Christian crusade draws youth with rock and rap


The sounds of Christian rock and rap that included music by a former member of the group 2 Live Crew set several hundred Baltimore-area youths singing, clapping and dancing during a free rally at the Baltimore Arena yesterday.

"I've got a new life; I've got a new song," shouted Mike De'Vine, the former member of 2 Live Crew, a rap group known for use of explicit sexual lyrics, as the crowd rose to its feet and cheered. "Now, I'm chosen," he sang.

The three-hour rally was part of former Orioles outfielder Pat Kelly's first crusade. The two-day program, titled "Come Alive in '95," featured such speakers as Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, a renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric neurosurgeon, Bob Wieland, a veteran who lost both legs in the Vietnam War, and others who gave inspirational messages.

"We're just feeling a burden for our city here in Baltimore; the young people need this," said Mr. Kelly, who started his Christian ministry in 1982 after the Cleveland Indians released him and he decided to stop playing baseball. "We believe with all our heart that Jesus Christ is the answer."

Mr. Kelly of Timonium said he felt a particular need to reach out to Baltimore-area youth and decided to include yesterday's rally in the crusade. He called on such musicians as Mr. De'Vine and the groups Chosen and the Private Bolz to urge young people to stop violence and stay out of trouble.

"It's really good that they're telling people about Christ, I mean little people like us," said 12-year-old Mark Cartwright of Baltimore, who stood smiling as the musicians performed. "I think it's really neat."

Among those dancing and singing to the music at the rally was 16-year-old Sarah Ann Ill, who joined 30 members of a youth group from Mountain Christian Church in Joppa.

"I really think this is a lot of fun," said Sarah, who added that she had never been to a rally like Mr. Kelly's.

Mr. De'Vine said during an interview that he believes rallies like Mr. Kelly's can help keep young people out of trouble, particularly when they feature rap and rock music that attracts youths' attention.

"Jesus was a rapper," Mr. De'Vine said. "Jesus spoke in parables. That's what rap songs are."

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