma$e.

Mason Betha, founder of El Elyon International Church and Mason Betha Ministries who is known in the hip-hop world as rapper Ma$e, closed out a 45-minute performance at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Sunday by leading the audience in prayer.

"I believe I receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior," Betha said, according to Essence. "If I die tonight, I know I'm right. I'm blessed. I'm highly favored. I'm fortunate. I'm to be envied. In Jesus' name."

Betha, 39, initially quit rapping to become a minister in 1999 and raised some eyebrows in and out of the Christian community after he decided to return to mainstream rapping in 2004. Last year, he announced his full fledged return to mainstream rap with his secular song "Nothing."

When the rapper attended the 2014 BET Award festivities, he was questioned by 92Q Jams DJ Konan about whether his church was upset with his rap career. Betha refused to talk about church business and chastised DJ Konan for broaching the subject.

"Actually the interview right now is about music ...," Betha previously told 92 Q Jams. "I think to put someone in a box is somewhat narrow-minded."

"I only get questions like that from the East Coast, like Baltimore and New York," he told the radio station. "I can't be focused on church questions with hood people."

While the preacher and rapper did not say he would never speak about church, it seemed he would only do so under certain circumstances.

"If they want to talk about church, they have to come to church and if they want to talk about music, we're on the air for music and nothing else," Betha told 92 Q Jams.

Last year, BET reported that Betha stepped away from the church. Still sources close to the rapper-turned-pastor reportedly told TMZ that he planned to use God as motivation to save souls outside of the church before he left.

"Sources close to Mase say he doesn't see any issue doing both jobs because he's really using his street cred to infiltrate hip-hop and ultimately plans to bring rappers closer to Christ," TMZ reported.