TEMPE, Ariz. — Rapper turned gospel artist Kanye West is scheduled to appear at this month’s Awaken 2020 conference, alongside New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) “prophets” Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs, as well as Bethel worship leader Jeremy Riddle and Brian “Head” Welch of Korn.
The event will be held on Jan. 18 at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, and is stated to be a collaboration of Engle; Welch; Jacobs’ Generals International; the Elisha Revolution, led by Jerame and Miranda Nelson; David Herzog Ministries and Christ for All Nations, led by Daniel Kolenda.
“It’s going to open up, I believe, the dawning of a new day,” Engle said in a promotional video. “Everyone has this sense that 2020 is a year of spiritual awakening, evangelism and people getting saved. Even now in the news, remarkable things are taking place. I think there’s a sign that we’re seeing the day.”
Engle, most known for his organization The Call, drew controversy in 2016 when he kissed the foot of Matteo Calisi, a Roman Catholic leader who heads United in Christ, an organization that strives for ecumenism between Christians and Catholics.
During the segment at Azusa Now, Calisi told the audience that division between Christians and Catholics is a “diabolical sin,” and that Jesus “doesn’t care” that Christians and Catholics disagree on biblical doctrine. He soon kissed Engle’s feet as he lay prostrate on the stage, stating that it was an act of reconciliation.
Engle returned the gesture, lowering himself to Calisi’s feet and kissing one shoe, as others gathered around to lay hands on them.
In a promotional video for Awaken 2020, Engle said that he had prophesied in 1997 that Arizona’s Sun Devil Stadium would be filled, and “that prophesy was the beginnings of the movement of The Call.”
“I believe now, Awaken 2020, January 18 at Sun Devil Stadium, is like the opening of the womb,” he stated. “Arizona, you’re the A state. You’re the state that can blow this thing open.”
Cindy Jacobs, who has appeared at numerous similar events, has come under scrutiny for her focus on signs and wonders — including prophesying the raising of the dead.
“Part of the fruit of this movement will be healing centers, which will be built around the world, devoted to praying for the sick and casting out demons,” she stated in 2015. “One of the distinctive [aspects] of this movement will be raising the dead.”
Jacobs also has claimed that one of her staff members was personally visited by the angel Gabriel, who explained why her ministry was experiencing financial difficulty. She said that Gabriel replied that there were “four vortexes of demons” that had been assigned by the devil to hold funds back from her.
As previously reported, West — who has been making the rounds at various venues throughout the country to bring his Sunday Service to the masses — appeared at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in November. He defended Osteen while on stage, stating that he disagreed with those who express concern about the megachurch leader’s lack of preaching on biblical doctrine, such as repentance and eternal judgment.
“There’s a lot of people in the Christian community that try to give Joel a hard time because when you turn on the radio, he keeps on showing you how good God is,” West said to much applause, with many standing to their feet. “God is not the enemy. God is not the negative part. God is not just the perception of fire and brimstone.”
“God is love, is the greatest, is the glory,” he continued. “God is family. God is friendship. God is prosperity. … Keep your eye on the beauty and the love and the grace of God. The grace that allows us to be here today with all of our sins. We know that when we accept Jesus as our lord and savior, we will be granted eternal life.”
Osteen was pleased with West’s remarks, quipping, “That’s so good. I love that. When you’ve got Kanye defending you, you’ve made it, man.”
Among those who have been invited to preach at West’s Sunday Service gatherings include hipster pastors Carl Lentz of Hillsong New York and Rich Wilkerson of Vous Church in Florida, the latter of whom officiated the wedding of West and Kim Kardashian and has remained friends with West, being stated to have helped with the script for the “Yeezus” tour.
“[P]astors … wanna talk about, ‘T.D. Jakes said this. He ain’t saved. He wasn’t pure to the Bible.’ But then they can’t tell you a black pastor that they like, though. It’s a divide in Christianity. That’s what I’ve seen since I’ve been saved … I’m an early convert,” West said during one service, according to footage posted online.
“Here’s what I see: If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you know the gospel. That’s the gospel. Don’t be telling me Mormons got an extra book and Catholics do this. It’s simple. Christians, we be making it too hard for people to come and be involved in this,” he asserted.
However, Adam Tyson, pastor of Placerita Bible Church and graduate of John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, has also presented the gospel at West’s “Sunday Service. Fox News reports that Tyson discipled West in a Bible study as per his request.
“My message [at Sunday Service] is that God is holy, but we are all sinners and therefore deserve God’s judgment. God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead on the third day,” he outlined.
Reaction to West’s stated born again conversion have been mixed, as on one hand his “Jesus Is King” album reached the #1 position on the Billboard charts, and on the other, some have opined that West should hold back on ministry for a while and sit under local church teaching to first be discipled in the faith.
“I’m not making a judgment one way or the other on Kanye’s conversion. I’ve heard him say some good things, but as we’re seeing, I’ve heard him say a lot of troubling things too,” said apologist Justin Peters on social media. “What I am making a judgment about, however, is that he should not be doing these Sunday Services. He should not have the platform that he has. … He should not be leading services. He should be attending services.”
During West’s visit to Lakewood, he implied that he does not have a local church, stating that Sunday Service “was church for us. It was all we had.”