ELKHART, Indiana (African-American Mennonite Association with Mennonite Mission Network) -- Al Motley, Jr., who gave a seminar at MennoCon19 in Kansas City in July, shared some of his life's brokenness to challenge the audience to surrender to God in times of difficulty. His invitation was so compelling that the audience participation in his final "altar call" for prayer left no room in the aisles.
He shared his powerful witness to God's transforming faithfulness during his July 5 seminar, "Juvenile probation officer by day and unashamedly rap artist by night." The seminar evolved from an ongoing partnership of the African-American Mennonite Association (AAMA) and Mennonite Mission Network. Motley goes by the name IzReal when performing as a hip-hop artist.
With an audience of about 60 adults and young adults, Motley shared his ministry gifts and shared about God's faithfulness in times of difficulty and brokenness in his life. He said that the mission of the young-adult population of the church is to embrace the ministry of keeping the church living and breathing. "It's all encompassed in your obedience to Christ," he said, challenging the audience to surrender to God.
Motley said that he lived a privileged life and that he rebelled against his existence as a pastor's son. He felt lonely and desired companionship with other children that were like him. These experiences offered him the ability to feel the realness of God — his struggles with substance abuse and peer pressure from friends chief amongst them. He challenged the youth in the audience to discern and consider who their real friends were and what place God has in their lives.
He cited Mark 8:22 in which Jesus healed a blind man at Bethsaida. The blind man's friends were the ones that brought him to Jesus. Motley asked the audience, "Do you have friends that will take you to Jesus?"
Motley demonstrated the trust that young adults should have in the voice of God by having an audience member put on a blindfold and listen to his voice as he guided him around the room.
While attendees may have expected the seminar to be about IzReal's music, Motley spoke passionately about his story of finding Jesus through struggles. When he offered his music, the audience responded with applause and raised voices.
Music allowed Motley to express his difficult journey — through trials and weaknesses he was able to experience God's love and grace. This was where the name IzReal came from — through his struggle, he was able to experience the "real God."
The collaboration between AAMA and Mission Network was established to serve, inform and engage African-American leaders in the Mennonite Church. Through partnership, the church continues to embrace all of God's people, to serve as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, while strengthening diversity in Mennonite Church USA.
"Our goal," said Bishop Francisco, president of AAMA, "is to maintain partnerships with agencies like Mission Network and to expose our members to the vast opportunities of being missional in the local settings as well as across the nation and around the globe."
"There are many hidden treasures like Brother Motley who can make a positive impact in the body of Christ."
Motley ended the workshop by inviting those who relate to the kind of struggle he experienced to be reconciled to Jesus through an "altar call" for prayer. The audience participation left no room to walk in the aisles. Motley stayed after the seminar was over to sit, listen, and pray with those who asked. Many of the young adults and adults expressed their appreciation for Motley's energy and his ministry of music.