By Suzanne O'Keeffe, 700 Club Interactive
CBN.com Montell Jordan was born in South Central, a predominately black LA neighborhood where many young men don't expect to live past the age of 18. However, Jordan was shielded and sheltered from the gang violence never getting caught up in it. He had a two parent household and was "trained up in the way (he) should go." He grew up in church.
Although the church was his "training ground" for music, for Montell it was "more experiencing religion rather than a relationship with Christ." His personal salvation occurred in 1993. He was dating his future wife. They had a major break-up. During this time, she got saved and "hid herself." The only way for Montell to see her was in church. "In seeking her, I found Him - what I should have been looking for all along. Major changes occurred." The two rededicated themselves, purified themselves and married. They wanted to be "followers of Christ, not just believers." Montell's language changed along with the things they did and places they went.
Two years later in 1995, Montell's R&B music career took off. "It hit like a whirlwind." His first release, This Is How We Do It, was number one in 14 countries, sold millions and received a Grammy nomination. Montell became the main solo male artist on the Def Jam imprint. "There was no handbook given to me on how to walk with success - how a Christian is supposed to function in that (R&B) world."
As Montell traveled the world touring and recording over the next several years, he always felt like he was living a "compromised" life. "I knew I belonged to God. I knew God had given me a gift. I tried to maintain my walk with Christ." However, he felt as though he had two personalities: the church one and the one on the road performing with his sunglasses was a "whole different person." "People who tolerate sin and idly sit by and allow it to happen displease God." There was always a "conflict" while making "secular" music. Montell "loved the Lord," would go to church and tithe but did not feel "fully committed."
That "complete surrender" came in 2010. He and his wife went on a fast. The Lord spoke to his wife first. Then after another 21 day fast, the Lord spoke to Montell. He clearly heard the Lord instruct him to lay down his R&B career and trust Him. Montell's response was, "You created me, You know my heart's desire." He asked God to help him lay it down saying, "It was not an easy decision." Montell didn't have a "Plan B" and as he obeyed the Lord, he found himself at the altar in August 2010; soon afterwards announced his retirement from R&B music.
With his "complete surrender" came "complete freedom. There is no conflict with who I serve. I am a freer man. I laid down an old life to gain a better life." In November, 2010, his church offered him a position as worship leader. He and his wife previously joined this 9500 member church because of its multi-cultural, multi-generational congregation. Last year, they recorded an album titled Shake Heaven. The music reflects the composition of the congregation. "It is a God given album." Fasting and prayer went into the preparation of the album. At Victory World Church there are 105 various nations represented. Their worship is cross cultural and brings reconciliation to all and points to relationship with God.
"My first job is ministry. Creating music - that is what I do next. I have the same gift." Montell simply uses it now for His kingdom and glory to "create music as an alternative to what the world is offering today." "The life I have in Christ now is greater than what I had before."