Heavy metal, rap get youths hyped for school at Rhema Word

Sunday, August 12, 2007
The Christian rock band Sli-Linc of Fulton, Mo., performed Saturday for the youths at the Rhema Word Back to School Jamboree. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

In Christian heavy-metal band Sli-Linc's songs, lead singer Tim Schnieders testifies about the kind of life some members of the band lived until recent years. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll were all bound up together for them. Spirituality went begging.

They lost relationships and friendships before finally hearing a different message. "We thought the Lord was calling us to do something bigger," he says.

The Fulton, Mo., band led off the entertainment Saturday's Back to School Jamboree at Rhema Word Breakthrough Ministries, 750 N. Mount Auburn Road in Cape Girardeau. The purpose of the jam was to get students ready for an event that is only four days away in Cape Girardeau.

"We're bringing the kids back in here to get them hyped to go back to school," said Carla Whitney, the church's youth director.

The church circulated fliers inviting other area churches to send their students to the jam. "We want to focus in on the spiritual side so when they go back to school they go back with their spiritual relationship with God that will get them through it," Whitney said.

A puppet show and the St. Louis Christian rap group Missouriino followed Sli-Linc to the stage. About 50 people attended, including toddlers, teens and parents.

They were treated to hot dogs and hamburgers. The children played games and received free school supplies, including notebooks, glue, rulers, pens, pencils and erasers. Nicole Lane and her daughter, Kaylisa Henry, who turns 16 next week, painted butterflies and hearts on children's faces.

A.G. Green, the 14-year-old son of Rhema Word pastor Dr. A.G. Green, will enter the ninth grade at Central High School next week. Aside from some family vacations in Memphis and Atlanta, he's spent the summer hanging out with friends and getting the kind of sleep he won't be able to get soon. But the prospect of starting out at a new school has his attention. "They said it's going to be hard with lots of homework," he said.

A.G. said he does bring his spirituality to school with him. "I call on God to help with the work a little bit," he said, "and sometimes I thank God for getting through tests."

The jamboree provides a head start on the school year, he said. "It's a good idea for people who don't have the money to buy school supplies because of the high prices."

Children surrounded the stage and a strobe light flashed when Sli-Linc played. Their music sounds similar to Metallica's, but the lyrics call on their audience to re-examine their lives through their belief in God. "Salvation," the band's signature song, thanks God for all they've been given and asks him to take away their sins and apathy.

Schnieders says people who respond to their music are looking for a Christian message and "looking for what they like in secular music."

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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