A blitz of evangelists, gospel rappers, singers and musicians recently heralded a “T.H.U.G.S. Revival” at Pursuit of God Transformation Center in Frayser.
“And, man, did we witness transformation,” said Pastor Ricky Floyd.
“‘T.H.U.G.S.’ is an acronym for ‘Trusting, Hearing, Understanding God’s Spirit.’ Everyone was welcome – gangsters, OGs, gang bangers, young people, the un-churched. And they came – Black, white, young, old. It was phenomenal.”
There have been three other such events in the church’s history. The Frayser ministry, located at 3759 N. Watkins, was planned this year as a post-pandemic pushback on the city’s most crime-riddled communities. The three-day event, from Oct. 28-30, intentionally targeted those who are living “in that street life.”
“Friday night was “The Merge,” entreating the unchurched to change their lives through the Gospel of Jesus,” said Floyd.
The gospel rappers and youth evangelists ministered to a capacity crowd. Saturday (Oct. 29) was the “Submerge,” the night of baptism.
Sunday (Oct. 30) was the “Emerge,” coming up from baptism to a new life. Baptism was a new element added to the event.
Leading the lineup of popular youth evangelists were Adrian “Fro” Johnson and Patrick Houston, who many would know as Memphis-based rapper, “Project Pat.”
The altar filled with young and old, ready to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ and leave the streets. Most of the converts wanted to be baptized.
“Many were accepting Jesus for the very first time, but there were others who came up to the altar in a recommitment of their lives to Christ,” said Floyd. “Fro’s gospel rap was off the chain. He also preaches and prophesies. All our speakers were incredible. But everyone was inspired by Project Pat’s transformation.”
Patrick Earl Houston, better known by his stage name, is a popular American rapper from Memphis. He has left gangsta rap and is now “on the Lord’s side.”
“I don’t call myself a preacher or an evangelist,” said Houston. “I don’t give it a name. I’m God’s man. When I am led by Him, I see lives transformed. I got saved when I was a kid. I just wasn’t walking in it. I went the way of the world.”
Houston’s father, the Rev. George Houston, is an evangelist.
“God started dealing with me in 2020, right before the pandemic hit,” said Patrick Houston.
“I was walking in the way of the world. I was putting money over everything. God began to show me the areas of my life which were wrong. And I just began to change them, to follow His direction.”
Houston said 15 years ago, he attended a T.H.U.G.S. Revival, just out of prison. Houston embraced the gospel message. But from that point, he started to drift as back into street life.
During the pandemic, Houston used the lockdown time for meditation and reading, and two years later, he had made a total transformation.
His worldly rap career is behind him. An evolved, Godly person now lives in the rapper’s place.
“I’ve been shot on, and it wasn’t even my beef,” said Houston. “I was robbed at gunpoint in Harlem on the way to the radio station. That was just part of the life. But I left that all behind for God, and all the areas in my life are great — relationships, health, and money. God said, ‘If you draw nigh to me, I will draw nigh unto you.’”
Houston told his story Friday night (Oct. 28), and the message resonated with the crowd. People flocked to the altar to get some of what Houston has.
The next day, they lined up to get baptized. They came and they kept coming – 125 were baptized and awarded certificates.
Andrew Thomas II, 29, said he’s been in and out of church his whole life. He has been living “in the streets, gang life.”
“I wanted to re-dedicate myself to God, and I wanted to be baptized. My 4-year-old son, Mekhi Thomas, also got baptized. I explained it to him, and we got baptized together.”
Stacy Payton, mother of Andrew Thomas II, also was baptized. Thomas told her he was getting baptized. Payton followed his lead, as she remembered “how the Lord had blessed and kept her family.”
“The Lord protected my son all those years he was in those streets, and he even lost his mind at one time. He didn’t even know who I was. I am so grateful for how good God has been to us. We want to live for Him.”
Lonnie Gauldin, 58, is involved in the Husband Institute and Security for the church. He is grateful for how Pastor Floyd is genuinely interested in leaders who have fallen.
“Pastor Floyd asked me if I would work with young boys in the Husband Institute. There is this 14-year-old twin, Keyon, who suffered some defects at birth. He said to me, ‘Bro. Lonnie, God loves you, and we just appreciate you working with the Husband Institute. I’d like to pray for you.’
“As he began to pray, a lot of that anger and hardness fell away. Past hurt just melted away. It changed me. I decided to get baptized and recommit myself to Christ.”