Faith Matters: BR rapper wants everyone to be a VIP: A person of vision, identity, purpose

A.V. is a VIP.

Baton Rouge’s Michael “A.V.” Mitchell is using his speaking talents and rising notoriety as a musican to share his faith, particularily among young people.

Mitchell, 30, said he has overcome various challenges — including coming from a single-parent home and the influences of difficult neighborhoods — to become a college graduate, motivational speaker, youth leader at his church and nationally recognized for his musical talents.

He has appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the “Bobby Jones Gospel” show on BET and has been nominated for several national music awards.

“I came from these neighborhoods but look where I am now,” said Mitchell, a native of St. Francisville who was also raised around the Gus Young Avenue area of Baton Rouge.

The limelight gives him, he said, “an opportunity to show what God can do if you just make the right decisions and allow yourself to be used.”

Mitchell wants to be used as “another vessel” for God. That’s why he chose the initials “A.V.” as his nickname.

As for another set of initials often associated with Mitchell, he said “VIP” signifies his main three methods for reaching out to youth and young adults: vision, identity and purpose. His organization is called the VIP Project.

Mitchell is motivated by words from Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

“A lot of them don’t have a vision for their lives and that’s why they don’t end up anywhere,” Mitchell said.

On identity, Mitchell said, “If you don’t know who you are, you’re going to emulate anyone. You’ll act like (rapper) Lil Wayne and you’ll act like Lil Boosie or whoever is popular at the time.”

Purpose is what protects the future, Mitchell said.

“If you know where you’re going as far as your purpose here on Earth, then you’ll know you need to preserve life,” he said.

Mitchell, a member of Oasis Christian Center and a criminal justice graduate of Southern University, said he saw a lot of misguided youth growing up, but started identifying himself as a VIP-type early on.

“I started watching Bobby Jones on TV. I saw TBN. I saw the Stellar Awards on TV,” he said. “Before I was a part of that atmosphere, I saw it. I made up my mind ‘This is what I wanted to do. And from there on, I started seeking God and started aligning my life decisions with where I wanted to go.”

In targeting the young people, Mitchell’s preferred brand of music has been gospel rap.

And his rap talent is sure to be displayed when he helps headline the All White Party to promote unity among the youth and community. The free event, which will include food, dancing, poetry and other entertainment, is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Oasis Christian Center, 4524 E. Brookstown Ave.

Sponsored by the VIP Project and the Center for Empowerment for Families and Youth Inc., the party will also feature teams from Lee High School, Madison Prep Academy and Hosanna Christian Academy.

ä ON THE INTERNET:

http://thevipproject.com/

http://coe4youth.org/

Taking a stand

Jim Hogg’s 12-year-old son, James Linden, rose quickly through the ranks of the Boy Scouts and soon would have been working toward Eagle, Scouting’s highest rank.

But after the Boy Scouts of America decided on May 23 to change a century of policy and allow openly gay Scouts to participate, churches began reevaluating their involvement with the organization.

The Hoggs, who attend a Methodist church, didn’t waste much time in making a decision of their own.

“After much prayer the Holy Spirit has guided my wife and I to resign our son and my leadership position from the Boy Scouts,” Jim Hogg, of Prairieville, said. “I ask that you keep us in your prayers, and please pray for the boys and the leaders on all levels of the BSA.”

‘Big’ celebration planned

Doris Alexander wants to see some old familiar faces.

Alexander has been a member of Little Rock Baptist Church in Slaughter for 60 years. And she is hoping former members of the church will come back home and join her and others when the church celebrates its 150th anniversary on Aug. 25.

“There’s a lot of leaders who have come through Little Rock Baptist Church and for us to bring those persons back it’s going to be a big celebration,” she said.

Alexander said the church is putting together a roster of ministers, ushers, choir members, deacons, deaconesses and more. The church wants to pay special tribute to former members and their relatives and also include their names in a time capsule.

Former members can reach Alexander at (225) 778-0141 or at ddoristthornton@aol.com; or call Betty Taylor at (225) 654-3589.

America in danger

America is in a mess and there’s only one out, says author, minister and Louisiana native Jesse Prewitt.

“This nation has one hope: Jesus Christ,” Prewitt writes in his book “America: Danger Close: Will It Be Revival or Revolution” (WestBow Press).

Prewitt, who grew up in west-central Louisiana but lives near Houston, says a Christian nation needs all Christians to join in carrying on the hope of Christ.

“We are the ones to take the message of the Gospel to those who do not know Him. … We must lay aside our denominations, our nonessential differences, our programs and our politics long enough to unite for one common purpose: take the Gospel to every American.”

In the 98-page hard-hitting book, Prewitt injects a lot of his own conservative views, taking on other religions and fellow ministers for failure to do their part.

“The spiritual sickness, the sin sickness of America is at our feet, because we have failed to let lights so shine as to scatter the darkness,” he writes.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com