American-born Chinese Jin Au-Yeung, who performs under the stage name MC Jin, performed at the Inspire 2011 Vancouver. In the following night, the 29-year-old Hong Kong hip-hop rapper gave his testimony what God has done in his life at the Vancity Dream Conference.
MC Jin got his first big break on Freestyle Fridays hosted by 106 & Park on BET where he won seven weeks in a row. Jin then became the first Asian solo rapper to be signed to a major record label in the United States, with Ruff Ryders Entertainment. Jin has since released eight albums, been featured in the movies 2 Fast 2 Furious, No Sleep Til Shanghai, Jaeson Ma’s 1040 and upcoming projects Gallants, and Bruce Lee, My Brother.
“Being an artist until now, I’ve always thought that I needed the craziest hooks, beats, video recording shots… but I’ve realized that all along all I needed was God,” said Jin. “When you pour out your heart on a track, that becomes everything…a catchy beat, catchy chords…it just quenches out everything.”
At the onset of his testimony, Jin rapped in acapella style his soundtrack "Angels" that was released in 2010. This song is his first lyrical composition that stated his faith and testimony with audacity and conviction.
Sudden Rise to Fame
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Jin went to New York to pursue his music career and then signed a record deal with BET in 2001. In 2004, he released his first album. In 2005, he parted ways with the record label and started doing music independently. In 2008, he moved to Hong Kong, where he now resides.
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In 2001, Jin, at 19 years of age, began his pursuit of his dream of signing a major record label deal and going around the world as a rapping machine. During this process, he said that he was exposed to the most worldly things, “Think of rap videos, mainstream media…I was in that times ten.”
Jin confesses that his biggest problem then was that he would convince himself that he is not doing anything wrong, but just enjoying “the heck out of life.” Reflecting on the past, he said that he lived a very careless lifestyle – doing things not thinking about the consequences and, worse yet, knowing the consequences, but still doing them.
Jin’s uniqueness in winning the rap battles on BET caught the attention of the major entertainment media outlets, such as Rolling Stones Magazine, VIBE Magazine, Entertainment Tonight, and ESPN. The trend at that time was that people thought that he would sell millions of CDs, because of the sheer number of Chinese in the world. If one out of every ten Chinese bought his album, then he would sell billions of CDs.
Jin said he fed into that and was covered in the midst.
Unexpected Low Record Sales
During the first week of his first album’s release, around 19,000 copies were sold. The low number of sales was viewed as a flop by the industry, which got magnified by the media extensively. Up until now, the album has sold around 220,000 copies.
“I want to put into perspective of what killed me in my heart at that time was that I looked at that as a failure, where as I could have thanked God that 19,000 people went out and bought my CD,” said Jin. He said that he failed to realize where he had started from and was covered in what others were saying - the turning point of his career.
Those who supported Jin prior to the album's release were the ones who discredited him after the unexpected low record sales. Although Jin was on good terms with his record label company, he ended up parting ways with them. In the next one to two years, he said his world felt like it was falling apart. Instead of turning to God, he just let himself fall into a deep depression, where he would lock himself in his room, not wanting to see anybody. This was something that people didn’t know.
Meeting with Chinese-American Pastor Jaeson Ma
In 2008, Jin met with Chinese-American pastor Jaeson Ma, who played a big role in leading him back to God’s side. With a unique testimony of his own, Ma has led various other well-known Asian celebrities to faith in Christ, more noteably Vanness Wu and Edison Chan.
Initially, Carl Choi, Jin’s friend, mentor and manager, got to know Ma first. Prior to meeting Ma, Jin had received calls from Choi, telling him of his breakthrough experiences after meeting with Ma. And it was during this visit to Los Angeles, Jin finally got to meet Ma in person.
As soon as Jin and his wife Carol, his girlfriend then, arrived at the Los Angeles airport, Choi and Ma picked them up, and together they had lunch at an Italian restaurant.
Ma began sharing his testimony of faith, and he then asked Jin about his story.
Summer Vacation Bible School
Jin began sharing his connection with Christianity from when he started to go to summer vacation Bible school since the age of seven through his aunt's invitation. He said those four years play a very big part in his heart – nothing but good memories from hanging out with other kids.
During one of those years, Jin said that he along with others went up to the front of the stage during an altar call and accepted Jesus as Christ and his savior, but this confession wasn't deeply rooted in him.
At age 14, Jin stopped going to summer vacation Bible school. Although it wasn't for any particular reason that he stopped going, he started getting into hip-hop and was old enough to start helping out at his parent’s take-out restaurant.
Ever since then, Jin has always believed that God is watching over him at all times; however, he confesses that he'd only pray during times of trouble.
Invitation to Commit to God
Ma listened intently until Jin finished his sharing. He then asked Jin if it was okay for him to share some words that he felt that God has put in his heart. Jin agreed, and he began to describe the emotions that Jin was feeling deep down in his heart at that time, which Jin has never shared with anyone before.
Jin said that there is a certain limitation to the extent that a person can understand his sadness deep down, but Ma was connecting with him at a level where he truly understands, and it was something that Jin has never experienced before.
It was then that Jin started crying uncontrollably, and Carol, who was beside him, also started to cry.
Jin recalled what Ma said, “God knows how worried you are, how disappointed you feel, how you look at yourself, your career, and sometimes you wonder what happened? Why did it turn out like this? This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. You had everything, but you’ve lost it. It is gone. Now, everyone thinks that you are worthless, but let me tell you what God will do for you next…if you are willing to take it, open yourself, and surrender to him, then God will make your most commonly known achievement on 106 & Park on BET seem like a walk in the park.”
Moreover, Ma went on telling him how he worries about his parents and wishes to be closer to them as he gets older, but he told him not to worry about them, because they are going to be fine, and they love him and miss him. He also said that Jin will get married to Carol, and they will have kids, boys and girls, and live in a house with a white fence and a dog running around in the yard.
At this point, Jin said he was able to envision what Ma was saying and felt this indescribable sense of peace during that 1:30 afternoon lunch meeting. Ma also said that God is going to put him somewhere that he has never been, and he will do something for God’s kingdom and His glory. God will give him favors and blessings, and he won’t even know what struck him.
As it all came to a calm end, Jin gathered himself, and they’ve embraced each other, shook hands, and made their way out. That was Friday afternoon.
On Saturday, Ma had a flight that evening to Korea, but he called Choi prior to his flight and said that he wants to baptize Jin. At first, Choi said that it is probably too soon, and they've hung up. Yet, Jin asked what was that about, and as soon as he found out, he cried out, “Let’s do it!”
The biggest differences, Jin said, between him at 19 years old and now are that God has changed his perspectives on things as well as him getting married to Carol two months ago.
“To be able to stand here and say to you guys that I’m married man, who is truly dedicated and loyal to my wife, is a blessing from God in itself,” said the newly married artist. “Just knowing my past and the way that I chose to live, if I had kept going in that direction, everything that I said right there would be non-existent.”
While hearing about countless stories of broken homes, Jin said that he firmly believes in the importance for God to lay the foundation to their marriage.
Reflections on His Experience
Knowing what he knows today from his past experiences, going from being practically unknown to skyrocketing to fame to hitting rock bottom, Jin said the central theme of his passion today is towards the youths.
“I can’t help but look back to my past. It is important for all of us to look back to our past, so that we know what our missteps were, what we did properly, and then you move forward on.”
Jin attributed his initial rise to fame as a blessing from God, but it was just that he didn’t acknowledge it at that time. He believes that God has allowed him to experience the unexpected low record sales to keep him faithful to a certain extent to his family, Mom and Dad, and his sister. Also, it was during the difficult times that his wife verbally encouraged him, saying, "Come on, they don’t love you, but we still love you. We love you before that and we love you now.”
Although when people heard of Jin's baptism, they thought it was too sudden, but Jin said that it is because most people don’t realize that there were a culmination of events that began from the first summer vacation Bible school to getting signed a record label and getting into fame, to the crying, remorse, and the unhappiness up to that moment.
Seeing the passion and conviction of the God-seeking generation of today, Jin said that he felt “lost”.
“Even though I’m lost, I’ve made it out only because of God.” said Jin. That is the biggest point in his testimony of his journey until now.
Changes and Being Called ‘Religious’
In the past two years, Jin said that God has worked in and through him in ways that he didn’t think was possible. Yet, he confesses that even after baptism it wasn’t that everything went well, but his walk became tougher because of his commitment to be a “man of God”.
“This is a war that we’re fighting.” Jin said. “Our mind is very easily influenced and fragile. Our biggest strengths – free will and wisdom – may turn out to be our greatest weaknesses, since we tend to depend on ourselves instead of on God.”
Five months after he was baptized, Jin moved to Hong Kong in June of 2008. Since then, he has been seeking more of Him and being more determined to be more vocal about his faith.
A big change in him is that he would wake up in the morning and say, 'Man, God is amazing! How can I get to know Him more today? How can I better myself and really live life the way that he meant for me to live?'
Some challenges that he experienced after his change was that people were calling him “religious”.
Jin said that it breaks his heart to know that people think of him as only doing religious raps, because he felt that even this is created by the devil to make people shy away from God.
"People’s misconception in experiencing Christ is that they must adhere to rules, but the reality is that the more that I run towards Christ, the less I want to drink or curse." He feels that this is where the devil has a strong-hold on the youth today, because they feel that they can’t do what they want.
Despite some may be disapproving of his change in music directions, Jin said it is not his position to reprimand them. Instead, he would try to let them know what God has done and is doing in his life, and what he learned isn’t so much about religion but relationship.
Beyond the personal relationship with God and then with those within the Christian circles, Jin said that what’s even more important is the relationship with those who Christians might see as outside the Christian circle – the ones who Christians should reach out and love all the more.
Recently, Jin composed a song called “True Religion”, which is available to listen online for free. In contrast to his former bragging and forceful style of songs, he said that it may not be the most complex, super-lyrical, and spiritual song, but he felt that he has never put together lines that have this much substance to it.
According to source, Jin almost wasn’t able to enter Vancouver, because the Canadian Border officers rejected his entry, and as a result he had to fly back to Hong Kong. Upon returning to Hong Kong, the local organizing committee in Vancouver contacted him and asked him to fly back to Vancouver and attempt to enter again. He agreed, but, this time, he successfully entered Vancouver.
Although Jin didn’t explain why he boarded the flight the second time to Vancouver despite the uncertainty of getting denied entry, he said in his freestyle rap at the end of his testimony that he came to Vancouver not for himself, but for God.
In addition, at the Inspire 2011 Vancouver held the night before, Jin jumped off the stage towards the end of the concert and prayed for everyone who have yet to know God.