Lead pastor and Christian hip hop artist Devin Turner addresses the issue of abusive relationships in his new single "Butterfly," a song taken from his new album Now Or Never. The song tells a story about a woman who has too often settled for mediocre and abusive relationships, but soon finds her reason for existence in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Realizing her value in this relationship with Christ causes her to make lifestyle changes and to live with a certainty that she can have a healthy relationship with a man who will respect and honor her the way that she deserves. This song communicates the fact that all women are beautiful, made in the image of God and have a purpose that He created them
Hallels: Devin, thanks for doing this interview with us. I was just reading your biography and I was so thankful of what God's doing with your life. During your teenage years you were messing with drugs and you were even involved with rapper Tupac. What was your relationship with Tupac?
It's my pleasure. Thanks for your interest in interviewing me. Yes, God has done a lot in my life and I am beyond blessed and grateful for all He has done and continues to do.
I received salvation when I was six, but as a freshman in high school I began to stray away from my relationship with God and started associating with known drug dealers in my neighborhood and school. These guys were teaching me how to distribute and use drugs. In our circle there was a lot of profanity, fighting, adultery, smoking and drinking. I was the youngest so I really watched a lot and slowly began to pick up more and more from the older guys I was around. During that time in my life, we were heavy into "Thug Life" which was a rap group we used to listen to and a way of life led by Tupac. Growing up in Forestville, MD just outside of Washington, DC in the 90's was tough. At that time DC was known as the "murder capital" of the nation and my older brother, our friends and I regularly towed the line of curiosity and criminality.
Although I never met Tupac in person, his influence as an artist and as a rebel to established authority was heavy on us. The soundtrack of our lives were the CD's we listened to because they often reflected the lifestyles we lived.
Hallels: How did you feel when Tupac was murdered?
I was devastated when Tupac was murdered. He was shot the day before my birthday. I remember hearing the news that he was hospitalized from the shooting and my friends and I were so shaken up. I remember where I was when I found out he was dead. We were riding in my friend's car on our way to school and it came on the radio that he had been killed. We were speechless. Tupac's death was a major turning point in my life because I realized that something needed to change and that there had to be more to my life than what I was doing with it.
Hallels: How then did you come to Christ?
My mother used to take me to church all the time when I was young. I remember the preacher talking about Heaven and Hell and I definitely didn't want the second option, so at the age of six I went to the altar and prayed the sinner's prayer. From there I began reading the Bible, praying and practicing the teachings of God's word. I knew God was real and I had a serious relationship with Him even as a child, but when I got to high school something changed within me.
I didn't want to be viewed as passive or weak when I started facing problems like bullying, personal issues in my family and depression. I reacted to this by turning my back on God and by spending a lot of time with drug dealers and criminals from my neighborhood, who I felt had my back and would look out for me. I remember being so angry all of the time and I took it out on people around me.
While in my freshman year of high school, my two idols crumbled before my eyes. Tupac was murdered and shortly after my older brother was involved in a high-speed chase that caused him to be attacked by the police. He was facing jail time and was hospitalized from his injuries. This all took a toll on my mother which caused me to stop and reflect on my life. I began to realize that my two role models both faced a harsh reality and if I didn't make a change I was next.
It was then that I began praying again and asking God to show me that He was real. From there I began disassociating myself from my circle of friends and began reading the Bible regularly. It was in this time of my life that I found peace and purpose. I used to think that I needed to have a crew of guys around me to give me this, but I soon realized that this could only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Hallels: Now you have a new single "Butterfly" which deals with abusive relationships. Why is it important to address this issue?
It's so important to address this issue because too many women don't understand their value so they settle for abusive and mediocre relationships.
Most hip-hop songs demoralize women and promote them as nothing more than sexual objects. I want women to know that they are beautiful and made in the image of a Holy God who loves them and has a purpose for their lives. Where I live and pastor, I see a lot of degradation of women and this song is a reminder that we need to honor our women and treat them with the love and respect that they deserve.
Hallels: What would you say to someone who is currently in an abusive relationship?
The model for how a man should treat a woman in an exclusive relationship (in particularly marriage) is found in Ephesians 5:28-30 (NIV)
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church- 30 for we are members of his body.
Whether married or unmarried, I would tell this woman not to settle for less than a man who will honor her as wife material and not only say he loves her but also cares for her as he cares for his own body.
I would also tell this woman to immediately get away from her abuser. Even if this means calling the police and getting help from law enforcement to remove herself from the abusive environment.
For Christians, the Bible tells us that "our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; NIV). In this particular verse, the Bible is referring to sexual purity but the point of honoring God with your body is not just in the area of sexuality, its in every aspect of your life. Honoring God with your body means to take proper care of it and being physically assaulted by someone you are in a relationship with is not God's idea of caring for your body.
Lastly, if there are children involved I recommend that the children be removed from the abusive environment also. If someone is married to their abuser, I still recommend law enforcement involvement, separation from the abusive environment, and healthy steps to be taken through counseling, repentance, and reconciliation before returning to the environment. There has to be a heart change in him that leads to a habit change, otherwise he will repeat the vicious cycle of hurting the woman.
Hallels: You are also a lead pastor of a church. Tell us more about your church.
I pastor Revolution Church, a beautiful fellowship of believers located in Northeast Washington, DC. After being a youth pastor for 7 years at Merge (which at one point was the largest youth ministry in North America; reaching more than 3,000 teens each youth service), my family and I felt called by God to leave the comfort of full time ministry in the suburbs of Maryland. We moved into the inner city of our nation's capital so that we could be salt & light and make disciples for Christ. Because we live and serve in a challenged community, we often meet physical needs (food, clothing, job placement, bill pay assistance, and re-entry into society) as well as spiritual needs (sharing the gospel, discipleship, prayer, and counseling). We had our first Sunday service on June 1, 2014 and since then we have seen hundreds of people make decisions for Christ, grow in their faith and serve God with their gifts and talents. You can check out more information about Revolution Church at RevolutionDC.org.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to check up on your music and your ministry, where can they go?
Feel free to go to my website: DevinTurner.org where you can find videos, music, clothing, blogs and more information on Disciples Thru Media, my multi-media youth ministry experience that I take to churches and youth ministries around the country.
If you're on social media, you can follow me at: